Bible Reference: Acts 16:1-99, Acts 22:1-99, Acts 24:1-99, Acts 25:1-99, Psalm 119:61-62
Ephesians 6:19 “And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.”
“At one point during his ministry, the Apostle Paul was at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He was accused by some Jews of bringing a Gentile into the courts where only Jews were allowed. He hadn’t, but they thought he did and a riot started. When Roman soldiers pulled him out of the crowd to flog him, Paul said, “You’d do this to a Roman citizen?” (Acts 21 & 22).
The penalty for abusing a Roman citizen without a trial was severe, so instead the terrified soldiers sent him under armed guard to be tried by the governor of the region. What makes this story especially interesting is that seven years earlier, in the city of Philippi, Paul was arrested, flogged, and imprisoned for teaching about Jesus – but he never said a word about his Roman citizenship.
Why would he claim his citizenship at the Temple Mount, but choose to remain silent in Philippi, a city much more Roman than Jerusalem? …”
Reference: TTWMK https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/154--the-Philippian-jailer
Bible Reading: Acts 16 English Standard Version (ESV)
Timothy Joins Paul and Silas
16 Paul came also to Debra and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
The Macedonian Call
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysis, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul[c] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The Conversion of Lydia
11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the[d] district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
(Note: Lydia heard the message, believed the message and became the message. She wanted to bring peace into the lives of those around her including Paul and Silas. She expressed hospitality to them and cared for them.)
Paul and Silas in Prison
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.
The Philippian Jailer Converted
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[e] 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.
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore, come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemn, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.”
Prison in the Roman world was a holding place until their sentence was determined. Paul and Silas had been beaten yet Paul did not state his Roman citizenship. Why?
Paul was showing the message of Jesus – if you truly are the message then those who suffer, the displaced, the poor, the ones that our world system chooses to ignore, will be drawn to you. Are we prepared?
Being the message – bringing peace means paying a price. Jesus did this for us! He paid a heavy price to be the message – to bring peace (Shalom) to the world. His death on the cross paid the price of peace with God. Reconciliation. Hope.
In Jail, Paul and Silas were worshipping; praying; singing. They were being the message to those in the prison. Perhaps Paul remembered Psalm 119:62 “At midnight I rise to give you thanks because of your righteous rulings.” He was a disciple of the Book – God’s Word.
Then God showed up! We know because the text says, “Suddenly” … (v26)
There was an earthquake and the chains fell off and the doors were opened. However, as Paul and Silas brought the message inside the jail, the others being held in prison did not leave. Had they heard and understood the message – shalom, peace? By these prisoners staying, they saved the life of the jailer and his family. Whether innocent or not, those in the prison had experienced pain, suffering and possible death. However, now the jailer expresses, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul explains about Jesus.
“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. 3And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 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.”
The jailer cared for them – this is a direct violation of his job because those who were in prison were there being held until trial/or verdict. They were not supposed to be looked after. The jailer went from following the religion of Caesar to a renewed, reconciled life in Christ.
However, Paul, who was a roman citizen and had remained quiet now claims his citizenship. Why?
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore, come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, un-condemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed
If Paul reports what happened to him as a roman citizen, the whole town would have suffered under roman law. The magistrates may have been killed. But what he does by announcing his roman citizenship now, is to protect the new believers in the town. The magistrates would be careful about how they treated the new church knowing that Paul could report what they had done to him.
What does this story of Paul going to Philippi teach us?
- · God loves us – He loves people.
- · Christ is Lord and Savior – regardless of your culture, social status, work, connections
- · We need to listen and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit
- · The Church has the same mission as Israel had – Bring God’s shalom (peace) to the world
- · How we live and behave matters
So, God wants us to bring peace to others. How do we do this? How do you bring shalom to someone’s life? What will it cost?
Jesus Christ is the answer. We can only know real peace when we come to the Lord, confess our need of him. Accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and trust Him to save us and restore us into a relationship with the Lord and become part of God’s family.
Further Bible references: Phil 1:3-11; Phil 2:1; Phil 4:4-6