Acts 16:30

Salvation around the next corner.

Thursday, 11 May 2023

And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Note: As with the previous verse, the verbs here are thoroughly botched by the NKJV. A literal rendering would be, “and having brought them out, he was saying, ‘Sirs, what is necessary of me to do, that I may be saved?’” (CG). This will be used for the evaluation.

In the previous verse, Luke carefully described the jailor’s actions after he had refrained from killing himself. That verse and this verse now are one continuous thought. Taken together, they read – “And having called for lights, having rushed in, and having become terrified, having fallen down before Paul and Silas, and having brought them out, he was saying, ‘Sirs, what is necessary of me to do, that I may be saved?’”

One can see how Luke has carefully used participles to lead to the final thought, revealing it as if it is the most important question ever uttered. In this verse, Luke begins with “and having brought them out.”

He had just fallen on his face before Paul and Silas, utterly terrified at the events that had occurred, knowing that if Paul had not called out as he did, he would now be dead. The thought of this overwhelmed him. With them now out of the prison cell, and with his thoughts collected, Luke now changes from participles to an imperfect verb, rendered as “he was saying.”

Being imperfect, there is a sense of progression. Thus far, each event has been completed but with the anticipation of another event to follow. This question now progresses forward anticipating a final resolution. With that, the jailor begins his question with the word “Sirs.”

The Greek word is Kyrioi. A more formal English word would be “Lords.” In the use of this word, he has elevated his captors above himself, stating a title of respect that is spoken towards masters or those of higher power or authority.

What seems evident is that the jailor had at least a partial idea about what had transpired in the public square that had led to the imprisonment of Paul and Silas. Along with that, he may have heard some of what Paul and Silas were speaking about before he fell asleep. They may have recounted the events of the past days to the other prisoners, explaining what had brought them to the point of incarceration.

In whatever manner he heard the rough details, he now understood that what he had heard was true. And so, he completes his question with, “what is necessary of me to do, that I may be saved?”

The jailor could not have asked this question unless he already knew that they proclaimed how to be saved. When he had put away his sword and gone into the cell and found the prisoners unbound, he realized that what he had heard was true. There was no hidden agenda, no pretense, and no falsity in them. Rather, whatever he had heard was now confirmed in his mind to be true.

As for his question, the word translated as “to do” is poieó. It signifies to make, manufacture, construct, etc. It is an action that leads to a result. When a tree bears fruit, it puts forth of itself so that it will produce seeds to continue the cycle of life. When a person gives to the poor, he is looking for a resulting change in their miserable state. Similarly, the jailor is looking to do one thing so that another thing may come about.

With his question presented, it is worthwhile to compare the words of the girl with the spirit of Python from verse 16:17 and his words now –

  • These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation.
  • Sirs, what is necessary of me to do, that I may be saved?

As noted earlier, the jailor had heard at least some of what had transpired, and which resulted in the incarceration of the apostles. This certainly included the words of the girl. Whether he had heard of her or not, it seems he had heard what she had proclaimed. But more, their response to him will show that he had already heard about Jesus, at least to some degree. This will be seen in the next verse.

Life application: The prison cell where Paul and Silas were would have been filthy and stinky. Despite this, the guard fell before them in the cell. Once he had gained his composure, only then did he bring them out. Having brought them out, he then addressed them as superiors.

The actions of Paul and Silas brought about a mark of total respect by the jailor. So much was this the case, that he humbled himself before them in the confines of the dirty jail cell.

One can see from this that it is not expensive clothing, material possessions, or a high position in this world that makes a person truly worthy of respect. Rather, each person must be judged as an individual. Some people of wealth or power do not deserve the respect one would offer to a dog. Others who are in lowly jobs or humble circumstances may be the most honorable people in town.

Do not rush to judgment by looking at mere appearances. Rather, be willing to evaluate people based on their character and conduct, and then proceed from there.

Lord God, help us to treat people properly. May we not look at the externals and come to erroneous conclusions. Instead, may we be willing to look at each person and see what their true makeup is. Our impartiality will demonstrate that we are also people of character. This is especially important because people who are curious about Jesus will make their judgments based on us. May our actions lead them to want to know You more. Amen.