25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 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.” (Acts 16:25–26)
When we last met, Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God at the midnight hour following a vicious beating sanctioned by the Philippian magistrates. They were in prison and their feet were fastened to stocks. They were extremely uncomfortable but also extremely content. Their physical pain gave way to spiritual prayers and praises to God.
It was at this moment that God miraculously intervened. A great earthquake occurred. This resulted in the prison foundations shaking, the prison doors opening and every prisoner’s bonds and shackles unfastening. That must have been some earthquake.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Earlier in Acts, we twice see apostles freed from jail by angels (Acts 5:17-32; 12:6-11). Now, however, God intervenes in another way – He sends a violent earthquake that causes the doors to swing open and the chains to come loose from the walls. Although the prisoners all miraculously escape injury, none makes a break for freedom; perhaps they understand that the events are somehow connected to Paul and Silas, and they stay near for protection.”
Warren Wiersbe writes, “Prayer and praise are powerful weapons (2 Chron. 20:1–22; Acts 4:23–37). God responded by shaking the foundations of the prison, opening all the doors, and loosening the prisoners’ bonds. They could have fled to freedom, but instead they remained right where they were. For one thing, Paul immediately took command; and, no doubt, the fear of God was on these pagan men. The prisoners must have realized that there was something very special about those two Jewish preachers.”
How did the jailer respond? We will find out when next we meet.
Soli deo Gloria!