01/06/12 Acts 16:25-34
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO BE SAFE?
Paul, Silas, and Luke had come to Europe, and in particular, to Philippi because of a dream Paul had. The Lord showed him a northern Greek man begging for Paul’s help. Philippi was in a strategic position. It became part of Paul’s strategy because it was part of the Lord’s. Philippi was on the Egnatia Highway, originally created by Roman soldiers for expediting troop movements internationally. This road was 700 miles long and connected the Aegean and Adriatic Oceans. It ran through the modern-day countries of Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. These were dangerous areas. Roman army outposts provided security along the way. Philippi and Thessalonica were main population centers on this route. Owners of a slave girl Paul exorcised blamed the missionary team for their failed business. Local officials “taught those foreigners a lesson,” arresting, torturing, and imprisoning Paul and his partner. Paul and Silas probably weren’t praying for a jail-break. When they got their freedom, they came right back to prison (16:35-39).
What did their praying and singing hymns at midnight in maximum security cells show how Paul and Silas viewed their experience (16:25)?
Rome made Philippi its colony. That meant Rome would subsidize construction there to make it more appealing for retiring Roman soldiers to settle there. Citizens there got the same rights and privileges they would have had if they had lived in Rome. It was illegal, for example, for people with different religions to try converting a Roman citizen.
Why was the Roman jailer ready to kill himself when he saw the cell doors open (16:26-27; 12:19; 27:42)?
The missionary team at this point of the trip was Paul, Silas, Timothy (16:1-3), and Luke (16:10). Why Luke and Timothy didn’t get in trouble, the Bible doesn’t explain. Some say Luke was a local doctor in Philippi. He devoted a lot of print to Paul’s work there like a proud citizen of the metropolis might. He may have been the man Paul saw in his dream. Maybe officials left Timothy alone because he hadn’t been with Paul and Silas during the incident. Shortly before this incident Emperor Claudius had expelled the Jews from Rome (18:2). Philippi, a Roman colony, would have reflected this stylish anti-Semitism (16:20). This also helps explain why Timothy and Luke didn’t get into trouble. Timothy was a half-Gentile (16:1), and Luke was probably a Gentile.
What was it about this earthquake that made the prison supervisor interested in open-ended personal security (16:29-30)? Why ask inmates for help?
What earthquake could free prisoners of their shackles (16:26)? Perhaps the other prisoners were so impressed with Paul and Silas’ God and Paul and Silas response under pressure that they did not run off the second they were free.
Why was the jailer’s first instinct to ask about how he could achieve this safety for himself (16:30)?
Notice that Paul didn’t tell the prison guard to have faith in his faith.
5. Is certainty of security with God really that easy (16:31; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3)?
People have misunderstood verse 31 to teach that God guarantees the children of believers salvation. “Household” in New Testament times included family members, servants, and people obligated in some way to lead family member. God never promises to rescue a household because a prominent member depends on Jesus. Paul is saying God’s offer is good for the jailer and those close to him. Often when the head of a family did believe, that influenced “household” members too (11:14; 16:15; 18:8; 1 Cor. 16:15).
6. How did Paul follow up his initial one sentence response (16:32)?
7. What message did baptism send this family far away from Jesus’ country and times (16:33)?
8. How did this new Christian show that the verbal news about Jesus and the visual aid message of baptism really had worked on changing his outlook (16:33-34)?
Notice the silly question from the prison supervisor, “What do I have to do?” Didn’t the terrorizing earthquake show him he didn’t have what it takes to rectify his wrongs with God? Baptism and the message about Jesus teach us that there’s nothing we need to do. Jesus did it all in our place.
1. If a person asked you, “What do I have to do to be sure I’m safe with God,” what would you answer?
Why can’t we go solo instead of involving other people (3:16)?
How does this section connect to Mark 1:4-11? What’s the connection to Isaiah 49:1-6?