Life-Changing Encounters in Philippi

Life-Changing Encounters in Philippi

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
–Acts 16:30

While he was in Philippi, Paul had an encounter with a demon-possessed girl. Acts 16:16-17 says, “As we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, ‘These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.’” Paul commanded the demon to come out, and it did. Everybody was excited–except the girl’s slave masters, who had been making money from her fortune-telling. They were upset and started a riot. The crowd started beating Paul and Silas, and they were thrown into prison.

Acts 16:25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Talk about one of the great understatements in the New Testament! Here were two men who had been beaten within inches of their lives. They might be executed in the morning. But their joy wasn’t tied to their circumstances. Instead, they praised God. And the prisoners were listening.

Suddenly, an earthquake shook the prison. “Immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped” (vv. 26-27). According to Roman law, if the jailer lost the prisoners, he would be executed. But Paul cried out, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” (v. 28). The jailer brought out Paul and Silas and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 30).

The jailer may have had in mind, at least partly, his physical deliverance. But I think he had in mind more than that. He knew what the demon-possessed girl had been saying: “These men proclaim the way of salvation.” So it was natural for him to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” And in one of the signal passages of the New Testament, they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (v. 31). Notice that Paul didn’t say, “Believe and be baptized.” Or, “Believe and join the church.” Or, “Believe and tithe.” The Bible says to be saved there’s one and only one thing we must do: believe in what Christ did on the cross for us. The Philippian jailer believed, and he was baptized. He then took Paul to his family, and they believed and were baptized as well.

Over the next ten years, Paul stayed in contact with that church in Philippi. While he was in prison in Rome, the Christians at Philippi sent Paul a financial gift. And that’s the reason he wrote this letter to the Philippians. Philippians is a thank-you note from Paul to the church in Philippi for encouraging him as he awaited the verdict of his trial.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living above Your Circumstances” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.