Chapter 15: The Jews Decided to Kill Paul


The chief priests and rulers were moved with hatred against Paul, as they witnessed the effect of the relation of his experience. They saw that he boldly preached Jesus, and wrought miracles in his name, and that multitudes listened to him, and turned from their traditions, and looked upon them as being the murderers of the Son of God. Their anger was kindled, and they assembled to consult as to what was best to be done to put down the excitement. They agreed that the only safe course for them was to put Paul to death. But God knew of their intention, and angels were commissioned to guard him, that he might live to fulfill his mission, and to suffer for the name of Jesus.

Paul was informed that the Jews were seeking his life. Satan led the unbelieving Jews to watch the gates of Damascus day and night, that as Paul should pass out of the gates; they might immediately kill him. But the disciples in the night let him down by the wall in a basket. Here the Jews were made ashamed of their failure, and Satan's object was defeated. And Paul went to Jerusalem to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him. They could not believe that he was a disciple. His life had been hunted by the Jews in Damascus, and his own brethren would not receive him; but Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

But Satan was stirring up the Jews to destroy Paul, and Jesus bade him leave Jerusalem. And as he went into other cities preaching Jesus, and working miracles, many were converted, and as one man was healed who had always been lame, the people who worshiped idols were about to sacrifice to the disciples. Paul was grieved, and told them that they were only men, and that they must worship God who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.

Paul exalted God before them; but he could scarcely restrain the people. The first knowledge of faith in the true God, and the worship and honor due to him, were being formed in their minds; and as they were listening to Paul, Satan urged on the unbelieving Jews of other cities to follow after Paul to destroy the good work wrought through him. The Jews stirred up, and inflamed the minds of those idolaters by false reports against Paul. The wonder and admiration of the people now changed to hate, and they who a short time before were ready to worship the disciples, stoned Paul, and drew him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But as the disciples were standing about Paul, and mourning over him, to their joy he rose up, and went with them into the city.

As Paul preached Jesus, a certain woman possessed with a spirit of divination, followed them, crying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. Thus she followed the disciples many days. But Paul was grieved; for this crying after them diverted the minds of the people from the truth. Satan's object in leading her to do this was to disgust the people, and destroy the influence of the disciples. But Paul's spirit was stirred within him, and he turned to the woman, and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her, and the evil spirit was rebuked, and left her.

Her masters were pleased that she cried after the disciples; but when the evil spirit had left her, and they saw her a meek disciple of Christ, they were enraged. They had gathered much money by her fortune-telling, and now the hope of their gain was gone. Satan's object was defeated; but his servants caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place, unto the rulers, and to the magistrates, saying, These men being Jews do exceedingly trouble our city. And the multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. But the angels of God accompanied them within the prison walls. Their imprisonment told to the glory of God, and showed to the people that God was in the work, and with his chosen servants, and that prison walls could be shaken, and strong iron bars could easily be opened by him.

At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sung praises unto God, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and I saw that immediately the angel of God loosed everyone's bands. The keeper of the prison awoke and was affrighted as he saw the prison doors open. He thought that the prisoners had escaped, and that he must be punished with death. As he was about to kill himself, Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here. The power of God convicted the keeper. He called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. The jailer then assembled his whole household, and Paul preached unto them Jesus. The jailer's heart was united to those brethren, and he washed their stripes, and he, and all his house, were baptized that night. He then set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house.

The wonderful news was spread abroad of the glorious power of God which had been manifest in opening the prison doors, and the conversion and baptism of the jailer and his family. The rulers heard of these things, and were afraid, and sent to the jailer, requesting him to let Paul and Silas go. But Paul would not leave the prison in a private manner. He said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay, verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out. Paul and Silas were not willing that the manifestation of the power of God should be concealed. The sergeants told these words unto the magistrates; and they feared when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

See Acts 13; Acts 16.

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