Paul was not to be trifled with. Philippi was a Roman colony where Rome had sent 300 distinguished veterans of the Roman legions to provide leadership and a strong Roman presence. Enter Paul, himself a Roman citizen. As he moves through the city he is followed by a servant girl who continually calls out, “These men are servants of the most high God and they are telling you how to be saved.” One would think Paul would have appreciated this but she was a major distraction from his preaching so he cast the spirit out of her. Her owner, realizing his loss of her special powers, dragged Paul and Silas before the city magistrates, not Romans, and had Paul and Silas beaten and jailed.
The beating was not the savage kind that Jesus received but never-the-less significant. During the night an earthquake broke the prison doors and their chains. It is then that the magistrates discover Paul is a Roman citizen and they had beaten him without a trial. Realizing their predicament they tried to get Paul to quietly leave town. Ah, no. Paul will not hear of it. He made the magistrates come to the prison, publicly apologize and personally escort him to freedom all the time knowing the Romans in town would definitely hear of this travesty. Paul would not let them sweep it under the rug.
In Philippians 3 Paul acknowledged while he was pressing toward the goal of being like Jesus, he, Paul, had not yet attained. On the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them.” In Philippi, Paul made a public spectacle of his persecutors. Oh, I’m sure he forgave them. But not before he got his pound of flesh. I love it that Paul was as humanly flawed as you and I.
Written by Roger Bothwell on January 8, 2014
Spring of Life, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574