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The Unexpected
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There’s a lesson to be learned in Acts 16:31 about parental responsibility. Remember how Paul and Silas were shackled prisoners, yet they offered prayers and sang psalms of joy—and all the other prisoners were listening to their praise to God? Then, in the midst of that unusual scene—worshipping God in bonds—something unexpected happened. A tremendous earthquake shook the prison! And every prisoner survived the tumult, including Paul and Silas. Each saw opportunity to escape because their manacles were loosed. Yet unexpected words were shouted by Paul to succor the jailer, who knew his dreaded consequences from his superiors, if they’d escaped, “We’re all here.”

In gratitude, the unexpected occurred again, the jailer, who observed the godly spirit of Paul and Silas, and with their voices of praise still sounding in his ears, fell before them asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They didn’t tell him to pay alms, do penance, or pray to idols, they simply assured this repentant man that all he needed to do is believe in God, and he and all his household would be saved.

Why did they include all the jailer’s household? One can’t go to heaven the coattails of someone else, each must come to the Lord with a repentant heart. Each must make his or her own decision. Why were they so bold? There must be a logical reason.

Tell His Family

My conclusion is: Paul, himself, a miraculous convert, and Silas a faithful servant, trusted that the jailer’s conversion would change his life so dramatically that he’d become the priest of his home and be a testament of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. Thus, drawing his family to believe and repent. The jailer certainly knew some unexpected tales to tell them, didn’t he? His family, most likely were well aware of the wayfaring preachers fettered in the prison. The jailer probably sat at his supper table and bragged about having the responsibility of keeping the “disturbers of the peace” locked up! Now, he’d tell his family a different story: the psalm-singing-prayers taught him about God, songs that expressed His character; he’d tell them about all the prisoners staying in their cells, including Paul and Silas, even though they were free of their chains.

No reason to tell them about an unexpected earthquake because they’d certainly be aware of it-- earthquakes don’t happen silently, in fact, earthquakes usually cause death, yet God spared all. With a new role as family priest, the jailer would rejoice in the conversion of all his loved ones. The jailer’s repentance shows us our task within our families. As converted people, we are to be examples to all those around us, but first to our family members. Paul and Silas knew the truthfulness of the jailer’s desire to be saved. Thus, boldness provided a part of being God’s spokesmen. The pronouncement of salvation to the jailer and his family serves for what we can expect from God, blessings from the unexpected.

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By Betty Kossick. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines

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