And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
This week’s video is presentation 15 in our study of Acts, and looks at the work of theology in the ongoing work of Christ. You can view it by clicking here (scroll down to Lesson 15).
Read and reflect on Acts 16.25-30.
Really, what would you and I have done? Probably sulked in our cell and feared what tomorrow might bring. Perhaps we would have prayed, but the prayers would have been for our safety and wellbeing, I suspect. Paul and Silas? They sang.
1. This is a perfect illustration of what James commends in James 1.2-4, and what Paul exhorts in Romans 5.3-5. Why is rejoicing the best place to turn in the face of trials and troubles? What can keep us from doing this?
2. Paul and Silas sang (Greek: praying a hymn) to help them rejoice – perhaps Psalm 67. This psalm is described as a hymn and focuses on the salvation of the Lord for the world. Beaten, bruised, and bound, Paul and Silas did not lose sight of their mission. Their focus was on the Lord and the salvation of lost sinners, even those jerks who’d beat them up that day. Can you see how singing to the Lord is a good way of summoning strength and rejoicing? Explain.
3. Can singing also be a form of witness? The jailer’s question suggests he’d heard about the goings-on in his prison before he arrived at the inner prison where his most dangerous detainees sat. Luke tells us the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas as they sat clapped in irons. Or used to sit clapped in iron. Now no one was clapped in irons. The doors of the prison were all open and everyone’s chains had fallen off. How stupefied were those prisoners? No one bolted for the door. No one even seems to have moved. Do you think God likes to hear his saints sing? Do you think the singing of Paul and Silas might have had some effect on those around them?
4. I’d say that God’s thunderous, earth-shaking response to the singing of Paul and Silas was a resounding indication of His approval of their faith. The jailer prepared to kill himself because that would have been easier than the punishment he expected from the Romans (cf. Acts 12.19). Paul stayed his hand, however, and the jailer fell down before him with that classic question: “Sirs, what must Ido to be saved?” How would you answer someone who asked you that question?
5. It does not please the Lord for His evangelists to be supplied with “earthquake in a jar” to set people up for the Gospel. It pleases Him for us to live by faith and to respond in faith and rejoicing to all the outward circumstances of our lives, be they ever so dire. Paul and Silas were singing about the salvation they possessed and they longed for others to know. The jailer did not ask about how they pulled off that earthquake or managed to set all those prisoners free. He was fixated on the larger, more important issue revealed by Paul’s and Silas’ unflappable faith. How should we expect people today to see our faith at work in ways that provoke interest in the salvation we possess? What does hope look like that causes people to ask about it (1 Pet. 3.15)?
This is another one of those scenes which, if it had appeared in a play by Shakespeare, would have had the audience in stitches. God moved heaven and earth to reach one man and his household with the Good News of salvation. Meditate on Psalm 18.4-19 (see the Closing Prayer). David considered that God moved heaven and earth to save him as well. Is that how you see your own experience of having come to know the Lord? How would you share that experience with an unsaved friend or co-worker?
The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.
The LORD thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O LORD,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the LORD was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.
T. M. Moore
Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.
Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book, The Kingdom Turn (click here).
Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.