VERSES: Acts 16:16-40
MEMORY VERSE: Acts 16:30 "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
BOOK TO REMEMBER: 1 Timothy. Write "1 Timothy" on small slips of paper, so the students may memorize another New Testament book at home.
PRAYER: Thank God for the blessings of freedom that we enjoy each and every day.
SPECIAL SONG: How Do Christians Worship God? (see May 2014 - Songs We Sing In Bible Class #5 on this blog. Click on orange circle to hear tune.)
VISUAL AID: TV Box (For directions and ideas, see February 2014 - Visual Aids #1 - TV Box on this blog. It takes time to prepare the pictures and box, but the students remember the lesson for a long time and the Bible teacher is "led" by the pictures, so nothing is forgotten in the story.)
- While Paul and Silas and others in their group were in Philippi, they were preaching and teaching about Jesus Christ to people who had never heard about Jesus. The Lord had chosen Paul to preach to the Gentiles or people who were not Jews and there were lots of Gentiles to preach to in the city and Roman colony of Philippi.
- As Paul, Silas, Luke, and the others were going to the place of prayer, a young slave girl who had a spirit of divination met the men and cried out, "These men are the servants of the Most High God who will show us the way of salvation!" What the young girl said was true, but she followed Paul and his company many days, shouting out these words over and over again. Finally, Paul, being annoyed, turned to the spirit and commanded in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.
- That is when the trouble began! The young girl made much money for her masters by telling people's fortunes, but when the young girl's masters saw that they could not make any more money from the young girl, they caught Paul and Silas and took them to the rulers in the marketplace.
- The masters of the girl complained to the important rulers about Paul and Silas, telling them that Paul and Silas were Jews and were causing trouble in the city. They said that Paul and Silas were teaching customs which were against the law for Romans to observe and practice. A huge crowd gathered and joined in the attack on Paul and Silas. The important rulers beat Paul and Silas and then threw them in prison, telling the jailer to keep the prisoners safe. When the jailer heard that, he put Paul and Silas in the safest place he could think of where they could not escape--in the middle of the prison. He made sure they couldn't get away by locking their feet in stocks.
- Do you know what Paul and Silas did at midnight? They prayed and sang praises to God! They were not afraid! Do you know who heard them? The prisoners! They were listening to the words they were singing and to the prayers they were praying.
- Suddenly, there was a great earthquake!! The foundation of the prison was shaken and all the prison cell doors were opened, and every prisoner's chains and stocks were opened. When the jailer woke from his sleep and saw the doors of the prison cells were opened, he drew out his sword and was going to kill himself because he thought all the prisoners had escaped.
- But Paul cried out in a loud voice to the jailer, "Don't hurt yourself! We are all here!" The jailer called for a light and ran into where Paul and Silas were. He was trembling and fell before them. He brought them out of the cell and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The jailer must have been listening to Paul and Silas while they were praying and singing just like the prisoners had been doing! Paul and Silas told him to believe on Jesus and he would be saved and all those in his family as well. Paul and Silas spoke more about the word of the Lord to him and all that were in his house. That very hour, the jailer took Paul and Silas and washed their wounds. He then was baptized and everyone else in his house. The jailer took Paul and Silas to his house and gave them food and rejoiced because he and all of his household believed in God.
- When it was day, the important rulers sent in soldiers to tell the jailer to let the men go. The jailer told Paul and Silas that they had been set free and to go in peace. But Paul said that they had been beaten in front of everyone in the market place and they had not done anything wrong. They were Roman citizens and had been thrown into prison! Putting a Roman citizen in prison was against the law. Paul said that they were not leaving the prison until the important rulers came and released them themselves instead of letting them go privately. When the rulers heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid and released them from the prison themselves.
- Do you know where Paul and Silas went after they were released from prison? To Lydia's house! She was the kind, hospitable lady that Paul had baptized when they had gone to the river on the sabbath day. When Paul and Silas had seen the brethren, they comforted them and departed for another city.
- The jailer knew if the prisoners escaped, he would be responsible and would lose his own life. He also knew this was something highly unusual if all of the prison doors were open, all the stocks were open, and not one prisoner had escaped.
- A spirit of divination or soothsaying was like fortune telling is today. People make predictions about future events. Maybe they come true and maybe they don't. Both are witchcraft and Christians are not to be involved in any type of witchcraft. Witchcraft is a work of the flesh. Read Galatians 5:19-21.
- We can learn from this example of conversion that belief (Acts 16:31) was not the only thing that the jailer was commanded to do because he was baptized as well (Acts 16:33).
ACTIVITY: Paul And Silas In Prison Booklet
Materials: 4 1/2" x 12" light brown construction paper, crayons, scissors.
- Hand out brown paper.
- Fold in half, lengthwise.
- Fold In half again.
- Draw two squares in the middle panels. These are the windows.
- Cut windows out.
- Fold paper in the middle again, and fold outer flaps up to meet the middle fold line. This is not difficult; it should look like a book.
- With booklet folded, so only the cover is shown, write "Paul And Silas In Prison" on the cover.
- Unfold once, so that two panels and one window can be seen.
- Draw the scene with Paul and Silas singing at midnight with their feet in stocks.
- Write "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God." at the top.
- With windows together, "turn" page, do that the last two panels and the other window can be seen.
- Draw the other prisoners listening to the prayers and songs.
- Write "and the prisoners heard them." at the top.
- "Turn" page, so that the back two empty panels and one window can be seen.
- Draw the jailer falling before Paul and Silas, saying, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
- On the last empty panel with a window, write "Acts 16:25-40."
- Color everything.
- Fold booklet in half, and in half again, showing only the words, "Paul and Silas in prison."
- Read the story.
- Ask questions about "what happened next?" in the story. For example, "How did Paul and Silas get out of their stocks?" "Did all the prisoners escape?" "What did Paul cry out to the jailer?" "Did the jailer believe in the things that Paul and Silas had been praying and singing about?" "Was the jailer baptized after Paul talked to him and his family?"