Saturday, May 19, 2012

Acts 16:35-40

Summary retelling of Acts 16:35-40

The next day, the magistrates come to the jailer and tell the jailer to let Paul and his associates go.  The jailer relays the message to Paul.  Paul objects, making sure that the jailer (and therefore the magistrates) know that Paul and his associates were mistreated for no reason.  Furthermore, Paul mentions that they are (or at least he is) a Roman citizen, because to beat a Roman citizen without cause was a treasonous offense in the Roman Empire.  When the magistrates heard about their citizenship, they came personally and offered apologies, escorting them away from the jail.  However, they did ask Paul and his friends to leave Philippi quietly.  Paul and his friends returned to Lydia and the church in her house.  They encouraged their Christian brothers and sisters and did leave Philippi.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
It might originally seem like Paul is being a self-monger in this passage.  After all, the text reads as though Paul is demanding that the magistrates come and apologize or else he won’t let the matter drop and he won’t forgive them.  On the surface, that is what is happening.  However, under the surface this move is about protecting Lydia and the new church.  If Paul and his friends leave quietly, then the rest of the town may not understand that Paul and his friends were exonerated.  It would be easy for the magistrates to then persecute the fledgling church meeting in Lydia’s house.  But this way, with the magistrates having to come and make the exoneration public, the whole town can see for themselves that there is nothing wrong with Christianity and there is no reason to continue to persecute the Christians.  Paul’s actions here are all about protecting the new Christians.

Why is it important for those strong in the faith to protect those weaker in the faith or newer in the faith?  Why is it so important that our leaders develop the ability to see the world with wisdom?

Second Thought:
Paul and his friends return to Lydia before leaving.  No doubt they give some final instructions about who is to lead the church.  No doubt they also tell her about what happened the night before and likely introduce the jailer into the fellowship of believers.  It seems like such a sad moment – especially on the heels of such a spiritual victory the night before.  But it was a necessary move.  Paul and his friends needed to leave to keep the peace, and there are other places in the world that need to hear the Gospel.

Why does life seem to be filled with bittersweet moments like the parting of good spiritual friends?  What do you think the people of Philippi had to focus on to keep themselves from feeling hopeless as their new spiritual mentors are forced out of town?

Third Thought:
Remember that Philippi is often considered the greatest missionary church that God used Paul to found.  Yet, there were many obstacles to faith.  It didn’t seem like Paul was there all that long.  He also got himself into pretty hot water while in Philippi.  They didn’t have an official building to meet in, so they had to meet in a house.  There are so many things that should have gone wrong, but didn’t.  The story of the Philippian Christian Church is an inspiration.

Why do you think the Philippian Church was able to survive amidst all the stumbling blocks that were set before it?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 17:1-4
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