27 “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. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:27–32)
Assuming there were other men on duty, the jailer might be excused for sleeping on the job. If not, then he was fearfully startled from slumber when the earthquake occurred and he saw the prison doors opened. His natural recourse was to commit suicide assuming that all the prisoners had escaped. He would have been executed anyway for allowing such a thing to happen on his watch.
Seeing what the jailer was about to do, Paul yelled at him and said, ““Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” Upon hearing Paul’s voice, the jailer demanded that torch lights to be brought in order to see. Rushing into the jail with great fear and trembling, the jailer fell prostrate before Paul and Silas. This ironically was a display of humble submission by the prison official towards two of his prisoners.
When he brought Paul and Silas out from the inner prison he asked, ““Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The Holy Spirit had awakened the jailer’s soul to the truth of what Paul and Silas had previously prayed and sang: the truth of the Gospel. The physically imprisoned missionaries became the vessels God used in order to free the spiritually imprisoned jailer.
Paul’s response was succinct and straightforward. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” As with each sinner convicted by their sin, the only deliverance from the penalty, power and the eventual presence of sin is trust in, commitment to, dependence upon and worship of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Not only was this the good news for the jailer, but this Gospel would also be available to the jailer’s family.
Dr. Simon Kistemaker explains that, “Paul and Silas are not promising salvation for the entire household if the jailer alone believes; in fact, they preach Christ to his family and servants in verse 32. They are simply saying that the offer of salvation is open to all of them.”
The offer of salvation in Jesus Christ alone is still offered to sinners today. It is the only God ordained way of deliverance from sin. Remember, God did not cause the earthquake to free Paul and Silas from their physical chains, but rather to free the jailer from his spiritual chains. Has God freed you?
Soli deo Gloria!