Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!
1. How was the female slave described (16) (Leviticus 19:26)?
“Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.”
““‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. “‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.”
She was described as being possessed by a spirit, by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money in this way for her owners but not for herself. Basically she was abused by her owners for prophet but had no concern for her condition.
When she followed Paul for a few days what was his reaction (Matthew 17:18) (17-18)?
“She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved. She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.””
“Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.”
Paul turned and drove out the demon after the slave girl followed them around for many days.
Why do you think he reacted this way?
First her constant presence was disruptive—having someone following you around and shouting out can be a distraction.
Secondly this is similar to how the demons that Jesus met, how they would react. They would call out that he is the “Son of God” or the “Holy One of God” in order to try to disrupt his ministry.
This evil spirit knew that Paul was here to work amongst the Gentiles that had been influenced by the Spirit’s power and wanted to make evangelizing work difficult for them amongst the people by making their ministry difficult by telling everyone who they are. This can make enemies and close doors as Gentiles here this.
Paul most likely wanting to avoid a repeat of the work in Lystra (Acts 14) where Paul and Barnabas healed a man and were mistaken by the people to be Zeus and Hermes. After a few days he drove out the Spirit in the name of Jesus.
What do you know about a life controlled by an evil spirit (Mark 5:2-5, Acts 19:13-16)?
“When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”
“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”
It is not a happy life. Demons are the angels who rebelled against God along with Satan. They hate God—and since man is created in God’s image—they hate mankind and seek to destroy it. This girl’s life was not a good one and by God’s grace Paul freed her from possession.
What was the owner’s accusation against Paul (19-21)?
“When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.””
The owners had lost the ability to make money—but the charge against Paul was that he was advocating unlawful customs. We don’t know for sure but perhaps seeing as how Paul preached there is only One God—perhaps his teaching against Idol worship or in this case Emperor worship and or ancestor worship.
How is this different from the actual incident?
These charges in court had nothing to do with the loss of income but was an emotional and trumped up charge to get revenge on Paul and the mission team. It would be similar to accusing someone of being an Al-Queda terrorist or a traitor.
2. How did the crowd react and what did the city magistrates do to Paul and Silas (22-24)?
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.”
The crowd became emotional and reason and law went right out the window. In order to prevent a riot the magistrates (court officials) ordered them stripped and beat with rods as punishment and a public deterrence—all without a trial. After that they were placed under heavy guard and jailed.
Think about their situation as strangers in a foreign city in prison—what do you think they were feeling? (Mt 28:20)
This kind of occurrence can be damaging to the faith of a believer. Without a sound faith in Jesus and a sure hope in his resurrection—we would be completely discouraged if this were to happen to us—perhaps hesitant to engage in the gospel work anymore. They could have felt lonely or home sick for their own land and justice system. But they realized they weren’t out converting people to become cultural Jews and to follow their own ideas, they were out, empowered by the Holy Spirit, sharing the gospel they were commanded to preach.
“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
At midnight in prison what were they doing (25)?
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
They were singing hymns of praise to God—late at night-while in the stocks and under guard. This must have been a really strange scene for all the prisoners and the jailer to hear.
Why (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Instead of being worried or despairing about their future Paul and Silas were singing joyful hymns. They were full of the Spirit of Christ so the no matter what had happened their joy came from God and his grace and not the surrounding environment. Only with a deep faith in Jesus and a trust in the Spirit would stop them from losing all hope.
What happened next (26)?
“Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”
A great earthquake happened and destroyed the prison and everyone’s chains came loose. This was a perfect chance for everyone to escape. As you know the first duty of every prisoner is to try to escape—this was their chance.
Why did the jailor attempt suicide (27)?
“ The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.”
The jailer assumed that everyone had escaped as this would be the perfect time and there would be no way to catch everyone in the aftermath of an earthquake. As the jailer it was his responsibility to take care of all the prisoners and also account for them—if any escaped—his life was forfeited in their place.
How did Paul help him (28)?
“But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!””
But Paul and Silas did not escape they stayed put. In fact all the prisoners chose to stay because of listening to Paul and Silas rather than escape. Here we see the work of God going on mightily amongst these Gentile prisoners. Paul saved the jailers life.
In this situation how could Paul preach the gospel?
Remember Paul and Silas had been grabbed by a mob—stripped and beaten handily—earlier in the day. They could be bitter and try for revenge and escape the prison. But they did not do that. Instead they sang hymns and preached the gospel to prisoners because of the deep conviction of Christ in their lives. Their lives were so different from others because of Jesus’ Spirit that even hardened criminals wanted to listen to their singing over gaining freedom.
3. On seeing all the prisoners accounted for because of Paul, what did the jailer realize and ask (29)?
“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?””
The jailer realized that this was an act of God—the one that Paul and Silas had been preaching. So the jailer became a believer and asked what he must do to be saved by this God.
What was the instruction Paul and Silas gave (30)?
“ They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.””
They did not tell him about culture or traditions but they preached the content of the Gospel—believer in the Lord Jesus and your will be saved.
How did the preaching affect his life and family (34)?
“The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
Through this miracle the jailer and his entire family became believers in Jesus because Paul and Silas had a deep faith and a sound mind to preach the gospel and not worry about their own feelings or seek revenge against the authorities. When we have a deep faith in Jesus in will affect our lives and the way we react under pressure and difficult circumstances and this is the faith that others will see.
4. How did Paul use his Roman citizenship (35-37) (1 Peter 2:12)?
1 Peter 2:12
“ Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
“When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Paul and Silas realized that God gave them Roman citizenship, and all the protections that came along with it, to better enable and protect the preaching of the gospel throughout the Roman world. Here Paul invoked his citizen rights so that the authorities would realize that they mistreated innocent citizens and that Paul and Silas were not trouble makers. When the authorities realized their rights had been violated this was a serious problem. In order not to make trouble the authorities came and apologized and escorted Paul and Silas out of the prison.
When they were requested to leave the city what did they do (Acts 14:19-20) (40)?
“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”
“ After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.”
They went back into the city—even after receiving a great beating and risking the ire of the mob again—in order to visit Lydia and the other brothers and sisters and encourage them in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Based on Paul and Silas’ actions in this passage—what can you tell about the power of faith in the Lord Jesus on ones life?