Philippian Jailor



I listened to RC Sproul one time on a completely unrelated subject and he mentioned something about the Philippian Jailer  that I had not thought of, but which makes perfect sense.

The story in Acts 16 was about Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi because they healed a possessed woman who really was annoying and the profiters of her got angry and had them arrested.  Whilst in prison, Paul and Silas were singing and praying and suddenly there was a "violent earthquake" and all the doors opened and all the chains of the prisoners were loosened.  The jailer runs into the prison to see all the doors open, chains everywhere, probably broken walls and that's when he starts to think.

The jailer was given charge over these prisoners, all of them.  Odds are, he would be killed when the boss man finds out that all of them are gone.  So, he draws his sword and looks at it and determines that it would be easier to die by his own sword than to face an angry man who would kill him anyway.  Well, Paul and Silas call out and let him know that they are all there.  He famously cries "what must I do to be saved?".  Then Paul begins to share the gospel.  The jailer and his family all get saved because of this, but I want to focus on what he cried out.

What RC Sproul said and what I have come to think is that this Philippian jailer was not asking how to be saved, but rather, how to be saved.  Fact is, the jailer was about to face the death penalty.  I think he had but one thing on his mind, and that was his own life.  He sees Paul and Silas, possibly the other prisoners and thinks to himself that these people are going to start making demands.  Therefore, he says to them, "what must I do to be saved?".  Not from Hell and eternal damnation, but from a cruel and painful death by enraged prisoners, and if not by them, by the man he works for.  Paul, seeing a preaching opportunity, calms him and begins telling him about how his life could really be saved, not from death, but from Hell and eternal damnation.

This story can actually made into a sermon about preaching the gospel when opportunity knocks.  Something to think about.
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