Story Ten

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
THE SONG IN THE PRISON
AFTER Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs brought to Ăń tĭ-ŏch the news that the Ġĕń tīles̝ had turned to the Lord, a great question arose in the Church. Some of the strict Jews̝ said, "All these Gentile believers must become Jews̝, and keep the Jeẃ ĭsh laws about food, and feasts, and washings and offerings.”
Others said that the laws were made for Jews̝ only, and that Ġĕń tīles̝ who believed in Christ were not called upon to live as Jews̝. After many words on both sides, Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs, with other believers, went up to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm to lay this matter before the apostles and the elders of the Church. They listened to Pa̤ul's story of God's great work among the Ġĕń tīles̝, and talked about it, and sought God in prayer, and at last the apostles, and eiders, and the whole Church in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm sent a message to the Ġĕń tīles̝ who believed, telling them that Jews̝ and Gentiles were alike before God, that both were saved by believing in Christ, and that Gentiles who believed were not called upon to keep the laws given to the Jews̝ only.
The apostles sent with Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs two men, Jū́ das and Sī́ las, to bring this news to the Church at Ăń tĭ-ŏch. They came, and read the letter, which brought great joy to the Ġĕń tīle believers. For now the Gentiles who believed in Christ were able to serve the Lord without obeying all the rules which the Jews̝ themselves found very hard to keep.
After a time Pa̤ul said to Bäŕ na-băs, "Let us go out again and visit the brethren in the cities where we preached the gospel, and see how they are doing.”
Bäŕ na-băs was willing to go, and wished to take again with, them Jŏhn Märk as their helper in the work. But Pa̤ul did not think it well to take with them the young man who went home in the middle of their journey, and left them to visit strange lands alone. Bäŕ na-băs was determined to take Märk, and Pa̤ul refused to have him go, so at last Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs separated. Bäŕ na-băs took Märk, and went again to the island of Cȳ́ prus. Pa̤ul chose as his helper Sī́ las, who had come from Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm to Ăń tĭ-ŏch, and Pa̤ul and Sī́ las went together through the lands in Ā́ s̝iȧ Mī́ nor which Pa̤ul had visited on his earlier journey. Everywhere they sought out the churches which before had been planted by Pa̤ul and Bäŕ na-băs, and they encouraged the disciples to be faithful in the Lord.
When Pa̤ul came to De͂ŕ bē̇ and Ly̆ś trȧ he found a young man named Tĭḿ o-thy̆, whose mother was of the Jeẃ ĭsh race and a believer in Christ. Tĭḿ o-thy̆ had known the word of God from his childhood; he had given his heart to Christ, and all the believers in Christ at Ly̆ś trȧ and Ī-cṓ nĭ-ŭm knew him and spoke well of him. Pa̤ul asked this young man Tĭḿ o-thy̆ to leave his home and to go out with him as his helper in the gospel. Tiḿ o-thy̆ went, and from that time was with Pa̤ul as a friend and a fellow-worker, dearly beloved by Pa̤ul. Pa̤ul, and Sī́ las, and Tĭḿ o-thy̆ went through, many lands in Ā́ s̝iȧ Mī́ nor, preaching the gospel and planting the church. The Spirit of the Lord would not let them go to some places which were not yet ready for the gospel, and they came down to Trṓ ăs, which was on the sea, and opposite to the land of Măc-e-dṓ nĭ-ȧ, in Europe.
While they were at Trṓ ăs a vision came to Pa̤ul in the night.
He saw a man of Măc-e-dṓ nĭ-ȧ standing before him, and pleading with him, and saying, "Come over into Măc-e-dṓ nĭ-ȧ, and help us." When Pa̤ul told this vision to his friends they all knew that this was a call from the Lord to carry the gospel of Christ to Măc-e-dṓ nĭ-ȧ. As soon as they could find a vessel sailing across the sea they went on board, and with them went a doctor named Lṳke, who at this time joined Pa̤ul. Lṳke stayed with Pa̤ul for many years, and Pa̤ul called him "the beloved physician." Afterward Lṳke wrote two books which are in the Bible, "The Gospel according to Lṳke," and "The Acts of the Apostles.”
Pa̤ul and his three friends set sail from Trṓ ăs; and on the third day they came to the city of Phĭ-lĭṕ pī, in Măc-e-dṓ nĭ-ȧ; and there they stayed for some days. There was no synagogue in that city, and scarcely any Jew; and on the Sabbath-day Pa̤ul and his company went out of the city gate to the river-side, where was a place of prayer. There they sat down and talked with a few women, who had met together to pray. One of these was a woman named who had come from Thȳ-a-tī́ rȧ in Ā́ s̝iȧ Mī́ nor, and was a seller of purple dyes. She was one who was seeking after God, and the Lord opened her heart to hear the words of Pa̤ul, and to believe in Christ. She was baptized, the first one brought to the Lord in all Europe; and with her all in her house were baptized also. Ly̆d́ ĭ-ȧ said to Pa̤ul and to his company, "If you count me as one who is faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay there.”
She urged them so strongly that they all went to Ly̆d́ ĭ-ȧ’s house, and made it their home while they were in the city. One day while they were going to the place of prayer, a young woman who had in her an evil spirit, met them. She was a slave-girl, and through the spirit in her, her owners pretended to tell what was to happen; and by her they made great gains of money. As soon as she saw Pa̤ul and his friends, she cried out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who tell you the way to be saved.”
And this she did day after day, following Paul and his companions. Pa̤ul was troubled to see her held in the power of the evil, spirit; and he spoke to the spirit, "I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!”
And in that very hour the spirit left the girl. But with the evil spirit gone from her, there were no more gains to her masters. They were very angry, and took hold of Pa̤ul and Sī́ las, and dragged them before the rulers of the city, and they said, "These men, who are Jews̝, are making great trouble in our city, and are teaching the people to do what is against the law for Ró mans̝.”
And they stirred up the crowd of the lowest of the people against them. To please the throng, the rulers stripped off their garments from Pa̤ul and Sī́ las, and commanded that they should. be beaten with rods. When they had received many cruel blows, they were thrown into the prison, and the jailor was charged to keep them carefully. He took them, all beaten and wounded, into the dungeon, which was in the very middle of the prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
But about midnight Pa̤ul and Sī́ las were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison-house were shaken; every door was opened and all the chains on the prisoners were loosed, and all could have gone out free if fear had not held them in their places. The jailor of the prison was suddenly roused out of sleep, and saw the prison-doors wide open. By the law of the Rṓ mans̝, a man in charge of a prisoner must take his place if his prisoner escaped, and the jailor, thinking that the men in the prison had gotten away, drew out his sword, and was just going to kill himself, when Pa̤ul called out, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
Then the jailor called for lights, and sprang into the room where Pa̤ul and Sī́ las were, and, trembling with fear, fell down at their feet and cried out, "O, sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and those in your house with you."
And that night, in the prison, they spoke the word of the Lord to the jailor, and to all that were with him. The jailor washed their wounds, and he and all his family were baptized in that hour. Afterward, he brought them from the prison into his own house, and set food before them. And the jailor and his household were all happy in the Lord, believing in Christ.
The rulers of the city knew well that they had done an unjust act in beating Pa̤ul and Sī́ las, and thrusting them into prison; but they did not know that Pa̤ul and Sī́ las, though Jew:, were also free citizens of Rōme, whom it was unlawful to beat or to put in to prison without a fair trial. In the morning the rulers sent their officers to the jailor, saying, "Let those men go." And the jailor brought their words to Pa̤ul, and said, "The rulers have sent to me to let you go; therefore, now come out of the prison, and go in peace.”
But Paul said, "We are free citizens of Rōme, and without a trial they have beaten us, and have cast us into prison.
And now do they turn us out secretly? No, indeed, let those rulers come themselves and bring us out!”
The officers told these words to the rulers, and when they learned that these men were Rṓ man citizens, they were frightened; for their own lives were in danger for having beaten them. They came to Pa̤ul and Sī́ las, and begged them to go away from the prison and from the city. Then Pa̤ul and Sī́ las walked out of the prison, and went to the house of Ly̆d́ ĭ-ȧ. They met the brethren who believed in Jesus, and spoke to them words of comfort and of help, and then they went out of the city. In Phĭ́ lĭṕ pī, from this time there was a church which Pa̤ul loved greatly, mid to which in after-times he wrote "The Epistle (or letter) to the Phĭ-lĭṕ pĭ-ans̝.”