Acts 16:25-34: A spiritual quake

“25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 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. 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. 28 But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ 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?’ 31 They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’ 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptised. 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.”NIV UK

F.B.Meyer brings out a contrast between the experiences of Lydia and the Philippian jailer. He points out that when the business woman heard God’s Word her heart was opened like a flower in the sunlight. But the jailer’s experience was volcanic, convulsive, stormy and shattering. No two conversion stories will be exactly the same, but what matters is that people should come to know Jesus, by whatever route they may arrive. God knows how best to deal with each individual. For the jailer, the foundations of his whole life were shaken. What was happening to the structure of the jailhouse was nothing compared to what was taking place in his heart. There was ‘a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on.’ That his conversion was real is evidenced not only in his baptism (33), but also in the joy that filled his heart (34) over this new and radical turn of events, and in the kindness he showed to Paul and Silas (33a, 34a). The fruit of the new life in Christ began to grow immediately. It was lovely in appearance, and delicious to the taste.

It’s not surprising that the jailer would think that everyone had made a run for it. It was a logical conclusion to reach. With the darkness of the prison, he probably couldn’t see clearly. He no doubt feared the death penalty (see 12:18,19).So Paul had to reassure him that no one had escaped. Perhaps the fact that no one did is a miracle within a miracle!