Being saved, part two.

Yesterday, the jailer was looking for answers. Though it’s been twenty-four hours (or more) for us since we started looking at this story, for him it happened in minutes. (Please read Being Saved for the first part of the story.)

When the jailer was asking Paul and Silas what he needed to do in order to be saved, I don’t think he was wondering about some abstract belief system. That’s what we often do when talking about God: “Do you want to be saved?” “I didn’t know I needed it.”

The jailer knew exactly what he was talking about. He was talking about his life. His skin. The throat that he had been seconds from slitting ten minutes before. He had been afraid that everything was falling apart. Everything. He knew he had no control of where his life was going. Regardless of why the prisoners escaped, even though the earthquake was not his fault, he was still responsible.

And these two guys, Paul and Silas, chained in the most secure part of the jail, attacked by a crowd, beaten by the authorities, accused of undermining the culture, known for driving out a spirit, were suddenly the ones in control of the situation. They were the ones with the answers.

So the jailer asked them how to go ahead, how to preserve his life, how to be saved. Had they run, he would have died. And there was no reason for them to stay.

Their answer seems peculiar. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Leaping from suicide to intellectual assent is troubling for us. But for Paul and Silas, this wasn’t about intellectual assent.

After all, they had been in chains. And while talking to God, the building shook. The chains fell off.

They knew saved.

5 thoughts on “Being saved, part two.

  1. Joseph Ruiz

    Jon, I don’t think i will ever look at this story quite the same. God’s word is living and active i love that. Really touched me today in a profound way. Looking to have some chains drop and this was just the word i needed. It’s easy to have hope and faith when we don’t need it – I won’t diminish Paul’s experience by comparing my struggles to theirs – but this morning they seemed equal to me.

    I am reminded that we have choices we can allow our challenges to turn our focus on ourselves or we can be alert for the “jailers” in our life those who are desperately looking for answers. Oh, and another thing maybe i need to wait on the Lord instead of bolting the moment the chains drop. šŸ˜‰

    Grace and Peace


  2. Rich Dixon

    So they used the same word (saved) but meant different things?

    So, in trying just to understand the story, did the jailer understand their answer? If “saved” to him was about his immediate safety, did he hear Paul and Silas saying that Jesus would save him from physical harm?

    If so, wasn’t their answer misleading?

    No fair saying, “I don’t know.” šŸ™‚


    1. Jon Swanson

      good question Rich.

      The rest of the story is that the jailer took them home and cleaned them up and Paul and Silas spent the night teaching and explaining.

      It’s kind of like you saying “can I have a sandwich” and me saying “Here. you can have a pantry and a refrigerator and, wait, here’s the keys to the house. And there’s a guy who will teach you how to cook. And there’s a credit card with your name on it and mine right under that. At the grocery, it will work.”

      You thought you were looking for a sandwich. I’m giving you a whole new life.


  3. Rich Dixon

    Hey Jon–that makes sense. This whole notion of context and story is really helpful. Harder than just cherry-picking a verse.

    However, to extend your metaphor, if a guy asks for a sandwich and you teach him that man does not live by sandeiches alone and you give him something much more eternally satisfying than a sandwich, isn’t he still hungry?

    So maybe their first answer to his question was an action–they didn’t escape when they had the chance, but went home and allowed the jailer to escape punishment of death. By first meeting his immediate need they earned the right to speak into his heart about more essential issues.



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