top of page

How Did He Know?

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). The Philippian jail keeper asked this question just after he almost ended his life. If Paul had not spoken, he would have. Paul saved his life. When this man asked how to be saved, he didn’t mean saving his life. He was talking about his soul.

This brings up another question. How did he know he was lost? We tend to take this for granted, but we need to remember that this man didn’t live in the Bible Belt. He had not gone to Sunday school as a child. There was not a church in Philippi until Paul and Silas arrived. How did he know that there was a God, that he had a soul, and that he needed to be saved?

All people everywhere can know God exists. Nature declares that God is our Maker. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork” (Psa.19:1). Anyone anywhere can clearly see that God is, and there is no excuse for a man being an atheist (Rom. 1:20). The jailer didn’t have a Bible like we do, but he had nature. That was not enough knowledge to save him, but it was enough to show him that he was accountable to the Creator. All men can know the basics of right and wrong. They learn this from nature. Paul said that the Gentiles did not have the written law of God like the Jews, but they knew some things about morals. This law was “written in their heart” by what they learned from nature. They practiced by nature the fundamental moral principles of the law of Moses (Rom 2:14-15). They could know that it was wrong to worship idols. They could know homosexuality is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26-27). They could know that lying and murder are wrong. We don’t know the details of his personal life, but the jail keeper knew enough to realize that he had sinned against God. All men have a conscience. We are created in the image of God, and part of that likeness is a sense of right and wrong. The conscience bears witness and convicts (Rom. 9:1; John 8:9). The jailor was gripped by fear and he was pierced by his conscience. This prison guard was aware of all this before Paul and Silas arrived in Philippi. This foundational understanding drove him to ask about salvation before they taught him the gospel. He may have learned something about the Jewish Old Testament or the gospel of Christ before Paul and Silas came to the city. He may have heard something they sang that night or listened to prison chatter about these two inmates. We don’t know. However, regardless of what he knew or didn’t know, he understood enough to know he was not ready to take the journey he had almost taken moments before when he pulled his sword. We sometimes say that people today are so calloused and twisted that they don’t know the difference between right and wrong. But they are not that ignorant. They can know and should understand that God exists and that they are accountable to their Creator. Unless they have completely destroyed their conscience, there is hope. When he heard the gospel, the jail keeper “was baptized, he and all his house, straightway” (Acts 16:34). Our world is mixed up, but it isn’t any more mixed up than his world was. So keep teaching and defending the gospel!


West End Church of Christ Bulletin, May 2, 2021


Recent Posts

See All

A Clear Mind in a Digital World

How can we teach people the gospel when their minds are full of so many different ideas? Surveys say the average person spends about two and a half hours a day on social media alone. In a week’s time

How Will It All End?

God already knows. He has always known. Men worry and guess and boast about how things will turn out, but God knows. God declares “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are no

Do Internet Algorithms Exist?

How do you know someone creates algorithms that determine what pops up on your screen? A person could say it’s just a matter of chance, not design. There are no evil programmers who manipulate our sea


Les commentaires ont été désactivés.
bottom of page