The Conversion of a Philippian Jailer

From Issue: Discovery 12/1/2008

If you have ever visited someone in jail, then you may know that there you will find criminals of all sorts—people who have robbed stores, committed murder, and done countless other crimes. Those who have the job of guarding these prisoners often appear to be unfriendly, because it is their job to keep the prisoners under control. This is a very serious job that puts great demands on the guards.

In the book of Acts, Luke tells us of a non-Christian who was a prison guard. When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison, the guard put their feet in large wooden stocks, so they couldn’t move. He put them into the deepest part of the prison so that an escape would be much more difficult. 

This man didn’t know that God was watching over Paul and Silas. At midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing, and the other prisoners were listening to them, a great earthquake shook the entire prison, and all the doors opened (Acts 16:25-26).

The guard, who had been sleeping, was awakened by the earthquake. Seeing that the doors to the prison had been opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself (because, normally, Roman guards who lost their prisoners were sentenced to death). But Paul called out to him and said, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here” (Acts 16:28).

The jailor called for a light and went inside to find the two apostles. The jailor trembled at the feet of Paul and Silas and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). Then, Paul and Silas taught the Gospel to the jailor and his family, and they all were baptized that very night.

Isn’t it amazing that even a prison guard, who didn’t know about the way of salvation a few hours before, could be saved from his sins the very night he first learned about Jesus? God’s commandment is that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). God wants us to help our non-Christian friends by teaching them about Jesus and His commands.


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