Paul’s Friendship

Girl sitting and writing in a notebook

I love to sit down with my friends and talk about what has been going on in our lives. Whether I haven’t seen them in years or I saw them yesterday, our reunion normally goes something like this: hug, small talk a little, dive into all the details of life occurrences since we last saw each other, talk about really random things, and put off saying goodbye as long as possible.

"It's hard not to make friendships about me" QuoteEven with the closest friends, though, I actively have to think about putting my friend first. It’s hard not to make the friendship about me.

But I recently discovered something from Scripture that added a new element to the joys and opportunities of friendship.

Let’s look at Paul and Silas, a missionary team in the early church. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are in Philippi sharing the gospel and after Paul casts out a demon in Jesus’name, an uproar ensues, and they get dragged before the authorities, beaten with rods, thrown in jail and fastened in stocks.

Acts 16:25 ESV

“About midnight Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners are listening to them,”

Stop there for just a minute. Think about it.

Acts 16.25


Where are they?

  • Prison, fastened in stocks after being stripped and beaten with rods.

What are they doing?

  • Praying and singing hymns!

Yes, they’re missionaries. But I’m pretty sure that if a friend and I were in prison in these conditions that would not be our response!

Keep reading, though, because this is where it gets really cool.


Acts 16:26-30

“And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

What happened to the jail?Friendships

  • An earthquake opened the doors and set them all free.

What did the jailer do and why?

  • He prepared to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.

Where were the prisoners?

  • Still in the prison.

What was the jailer’s response?

  • He asked Paul and Silas how to be saved.

Given the jailer’s actions, the consequences for the prisoners escaping on his watch would have been terrible. Paul and Silas’ choice to stay in the prison instead of escaping saves the jailer’s life and causes him to ask them about the gospel that they had been preaching.

A few later verses explain what happens:

Acts 16:32-34 “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”

The jailer and his family all come to know the Lord!

I have heard and read this passage many times. But for the first time I didn’t think of this text as describing two awesome missionaries who had a once in a lifetime experience that ended with a lot of people being saved.

I thought of my friends, and how we can point people to the Lord together.

Friendship isn’t just about me and my friend. Friendship is using the relationship to share the love of Christ. It’s a support system. I walk through life with my friends not to exclude others, but to serve them better. 

"I walk through life with my friends not to exclude others but serve them better." Quote

Next time I spend time with a friend, I’m going to ask the Lord what we can do for others, whether it’s sharing the gospel together, being compassionate, or just welcoming someone else into the group.

How can your friendships lead others to Christ?

 Elizabeth Pic 

Elizabeth is a college student and 2014 Precept Intern. She is currently studying music at Union University. Her perfect day would be spent with family and friends, the Word, and a cup of tea.

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One Response


Elizabeth, I just want to thank you for such a profound insight, shared in your writing. I work with the children’s ministry at our church and am in the process of preparing 4 lessons on Bible friendships to present to our kindergarten through 5th grade students in our Wednesday night program. These 4 lessons will precede a series of lessons on Jesus’ friends, the 12 apostles. In preparation for those, I’ve been reading TWELVE ORDINARY MEN.

As I considered the relationship between Paul and Silas, my search brought up your article, and it has made such a difference in the way I plan to direct these lessons for our tender-hearted youth. I’m not surprised that such amazing wisdom comes from a young, Godly heart as yours. I will never cease learning from those younger than me.

Again, thank you, and best wishes in your educational endeavors at Union. I only live a few miles away.

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