Use this children’s sermon in your kids church, Sunday School, or children’s ministry teaching. It’s based on the miraculous earthquake in Acts 16 where God opens the jail doors for Silas and Paul. Download the teaching notes, gather your object lesson supplies, and watch our children’s sermon demonstration as you prepare to teach this Bible story for kids.
Lesson Objective: Songs in jail? Rejoicing after being wrongfully arrested? The story of Paul and Silas in prison is an interesting look at a miraculous rescue and unique opportunity to share the Gospel. In this children’s sermon, consider musical methods and situations that we might sing or make music. Describe how God wants to hear from us, even if we don’t feel joyful. Any word or song we give Him is precious because He loves us. And we can rejoice to know that He is always with us, wherever we are!
Law/Gospel Theme: This story does not tell us that we always need to “put on a happy face” and ignore sorrow. Paul and Silas prayed and sang because they knew that God was with them, even in a dire and unfair situation. They clung to the hope they had in Jesus, and others noticed that. Not only did they eventually get released from prison, but the jailer (and likely other prisoners) recognized that something was different about these men, and listened to them share the good news of Christ. We can take comfort knowing that God is with us always, and He wants us to spread His love to others.
Midnight Earthquake of Praise! Children’s Sermon Lesson: Paul and Silas Freed from Jail from Acts 16:16-34.
Optional Object Lesson Materials: Musical instruments or songs; noisemakers (optional: shackles/chains).
Bible Passage: Acts 16:16-34
Student Age Groups: Preschool and Elementary (age 4 to 12 years old)
More Teaching Ideas on Paul and Silas in prison
- Watch the children’s sermon video and Bible crafts ideas for this lesson
- See the Paul and Silas lesson from Sunday School Works
- Compare our full Sunday School lesson on Acts 16:16-34
- Compare another Bible Object lesson on Paul and Silas in Jail
- Read scripture quotes and Bible verses about singing
Children’s Sermon (Acts 16:16-34) Paul and Silas Escape from Jail
Teacher Tips: As with most children’s sermons, how you communicate this Bible story is adaptable and should cater to your church audience and student needs. This scripture lesson begins with a reference to making music, which could be addressed with a musical instrument or singing.
Greet children, either with musical instruments of some sort or a song prepared.
Hello, children of God!
Do you like music? Have you ever played a musical instrument of some kind? I love music, and I think God enjoys it when we make a joyful noise to Him. I have some music items to show you today… Display instruments, if you have them. Alternately, lead the students in a short song that all know. Now, when do you normally sing? Maybe in church and Sunday School, or at someone’s birthday party, or in a program…or maybe in the shower! But do you ever sing when you’re feeling sad? Or what about when something is wrong and you’re in trouble? Those seem like odd times to sing. Normally we are giving thanks and praise to God with our songs, and you’d think that means something good should be happening.
Well, there’s a story in the Bible about two people who were singing in a pretty tough situation. There names were Paul and Silas. We’ve talked about Paul a little bit. He had a helper friend named Silas, and they actually got arrested for helping someone. The big church leaders did not like what they were doing and proclaiming in the name of Jesus, and they had them thrown in prison! Fortunately, I’ve never been in jail, but I think if I was arrested, I’d be feeling pretty low and upset, especially if I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve it. But guess what Paul and Silas were doing late at night in the prison? They were singing! They were actually singing out songs in jail! I don’t know how cheerful they felt, but they knew that they were doing the right thing by honoring God, and they wanted to offer up hymns and prayers, even though they were in rough circumstances. And something remarkable happened while they were singing and praying…an earthquake hit! The ground shook so hard that it bust the jail cell doors open. In fact, the man guarding the jail was so upset about prisoners escaping that he was ready to take his own life. But Paul reassured them that everyone was still there in the jail, and then told him about Jesus! Paul and Silas were ready to use any situation for the glory of God.
What does this Bible story have for us though? Does it mean we should always rejoice and act happy and sing songs, even when we feel sad? No, not necessarily. We won’t always feel happy, and we won’t always want to sing. But we can pray no matter what, in any and every situation. And we can recall that God is with us all the time. He wants to hear our prayers, whether they are joyful songs of thanksgiving or prayers of genuine sadness. Prayers and praise might just get you out of trouble! But even if they don’t, they will comfort you with the hope of Christ’s constant nearness. We can rejoice in Him and share His love with others. And we can sing and make music! God loves our noise, however noisy it is. Songs and instruments are a great way to draw close to the Lord and remember His blessings, no matter how we might be feeling.
Why don’t we say a prayer right now? (You don’t have to sing, though.)
Children’s Prayer Moment
(Have kids repeat each line – Conclude your children’s sermon this prayer:)
Thank you for opportunities to share your love
And spread your good news to others
Help us to be bold in proclaiming our faith
Help us sing and rejoice in you no matter what
Thank you for being with us
Thank you for your love
We love you, God!
In Jesus name, Amen!
Bible Verses/story to Reference: Acts 16:16-34
16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 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. 27 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. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 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. 34 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. –Acts 16:16-34
Discussion Questions on Paul and Silas in Jail
After your children’s sermon, you may have time to ask the children some lesson review questions. Here are a few suggestions:
Answer: They were in prison and they prayed because they were in a difficult situation. The Bible doesn’t say why they prayed at midnight, but it’s likely that they did it because it was the darkest time of the night and they thought God would be more likely to hear their prayers. It’s also possible that they chose to pray at midnight because it was the time when their spirits were most down. Regardless of why they chose to pray at midnight, we know that their prayers were answered.
Answer: Paul and Silas were imprisoned because they were preaching the gospel. They were proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and telling people to turn from their sin and believe in him. The authorities didn’t like this because it was disruptive and challenged their power. So they had Paul and Silas arrested and put them in jail. But even in jail, they continued to praise God and share the gospel with anyone who would listen. And as a result, many people came to faith in Jesus Christ!
Answer: The Bible says we must believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Paul and Silas preached that Christ is the only way to be saved (see John 14:6), and that we need to repent of our sins and turn to Him for forgiveness. In addition to faith in Jesus Christ, good works are also important. When we put our trust in Jesus Christ and follow Him with all our hearts, He will forgive us of our sins and give us eternal life.