To Live is Christ to Die is Gain

Acts 16:22-34

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

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 baptized. 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.


“The Blue-Collar Joe”

This is one more utterly unique conversion story to help us develop a portrait of the Philippians church. The Jailer is not like our first two character studies. The Jailer is basically a blue-collar ex-GI manning the jail cells. He is not interested in the incessant banter of the intellectuals, and he's not invested in the charismatic hoopla of spiritual power. He is like the guy who just wants to put in his time at work so he can go home, have  beer, and watch the game. He's duty bound. He wants to do his job well, honor his imperial employers, and get back to his well-ordered house. 

How does the gospel grab a hold of him?

In Rome during this period of time, if a prisoner escaped or was lost, whoever was responsible for that prisoner would pay the price with his life. From the story we see that the Jailer thought he had lost all of the prisoners. He immediately yanks out his sword and gets ready to kill himself. But Paul shows him a better identity, a more fulfilling reality, and a greater duty that transcends everything this guy has previously known. 

He shows the Jailer this reality first by example. After being tortured, the missionaries sing and pray. After becoming free from their bonds, even though the opportunity for escape and revenge is before them, the missionaries stay to share the gospel. When they have the chance to run away, they stay. And the Jailer is blown away. While Paul engaged Lydia through her intellect and the slave girl through spiritual power, he engages the Jailer through a living witness to a miracle. This is how the Philippians church begins-with  Jewish fashionista businesswoman, a demon-possesed slave girl, and a blue-collar ex-GI duty bound to the Roman Empire. Probably not exactly your dream church-planting team, but the spirit works in strange ways to utterly redeem the unlikeliest and most diverse people.

How are you showing those in your 8-15 a better identity in Christ by the way that you live, act, and speak? Paul did it by singing, praying, and staying put when he could have fled. How are you showing others the gospel through your life?

*These devos are taken from Matt Chandler's book, To Live is Christ To Die is Gain.