And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas…
Here we see it —
I. ELEVATING THE SPIRIT ABOVE THE GREATEST TRIALS (ver. 25). What gives religion this power.
1. Faith in the Divine superintendence. The apostles knew that they were not here by accident or chance, but that the whole was under the wise and kind control of the Eternal Father. This is consoling. Job felt this. "He knoweth the way that I take," etc.
2. Consciousness of God's approval. The "well done" of Heaven echoed within, and set all to music. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God," etc.
3. The thought of Christ's trials in comparison with their own.
4. Assurance of a glorious deliverance. "Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment," etc. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared," etc. He who has this religion can find a paradise in a dungeon.
II. ENSURING THE INTERPOSITION OF GOD (ver. 26). While caring for all God takes special care of the good.
1. Reason would suggest this, viz., that the Eternal Spirit would feel a greater interest in mind than in matter; that the Eternal Father in His offspring than in His mere workmanship; that the Source of love and holiness in those who participate in His own moral attributes than in those who do not.
2. The Bible teaches this.
(1) In explicit declarations. "To that man will I look," etc. "As a father pitieth his children," etc. "Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field," etc.
(2) In the biography of the good. Did He not specially interpose on behalf of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles? If necessary He will make the heavens rain bread, and the rock out-pour refreshing streams. He will divide the sea, and stop the mouth of lions.
III. CAPACITATING THE SOUL FOR THE HIGHEST USEFULNESS. The Philippian jailer —
1. Was prevented from self-destruction. The voice of Christianity to man is, "Do thyself no harm" of any kind. The good are ever useful in preventing evil.
2. Was directed to true safety. His question indicates a complex state of mind. He had regard not only to material and civil deliverance, but to spiritual and eternal. The question implies a sense of peril, and a sense of the necessity of individual effort. Something must be done. Paul, without circumlocution and delay, answers, "Believe," etc. Believe on Him as the Representative of God's love for the sinner, as the Atoner to God's character, as the Guide to God's heaven.
3. Experienced a delightful change (vers. 33, 34). The ruffian who "thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks," now tenderly washes their "stripes," and entertains them with pious hospitality. The terror-struck soul who sprang in, in utmost horror, is now full of joy and faith (ver. 34).
IV. INVESTING THE SOUL WITH THE TRUEST INDEPENDENCY (ver. 35, etc.). This is seen —
1. In their superiority to the fear of man. As soon as they were miraculously delivered from prison, they might have hurried away from such a scene of enemies; but they remained, although the magistrates gave them liberty to depart. They were not afraid. They could chant the 46th psalm.
2. In refusing great benefits, because offered on improper grounds. We will not accept as a favour what we demand as a right. A good man will refuse liberty, social influence, wealth, unless they can be honourably and righteously obtained.
3. In triumphing over their enemies. The tyrants became fawning suppliants at the feet of their prisoners. Such is Christian piety at first displayed in Europe, and in a prison. Piety is not that weak, simpering thing which often passes for it. It is the mightiest force on earth. True Christians have not received "the spirit of fear, but of love, power, and of a sound mind."
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
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,