“But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying,
Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” (Acts 16:28)
Scripture Reading: Acts 16:16-40
While Paul and Silas were in Macedonia, during Paul’s second missionary journey, there was a certain slave girl who had a spirit of divination. This woman could communicate with demonic spirits by uttering spells that allowed her to tell fortunes and foretell future events. She followed Paul crying out, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17) We are told she annoyed Paul with it for several days. Spirits that are of God do not annoy, do not cause irritation, and they do not steal peace. For whatever reason, Paul put up with it for many days. Paul turned towards her and said to the spirit, “I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” and it came out the same hour (Acts 16:18). Her owners were furious at this because they lost their ability to make money off her. Her owners accused Paul and his companions of many things to the authorities. The arrested had Paul and Silas arrested and had them beaten with rods and thrown into a dark prison cell bleeding and broken. The jailer, being commanded to keep them securely, knowing his life was on the line if he failed at such a charge, put them in the inner prison and bound them in stocks.
At midnight, deep within recesses of the dungeon, Paul and Silas, began singing praises to God and we are told the prisoners “heard” them (Acts 16:25). This hearing was more than just hearing with their ears. By telling us that the prisoners “heard” them, it means the prisoners listened intently to the words of Paul and Silas’ praises and it resonated with them. This is similar to what Jesus referred to when He would say “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (e.g., Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:9). By saying, “the prisoners heard them”, it implies those who were in the jail willingly received their words and the Holy Spirit bore witness in their hearts by giving understanding to the truth they were hearing. Paul and Silas’ praise unto God touched the prisoners so much so, that when God supernaturally sent an earthquake that opened the jail cell doors and loosed the stocks that bound their hands and feet, they would not leave. This is nothing less than miraculous. It is a supernatural display of the power of the gospel to set us free. As amazing as this is, it is what happened next with the jailer that I’d like to draw your attention to.
“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had fled.” (Acts 16:27)
All of this commotion woke up the jailer and when he saw the prisoner’s cell doors open he supposed the prisoners had fled. Knowing the death sentence he would face for the escape of his prisoners, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself. Notice what inspired his suicidal thoughts. The jailer was in a situation he thought he had no way out of. He feared the worst for his life but his fears were not based on the truth. The scripture says his fears were based on the imaginations and suppositions of his own mind stemming from his wrong perception of reality. So it is with many today. There are many people in similar situations fearing there is no way out. Sometimes it takes someone crying out the truth to save them.
“But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying,
Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. “ (Acts 16:28)
Paul cried out to the jailer with a “loud” voice. It was the voice of one crying out so loud that it got the attention of the afflicted and gave him pause. This cry from Paul was so loud and so persistent that it seemed to come from heaven to save the afflicted soul. It takes a “loud” cry to arrest the soul. The Greek word for “loud” is the word megas and where we get the English word “mega”. Megas is used over 200 times in the New Testament. In this case it means “great and large physical magnitude, great in force, and intensity.” The Holy Spirit’s use of the Greek word megas in describing Paul’s cry depicts a cry of desperation that doesn’t care who it offends or what other people think. It is loud, sometimes offensive, and draws the attention of all those who hear it. The authority behind Paul’s megas cry as a believer in Christ, coupled together with the power of the Spirit, arrested the soul of the jailer and stopped him in his tracks. What a shift in authority we see here. Paul’s spiritual authority trumped the jailer's civil authority. Paul, who had been arrested by the civil authorities, cried out and arrested the actions of one of those who arrested him!
After hearing these words from Paul, the jailer ran out and submitted himself publicly to Paul and asked “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) Paul spoke the Word of the Lord openly to the jailer and told him of the power of Christ to save, heal, and deliver. He said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your whole house.” (Acts 16:31) The jailer then took Paul and Silas to speak these words to all those who were in his house. The jailer cleaned and doctored their wounds and he and his whole house believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and were baptized. It was Paul’s “loud” cry coupled together with the power of God that arrested this jailer and stopped him from killing himself. It was a cry from heaven voiced through the servant of the Lord that prevented his suicide, changed his life, and brought salvation to him and his whole house. Afterwards, when it was day, the rulers decided to let Paul and Silas go and they, along with the jailer, were saved.
This is such a beautiful picture of the miraculous, life changing power of the gospel, and salvation of the Lord. Truly, there is no situation from which the Lord cannot save. Sometimes it takes someone to stand in the gap and cry out the truth loud enough to get the attention of the lost and hurting and arrest the soul of the afflicted. You are the light of the world. Therefore, let your light shine before men and cry out with a loud voice (Matt. 5:13-16).
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy,
that it cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1)
Thought for the day: The impossible is possible with Jesus. “And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:26-27)