The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.
Why didn’t Paul and Silas claim their rights in the first place and avoid the beating and imprisonment? They could have spared themselves the pain and shame. Does this perhaps sound a little familiar? We could ask the same thing of Jesus – why didn’t He claim His heavenly citizenship and use the power that was rightfully His to escape death? God had a better plan in both cases and Paul and Silas were obedient to God’s will, like Jesus, even when it meant suffering for themselves.
Paul had planted the seed of a church in Philippi at Lydia’s house. Now he also has made believers of the jailer and his household. This fragile community of Christians will need protection to grow and flourish in a Roman stronghold. Now he has “leverage” to use there – publicly beating and imprisoning Roman citizens without a trial could result in the city leaders being dismissed, imprisoned or executed – this provides “insurance” for the Philippian church.
When have you been called to endure undeserved hardship for the sake of your faith? In our society we may not face physical abuse or arrest, but are we sometimes made fun of or dismissed by society because of our choice to follow Jesus? Ask God for guidance and strength to stand against worldly and eternal evil when you are threatened by it. God will bless your efforts!
Gracious God, thank You for heroes of the faith who opposed evil even when it meant personal hardship and pain. Make us strong like they were to proclaim the Gospel against all the enemy’s attacks. Amen.