God Knows…When I Meet Up with Truth – Part 2
When Paul cast the demon out of a slave girl in Philippi, her owners were furious! Their source of income was gone, for she would no longer be privy to information about future events from the devil. They stirred up so much excitement that Paul and Silas were brought before the rulers at the city square. Again there were false reports and mob spirit. Whips whistled through the air as Paul and Silas were given a public beating. Next they were flung into prison. The jailer was told to guard them securely, so he clamped their feet between big boards called stocks.
Time passed slowly. It neared midnight. The prison was dark and stuffy. Paul and Silas hurt all over. But instead of complaining, they encouraged each other. How surprised the jailer and other prisoners were! Rather than the usual swearing and groaning and yelling, praying and songs of praise to God could be heard. This was really different! With the sound of hymns still in his ears, the jailer fell asleep.
Suddenly a great earthquake shook the prison right to its foundation. Every door opened, and the stocks and chains rattled loose. The jailer woke up in alarm. His first thought was that the prisoners had made a getaway. He’d be put to death! Better to do it himself! As he grabbed his sword, he heard a shout.
“Don’t harm yourself,” Paul called out, “we are all here.”
The jailor dropped his sword. “Bring torches!” he shouted to a guard. He rushed to the inner prison. On his knees he begged Paul and Silas to forgive him for the rough way he had treated them. He brought them into the open, and then asked the most important question of his life: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” they answered. Then they went on to explain the Christian message in more detail. They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. The jailer washed the wounded backs of Paul and Silas. Then this middle-class citizen and the rest of his household who believed were baptized. After that, the jailer took the two prisoners into his house and fed them. What a night!
Early the next day officers came with orders from the rulers, “let these men go.”
“What?” exclaimed Paul. “They’ve publicly beaten two un-condemned Roman citizens and now they want to release us secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”
The rulers were scared when the police brought that message back. What if the emperor heard about this? Untried Roman citizens were not to be beaten. The rulers hurried to the prison, apologized, escorted them out of prison, and begged them to leave the city. Paul and Silas did leave, but only after going to Lydia’s home to encourage the new believers.
Next they hiked 100 miles (165 km) to Thessalonica (which is still an important city in Greece). For three weeks, Paul was asked to preach at the synagogue there. He read from the Old Testament the prophecies about the Messiah and explained how they pointed to Jesus Christ. He told them about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and what they mean in the battle between good and evil.
Quite a few people believed, but those who didn’t got a mob of demonstrators together. Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The believers quietly sent Paul and Silas on their way to Berea (50 miles, or 80 km west) that night.