Paul and Silas in Prison
 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.  She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”  And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.  And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city.  They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”  The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.  Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The Philippian Jailer Converted
 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,  and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.  When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”  And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.  Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.”  And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.”  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.”  The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens.  So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.  So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. (ESV)
- Slavery and freedom
In this chapter, we are introduced to a nameless slave girl who was apparently owned by a group of people (Acts 16:19). She was also slave to a dark spirit that enabled her to tell fortunes, a lucrative business that generated a great deal of revenue for her owners. Consequently, she was a dual slave. After growing irritated, Paul rebuked the spirit that possessed her, rendering her useless to her owners, who were slaves to money. In return, they had Paul and Silas beaten up and thrown into prison. Though shackled and guarded, Paul and Silas are actually more free than even their captors.
- According to plan
The imprisonment of Paul and Silas seems like a major defeat. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that things are working out perfectly. As a result of their imprisonment and God’s amazing rescue, a Philippian jailer and his family come to faith in Christ. The one who was responsible for their mistreatment ends up inviting them over for dinner. Indeed, God had prepared a banquet for Paul and Silas in the presence of their enemies (Psalm 23:5).
- Our rights as citizens
After realizing that they had screwed up, the magistrates who threw Paul and Silas into prison decided to secretly let them go. One might imagine that Paul and Silas would happily make their escape, but that’s not what happened. Paul refused to let the magistrates off the hook for their mistreatment of Roman citizens. He could have easily just walked away, but instead he demanded that the magistrates own their mistake and apologize to them. Rather than escaping, Paul held the magistrates accountable for their violation of his rights as a citizen.
- In this text we see many examples of how we can be enslaved: spirits, people, the love of money. What are some ways in which you have experienced slavery, and how has Jesus set you free?
- The imprisonment of Paul and Silas looks like a disaster, but it ends up being a victory. How has God turned apparent disasters into victories in your life?
- Paul refused to allow the magistrates to violate his rights as a Roman citizen. What principles can you take away from his example?
Call to Worship
How Shall We Sing the LORD’s Song?
 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
 How shall we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy! (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Almighty God, who does freely pardon all who repent and turn to Him, now fulfill in every contrite heart the promise of redeeming grace; forgiving all our sins, and cleansing us from an evil conscience; through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.