Civil Authorities and Travel: Acts 16:35-17:1
Scripture: Acts 16:35–17:1
The earthquake, the release of Paul and the other prisoners from their chains, and the salvation of the Philippian jailers and his household sets up an interaction with civil authorities. The local officials sent word to let Paul and Silas go. We point out that in that day it was often thought that earthquakes were caused by gods. Perhaps they thought that the events of that night meant that they better just let these people go since there seemed to be a supernatural cause of their release from chains. When the officials got there, Paul announced that he and Silas were Roman citizens and that they had been beaten and jailed (involving public humiliation) without a trial. This would have been lawful if they were slaves or non-citizens, but Paul announced that they were citizens. He further demanded that that magistrates themselves come and let them out! In Luke/Acts, Luke has often written about interactions with religious and civil authorities previous to this event. This will become a recurring theme through the rest of Acts. In this cast the authorities actually beg them to leave! We discuss various words that Luke uses and show how accurate his writing is to the historical situation and places he describes. This part of the narrative ends in Lydia’s house. Lydia plays a key role as a newly converted person who helps facilitate the local church and the gospel. We encourage each one to know that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things for the furtherance of the gospel.