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Did God send a prophet?
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Early Writings

by Ellen G. White

Table of Contents    Chapters:  

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The Jews Decide to Kill Paul

The imprisonment and witness of Paul and Silas brought about the salvation of the jailer and his family.
The imprisonment and witness of Paul and Silas
brought about the salvation of the jailer and his family.

Illustration © Review and Herald Publ. Assoc.

As the chief priests and rulers witnessed the effect of the relation of Paul's experience, they were moved with hatred against him. They saw that he boldly preached Jesus and wrought miracles in His name, that multitudes listened to him and turned from their traditions and looked upon the Jewish leaders as 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 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. {EW 202.1}

Led by Satan, the unbelieving Jews watched the gates of Damascus day and night, that as Paul should pass out, they might immediately kill him. But Paul had been informed that the Jews were seeking his life, and the disciples let him down over the wall in a basket by night. At this failure to carry out their purposes, the Jews were ashamed and indignant, and Satan's object was defeated. {EW 202.2}

After this, 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 [203] unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way and that he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. {EW 202.3}

But Satan was stirring up the Jews to destroy Paul, and Jesus bade him leave Jerusalem. In company with Barnabas, he went into other cities, preaching Jesus and working miracles, and many were converted. 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 he and his fellow laborer were only men and that the God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all things that are therein, must alone be worshiped. Thus Paul exalted God before the people; but he could scarcely restrain them. The first conception of faith in the true God, and of the worship and honor due to Him, was being formed in their minds; and as they were listening to Paul, Satan was urging on the unbelieving Jews of other cities to follow after Paul to destroy the good work wrought through him. These Jews stirred up 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. {EW 203.1}

Again, as Paul and Silas 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 [204] and destroy the influence of the disciples. Paul's spirit was stirred within him, and he turned 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. {EW 203.2}

Her masters were pleased that she cried after the disciples; but when the evil spirit left her, and they saw her a meek disciple of Christ, they were enraged. They had gathered much money by her fortunetelling, 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 rent 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 the Lord accompanied them within the prison walls, and caused their imprisonment to tell to the glory of God, and show to the people that God was in the work, and with His chosen servants. {EW 204.1}

At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang 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, upon awaking and seeing the prison doors open, was affrighted. He thought that the prisoners had escaped, and that he must be punished with death. But as he was about to kill himself, Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." [205] {EW 204.2}

The power of God there convicted the jailer. He called for a light, and springing in, 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 keeper of the prison then assembled his whole household, and Paul preached unto them Jesus. Thus the jailer's heart was united to those of his brethren, and he washed their stripes, and he and all his house were baptized that night. He then set food before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. {EW 205.1}

The wonderful news of the manifestation of the power of God in opening the prison doors, and in the conversion of the keeper and his family, was soon spread abroad. 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 was not willing that the manifestation of the power of God should be concealed. 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." When these words were told to the magistrates, and it was known that the apostles were Roman citizens, the rulers were alarmed for fear they would make complaint to the emperor of their unlawful treatment. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. {EW 205.2}

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