Civil Obedience

What struck the jailer with awe?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”” -Acts 16:25-31

Something miraculous happens in this story. An earthquake shakes the prison and frees the prisoners. This event astounds the modern reader, but it does little to impress the jailer. The jailer responds with dread and hopelessness. He draws his sword to commit suicide. But then something else happens.

Paul speaks up and says all the prisoners are present. The jailer’s response? “Trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'”

So what struck the jailer with awe? What provoked him to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” Miraculous power or simple obedience? Grand feats or humble suffering?

What do you think?

Published by

Derek Griz

I am a Christian, a husband, a father, and a pastor (Immanuel Church). I write from those perspectives. Connect with me on Twitter (@derekgriz).