The Philippian Jail Cell
Apostle Paul's Missionary Journey
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Philippi was a city in eastern Macedonia established by King Philip II of Macedon. The king started the city in 356 B.C., the same year his son and heir to the throne Alexander III (also known as Alexander the Great
) was born. The objective of founding the town was to take control of the neighboring gold mines and to establish a garrison at a strategic passage.
During his second missionary journey Paul, in Troas, sees a vision of a man in Macedonia (Greece) asking for help (Acts 16:8-9). He, Silas and others immediately set sail for Neapolis. From Neapolis they travel to Philippi.
While in the city Paul meets a slave. Sensing that she was demon possessed he casts the evil spirit out of the woman. The slave's masters, angered that the profitable fortune telling skills she had are now gone, go on a campaign to get as many as possible to be against the preachers. The evangelists are taken into custody, beaten and thrown in a Philippian jail cell! They and the other prisoners, however, are soon freed due to a miracle. An earthquake occurs that causes Paul's cell door to open and his bonds to loosen up. This not only happens to him but to ALL those within the prison.
The jailor is woke up by the earthquake, sees the cell doors of the jail open and assumes all the prisoners have escaped. He then grabs his sword so that he can commit suicide. But why? Sleeping while on watch (e.g. guarding prisoners) was a CRIME in the Roman military. The punishment for such behavior was DEATH! No doubt the jailor wanted to take his own life rather than have the Romans do it. The apostle Paul, however, stops him from killing himself. Then a second miracle, greater than the first, occurs.
26. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so great that the foundations of the prison were shaken . . .
30. And when he (the prison jailor) had brought them (Paul and Silas) out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do, that I may be saved?" 33. And he took them . . . washed their wounds; and he and all his household were immediately baptized. (Acts 16)