Focus Scripture: Acts 16:27-33
Paul and Silas are in prison without just cause. They are praying and singing hymns--at midnight no less. And what happens? Surely a miracle--an earthquake that opens up the jail. But Paul doesn't leave. Why not?
That's the question that ran through my mind when I read today's scripture. Why didn't Paul walk out of the prison?
In Acts 12, Peter was in prison and an angel came and took him out of prison. So when their prayers and singing seemed to prompt an earthquake that opened up the prison, why didn't Paul and Silas leave? Some will say it was to save the guard--but Peter was not concerned with the guard in Acts 12 and indeed the guards in Acts 12 were put to death for allowing the prisoner to escape.
There was a happier ending for Paul's guard. While the guard was prepared to kill himself, and avoid a public execution, instead the guard received the Word from Paul and was saved and his entire household was baptized. But there is no indication that Paul knew that this would happen. How did Paul know not to leave the prison? Or is the hint later in the passage when Paul refuses to leave even after he is told he is allowed to? Paul after all does not want to be let out quietly. Paul wants to be vindicated. Perhaps Paul is just incredibly stubborn and this is an example of God using even stubbornness for good.
If you had been Paul, arrested and imprisoned improperly, given the chance to escape, what would you have done? Why do you think Paul responded as he did?