When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
It sounds like Paul may be feeling vengeful when the officers come to release them, but as we will learn, revenge is not his motivation. It would be understandable for him to be angry about their treatment, but he is not as concerned for himself and his friends as for the new believers in Philippi.
The punishment Paul and Silas received for sharing the Gospel may be what lies ahead for the new church they have planted, and God has given Paul the means to protect them to a certain extent. His Roman citizenship gives him rights under their law which he can now use to his advantage. Jesus told us we would be persecuted for being His followers, but He didn’t prohibit using the gifts God gave us to prevent harm where possible.
God wants us to share His love with everyone and to nurture those who are new to the faith. That means standing up for them and doing what we can to lessen the opposition they may face from the world. We are called to defend each other from harm when we have the means to do so; let us be brave when others are threatened.
Wise and wonderful God, we are glad to be part of Your work here on earth. Help us to make good decisions, to love each other as You first loved us and to stand firm against sin in Your name. Amen.