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  • Eli Schnell

Most Unlikely


The air is damp. Your cell is dark. You have done nothing to deserve your imprisonment, yet here you sit, your feet in the stocks, your back aching from the wrongful beating you have received. A long, painful night stretches out before you. In those circumstances, few would offer songs of praise to God. But that is exactly where Paul and Silas were and precisely what they did. Acts 16:22-25 relates the story of their godliness, even while wrongly imprisoned.


A great earthquake occurred at about midnight. Whether the earthquake was a miracle or not, we are not told, but the results would suggest God’s involvement: all the doors were opened, and every prisoner’s chains were unfastened. Still in darkness, the jailer saw the open doors and assumed the prisoners had fled. He drew his sword and prepared to kill himself, but Acts 16:28 says:


“…Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!’”


No prisoner had left. In response, the jailer asked in verse 30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” According to verse 33, he washed their wounds and was baptized with those in his household that night. He was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.


The jailer was perhaps the unlikeliest of evangelistic prospects. Even when Paul stopped him from ending his own life, there was no guarantee how the jailer would respond. If the prisoners had not stayed, if Paul had not called out, the jailer would have died that night only to enter eternal torment. The opportunity for this man’s salvation arose because of the godly choices of those near him. Who is near to you who seems most unlikely to obey the gospel? Have you offered them the chance?

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