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This thread all workshop ideas and lessons related to teaching Paul and Silas in the Philippi Jail (Acts 16).

In addition to this thread of individual lessons, there are other related resources here at the Exchange:

1. LINK to the forum where people discuss "how to" build a jail that includes photos.

2. 'Complete' Paul and Silas lesson sets that have other workshops.

If you have a complete set of Paul and Silas workshops, create a new topic here and post them.

If you just have a workshop lesson or idea for Paul and Silas, post it HERE.

Last edited by Luanne Payne
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Lesson Outline for Paul's Prison Workshop

from Neil MacQueen

Summary of Lesson Activities:

A Roman Jailer will thrown your students into jail with Paul and Silas.
A Drama/Storytelling lesson will ensue.

I've done this rotation story and workshop TWICE and it was a lot of fun both times. The key is to go all out with the jail design, and the gruff jailer. Yes, put (swag) chains on the kids. this takes time and let's the jailer accuse them of all sorts of things. The chain serves as a nice takehome reminder too.

The Point:

  1. God helped Paul and Silas spread the good news about Jesus to new places, even places where it was dangerous to talk about Jesus and were unwelcome. We too should be prepared to help others know about Jesus.
  2. Paul and Silas message about Jesus was for everyone, even the jailer and prisoners.
  3. God did things which helped the message win over people, such as the earthquake and jail experience.
  4. We are called to share the Good News, and encourage people to believe in Jesus and be baptized. We can do this by believing ourselves! ...and practicing telling the message.

Lesson Plan:

  1. Kids arrive and are chained. Paul and Silas start singing.
    While kids are being chained, the Soldier/Jailer tells them this story:

    In the town of Philippi: Paul and Silas were beaten thrown into prison. They were accused of teaching strange ideas about a man who was crucified and then resurrected, and they say he is God and we must worship only him.

  2. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns and the prisoners were listening. Kids are invited to join in singing.
  3. Paul and Silas argue with the other prisoner. They try to explain their message for a few minutes, and ask the kids if they can explain it to the prisoner.
  4. After a while an earthquake shook the prison, doors were opened and chains fell off the prisoners. The Jailer awoke and went to check the prisoners. Seeing the door open and thinking they had escaped he thought to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him we are all here.

    (Our jailer shook the outer walls of the jail and shouted. It was very surprising and convincing.)

    The jailer rushed in and said what must I do to be a follower of Jesus and be saved. Paul said believe in Jesus and you and your whole family can be his followers.
  5. The jailer washed their wounds and was baptized and gave them food. (Paul and Silas celebrate communion with the children and jailer). The jailer leaves and then comes back and tells Paul: "The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace." (This should happen at end of lesson time.)

    Kids get unchained and Paul and Silas head back to Lydias house.

Teaching in the Jail:
Whoever is Paul has to know the story and have plenty of questions to ask the kids. The younger kids may try to say "this isn't real" and in fact one very young boy said it because he was afraid it was!

Our soldier was very convincing. He and Paul banter/spar/argue about WHY Christians must be put in jail. He tries to keep Paul from singing. The soldier is quite gruff about Paul's "love" message. Occasionally Paul or Silas ask the kids to respond to the jailer.

We also had a PRISONER in the jail give us some trouble and try to put down the "Jesus message" as "wierd and unbelieveable." She asked the kids why they believed in Jesus.

Just before the earthquake and baptisms we had some pita bread and grapes. Paul and Silas kept talking to the kids about the place where THEY worship. What is it like?

One kid talked about singing organ music and Paul said "what's an organ?"

The kids had a fun time in the chains as well. The younger ones wanted OUT of the chains. Paul warned them not to take them off lest the guard see.

Paul asked them what it was like to be a Christian where THEY lived. He was quite astounded that they worship in safety. Of course, he hadn't heard of the USA was. He asked them how they spread the good news in THEIR country. Their responses helped create new discussion possibilities. Paul and Silas had to be on their toes!!!

How to Build the Jail:

Pick a 9x12 corner of a room. Most drop cloths are 9x12. It will hold 3 adults and about 10 kids.

Cover two of the four jail walls with brown paper drop cloths. We bought ours at a local Home Improvement center. They come folded and the creases look like mortar lines. You can add painted mortar lines. We trimmed certain parts of the walls with grey duct tape which looks like mortar. Put a canvas on the floor with some straw.

Heres how we made the other two walls: We stood our standard long fellowship hall style table (with metal folding legs) on end with the tabletop pointing inward to the cell. 

Tables lean back a bit and were more than sturdy. Then we covered the tables with more paper drop cloth. The paper and tables are easy to "shake" for the earthquake too.

Suggestion: use thumbtacks to hold paper to wall. Tape will give way week to week. Put a piece of packing tape behind the section of the paper you are pushing the thumbtack through to reinforce paper at tack point.

DuctTape prison bars to the paper covering any windows and then cut out paper in-between the tape. The tape acts to reinforce the thin paper bars and looks surprisingly good.

How we made our prison door:
These are black plastic pipes from the local hardware that we duct-taped together. We DuctTaped the bar door to one of the tables. The black ornamental chain was added for effect. Simple and quick. The kids thought it was neat.

The first time we did this workshop we had a real room. We took the door off the hinges and put in a cardboard door with bars and chains. Very effective.

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

Paul & Silas in Prison (Acts 16:16-40)

First Baptist Church, Midland, MI, May 2006

A Drama Workshop Script

Begin Act I

Setting: Silas is on one side of the room, sitting at a desk, writing. On the other side of the room stands a woman who is a fortune teller (she pretends to be talking). A small group is sitting around her, listening intently to everything she has to say. Her master is standing near by, watching very carefully.

List of characters:
1. Paul
2. Silas
3. Crowd (primary aged children)
4. Fortune Teller
5. Master

1. Desk, paper, pencil
2. Several coins
3. Small, empty money bag
4. Large, full money bag

Paul walks in, and begins speaking to Silas.

Paul: Ah, my good friend Silas! (Silas looks up and greets Paul).

Silas: Hello Paul! I was just writing down some of my thoughts about our trip so far. God has been so wonderful to us on this journey!

Paul: Yes, indeed He has! And we must thank Him for that, in our prayers. In fact, it is time for us to go to the place of prayer right now. Are you ready?

Silas: I sure am! (Silas closes his book, and stands up. Paul and Silas “travel” toward the fortune teller together.)

Fortune Teller: …and so I predict that this time tomorrow we will have a large rain storm!

ByStander: (impressed) Ohhhh… Camilla, you always know what is going to happen next! Here are 10 coins, to thank you for my good fortune.

Camilla puts one coin in her bag, and gives 9 others to her master. Her bag is small, and sounds empty when she puts in the coin. The master has a large coin bag which makes lots of noise. The master laughs heartily, almost sinisterly.

Paul and Silas walk past the crowd, but they do not say anything. Suddenly, the fortune teller looks directly at the men, points and says:

Fortune Teller: These men are servants of the Most High God. They will tell you the way to be saved.

Paul: Camilla, it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved. (Acts 15:11) (Paul and Silas start to walk away. The Fortune Teller follows them).

Fortune Teller: (addresses the crowd) Listen to these men… They are servants of the Most High God. They will tell you the way to be saved.

Silas: Camilla, every day we tell you: Salvation is found in no one else than in Jesus Christ; there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Master: (speaks angrily) Go on! Pay the woman for her fortune! What she says is true! (Paul and Silas turn their backs and walk away. Fortune Teller still follows them).

Fortune Teller: (anxiously looks around) These men are servants of the Most High God. They will tell you the way to be saved.

Silas: (speaking to the master) You should be ashamed of yourself! This woman makes a lot of money, but it is all for you! You do not take good care of her. You would be a poor man if she did not have this evil spirit within her!

Paul: (exasperated) In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her! (immediately the fortune teller faints. Her master becomes angry and points at Paul and Silas)

Master: Why you miserable, no good for nothing… I’ll get you for this! Arrest those men!

(Crowd grabs a hold of Peter and Silas.).

End of Act I

Begin Act II

Setting: Silas and Paul sit on the floor of the jail. Their feet are bound with chains. They are bandaged up, obviously hurt. A Roman Soldier is talking to the jailor nearby.

List of characters:
1. Paul
2. Silas
3. Roman Soldier
4. Jailor

1. Jailhouse
2. Bandages and wraps for Paul & Silas
3. Chains for their feet
4. Boxes around, to make the earthquake
5. Sword

Roman Soldier: … and be extra careful to guard those two new prisoners, Paul and Silas. If they get away – then you will be executed in their place! Understand?

Jailor: (does not speak. Nods head “yes,” and looks very scared.)
Roman Soldier: This will show those people from Jerusalem… they come here all high and mighty… think they can turn our city upside down with their unlawful customs and practices. Thank goodness we Romans are a civilized society!

(Roman soldier and jailor walk away. Paul and Silas begin to moan and rub their wounds).

Silas: They beat us and flogged us badly. My entire body hurts. Everywhere! (makes a point to rub the chains on his feet and hands). Do you suppose Jesus suffered this much when he was crucified?

Paul: Yes (thoughtfully). This badly and even more. (Lowers his head)

Silas: This is a very bad situation for us, but I know that God is still watching over us. I wish I could think of someway to make myself feel better right now.

Paul begins to sing _______. Silas and the audience join him. Immediately after the song is finished, Paul and Silas bow their heads to pray silently.

After about 15 seocnds, the Primary aged children begin to stomp their feet. Softer than louder. Paul and Silas look around, surprised, trying to figure out what is happening.

Primary aged children go up and tear down the boxes (the walls of the jail falling down). As they do this, Paul and Silas slip off their chains. They stand up, showing that they are obviously unbound. The lights are turned off.
The jailor enters with a sword. He falls to his knees.

Jailor: Oh, woe is me! All of the prisoners have surely escaped! My life is worth nothing now. (Draws his sword toward his stomach to kill himself)

Paul: Don't harm yourself! We are all here!

Jailor: What? You’re still here? (shouts off stage): Quickly! Turn up the lights! (lights come on)

Jailor: (looking at Paul with amazement. Trembling he holds on to Paul and Silas and asks: Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Silas: Believe in the Lord Jesus…

Paul: … and you will be saved—you and your household.

Paul, Silas and the jailor kneel together, bow heads in prayer.

End Act II

Begin Epilogue

Reader #1: The jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.

Reader #2: The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

Reader #3: In the morning, the Roman officials sent soldiers to the jailer with the order: "Release those men." The jailer was glad, and he told Paul,

Jailor: Now you can leave. Go in peace!

Reader #3 But Paul replied,

Paul: No, we will not go quietly. We are Roman citizens… These men beat us, and it is illegal to whip a Roman citizen! These men did not give us a trial, like a Roman citizen should have. No… if they want us to leave, let them come here themselves and escort us out.

Reader #4: The Roman officials were very worried when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. Immediately they went to the jailer’s house and apologized. They personally escorted Paul and Silas out of the city.

Reader #5: Paul and Silas went to Lydia’s house. They met with other Christians, and told them everything that had happened. This story encouraged their Christian friends because they knew that God had worked for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28

End Epilogue

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

Art - Prayer Chains

The first thing that popped into my head was a prayer chain -- like Advent chains -- that kids could write prayers on and hook together.

We did this once and the kids each wrote one prayer request on a slip of paper for the big chain we left in the room and added to each week (which is now in my office!) and the same request for each of the other kids in their class. The kids made chains to take home of their classmates prayers that they could add to prayer time at home. Two ways the prayer chain would be symbolic of your lesson - the chains Paul wore in prison and the way prayer connects us to each other and God.

We had them write on 11"x1" strips of paper. For the younger kids we copied off pre-printed ones with blanks that said "Dear God, ______ needs our prayers because _____." Older kids wrote their own. Then glue the prayer to a 12"x2" construction paper strip. They could be decorated also.

You could use 4 different colors of paper for the 4 types of prayer, also known as THE A.C.T.S. prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving & Supplication. And have them write one of each which would take longer. Any time we discuss prayer, we talk about the ACTS prayer!

Update: You can also make the chains out of TYVEK plastic paper...the kind that won't tear. Cut up a tyvek shipping envelope into strips. Write on them with sharpies.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Bible Video

Paul, Silas and the earthquake Acts 16:16-36 

Found in the "Friends and Heroes" DVD  FH #19 "Unwilling Guests" 

See my overview of all the Friends and Heroes Bible Videos in this very good UK series.

Last edited by Luanne Payne has a new "Adventures with Paul" animated video.

Youtube videoclip:

Three 9-minute animated segments:

Struck Blind! - Paul shares how it all began (Acts 7-9)

Imprisoned at Philippi - Paul and Silas en route (Acts 16)

Shipwrecked at Malta - Paul as a prisoner makes it to Rome (Acts 27-28)

Luanne Payne wrote:

I like this new DVD and recommend it for Paul's Travels. It's really good at showing the distance traveled and the hardships involved. Silas is given a sense of humor! It stops on the island, Malta, after the shipwreck - so does not go into his later letter writing. I also thought it was good as if you had previously done the conversion story, the first story can be a review of that story and the next two segments are excellent on his travels. 

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

DVD - “Paul & Silas” (Superbook Series)paulandsilas

Joy is down in the dumps because she's due to have a her tonsils out.

Superbook whisks the kids away to Philippi, where they encounter Paul and Silas preaching and being arrested for casting out a demon. Joy watches Paul's behavior as he and Silas sing praises to God in prison! Paul and Silas are miraculously freed from prison by an earthquake, then share the Gospel with the jailer and his family. They believe and are baptized as believers in Jesus!

Joy returns home and vows to try and be joyful even in the most dire circumstances, like Paul and Silas! Acts 16:1

See reviews of the "Superbook" DVD Series for more details on this series link.


Images (1)
  • paulandsilas

Author Jill Kemp has a number of FREE printable one-page Bible storybooks for younger children and preschoolers which use Richard Gunther kid-friendly illustrations.

NEW Testament storybooks:

OLD Testament storybooks:

These include both color and black & white story pages.

Free one-page printable storybook about Paul and Silas in Jail:

You can find more free Bible illustrations by Richard Gunther at and licensed for non-commercial teaching use. Illustrations by themselves are good for teaching non-readers and for using as "charade" or Pictionary clues, and for story-ordering games.

To see all of Gunther's other illustrated stories organized by Bible story go to https://www.freebibleimages.or...tors/richardgunther/


Images (1)
  • mceclip0

There's a very interesting "Escape Room" activity for 4th-12th that teaches the Paul and Silas story at Laurie's Little Monkey's blogspot. It uses the story content and familiar songs to solve clues to "escape" the jail.

It seems a bit long for Sunday School but could easily be adapted for shorter class time and younger kids with your thinking cap on.


Images (1)
  • Paul and Silas Escape from Prison (room)

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