Vol.II No.V Pg.3
June 1965

Jailer Bound, Prisoners Free

Robert F. Turner

The jailer had received strict orders to keep certain prisoners safely. He bound them in stocks, in the inner prison; but at midnight a great earthquake loosed their bonds. Thinking his prisoners had escaped, the jailer was about to kill herself, when one of the prisoners said, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here".

Small wonder the keeper began to think that these men, jailed because of religious practices, might have information he sorely needed. Bringing them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (ACT.16:23-)

The answer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ -- " is a broad, all-inclusive reply. It says, "sir, to be saved, you need a Saviour;" for mark it well -- salvation is no more purchased by "faith" than it is by "baptism". The jailer must "believe" -- put his trust in -- Jesus. Here is the one on whom he must depend; the one who had died for the sins of the world; the one who had divine authority to tell him "what to do".

Respecting the authority of Christ, the prisoners then "spake unto him the word of the Lord". They gave the jailer the message Christ had sent them forth to proclaim. I see no objection to calling it the plan of salvation as long as we remember that this simply means the instructions we receive from the Saviour, in whom we trust. We "rest our case" upon Christ when we are humbly submissive to His will; (JOH.14:23) which obviously means we must know His will, and do it. In a sense, Paul and Silas were telling the jailer what it really means to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" when they "spake unto him the word of the Lord". Jesus had said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved -- " and "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (MAR.16:16;MAT.28:19). Through Peter He had said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (ACT.2:38). This is the "word of the Lord".

And so the jailer "took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway". This was his way -- and the proper way -- of "believing in God with all his house" (Why not read the whole record for yourself -- ACT.16:23-34).

The prisoners, Paul and Silas, were "tied" to the stocks, but in a far more disastrous way, the jailer was "bound" in his own sins. His was a binding that could damn his soul, while their's meant only physical discomfort, and that was apparently forgotten in their rejoicing that they could suffer for the cause of Christ. They "prayed, and sang praises unto God" while in this condition.

Please note -- the jailer did not "rejoice" (ACT.16:34) until after he had been loosed from his bonds of sin.

Dear Reader, there is a vital message in this for you. Have you really and truly "believed in Jesus Christ"?