Monday in the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 16:35-40

Guarding the Integrity of the Gospel

The authorities having beaten Paul and Silas the day before now send to the jailer to “let those men go.”  In other words, we’ve taught those wandering Jews a lesson and they’ll know better than to disturb our city again.  So the jailer, the born-again jailer who knows Paul and Silas to be the innocent and righteous men that they are, comes with what he supposes to be good news: “The magistrates have sent to let you go.  Therefore come out now and go in peace.”  One might think the preachers would have been glad to go, but not Paul.  Paul and Silas had been the victims of a grave injustice just the other day and were not going to let the Philippian magistrates off the hook so easily.  You see, Paul and Silas were Roman citizens which was quite a status symbol in the ancient world.  And with Roman citizenship came certain perks, like the investigation of charges before presumption of guilt and exemption from degrading forms of punishment.  Paul’s words tell the story: “They have beaten us publicly uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison.”  If the question be asked why Paul and Silas didn’t declare their Roman citizenship the day before, the answer probably lies in the supposition that they were not given the chance in what became a melee.  So Paul demands that the magistrates come and take them out, personally, to face the men they had so unjustly mistreated.  Upon hearing this, the magistrates come humbly before Paul and Silas and plead with them to leave the city as they probably did not wish to deal with anymore altercations with the slave girl’s masters over the apostles.  So Paul and Silas visit the brethren which might have been meeting at Sister Lydia’s house, encourage them, and bid them farewell.  We know from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians that there was a warm relationship between them.

So why waste a devotion over this seeming insignificant detail?  The notes in my ESV Study Bible (2120) make a good point: Paul was seeking to protect the integrity of the gospel.  If Paul and Silas simply sneak away from Philippi, then the owners of the now healed slave girl and the Philippian magistrates would have succeeded in proving the apostles to be vagabonds and the gospel snake oil.  The infant church in Philippi would have been considered illegitimate and seditious from the start.  By showing his credentials, so to speak, Paul proves that he is no traitor and that the authorities in Philippi or elsewhere have nothing to fear from the gospel or the churches.  In sum, Christians are not only citizens but exceptional citizens, and our obedience to just laws and deeds of hospitality commend the gospel to others and guard its integrity.  Guard the integrity of the gospel by your deeds today.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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