The next morning [after the earthquake released Paul and Silas from their chains and stocks in Philippi,] 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 NLT
Roman law made it illegal for Roman citizens to be treated as Paul and Silas had been treated in Philippi. Citizens were to be given the rights of due process, and certainly, they were not to be beaten, jailed, and placed in stocks without a trial and conviction of a serious crime. Paul used his Roman citizenship and his legal rights under the law to protect his ministry to the Gentiles, later appealing to Caesar when Jewish authorities were seeking to have him killed.* One of the blessings of Silas joining Paul as his mission partner was his Roman citizenship as well. Paul's examples are reminders that while Christians are to obey the civil authorities unless doing so clashes with obedience to God, they are also permitted to use all their legal rights under the law to protect themselves and their ministries.
Father, thank you for Paul's example of using the laws of the land to protect and further the impact of his ministry. Please help me to be a good citizen while recognizing that my true allegiance is always to my citizenship in your Kingdom. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Luke 20:20-26; Acts 5:29, 25:11-12, 21, 26:32, 27:24, 28:19
- Romans 13:1-10; Philippians 3:20-21
Other Devotionals from Heartlight for Friday, August 26, 2022
About This Devotional
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.