Lesson 65: The Power of the Gospel of Grace – Acts 16:33-40

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 65 from the sermon series "Acts" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



The jailer was usually sleeping at midnight, but grace had him washing Paul’s back (v.25cf.v.33).  But how’d Paul baptize him?  The prison wasn’t likely to have a tub big enough to immerse him, and the river was outside of town (16:13).  The answer is, baptism was by sprinkling.  It’s purpose was to cleanse men from their sins (Acts 22:16), and cleansing was by sprinkling (Num.8:6,7; 19:18-20). God Himself will sprinkle believing Jews before the kingdom (Ezk.36:24,25).

The Greek word baptismos means to dip, and the English word “dip” means to immerse.  But it was hyssop that they’d “dip” in water to sprinkle people with (Num.19:18,19).  We know those washings were baptisms because the Greek word for “washing” in Hebrews 9:10 is baptismos. That explains why they didn’t ask John what he was doing (John 1:25).  They asked why he was doing it if he wasn’t Christ, the God who would sprinkle them right before the kingdom that John said was at hand (Mt.3:2).  Few if any homes in Israel had a tub of water big enough to baptismos a “table” (Mark 7:4).

The jailer likely never brought any other prisoners into his home (Acts 16:34), where they’d endanger his family.  But grace was working powerfully in him, so “he” served Paul dinner, not is wife.  But according to religion, this isn’t what was supposed to happen if you told a man he could be saved by believing, not by behaving (v.31). Religion says if you tell men that, they won’t behave, they’ll do what they want.  But when the man who was God in the flesh told a man to go his way, he went the Lord’s way instead (Mark 10:52).

If Paul told the man he had to behave to be saved, he couldn’t have rejoiced (Acts 16:34), he would have feared instead.  He would have feared that he hadn’t behaved well enough to be saved, or for long enough.  But the jailer understood he was saved by what Christ did for him on the cross, not by what he himself did or didn’t do.

The rulers heard the earthquake freed Paul, but he didn’t flee, so they figured his God sent it because Paul was innocent, and ordered him freed (v.35).  But Paul insisted the rulers free him officially in person (v.36,37).  He wasn’t protecting his reputation, he was protecting the gospel.  He knew the world would hear about his jailing, and he wanted the exoneration of the apostle of the Gentiles to be just as famous.

When the rulers heard Paul and Silas were both Romans they feared, so they walked to the prison in shame to free them.  That’s a type of the public humiliation the Lord gave heaven’s wicked rulers (Eph.6:12) at the cross.  When Lucifer won the victory over Adam, the human race became Satan’s “lawful captive,” just as Israel was Babylon’s lawful captive (Isa.49:22-26).  But the Lord spoiled Satan of his captives (Col.2:14) and forced them to officially release us in an open show before heaven’s unfallen host of angels.

People saw the opposite.  They saw wicked rulers shame and humiliate the Lord (Mark 15:16-20).  But later, He revealed the mystery to Paul that revealed how the Lord shamed those unseen rulers at the cross.  When the Lord ascended, “He led captivity captive” (Eph.4:8), which means to make captives out of the ones who held His people captive (cf.Judges 5: 12).  The “gifts” the Lord gave us are the thrones those wicked rulers will be forced to vacate in Revelation 12:7-9.  So when the rulers freed Paul in Acts 16:33, and then were forced to release them in person in verses 38,39, that’s a picture of how the Lord freed us at the cross, and we’ll humiliate Satan’s host when we pass through the realm of “the prince of the power of the air” at the Rapture (Eph.2:2).

Paul insisted the jailer imprison him again after supper (Acts 16:40), until the rulers officially released him.  That shows the respect for earthly rulers in government that all Chris-tians should have even when rulers are wrong.  And Paul comforted the brethren, even though he was the one beaten and jailed.  That’s the power of grace in a believer’s life!

A video of this message is available on YouTube: “The Power Of The Gospel Of Grace” Acts 16:33-40

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