The Jailor
by Rick Longva

"Yet to those who are called."
1 Corinthians 1:24

The bumper sticker read; "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:30), inferring that just by reading the bumper sticker and accepting it as truth, you're saved.

What if you feel you have no need of being saved?

What if you have no knowledge about the Lord Jesus that you're asked to believe in, can believing those words alone save?

When the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas: "What must I do to be saved?" many believe, and teach it is as simple as this:

"Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."

Is it?

Was it that simple for the jailor?

The Philippian jailor heard those words, right after he asked the question:

"What must I do to be saved?"
(Acts 16:30)

What did the jailor feel he needed saving from?

The jailor was entrusted with the prisoners of the jail, after the earthquake had broke open all the cell doors and the prisoners bonds were slackened, the jailors first thought was some of the prisoners had escaped. If any escaped he was as good as dead. Paul saw that the jailor was ready to impale himself on his own sword.

The jailor could have been asking what can I do to be saved from the magistrates.

You don't read that the jailor immediately fell on his knees and accepted Jesus as his Savior when he heard Paul's answer; "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31), although many teach that this is what he did, and teach it is that simple for you! Hence all the bumper stickers!

I doubt the jailor would have believed the truth concerning Jesus if it wasn't for what happened in the next verse.

Paul knew this, because the same thing that happened to the jailor happened to him.

When Paul fell to the ground on the road to Damascus - when he saw the glorified Christ -, we don't read where he immediately accepted Jesus as his Savior, yes it was the beginning of a life change, but the first words out of Paul's mouth were:

"Who are You Lord?"

Paul knew what he was seeing was not of this earth, but in no way did he fully understand what he was experiencing. As far as Paul was concerned he had no need of being saved. Salvation never entered Paul's religious mind. Paul wanted to know Who was speaking to him out of the Light.

Christ answers Paul:

"I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting. Nevertheless, rise and enter the city, and it will be spoken to you what you must be doing."

Jesus never said the words: "Believe in Me and be saved" to Paul. He did say, "it will be spoken to you what you must be doing." Or; "It will be revealed to you Who I really Am and you will believe."

Not until three days later when Ananias confirms to Paul that it was in fact Jesus Who was seen by him on the road was Paul filled with the Holy Spirit. After spending a few days with the disciples in Damascus (possibly learning the words of the Lord?), Paul goes to speak to the Jews in the synagogue, revealing to them that Jesus is the Christ. But shortly after that the Jews plan to assassinate him, he escapes, and he is lead into the wilderness of Arabia, and it is there where the Word that he was to preach is revealed to him (Galatians 1:11-16).

Although Paul was saved, (because he was a chosen vessel Acts 9:15) he had to be taught Who Jesus is.

In the case of the Philippian jailor (chosen as well), he had to be taught Who this Jesus is Whom Paul answered his question, "What must I do to be saved?", before he believed. He needed additional information in order to believe in Who saved him.}

Luke tells us what happened next:

"And they (Paul and Silas) speak to him the word of the Lord, together with all those in his house, and he exults with all his household, having believed God"
(Acts 16:32,34).

Now the jailor, as well as his family believe and realize they are saved. Paul and Silas know that by just saying; "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved" are just words to someone who has no idea about the truth of who Jesus is.

Again Paul's question to Jesus: "Who are You Lord?"

Jesus knew without some knowledge of the truth of Who He is how can anyone know Who saved them, or believe in the One Who saved them! That is why He answered Paul saying; "It will be spoken to you what you must be doing."

We Are All Asleep

"Yet how should they be believing
One of Whom they do not hear?"

Romans 10:14

The jailor was no different then Paul, or you and me when it comes to being saved. We are all chosen vessels (Ephesians 1:4), and saved according to His purpose (2 Timothy 1:9), and that is by the will of God (1 Timothy 1:4). Before this is realized we are all asleep.

To make this point even clearer read what the jailor was doing while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns in their cell, after being beaten, and their feet secured in stocks:

"Now the warden (jailor), coming out of his sleep."
(Acts 16:25)

The other prisoners who were in their cells were listening to Paul and Silas pray and sing, the jailor, he was fast asleep.

Sleep is likened to death, so much so that death is called sleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13, John 11:11). The jailor might as well have been dead when it came to realizing he was saved.

Paul wrote in Ephesians and Romans how this is possible; While we are asleep (dead) to a realization that God has saved us and have been chosen by Him, and how we are awakened (made alive) by God, called by Him, and believe.

"(Asleep)... Before the foundation of the world He chose us to become, in Christ, His holy and blameless children ... (Awakened) when the time came He called us, and made us righteous in His sight ...
(Phillips Translation).

He chooses and calls us, we don't choose or call Him, we are asleep (dead).

How does He call us?

Or better:

"Yet how should they be believing One of Whom they do not hear?"

No one wakes out of sleep up and says: "I think I will believe in Jesus today."

Some understanding of the truth about who Jesus really is has to be known, we have to be awakened.

Paul knew what his religion falsely believed about Jesus. He hated Jesus to the point of persecuting every Jew who believed in Him.

He heard the testimony of Stephen, he just didn't believe it at the time, it wasn't his time to believe, it was stupidity to him. After hearing Stephen's message Paul endorsed the stoning of Stephen. Although Paul was severed by God from his mothers womb (Galatians 1:15), all his life before that day on the Damascus road he was as a dead man. Paul was asleep, just like the jailor.

"Awake thou that sleeps, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon you."
(Ephesians 5:14)

The Stupidity of Preaching Awakens

"How beautiful are the feet of those
bringing an evangel of good!"

Romans 10:15

Most of mankind finds the real message about Jesus stupid; yet, it is the message that God has given to those who are set to believe:

"For thus has the Lord directed us: I have appointed Thee (Christ) for a light to the nations: for Thee (Christ) to be for salvation as far as the limits of the earth. Now on hearing this, the nations rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord, and they believe, whoever were set for life eonian."
(Acts 13:47-48)

Paul would later write:

"God delights, through the stupidity of the heralding, to save those who are believing."
(1 Corinthians 1:21)

That is how those who are saved believe, by someone awakening them by giving them the message of Christ the true Light.

Jesus said:

"I am the Light of the world. He who is following Me should under no circumstances be walking in darkness, but will have the light of life"
(John 8:12).

Light wakes us up.

And this is how God does it: He sends someone.

"Now how can they call on One on Whom they have never believed? How can they believe in One of Whom they have never heard? And how can they hear unless someone proclaims Him? And who will go and tell them unless he is sent? How beautiful are the feet of those bringing the evangel of good!"
(Romans 10:14-16)

Like Paul, the jailor, and everyone else who has been chosen, God sent and will send someone to them with the evangel of truth concerning Jesus, and they will believe they are saved.

The Philippian jailor heard a message that if it was told to him a day, or week, or a year before, it would have probably been stupidity to him (like Paul after hearing Stephen), in the jailors mind he had no need to be saved, not until that night was it made clear. That night in the prison God called the jailor, with the words that Paul and Silas spoke to him, the words that brought Light (clarity) and life (eonian) that God used to awaken him.

They probably told the jailor and his family that Jesus paid the price through His death on the cross as a sin offering for us according to the scriptures. He was placed in a tomb, and three days later He rose from among the dead according to the scriptures. Sin and death are defeated. He was seen by more than five-hundred people after His resurrection, and later by Paul himself on the road to Damascus, in His glory. And it delights God as well - Who chose the jailor and his family - to call them at their appointed time to believe, to a realization that they are saved, and secure in Christ. From that moment on they would have believed that nothing can take that away, not trouble, pain or persecution, lack of material things, danger of life and limb, threats, nothing in creation, not even God Who chose us will not abandon us! (Romans 8: 31-39). Even if we fall into unbelief, He cannot disown Himself, who we are! (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

That night words similar to that (above) were probably what the jailor and his family heard and believed, and exulted in after they heard them. (Acts 16:34)

All God's Doing

"Whom He designates beforehand,
these He calls also."

Romans 8:30

Paul and Silas were commissioned by God to be there at that time so the jailor could hear the message that God called him to hear, and believe.

God chose the Philippian jailor: "He chooses us in Him before the disruption of the world." Ephesians 1:4).

God sent Paul and Silas to the jailor: "I am commissioning you, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light." Acts 26:17-18)

God gave them the message they were to preach: "The evangel that is brought by me, I didn't learn from a man, it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12)

God then called the jailor by the preaching of the evangel: "God delights through the stupidity of the heralding, to save those who are believing." (1 Corinthians 1:21)

God opened the jailors ears: "Flesh and blood does not reveal it to you, but My Father Who is in the heavens." (Matthew 16:17).

God caused the jailor to believe: "And the jailor rejoiced having believed God." (Acts 16:34)

God saved the jailor, and his family: "It was nothing you could or did achieve- it was God's gift of grace which saved you." (Ephesians 2:9)

If you have been chosen to believe in this day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), God will send someone to call you (Romans 8:30), just like He did the jailor. And you will believe.


"God delights, through the stupidity of the heralding, to save those who are believing."
(1 Corinthians 1:21)


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