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Bible Gemz 1699 - The Moment When These Roman Officials Will Get What They Deserve (Acts 16:35-40)

February 9, 2018

Paul and Silas Are Released

The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, "Let those men go!"

So the jailer told Paul, "The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace."

But Paul replied, "They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!"

When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens.

So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city.

When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town. (Acts 16:35-40)



I have only had a few more questions added to the list. I am wondering if most of you have been caught up in a midnight event as well. 


Here are the questions so far:

I have added my questions to those some of you sent in:


Why was there no trial for Paul and Silas?

We know why there was no trial because they were innocent of any wrong doing.


Where were Paul and Silas when the police came to inform the jailer to release them? The jail had been levelled!


‘so they came to the jail and apologized to them’……something not quite right here unless they were house guests of the jailer?


What must the police have thought when they arrived to find the jail levelled and the prisoners either inside the jailer’s home or gone?


Why did the city officials have Paul and Silas savagely beaten if they intended to release them the next morning?

This seems to be excessive punishment if they were to be released the next morning.   


What does Luke mean by police? I doubt whether he means police; that must be an interpretation for the sake of translation. I noticed the word in Greek is [strategoi] Ian. That must be strategic – (my deliberate pun). 


It’s a bit like the incident in Acts 5 when the disciples were beaten and told not to speak about Jesus and they go straight back to Temple Court again. The authorities have no idea again what was going on. These officials who ordered their beating the day before don’t even bother to check them out the next day. They might have been dead.  How lax can you get? The authorities clearly had no idea what was going on.  


The officials would have known about the earthquake; wouldn’t they have felt it too?

Did the rest of the town feel the earthquake too or was it a small localized earthquake just felt in the jail? 

Or perhaps even tailor-made individually for each prisoner?

Therefore God must have meant for the others to be released as well. But did the authorities see it that way? Hardly. 


The authorities had no idea Paul and Silas were free already; although not officially. When the authorities sent the guards to tell the jailer to free them, what did they say to the magistrates when they returned?  Can you imagine their shock on hearing the report? 


If the authorities were hoping to fob this incident off it is not looking good. Put yourself in the position of each person hearing the news on each of these statements:

Paul and Silas on hearing: "The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace."

The guards on hearing Paul say:  "Roman officials have had us beaten publicly without a trial and have thrown us in jail, even though we're Roman citizens. Now are they going to throw us out secretly? There's no way they're going to get away with that! Have them escort us out!"

The Romans Officials when the guards reported what Paul had said:  

Well for the last one Luke gives you an inkling but it's a master stroke of Luke understatement: When the Roman officials heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid.


Who actually says “Go in peace”? Was it the Roman officials or was it something the jailer himself added? (Good question)


Why didn't Paul and Silas claim their Roman citizenship at the beginning and not after they were beaten? I am sure I would have to get out of a beating.


How was Paul a Roman citizen if he was from Tarsus? (Another good question).


As one of you wrote: “It’s what bureaucrats do when they're in deap shtom. These guys are in real trouble now.”

They are going to get what’s coming to them. Amen! Bring it on. 


Did they get theirs in the end?

Are you satisfied with the outcome?

Do you notice the nice little Luke touch at the end? 


I will sum it all up in Gemz 1700. That seems a fitting Gemz number to draw it all to a conclusion before we leave Philippi. 

Have you been reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians as we have focused on Luke’s account of the action in Philippi? I hope so. 



Does Luke’s account appease your sense of fairness and justice done?


Isn’t it fascinating how we focus on Grace when it’s us as recipients and Justice when it’s the other guy in the hot seat? Ian


Has the story reached a satisfactory conclusion as far as you are concerned? Are you happy with the outcome?


If God were not entirely fair, how would He be qualified to judge the world? (Rom 3:6) 


But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when He judges you. (James 2:13)


He (Jesus) did not retaliate when He was insulted, nor threaten revenge when He suffered. He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. (1 Pet 2:23)




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