KEY SCRIPTURES: Acts 16:16-40
V38 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
In loving the brethren and others, we are often called to go the extra mile. How far do you go before you feel the hardness of Christ's road?
Let me re-introduce you to a Bible story. I missed the hidden crux for years. Did you?
Paul is journeying with Silas on a pathway chosen by the Holy Spirit. They meet with Timothy and then move on to Philippi, where they bump into Lydia, the seller of purple from Thyatira. Lydia gets saved and baptised.
As they went about the city, a woman possessed with a satanic spirit of divination followed them, making a nuisance of herself and interrupting their work. Paul cast out the satanic spirit, and then our story begins.
With their income stream now severed, the pimps who mademoney from the nuisance apprehended Paul and Silas, made up lies, and then brought them before the city rulers and magistrates to ensure punishment. They were under Roman rule at the time.
In haste to get the matter resolved, the leaders acted rashly, like we sometimes do when we presuppose but fail to ask. They assumed them pesky Jews and so commended these two key disciples to a thorough and extended beating. V23, And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison.
As we know, there was an earthquake that opened the prison doors through which they did not go. From that fleeting one-night sentence, the jailor and his family were saved due to the missionaries' testimony of godly trust and faithfulness.
The next morning, the magistrate ordered their release via the back door. This is where the crux lies. Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. Being thrown into prison was contrary to the law. In fact, it was illegal to punish or imprison a Roman citizen who appealed for a trial in Rome rather than locally.
Neither Paul nor Silas appealed prior to the beatings. They could have cried out at the beginning, "We're Roman Citizens. You don't have the right to beat us. We appeal to Rome!" But they didn't.
Maybe they couldn't be heard over the cries of the crowd of wild punishers. Maybe. But I think they took the harder path—that God was in charge of the judgment and the way was set.
We don't know enough about Silas, but Paul endured great punishments for the sake of the Gospel and the brethren.
It's good to think of the spirit of these two marvellous advocates as we sit here in 2023, upset because somebody had a go at our belief on Facebook.
Dear Lord, people have endured much for the sake of faith. Even today, in many parts of the world, believers undergo what Paul and Silas went through. Please help them on their path as you did these two spiritual leaders.
Photo by Brett Jordan