And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas…
I. THE PREACHERS.
1. Their punishment.
(1) "Many stripes."
(2) "In the inner prison."
(3) "Their feet fast in the stocks." Cell windowless and damp; stocks irritating and painful.
2. Their piety. "Prayed and sang." Only heroes of the highest type could have prayed in such a place.
3. Their noise. "The prisoners heard them." They will have all the more attentive audience by the place and time. Noise was no new thing in the old prison. Groans, curses, threats had often echoed through those gloomy corridors; but never until now prayer and praise.
4. Their deliverance.
(1) It was supernatural. "A great earthquake."
(2) It was instantaneous. "Immediately the doors were opened."
(3) It was complete. "Every man's bands were loosed."
II. THE PENITENT. The exciting scenes of the afternoon and evening had passed, and "at midnight" the jailer is fast asleep.
1. His surprise ("waking out of his sleep") at the swaying of the prison, the open doors, and the supernatural aspect of things generally.
2. His fear. "That the prisoners had fled." Nothing was more reasonable. Prisoners have not much conscience when the alternative of bondage or freedom is before them.
3. His desperation. "Would have killed himself." Believing his own life to be forfeited, his first thought was that of suicide. That was the highest point to which heathen culture could rise. The advice of Seneca was, "If life is pleasant, live; if not, you have a right to return whence you came."
4. His instructions. "Do thyself no harm." How did Paul know he was going to do himself harm?
5. His encouragement. "We are all here." How, then, could Paul vouch for this?
6. His penitence. "Came trembling." The marvels he had witnessed had aroused his conscience, and smitten him with an awful sense of guilt and alarm.
7. His humility. "Fell down before Paul." There are earthquake crises in life when God's despised people are appreciated — crises when they only can allay the troubled spirit, and answer the momentous questions which agitate and alarm the human heart.
8. His inquiry. "What must I do to be saved?" The danger implied in this question is not that which prompted him to suicide. The presence of all the prisoners saved him from that. The inquiry involves a conviction —
(1) Of danger. "Saved."
(2) Of the importance of action or effort. "Must."
(3) Anxiety to do what may be required. "What must I do?"
(4) Personal responsibility. "What must I do?" We lose ourselves in the crowd. True penitence individualises the man.
III. THE PARDON.
1. Its condition — "Believe."
2. Its object — "Jesus Christ."
3. Its certainty — "Thou shalt be saved."
4. Its effects.
(1) Sympathetic — "Washed their stripes." A man should doubt his conversion if he does not seek to undo the wrongs of yesterday.
(2) Hospitality — Into his house.
(3) Liberality — Set meat before them.
(4) Public and prompt confession — Baptised straightway.
(5) Influence — "And all his." One saved man has a tendency to produce another.The jailer, though a heathen, had some manhood and character about him, or his family would not have been so ready to follow him with such confidence.
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,