A THANKSGIVING STORY
by B. James Wilson
Exhausted, Paul drifted off for a moment. The reed stylus slipped from his fingers, rattling softly as it rolled across the small, wooden table, causing him to wake with a start. His head jerked upward, initiating a sharp pain in his wounded back, causing him to wince. A wisp of thin, graying hair fell across the sharp features of his face. He blinked and brushed it aside, wincing again with the same pain. The wounds on his back, from the flogging he and Silas received two days earlier, were still fresh, still knitting.
Silas groaned from his cot, in the darkened corner of the room, behind Paul, who rose from his milking stool, wincing again, this time drawing a sharp breath as he stepped across the tiny room to Silas’ side. He removed the cloth from Silas’ forehead, looking down with concern for his friend, his beloved brother in Christ, flush with fever. Paul dipped the cloth in a small pot of cool water, wrung it out and replaced it on Silas’ forehead. At the same time, worried for his friend’s life, he lifted him once again to the throne of God.
The two of them were not getting younger, and Paul could not help but wonder how much more of the suffering the Lord had promised him they would be able to survive. Right now, both he and Silas were in desperate need of Luke’s skilled hands and medical knowledge. But Luke had gone to stay with Lydia and her family at their home in Neapolis, on the coast, where they had all stayed together that first night upon arriving in Macedonia. Now, confined to this small room in Phillipi, Paul spent his time caring for Silas and for his own wounds, filling the small gaps of time with writing a response to the letter from the church in Corinth that he’d brought with him. The jailer, Castalvo, had shown him great kindness in providing ink, stylus and papyrus.
Paul placed his hand softly on Silas’ cheek, still feeling the fever that burned in him. He determined in his mind that he would ask for a runner to be sent for Luke that he might come to care for Silas. Having decided, and done what he could do for the moment, Paul sighed and returned to the small table. He sat down on the stool and read what he’d so far written.
“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth, plainly, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in sight of God. And, even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
Paul picked up the reed stylus and dipped the nib into the dish of congealing ink beside him. He paused then in prayerful thought before resuming his work, writing down the words being illuminated in his mind.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
He stopped there. His eyes drifted from the papyrus to the small lamp’s steady flame, one small light dispeling the surrounding darkness. As he stared into the flame, his mind drifted back over the events of the past few days, of the young woman, a child really, possessed of a demon and enslaved in that condition by the callous greed of the man who owned her. Paul had not meant to lose his temper in the way he did. Even now he was filled with remorse by the memory of the incident, but, at least the girl was free from the torture of the relentless demon.
Paul lifted his heart to God in thanksgiving for His mercy toward the child. At the same time he confessed his sinful anger, a thorn ever in his side, asking God, again, to remove it from him, but he knew the answer already, as well as he knew God’s purpose in the thorn. As for the slave child, Lydia promised to seek her out and buy her freedom from from the ruthless man who owned her. As to the demon, he was not so happy about his eviction. He had easily used the girl’s owner, a man named Marcus, to stir the entire city into a frothing mob, thirsty for blood; anyone’s blood would do, but Marcus focused their attention on Paul and Silas.
Praetoreus, Roman magistrate of Phillipi, was disturbed in more than one way by the incident. Though the peace of his city had been threatened, he was first concerned for his own peace, his quiet morning having been violated by the raging mob at his doorstep. As he looked out over the raging mob, he could see his centurion, pushing his way through the sea of angry faces with a detail of soldiers, coming to demand explanation. Word of the disturbance would certainly get back to Rome, a mark on his record for which he would be held to account.
He’d heard of these men, the cause of all this rucus, traveling from town to town, stirring discontent among the Jews while also opposing the gods of Rome, gods he held in great esteem. The final outrage, however, was personal, that they had removed one source of his own revenues. Marcus was a prominent member of the community, a land owner and personal friend to Praetoreus. The girl with the gift of prophesy, Marcus’ slave, was a powerful source of income for them both. Wealthy members of the community and the surrounding region were willing to pay handsomely for her services. Having a wide circle of influence, Praetoreus was able to fill her schedule and coffers with many rich referrals, for which he received a hefty commission. That was all ruined now, destroyed by some powerful form of magic these men, Paul and Silas, had used to strip her of her gift.
For the moment, the centurion and his detachment of soldiers had rescued the two from a vicious mob, bent on murder. The girl’s owner, Marcus, made his complaint to Praetoeus, who’s entire sympathy leaned in his direction. In fact, when Paul began his rebuttle, the magistrate angrily commanded, “SILENCE!”
He stood before the mob, on the steps of his palatial home and fairly quaked with outrage. Praetoreus determined in his mind that if Rome was bound to hear of this incident, they would hear of swift justice in the matter, of his quick control of the situation.
Glaring at Paul and Silas he growled, “How dare you come here to disturb the peace of our city in the way you have in every other place you have been. Your reputation precedes you and I intend to show you, and any who follow you, that your perversions will not be tolerated in Phillipi. I order you, therefore, to compensate your victim, Marcus, for the income you have deprived him of, in any amount that he demands from you. You are also ordered to repay this city for the expense of this hearing and the cost incurred to control this riot you have caused.”
He continued to glare at Paul and Silas with the same muder in his eyes they had seen in the mob.
“I demand prepayment in whatever amount you carry.” Praetoreus held out his hand.
Paul pleaded, “We have no money, your honor.” He tried to say more, but Praetoreus cut him off.
“You have no coin? You have come to Phillipi without money? Search them!” He commanded.
The soldiers took hold of them and searched their clothing thoroughly, but found nothing. Praetoreus turned beet red and commanded the soldiers, “TAKE THEM TO THE POST!”
They were marched through the raging mob to the market square where they were stripped of their clothing and tied to the post by their wrists, with leather thongs. The stood there, naked, exposed the mob’s abuses while one of the soldiers ran to the barracks to retrieve the flagellum. He returned soon enough, however, to carry out his torturous duty.
Paul and Silas were beaten to unconsciousness, Paul first, waking in time to witness the last of Silas’ punishment. He’d no idea the count, but he saw Silas’ tortured countenence. He heard the lash, watching as Silas fell limp in his restraints, his eyes rolled back and, at last, the beating stopped.
“Enough!” The centurion shouted over the cheering of the mob. He held up his hand, shouting again, “Enough!”
The crowd fell silent then and Praetoreus called for the jailer to come forward from the crowd. A short, stocky man, looking a bit like a bull on two legs, stepped out of the mob, sneering at Paul as he passed by.
Praetoreus ordered him, “Take these men to the jail and keep them under guard until they make the payment I will demand from them.”
The jailer bowed in compliance, then, turning, snapped his fingers. Two rough looking men stepped forward and loosed the bindings that held Paul and Silas fast to the post. Using the thongs still binding their wrists, the men dragged the two away, barely conscious, through the rough streets, to the jail near the city’s dung gate. There, the jailer ordered them to the lowest, inner cell where they were locked in stocks and left on their own. The inner cell was secure and the stocks would spare the jailer the expense of paying guards to watch them. As he left them, the jailer made a careful count of his other prisoners, seven in all, the other five being sailors from foreign ports who’d gotten too drunk and too rowdy for their own good. They, like Paul and Silas, would be released when their fines and jail fees were paid, a matter that required loyal friends and family. Until their release they would work hard each day, as slaves, to pay for their upkeep. The sailors who visited Phillipi were more a source of revenue than prisoners like Paul and Silas. One of them, being held also in an inner cell, indicating a more serious offense, was filled with remorse at having beaten a prostitute in his drunken state. She had died from her injuries and now her family demanded retribution. He would soon die for his sins. For now, all being secure, the jailer left them, returning upstairs to his family and his evening meal.
Paula and Silas huddled together that night, shivering, for the night had grown cold and they were miserable and weak from their wounds, having also gone without food or water. There had been little conversation between them, but as the night wore on in darkness, for there was no light in the dungeon, Paul, filled with the Spirit, sought to encourage his brother, his fellow sufferer in the cause of Christ.
Turning to Silas he said, “I bless the name of God, Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble, with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
He spoke these words quietly, prayerfully, but in the surrounding quiet his voice echoed throughout the confinement. In the darkness they could hear a muffled sobbing.
“Who is there?” Paul asked. “Who cries for mercy?”
Only quiet returned to him, but he went on. “I sense remorse. What is it that you have done?”
From elsewhere in the dark a gruff voice responded. “He’s killed a woman. Beat her to death in a moment of drunken rage. Now he will have to pay her family, or lose his life.”
As the gruff voice said this, another broken hearted sob escaped in the dark.
Speaking to the quiet sobbing, Paul said, “The God of all creation, the Almighty One, has sent me to you to tell you of His love for you. To tell you that no matter what you’ve done, if you will truly seek His mercy, He will forgive you and restore you to Himself. He senses your remorse and, in exchange for your faith in Him, promises to give you life, even beyond death, because He sent His own Son to die in your place If you will accept His sacrifice, the blood of Jesus Christ, if you will believe that He was sent from the Father to wash away you sin, then you will be saved and have eternal life.”
For a very long time the jail fell into a quiet that was broken by a quivering voice that asked, “How am I to believe this, sir?”
Paul answered reverently, “You must confess your sin to Him and repent of it. Then, He will help you to believe in your heart and to will it in your mind. I come to you a witness to these things, for He has come to me in the same way and saved me from my error. You see, I too am a murderer of innocent lives, but I have come to testify to you that I am forgiven these things, by His shed blood, by His death on the cross, by His resurrection, which I have seen with my own eyes and I bear witness to the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father full of grace and truth.”
When he’d finished speaking the jail again fell quiet and pensive for a very long time. Then the first, gruff voice spoke from out of the darkness.
“How can you speak of mercy with such words of comfort when you yourself have been beaten within a hairs breadth of dying?”
Paul answered saying, “I am filled by His spirit who strengthens me and helps me to see that, if we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it too is for your comfort which produces in you patient endurance of the same suffering that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
And again the jail fell silent for a time, until Paul’s voice, quiet at first, began to softly echo from the dark, as he sang a psalm to the Lord.
“I love the Lord for He heard my voice;
He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me,
I will call on Him as long as I live.”
Paul leaned closer to his friend, Silas, supporting him with his shoulder, as he sagged, weak from the flogging. Then Silas also began to sing.
“The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called upon the Lord:
“Lord save me!”
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
When I was brought low, He saved me.
Return to your rest my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
For you Lord have delivered me from death… “
Castalvo refused to leave the warmth of his bed to see about the singing he could hear drifting up to his rooms from the jail below. When finally it stopped, the echo of their voices had hardly grown quiet before he was thrown from that same bed by a violent shaking of the earth. Immediately, the quiet dark was filled with a chorus of screams from his wife and children. They were joined by cries of panic from the prisoners below and the street outside his window. He struggled to his feet but had no sooner gained them than another, more power shock struck, knocking him to the floor, causing plaster and stone work to crash to the floor around him. He squirmed across the floor on his ample belly and, in the darkness, found his wife’s hand, along with their two children, nearby him. Taking hold of them, he scurried, blind, for the doorway and the street beyond, fearing all the while that the house might fall down on them.
Fortunately the structure was very strong, like a fortress. Many of their neighbors had not been so fortunate this night. The powerful quake destroyed their homes and when the earth settled, he could hear the cries of those trapped beneath the debris. As sturdy as it was, his own home, the city’s jail, had been knocked off its foundations, moved two full strides out of place. It took some time for the full reality of the situation to settle in, but once it did, he was filled with panic.
Leaving his family in the wide street, he rushed inside the tilting structure, scrabbling his way through the darkness, searching for his sword and a candle. It took some time, but once he laid hands on them, he hurried to the outdoor kitchen where he knew he would find a flame in the remains of the cook fire.
Holding the candle high, he descended the hewn, stone stairway that led to the dungeon jail below. The power of the quake had cracked the solid stone stairway halfway down, shifting the stairs several inches off center, causing him to stumble and nearly fall. Down below, all was quiet and, as he approached the heavy, main door, he could see that it stood open, the frame ajar, jamming the door opened. He stepped into the long hallway beyond the door and lifted the candle high. What he saw then took his breath away.
Every door in the jail stood agape, every cell within his view opened to the hallway and to the street beyond, including the door to the inner cells where he’d locked the prisoners given over to him with special instructions from the magistrate. All was lost. The had escaped and under Roman law his own life would be forfeit. His death at the hands of his Roman Lords would not be pleasant. He would die a brutal death in the arena, for their sport and entertainment, his wife and children forced to watch, or join him in death.
There was only one honorable way out for him. He placed the candle in a nearby niche and watched his shadow dance on the wall as he drew his sword from its scabbard. The metal rang cold, echoing through the dark jail. He hoped Praetoreus, the magistrate would be merciful to his family as he turned the sword on himself, pressing the sharp point against his skin, just below the rib cage, pointing upward toward his heart. He drew a deep breath and prayed that death would come swiftly.
“HOLD!” A voice cried out from the empty darkness. “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
Castalvo had never heard such a voice in all his life. It was the voice of salvation that spoke to him from the dark dungeon of his jail. He was so stunned that he dropped his sword and, as it clattered to the floor, he picked up the candle and rushed to the inner cell. There he found the two men, free of their stocks, standing, huddled together in the corner of their cell. They smiled at him, the one called Paul saying, “We are here, you see? There is no reason for anyone to be harmed.”
Castalvo fell to his knees in front of them and broke down in tears of thanksgiving and relief that his life had been spared. A moment later the man charged with murder entered, joining them in the inner cell, carrying Castalvo’s sword. Seeing the jailer on his knees, he approached from behind, lifted the sword, turned it over and handed it to Paul, grip first. Then he knelt down next to the jailer and said, “These men have come to us from the Most High God, to reveal to us the way of salvation and eternal life.”
When he regained his composure, Castalvo took up the candle and guided Paul and Silas out of the damaged inner cell and down the long hallway to the stairs that led up to his private quarters above. On the way he called to the other prisoners, the hapless sailors, to come along with them, and they came. As the passed the doorway leading to the street, Castalvo called to his wife and children to join them. Climbing the shattered stairs to his rooms, he explained to his wife what had occurred, that he owed his life to these men. When they reached the courtyard and the outdoor kitchen, he asked his wife to prepare a meal and she quickly busied herself with that task. He sent his children to fetch water from the well and when they returned, he sat Paul and Silas down so that he could clean and dress their wounds. The beating had been severe, reflecting the full viciousness of the Roman state. It took some time to clean and dress them all, but when it was done they sat together in the open courtyard and ate a meal while Paul spoke to them of the gospel of Christ.
“ …and so God has come Himself, born of a virgin, to live among us in the form of a man. A man called Jesus, the only begotten of the Father. He came to us whom He, Himself created, but we failed to recognize who He was. We rejected Him and persecuted Him, along with those who followed Him. We hung Him on a cross to die, but, as He Himself said, no one took His life, but He gave it freely, a ransom for us all, to satisfy the law of God, that we might be eternally with Him, raised from death as He was, to be with God forever, in Heaven. Then, to prove His own words, on the third day of His burial, He rose up from death and walked among us, teaching and empowering His followers before He ascended into Heaven.”
I was not among His followers then. In fact, I persecuted and even participated in the murder of those who fo;;owed Him, until the day He called me, on the road to Damascus. Then I knew Him as Lord and Savior. On that day He caused me to know the Truth and to see the Way. He has forgiven me and given my life purpose and joy. He has given me peace with God the Father, whom I have now learned to love properly.”
Paul paused in his monologue, looking each of them in the eye before saying, “He calls you also, each and every one of you, to join Him in His Kingdom of love, joy and hope; to make peace with God who wants to call you His children.”
Castalvo sat transfixed, listening in wonder to what Paul was saying. After a very long moment of thought he asked, “What must I do to ne saved?”
Paul smiled knowingly and answered, “Believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and all your household,” he indicated Castalvo’s wife and children.
Then Castalvo fell to his knees sobbing, “I do believe, sir,” he said. “I believe what you have told me.
Paul took Castalvo and his family to the nearby well, climbing down the stone steps to the water and, there, called for each of them, Castalvo first, to come down and be baptized. And they came, followed by the young man who had committed murder and then the other prisoners, one by one. Paul placed his hands on each of them and prayed and they were each filled with the joy of the Spirit and lifted the hearts to God in the Heavens, but as they danced, Paul realized that Silas was missing from among them. They found him in the tilted house, sprawled on the floor, burning with fever, so they carried him up the stairs to this small room where he lay now, shivering and groaning.
Paul rose up from the stool once again and soaked the cloth that covered Silas’ forehead, with cool water. In his deep concern, Paul prayed again for God’s merciful healing, but none came and the heavens remained silent to him. When there was nothing more to be done, Paul returned to the small table and the unfinished letter, wondering about God’s plan, entertaining doubts. He resolved, however, to trust only in God and never in his own understanding of life’s circumstances. Then, continuing in silent prayer, he picked up the stylus, dipped it in ink and wrote:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in dispair; persecuted, but not abandoned;” he looked over his shoulder to Silas and watched chest rise and fall in steady breathing. Then, turning back, wrote, “struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
In Neapolis, Lydia’s servants were busy preparing the morning meal when the runner arrived from Phillipi. He held the small, rolled papyrus out breathlessly for Lydia to read. She recognized Paul’s hand right away, his words saying, simply, “Send Luke immediately to the jailer in Phillipi.”
There was no question that the message meant something was seriously wrong. They too had been awakened by the strong quake during the night, though it caused no damage our injury among the residents of Neapolis. Luke’s immediate thought was that they had been injured in the quake, but the instruction to see the jailer seemed odd. None the less he quickly gathered the things he thought he might need, salves and bandages, the powders and tinctures of roots and herbs he always carried with him, and some fresher ingredients to be used for poultices. He placed all these in his satchel and set out on the ten mile journey to Phillipi, keeping as good a pace as he could on the steep, uphill trek. He arrived at the jailers house by midday, noting the damage to it and to the surrounding structures. On his arrival, he found Silas in grave condition from the beating he had received at the hands of the Roman Magistrate, and Paul, not much better.
Luke was livid, seeing the severity of the wounds they had received and he was outraged by the fact that the flogging had been illegal. He wanted to place a comforting hand on Paul’s shoulder, but there was no place he could touch him without causing discomfort. Instead, he got right to work, kneeling and taking a fresh cloth, he dipped it in the cool water and began cleaning Paul’s wounds. He gave instruction to the jailer’s wife on how to prepare the poultices he would need and a formula for a special tea that would break Silas’ fever and allow both men to sleep.
Castalvo stood by, ready to help, watching as Luke cleaned Paul’s wounds. Luke tried hard, but could not suppress the anger he felt about what the magistrate had done. Speaking of Praetoreus he said, “He ordered the full forty, just to insult your Jewish traditions. He had no right, no authority to lay even one stroke! His sole duty was to protect you from the mob.”
“He was angry for the loss of income I caused him.” Paul soothed.
“It is he who should be flogged!” Luke countered, holding on to his anger.
“That would be of little help to Lydia and a fledgling church.”
“Still, he violated the law and, if brother Silas should die, he will be guilty of murder.”
“Our Lord will not allow Brother Silas to die in this manner,” Paul assured him, wincing a bit as Luke tenderly wiped his wounds. “That is why He has brought us your skilled hands.”
Paul smiled, but Luke did not. He finished up cleaning Paul’s wounds, then directed his attentions to Silas. When the hot poultices and tea arrived, he carefully applied the bandages to them both, then, holding Silas up in a sitting position, he administered the tea.
While Luke tended Silas, Paul prayed, sitting at the small table where he’d been writing. “In my distress, Lord, I call on your name, but it is not for myself that I speak of suffering. It is for our brother, Silas that I pray. Because I believe that you are able to heal and to alter outcomes, I pray now for his suffering. For my own suffering, Lord, I give thanks in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ.”
When he’d said this, he returned to writing the his letter to the church in Corinth:
“It is written: “I believe, therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us, with you, to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Paul paused, speaking the words of the letter out loud, “We must, instead, do all that we can to cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”
On the following morning, Paul woke in his place on the floor beside Silas, whom he found sitting up on the edge of the cot, smiling down at him. He smiled back, sat up and began to sing:
“The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow,
then I called on the name of the Lord.”
Silas joined in and they both laughed and sang together until Castalvo came bearing the message he had received, but, distracted, he joined them in song. As their singing rang through the house and out to the street, Luke came in, yawning and rubbing his eyes. He was amazed by their recovery and joined them in praising God. When they finally became tired and quiet, Castalvo said, “Praetoreus has sent word that I am to release you,” he grinned then and added, “You are free to go as you wish.”
Paul looked to Silas, smiled and said, “When you feel strong enough to travel we will go down to Neapolis and join with Lydia and our brothers there.”
After a moment of brooding, Luke turned to Castalvo and asked, “What could have changed their minds so suddenly.”
Castalvo said, “There has been much destruction in the city, from the quake. Many have died and even more were injured. There has been much talk of what was done to you, that it has angered your God and turned him against them.”
Luke turned to Paul and said, “It cannot be made this easy for them. They violated Roman law. As a citizen they were obligated to give you a fair trial under the protection of the law.”
“God is glorified.” Paul said, smiling.
Luke shuddered, struggling within for the forgiveness Paul allowed so easily.
Castalvo gave them a sheepish look and said, “I may have mentioned something about your Roman citizenship in the course of things.”
“God is still glorified.” Paul said.
“The magistrate must account for his actions.” Luke insisted. He turned to Castalvo and said, “You must tell them to come and apologize. Tell them we will not leave Phillipi until they do.”
Castalvo blanched. “But I have no power to command Praetoreus,” he pleaded.
“But you do, Castalvo.” Paul intervened, reaching out and lifting the jailer to his feet. “You have the authority of the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, who dwells within you as a bold spirit, not a timid one.”
“And you have the authority of the law.” Luke put in. “You will tell him that unless he comes to apologize, we will report him to the governor.”
Castalvo was very quiet for a moment, thinking how Praetoreus had lorded it over him for so many years, then he smiled. “I will go and tell him what you have said.” And, with that, he left.
A few days passed before Paul, Silas and Luke stood in the street outside the jailer’s tilted house saying their goodbyes to Castalvo and his family before moving on to the city gates, to wait for Praetoreus and his entourage, including the centurion, to come. They arrived bearing gifts to appease both Paul and his God, and to apologize for what they had done. When all was said and forgiven, they escorted Paul beyond the gate, wishing him well on his continuing journey, but, considering the deaths and damage from the quake, begging him not to return. To this Paul responded, “I give thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has filled our hearts with His overflowing grace. Through the sacrifice of His blood all things are forgiven. I pray that someday His grace will reach your own hearts, that you might also know His joy and peace.”
At this, Praetoreus and those with him bowed politely and watched the three, Paul, Silas and Luke start down the hill on the road to Neapolis to join Lydia and the others being saved in her home. There, they would give a thank offering among loved ones and share the Lord’s supper along with a hearty meal.