Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
The Second Missionary Journey
Acts 16; Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; Acts 17; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Acts 18:1–10
September 1, 2018
It’s a tough calling to be a prison guard these days. While the news is rife with prison guards who have “dropped their guard” and been charged with molesting inmates, unnecessarily shoving restrained prisoners, and bringing in contraband, there are many loyal men and women who stand faithfully in the line of duty.
In New Bedford, Connecticut last week at the Sousa Baranowski Correctional Center, a fight broke out in which six correctional officers were injured and five of them had to be treated at a local hospital. One officer was attacked and hit with a wooden chair several times until other officers intervened. 
In this week’s Sabbath school lesson, as we look at Paul’s second missionary journey, we’re reminded that prisons, prisoners, and prison guards have existed for a long time. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were imprisoned in a Philippian jail after casting a demon out of a slave girl who was bringing a profit to her master. He was so mad that he had the two missionaries dragged before the local authorities and accused them of bringing trouble to their city.
After Paul and Silas had been beaten with rods, they were thrown into prison. The jailer was commanded to keep them secure. “Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:24). Instead of moaning over their lot, the two conducted a prayer meeting at midnight in which they prayed and sang hymns to God.
When a great earthquake shook the prison and all the doors flung open and the chains were loosened from every prisoner, the jailer was sure everyone must have escaped. So he drew his sword and was about to take his own life when “Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here’” (verse 28). The faithful prison guard who was committed to his work was so shaken by this experience that he became a believer, and Paul baptized his entire family.
Imagine a prayer meeting service in your church that was filled with such powerful singing and praying that the Holy Spirit would come and shake free the chains of sin from people’s lives. Mind you, this took place in the context of two church leaders who were suffering for Christ. It was through pain and persecution that Paul and Silas’ lives stood out as bold testimonies for Jesus.