By Elizabeth Prata
Paul was going about doing his business preaching the Gospel and ministering, and a demon-possessed slave girl kept following them and shouting that they were from God showing the way to salvation. Irked at having a demonic forerunner, Paul finally exorcised the demon from her. However, her owners seeing that their hope of gain was gone, had Paul and his companion Silas arrested and beaten. Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner prison.
Acts’ author Luke was precise here. Paul and Silas weren’t just thrown into prison, they were put in the ‘inner prison’. The deepest, darkest, most inner- meaning no light- secure part of the jail. Ellicott’s Commentary says-
Those who have seen anything of the prisons of the Roman empire, as, e.g., the Mamertine dungeon at Rome itself, can picture to themselves the darkness and foulness of the den into which Paul and his friend were now thrust: the dark cavern-like cell, below the ground, the damp and reeking walls, the companionship of the vilest outcasts. And, as if this were not enough, they were fastened in the “stocks.”
Then they sang.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, (Acts 16:25)
And the prisoners were listening to them.
Picture what that must have sounded like to these prisoners. This was the maximum security section of the jail. The worst of the worst were incarcerated here. All manner of sin would be evident, all sins spouting forth. In that dark sewage, around that gloomy environs, they heard songs of praise to God.
Imagine how Paul’s song must have sounded compared to the drunken and bitter revelries of the other prisoners.
This is a picture of our light in the darkness. A picture of the freshness and holiness of God emerging from the sewage of sin.
Someday the world will be released from its gloomy prison and its dark environs, and all will be light.
From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One. (Isaiah 24:16)