According to the book of Acts in chapter 12, Peter was arrested for preaching the gospel and was bound in chains. He was put in prison. Many followers were praying for him. The scripture says in verse 6:
Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
God intervened, and the chains that had him bound fell away.
In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas were arrested after Paul commanded a demon to come out of a servant girl who had been following Paul and his companions for days, and telling the crowds repeatedly,, “These men are servants of the Most High God proclaiming the way of salvation”. After several days of this, Paul became so annoyed that he turned to the girl and commanded the demon to come out of her. When the slave girl’s owners realized they could no longer make money off of her, they had Paul and Silas arrested.
So there they are. Paul and Silas are in jail, it’s the middle of the night, and the Bible says they prayed and sang hymns:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.
God intervened. The prison doors were opened and everyone’s chains fell off, not just those that bound Paul and Silas. The jailer in this account was about to take his own life because he thought everyone had escaped. But Paul stopped him and this event became a personal call to repentance for this unnamed jailer. Not only was he saved, we’re told his entire household was saved. The jailer saw how God had removed the chains of bondage and set prisoners free and in turn, he and his family were released from their own chains of bondage, whatever that may have been.
Also, it’s important not to lose sight of the other person who was set free in that account, the slave girl. She was set free from the demon that had her in bondage. We don’t know what became of her after all this took place. Did she call on Jesus like the jailer? We don’t know. We only know that she was demon possessed and that’s never good. It would have eventually destroyed her because Satan is like a roaring lion, always looking for someone to devour. Whether she accepted or rejected Christ, we can reasonably conclude that she was freed from the demon’s hold for a time. And the opportunity to call on the One who has the power to break all chains forever was certainly presented to her.
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. (from Luke 8)
In these accounts, we see how how Paul and Peter and Silas were literally released from chains of bondage. They were actual chains of iron. In the account of the demon possessed man Jesus encountered, chains could not hold the man with the demons. On our own, we do not have the power to restrict or control the powers of hell. Satan is a powerful enemy, not to be underestimated or overestimated to be sure, but still, far more powerful than mortal men. Even though he was able to break free from ordinary chains, that man was bound nonetheless. Like the jailer, like the demon possessed slave girl, that man was in bondage. He was bound spiritually, and it took the power of God to set him free.
I would venture to guess that Peter’s experience made a lasting impression on him. Perhaps he used the experience of being bound in chains to illustrate the danger of being bound by sin. In his second epistle, Peter wrote: “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” He understood what it meant to be bound, both physically and spiritually.
Peter also knew that those chains, the chains of spiritual bondage, can only broken by the power of God. When Jesus stood to read in the synagogue, He read these words from the scrolls of Isaiah the prophet:
Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”
HIS NAME WILL BE THE HOPE OF ALL THE WORLD!
By believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:31)
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.’ (Acts22:16)
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
We’re no different than the jailer, or Peter, or Paul, or anyone else who lives apart from Christ. We were all bound by something. But those chains were broken forever when we cried out to Jesus to be saved.
Like the words of the song in the link at the top of the page, there is power in the name of Jesus. It is a power that does break every chain, and sets us free.