Pray - Praise - and Thank Your Way Through
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Delivered By
Pastor Ed Dinkins
Delivered On
November 22, 2014
Central Passage
Acts 16:23-40
Fourth Sunday Service

"Things That Make You Go Hmmm (Acts 16:25-40)"
Commentary By Mark Scott & Mark Moore

There are a lot of peculiar things taking place in this story that simply defy any
naturalistic explanation. Either Luke made up a whale of a fish-story or God's hand really does
manipulate human events.

1) Singing in jail (v. 16)--You expect to hear many sounds in a prison, clanging bars, angry
shouts, footsteps of guards falling heavy on concrete, but the melodious praise of God
just doesn't seem to fit.
2) "Captive" audience (v. 25)--These inmates can't help but hear the Psalms of these
preachers reverberate off the cold stone walls. This was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air
in an otherwise dank and dark place.
3) "Timing" of the earthquake (v.26)--It is likely that Paul and Silas are laying face down in
these stocks trying to raise their praise to God by bouncing these songs off the ground.
How strange, indeed, that the tremor strikes precisely during the third verse of How Great
Thou Art. It is almost as if God is joining in the refrain.
4) A sleeping jailer (v. 27)--The Code of Justinian declared that Roman guards who failed to
keep their prisoners were to receive the prisoner's sentence in themselves. That was
enough incentive to keep most awake at their posts. Perhaps Paul and Silas' Psalms were
lullabies that put this rough-and-tumble jailer to sleep. Or maybe he trusted in the
tempered steel doors. Or could it be that God caused the slumber? Nevertheless, the
earthquake shook him awake. Naturally, seeing the open doors and loosed chains, he
would take the honorable way out, at least for a Roman, and kill himself, sparing the
magistrates this painful duty.
5) No prisoner escaped (v. 28)--Now we go from odd to downright weird. These men with
sentences on their heads and open doors before them sat spell-bound. It is almost as if
they felt the hand of God on their shoulders staying their escape.
6) Trembling before Paul and Silas (v. 29)--Suddenly the prisoners become judges.
7) What must I do to be saved? (v. 30)--This is a strange questions since he had just been
saved from certain death by his own hand and/or that of his commanding officer. He
realizes that there is a fate worse than death and that these two men whom he and his ilk
had beaten and chained were representatives of the living God! Talk about being on the
wrong side of the fence!
8) Release from prison (v. 30)--Paul and Silas are treated as honored guests at this man's
home in the middle of the night. For a pair of Jewish prisoners, that was certainly
9) Back in prison (v. 35)--How ironic that the preachers who set this man free must now be
bound by him again! How that must have hurt his heart.
10) Refused to be released (v. 37)--When most of us would scamper off, considering
ourselves lucky with the narrow escape from injustice, Paul refuses to allow God's name
to be slandered by leaving without a public apology. He is convinced that God
orchestrated these events not the magnates of Philippi.

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