Jailer’s musings

“I never thought things would turn out this way.  I would have never in a million years imagined myself in this crummy job,” thought the jailer of the Philippian prison.  “Every day I work in filth with mean, nasty people, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  And, if I don’t do my job well, and one of the prisoners escapes,… well, let’s just say I don’t just get in trouble.  My bosses demand the death penalty for such a mistake.  Talk about stress!”Dungeon of Despair


(Oh, in case you didn’t notice, I’m pretending to be the Philippian jailer today!  Check out Acts chapter 16:13-40 for the Biblical account!)


Yeah, well let me tell you about something that happened a while back that turned my life around!  I’m still working in the same filthy jail, mind you, and doing the same job, but my whole outlook has changed.

You see, I was just doing my job, cursing back at the swearing, surly prisoners, when the soldiers brought in these two guys that were different than the rest.  Paul and Silas were their names.

Instead of cursing at me, they blessed me.  Instead of acting hateful, they spoke kind words.

“God bless you, sir,” they said.  “Peace be unto you,” they said.  “May God be gracious to you,” they said.

Well, I wasn’t buying it.  They were probably just schmoozing me, so when the soldiers told me to make sure they didn’t escape, I threw them into the inner prison and fastened their ankles in the stocks.  They wouldn’t be going anywhere!  And that was a fact!

Or so I thought.

I heard them faintly from my post, praying and singing praises to their God.  I was a bit puzzled, so I went to check on them.  The other prisoners were listening intently as they sang about some guy named Jesus whom they claimed to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world.



I turned away and went back to my post.  Let them sing.  At least it keeps the other prisoners from being so obnoxious!

And as the darkness deepened, my eyes grew heavy, and I fell asleep.

At midnight, I awoke to a violent earthquake that was shaking the prison so badly, that doors flew open which had been firmly locked, and I heard the sound of chains hitting the stone floor!

I felt panic rise in my chest; I was terrified!  I was sure that all the prisoners had escaped into the dark night!  Tomorrow morning when my bosses found out, chances were good that they would literally crucify me!  Better that I just mercifully kill myself right then!

How Paul knew what I was getting ready to do remains a mystery to me.  It was dark, you know?  Midnight with no lights in the inner prison?  But I heard him yelling from the other room, “Do yourself no harm!  For we are all still here!  Not one of us has escaped!”

So, I called for a torch, and checked to see if he was telling the truth, and sure enough, all the prisoners were still there!

Well, if their God was that powerful to send an earthquake on that very night, and if He was kind enough and compassionate enough to give these men such hope in the midst of despair, I decided I’d better ask them about how I could get to know and worship such a God!

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  I asked.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your household as well.”

My household?  Yes this is very good news!  We all need to believe in this Jesus, the Son of God who came to take the punishment for each of our sins!

So, I took a chance, and took Paul and Silas to my house so they could tell my family about this Jesus.

We all believed on Him, and He immediately changed our hearts, flooding them with peace and joy!

We took Paul and Silas, as quietly as we could manage, down the deserted streets to the river, where we washed their wounds.  Then, they baptized us.

Well, long story short, the magistrates came and personally released Paul and Silas from the prison the next day.

But that wasn’t the last we heard from them.

Paul wrote a letter to our church that he started while he was ministering in our city of Philippi.

You know it as the letter to the Philippians.

I know firsthand that when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice,” he really meant always:

  • Even when you’ve been beaten to the point of bleeding.
  • Even when you’ve been falsely accused and illegally thrown into prison.
  • Even when everything is a mess and the situation seems impossible.

But you don’t have to take my word for it!  Why don’t you read Paul’s letter to our church at Philippi for yourself?

Oh, and let me know what you learn from it!


26 thoughts on “Jailer’s musings

  1. Great post!! Thank you for sharing! I’ve recently been trying to challenge myself to remember to not ask “why?” when things don’t go as planned..but rather to seek God, saying, “God help me to see you in this.”
    It gives a whole new perspective to a difficult time and results in spiritual growth.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! 🙂 I loved reading this, and it certainly got my brain to wonder about things. As you said, how did Paul know what the jailer was about to do when it was so dark? I wonder if this is like when Elisha saw the chariots in the sky, but his servant couldn’t until Elisha prayed that God opened his eyes in second kings chapter six.

    P.S.: I thought I was following you, so I was surprised to see that I’m not. 😅 A while back, my blog somehow ended up on the spam list (for following too many blogs) so even though it told me that “you are now following this blog,” I really wasn’t. Thankfully, the WordPress team fixed it, but I must have followed you before I found out about the problem. I was wondering why I never saw you in my Reader!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, the emails I get to approve comments or view comments, the “approve” and “view” buttons are right on top of “mark as spam”. Any one of us could accidentally mark someone we follow as spam by fat fingering those buttons in the email.


  3. Hi Ruth! Thanks for sharing this insight and encouragement. I taught my 2nd graders about Paul yesterday and we talked about what it’d been like to be in jail with Paul. Our memory verse was Philippians 1:21 “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We talked about it being a WIN-WIN either way.
    My husband feels he’s in a “prison” right now regarding his job. This blogpost is perfect timing, as only God can do. Thanks for writing faithfully. It was a sweet blessing and God-detail for me and my family today!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this, especially since you shared it first with your VBS kids! I miss my days of teaching the kids at church–their hearts that see right through to the center of things always opened my own eyes! As did your story here. I never thought about the jailer being part of the Philippian Church that Paul addressed in his letter. What encouragement as you shared how the jailer knew first-hand of Paul’s example to rejoice in ALL things. Amen!!

    Liked by 1 person

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