And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas…
I. CHRIST'S SERVANTS WILL USE WHATEVER POWER THEY POSSESS TO SET THE SLAVES OF SATAN FREE. Paul did not act from mere impulse, but upon the principle of compassion with which all true Christians are animated, he was miraculously endowed, it is true, while we have only the power of influence and persuasion. But when a country is invaded, what patriot will draw back because he has not a rifle of the most approved pattern? Let us then do what we can to exorcise the demons of intemperance, etc.
II. CHRIST'S SERVANTS ARE NOT TO EXPECT THAT THEIR EFFORTS WILL WIN EARTHLY REWARDS. This ought to be the result; but connected with all evils are vested interests which resist all efforts to diminish their gains. The owners of this damsel looked not at her benefit, but at their loss. For the same reason all reformers have been hated; and they must not be surprised at it (John 15:19-21).
III. CHRIST SECURES FOR HIS SERVANTS NOT EXEMPTION FROM SORROW, BUT A SUSTAINING JOY. All power is given to Christ, and He sometimes uses it to disappoint the enemies of His servants; but more frequently He leaves them, as here, to suffer for His name's sake. But it is then that He gives then the sweetest assurances of His presence and love; and makes them more than conquerors (Acts 5:41).
IV. BY THEIR CONDUCT TOWARDS THEIR PERSECUTORS CHRIST'S SERVANTS SHOW THAT THEY ARE HIS. That can be no merely human religion which enables men to conquer the natural desire for revenge, and to do good to those by whom they have been despitefully used.
V. BY THEIR FIDELITY TO CONVICTION AND THE BEAUTY OF THEIR CHARACTER CHRIST'S SERVANTS WILL ULTIMATELY WIN THE RESPECT OF THOSE WHO HAVE WRONGED THEM. The behaviour of Paul and Silas impressed the jailer quite as much as the earthquake. That might have been a natural occurrence, but the cheerfulness and kindness of the missionaries under the circumstances were obviously supernatural. So it is that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
VI. TURNING TO THE JAILER, we learn —
1. That the worst of men may become the servants of Christ.
2. That they may become so instantly. How long does it take to enlist a recruit? The resolve may be the fruit of long consideration, and it may take months of drill to make him an efficient soldier; but the act of enlistment is instantaneous.
3. The proof that men have become servants of Christ consists not in emotion but in conduct.
(R. A. Bertram.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,