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St Paul refused to leave his prison dungeon

Posted in Ancient History, Bible, Religion on Wednesday, 30 January 2013

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This edited article about St Paul originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 112 published on 7 March 1964.

St Paul in prison, picture, image, illustration

Paul reassuring the Roman jailer after the earthquake by Clive Uptton

It was an eventful day when Paul and his companion Silas first set foot in Europe. They landed near a city in Greece called Philippi, and their first meeting with people from that city was a very happy one. A woman called Lydia not only became one of the first Christians in that part of Europe, but invited Paul and Silas to share her family’s home during their stay.

All might have gone well during this visit if Paul had not noticed a young girl who was being led about by a band of rather rough men. The girl was out of her mind, but spoke so strangely that her masters used her as a fortune-teller.

Something about Paul and Silas fascinated this girl, who seemed, despite her strange manner, to realize that they were men of God. Paul could not bear to see her turned into a show-piece by the men to whom she belonged, so he spoke to her in the Name of Jesus, and was able to restore her mind to its normal state.

When her masters realized that she was no longer of any use to them as a fortune-teller, they were angry with Paul for what he had done. They went straight to the police and complained, quite falsely, that Paul and Silas were stirring up a revolt against the Roman governors of their city.

Soon they had roused quite a crowd of indignant citizens in their support, and the magistrates of the city had no hesitation in believing all the accusations that were made about Paul and Silas. Without giving either of them a chance to speak, these magistrates ordered the two apostles to be beaten, and then hauled off to prison.

Hearing that they were a dangerous pair, the chief jailer forced Paul and Silas into a dungeon, and there clamped their feet in wooden stocks.

Paul and Silas did not lose hope. They said their prayers, and, since sleep was impossible in such a place, they began to sing hymns.

Later that night the whole building suddenly began to tremble. The doors swung open, and the rings to which the prisoners were chained fell out of the wall. What had happened was an earthquake.

All was in confusion, and the jailer, awakened by the noise and thinking his prisoners had escaped, was about to kill himself in despair. Imagine his amazement when Paul assured him they were still his prisoners, and would not run away!

Perhaps this jailer already believed that his prisoners were innocent. He now asked Paul to tell him about the Christian message, and soon not only he but all his family were on the side of Paul and Silas, and were treating them not as prisoners but as guests.

Next day the magistrates, too, had changed their minds about Paul and Silas, and came themselves to apologize. Soon the apostles were back among their friends, having added the jailer and his family to the little band of Christians at Philippi.

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