So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. (Acts of the Apostles 16:24-34 NLT)
After beating beaten with wooden rods publicly, Paul and Silas were placed in the inner dungeon. This place was the innermost part of the prison where there was no light and greater security. Likely, the cell was damp and wreaked with odor. The scripture says here that their feet were fastened in stocks. This could have been buckles attached to chains that were mounted to the walls. On the other hand, it could have been wooden cross members that had holes cut out in both, then hinged open, allowing the legs to be placed and then the two closed together. This would then be locked in place, immobilizing the prisoner. Some have said that the legs were stretched as far apart as possible in order to give torture to the prisoner.
So let's imagine these two brothers in Christ in a dark, stinky, damp, insect infested, sweaty dungeon with their feet bound in the stocks and their backs reeling from the pain from the wounds sustained in the beating. A time for discouragement? Perhaps for some, but not these men of God! At midnight they were found praying and singing hymns of worship. They didn't cuss, fuss, whine, complain, or deny their faith. Just the opposite. They praised God in the midst of the situation. Their eyes were fastened on Jesus. They may have been locked up tight in prison, but they were still free. You can't enslave a freed spirit. Let's remember, Saints, that even if we are locked in a prison, the key thrown away, deprived of food, bound in stocks, and facing execution, as long as we know Jesus, we are FREE (see John 8:32,36).
Paul and Silas knew that reality. They were honored to suffer for Jesus. They had their eyes and hearts on the mission of sharing Christ with the world. They knew where they were going. This life couldn't hold a candle compared to eternity. We, too, must always keep our eyes on the prize, Jesus.
I know in whom I have believed! He suffered and died for me. He was buried and triumphantly resurrected, destroying deaths power!!!. Hallelujah to the Lamb!!!
Can the church rise in praise to the King Of Kings? No matter where we are in life, we can be assured of this one thing: He has given us the victory (see I Corinthians 15:57).
As Paul and Silas prayed and sang, the other prisoners were listening in. They were probably stunned to hear these men praising God. Perhaps they were being drawn to Jesus. Even in the inner prison, Paul and Silas were sharing the gospel. Suddenly, the foundation of the prison began to shake like an earthquake. The stocks fell off the prisoners and the doors flung open. Brothers and sisters, let me say that when the Holy Spirit moves in a place, freedom is found. Bondage must flee! (see 2 Corinthians 3:17). May I be so bold as to say, Jesus made the jail house rock! Long before Elvis ever sang his song, Jesus made the prison shake, literally.
The Philippian jailer awoke and saw the doors open and thought that the prisoners were going to escape. Paul knew that the jailer would try to kill himself because escaped prisoners were reason for execution for the jailer. Paul shouted to the jailer and stopped him from killing himself. The jailer called for a light and ran into the inner prison, falling before Paul and Silas. He took them outside and asked what he must do to be saved. Paul and Silas shared the gospel with him and his entire household. Everyone accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They, correspondingly, got baptized. The jailer washed their wounds and dressed them. A meal was prepared and they all rejoiced in the grace of God! All of this occurred in the wee hours of the morning! Never underestimate what God can, and will, do for His servants!!
Rev. Curtis Norris