Evil Spirits and Prison Songs
November 2 - Nº 306 Acts 16:15-40
Paul and his companions often went to the place of prayer where they had first met Lydia (see #305 - November 1). One day a female slave who was possessed by an evil spirit accompanied them. The demon could predict what would happen in the future, so the slave girl’s owners made a lot of money from her fortune-telling. The girl followed Paul and Silas shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God. They are telling you how to be saved.” She did this day after day. Finally, Paul became annoyed by the constant interruption and commotion. He turned to her and spoke to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Immediately the spirit left. This made her owners furious! They had lost a valuable source of income. They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the city officials. “These Jews have come to Philippi and are causing an uproar with their teachings. They want us to practice customs that are unlawful for us as Romans to accept,” they complained. A large crowd gathered, and they started rioting against Paul and Silas. To quiet things down, the city officials ordered the two men to be stripped and beaten publicly. After being flogged severely, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. The jailer put them in the inner cell and chained their feet in stocks. Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God loudly enough for the other prisoners to hear them. Suddenly an earthquake shook the prison. The doors flew open, and all the prisoners’ chains fell off! The jailer woke up and saw what had happened. Assuming the prisoners had escaped, he pulled out his sword to kill himself. “Wait!” Paul shouted. “Don’t do that! We are all still here!” The jailer grabbed a torch and rushed into the cell. He fell before Paul and Silas trembling and said, “Please tell me what I need to do to be saved.” “Believe in the Lord Jesus,” they replied, “and you will be saved. This is true for you and your whole family!” The jailer took them to his home. While he took care of their wounds and fed them, Paul and Silas explained how Jesus, the Son of God, had died for their sins. Everyone in the jailer’s home believed, and Paul and Silas baptized them. The jailer was filled with joy because he and his family now knew the one true God. Then Paul and Silas returned to the prison. The next morning the city officials sent guards to the prison to release them, but Paul refused to leave. He spoke to the guards who had come. “They beat us publicly without a trial even though we are Roman citizens. This is against the law! Then they threw us in prison. Now do they want us to leave quietly? No, we will not! Tell them they must come and escort us out personally.” The city officials were alarmed when they learned that the two men they had arrested were Roman citizens, rushed to the prison. They asked Paul and Silas to leave the city. But before they left, Paul and Silas met one more time with the believers at Lydia’s house.
Paul and Silas chose not to escape when the earthquake set them free. They realized that God was more interested in the jailer’s spiritual freedom than He was in their physical freedom. So, they stayed to share the Gospel.
Are you willing to sacrifice your own physical needs and desires to help someone else know Jesus?