A Soldier Believes

By Karla Schettenhelm, Children's Ministry

A Philippian Jailer

This lesson tells of a jailer, a person who normally kept people in chains, who was the one set free.
Acts 16:16-40

The Story

The account below is taken from the Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum Unit 3, Lesson 13.

Many years later [after Saul’s conversion], Saul, who was also known as Paul, was sent by the Church to be a missionary in far away cities. He brought some missionary friends to help him tell people about Jesus.

Paul and his friend Silas came to a city in Greece called Philippi. As Paul and Silas shared the Gospel in the city, a slave girl who had a demon followed them around, saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” Paul turned and said to the demon, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And the demon immediately left her.

The people who owned the slave girl were mad. When she had the demon, they had earned a lot of money from others who wanted her to tell their future. Now with the demon gone, they couldn’t make money from her. They grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the judges.

The judges ordered that they be beaten with rods and put in prison for the night. But Paul and Silas didn’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves. Around midnight, they were praying and singing in their prison cell, and all the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, a strong earthquake struck, and all the prison doors opened up and the chains fell off of every prisoner.

The jailer woke up and got really scared. He saw the jail doors standing open and thought all the prisoners had escaped. Since he thought that he had failed to keep them in jail, he pulled out his sword to kill himself.

But Paul shouted that he should not hurt himself, because all the prisoners were still there. The jailer asked for a torch and ran inside to see. He fell down in front of Paul and Silas and asked what he had to do to be saved. Paul told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then, Paul and Silas told the jailer, his family, and his servants all about Jesus. They baptized his whole household.

The next day, the judges sent the police to the jail to let Paul and Silas go. Paul told them that he and Silas had been wrongly beaten and thrown in jail even though they were Roman citizens. He wanted an apology.

The judges were afraid because they had thrown a Roman citizen in jail when they shouldn’t have. They came and apologized to Paul and Silas and asked them to leave. Paul and Silas stopped to visit their friend Lydia and to encourage the other Christians there, and then went on their way.

Watch

For younger children watch The Apostle Paul’s Travels
For older children watch Paul and Silas in Jail (Acts 16:16-36)
To learn more about Paul’s journeys watch The Bible Project Acts Ch. 13-20.

Things to Consider

What are the troubles Paul and Silas faced in this account?
  • followed by the demon-possessed slave
  • arrested
  • attacked
  • beaten
  • thrown into prison

How did Paul and Silas do God’s work in this account?  
  • witnessing to the other prisoners by singing and praying
  • bringing the Gospel to the jailer and his household
  • baptizing the jailer and his household

God can take troubles and work good through them. (Romans 8:28)
Paul and Silas shared the love of God through their singing and praising Him, even in their terrible situation in jail. In the end, the Philippian jailer came to faith and was baptized.

Why was the jailer afraid after the earthquake?  
  • He thought the prisoners escaped. 
  • He would have been in big trouble if this happened.

What are some things you are afraid of?
When we are afraid, God’s Word and His promises give us a peace that’s much better than any kind of peace we can get on our own. Sometimes we call that the peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He has rescued us from sin, death, and the devil. When we feel afraid we can remember that we belong to Jesus forever; he promises that nothing can separate us from Him. (Romans 8:38-39)

The current world situation involves trouble and fears.
  • Have you seen God working in this situation? 
  • Have you seen any good coming from these troubles?
  • Is God giving you peace amid your fears? 

His Word and His promises can do this! It is helpful for others to hear how God has worked in your fears and troubles. If you have an answer to these questions your fellow followers of Jesus would love to hear them. Share your stories with Karla Schettenhelm or Miriam Rossow.

Bible Verse

"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." Acts 16:31

The Bible verse for this lesson are the words Paul told the jailer. We can believe in Jesus because God’s Spirit works in us through His Word and Baptism to give us faith. When we believe in Jesus, we feel happy to know God loves us and forgives our sins.

We can be happy and have joy inside us, even when we have troubles, because we know Jesus loves us and saves us from our sins. Someday we will live with Him in the New Creation forever and there won’t be troubles, fears, or sadness anymore.

Why does God allow people to suffer for their faith?

A similar question people sometimes ask is why do bad things happen to good people? Sometimes people who attack the faith say that if God really loved His people, He wouldn’t allow bad things to happen to them, especially missionaries and others who sacrifice so much in service to God.

God doesn’t give specifics as to why He allows bad things to happen to His people. All He says, in His Word, is that bad times will come.

What we learn from Paul and Silas is that God often uses the suffering of His missionaries as a witness to the world. His people take their faith so seriously that they would suffer all, even death, rather than fall away. Paul and Silas showed the fellow prisoners and the jailer that their hope is not in earthly comfort, but in God’s eternal promise.

The following are some Bible verses that speak to the suffering of God’s people:

Missionaries

This lesson tells us about part of Paul’s second Missionary journey to spread the Gospel to the world. He started in Jerusalem and traveled through Turkey and to Greece, more than 1400 miles.

Last week’s lesson, An Enemy Converts, gives a link to the missionaries Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church supports.

Here is a link to the Missionary page for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Once on this page you can learn about missionaries around the world including the United States.

Include missionaries in your prayers that God’s love is spread throughout the world. There are prayer cards included with the above link so that you can see the prayers of specific missionaries.

Activity

Make a prayer chain. Cut strips of paper; write a prayer or part of a prayer on each strip. Put the strips together (staple, tape, glue) into a chain. Use the chain to say your prayers.
 
One example of this is here, Create a prayer chain.

Music

Music is ordered from songs for young children to those for older children and adults.

Rejoice in the Lord Always (Wee Sing Bible Songs)
I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Joy  (Heritage Kids)
Praise the Lord Every Day (Yancy & Little Praise Party)
Praise You in This Storm (Casting Crowns)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
This I Believe (The Creed)  (Hillsong)

Prayer

Thank You, Jesus, for being with us in good times and bad times. Help us share the joy we have in knowing You as our Savior with others. Amen.

Father, assure me of the simplicity of this good news: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. Amen.

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