In this story, the term slave applies to various people. The girl is a slave to her owner and the demon possessing her. She calls Paul and Silas “slaves of the Most High God” (16:17), a phrase used by the worshipers of Zeus to describe themselves. The owners are slaves to the money generated by the girl. The magistrates and the crowd are slaves to keeping things the same. The jail keeper is a slave to the system.
“What must I do to be saved?” also has several meanings. Initially, the jailer may mean to ask what will save him from the wrath of and punishment by his superiors—perhaps even from his execution. Yet, he obviously recognizes in Paul and Silas a centeredness, a power for good that he wants in his life. Note that the jailer is the only one in the story who asks this question.
The words of Paul and Silas hit home with the jailer and his family: They are baptized immediately. The hospitality of the jailer toward Paul and Silas testifies to his newfound faith, even as this story testifies to the power of the Holy Spirit in and through Paul and Silas.
Some possibilities for reflection are these:
• What captivates or enslaves me?
• How would I answer a person’s question about what he or she needs to do to be saved?
• When, where, or how has my witness had seismic results or “rocked the foundations”?
• How has my life become caught up in the greater story of God’s redemption of the world?
Saving God, use me through your provision of opportunities to rock the foundations of this world by sharing the simple truth of your love for all creation, including us. Amen.
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