The earliest recorded usage of “prisoner of war” dates back to 1610. Belligerents held prisoners of war in custody, often isolating them from enemy combatants still in the field. In primitive times, the captured were considered the personal property of the captor and were forced into slave labor. However, these practices continued during the Vietnam War as officers were taken and held in remote locations.
The crowd [also] joined in the attack upon them, and the rulers tore the clothes off of them and commanded that they be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. 24 He, having received [so strict a] charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks, Acts 16:22-24.
During a visit to Philippi, the apostle Paul finds himself behind bars. However, Paul isn’t escorted to the dungeon as a prisoner of war. Rather, Paul casts a demon out of a fortune teller whose owners realized that their cash cow was now gone. Instead of becoming bitter for this religious persecution, Paul turns to the Holy Spirit to become a Person of Worship. At midnight, Paul and Silas start singing hymns that triggers an earthquake.
But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened. 27 When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here! – Acts 16:25-28
Afraid that prisoners were going to escape, the head jailer was about to take his own life. This would have been his fate if just one of the inmates under his control escaped. Yet, before falling on his sword, Paul cries out to inform the jailer that everyone is here and there are no plans to flee. Perhaps, the worship service awoke Paul’s spiritual senses, using this unique opportunity to lead the jailer and family to faith in Christ. This is what can happen when a person becomes a Person of Worship.
by Jay Mankus