Thursday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 22:22-29

Suffering Together for Christ

As the tribune could gain no satisfactory answer to his question of what all the trouble was about between this man and the Jewish crowd, which had now grown only more violent upon hearing Paul’s testimony, he decided to have Paul “examined” in the barracks—with flogging.  But as they were “stretching him out for the whips,” Paul resorted to a defense which he rarely used given the recitation of his sufferings as an apostle listed in 2 Corinthians 11:21b-29; that is, his Roman citizenship.  Roman citizens could not be interrogated by flogging, and so Paul asked one of his “examiners” if they might so treat a Roman citizen uncondemned, or without trial.  The centurion then went post haste to the tribune with this information before such a serious breach of Roman law be committed.  As Paul at that moment looked hardly like one of any means, the tribune asserted that he had to pay a large sum for such a boon, indicating his doubt of Paul’s claim.  But when Paul responded, “But I am a citizen by birth,” he thereby “one-upped” the tribune, and the rest of the “examiners” withdrew before even receiving the tribune’s order to do so.

Why Paul chose to resort to this means of self-preservation at this place is hard to discover.  No doubt, when flogged by the Jews those five times, such a claim would not have mattered.  But he also states that he was beaten with rods on three occasions, which would have been by Roman authority.  We saw earlier in Acts when Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and imprisoned over night in Philippi that Paul left the matter of their Roman citizenship unspoken until the next day when the now redeemed jailer came with the good news that the magistrates would let them go.  It was only then that Paul rather indignantly informed the magistrates of their lawless indiscretion (16:16-40).  So it seems that Paul chose rather to suffer for Christ than use his advantage to escape it, perhaps because he knew that so many of his brethren had no recourse to such means.  How could the man who wrote to Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” choose such an easy means of escape when tested (2 Timothy 3:12)?  We can only guess that Paul saw some advantage for the kingdom in using his Roman citizenship at this moment, if only to survive long enough to “finish his course.”

Some foolishly pray for persecution, which Scripture in no place commends.  But if we should ever endure it, those with privileges must use them wisely, for if one member suffers, we are called to suffer together (1 Cor. 12:26).

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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