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Let them go!

Walking through the book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Let them go !

Let those men go!
, But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, "Let those men go. 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore, come out now and go in peace." 37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out." 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, "Let those men go. 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore, come out now and go in peace." 37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out." 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Here in , The final section of this chapter where it covers the release of Paul and Silas by the magistrates. Magistrates wanted to let them go in silence, wanted to let them go in secret and who wanted to let them go simply breaking of a Roman statue would not be reveal.
These are the same magistrates who effectively gave them a public apology after they reveal themselves to be Roman citizens, unjustly treated. Paul’s insistence upon such vindication shows a concern with the public standing of the mission of the newly found church. Paul was concerned that agents of the gospel who are Roman citizens and their converts deserve to be protected from harassment and mistreatment of the Roman officials. However, despite the focus of the chapter on the social, economic, and political implications of the Christian mission, Luke concludes with a simple picture of Paul and Silas meeting with the believers in Lydia’s house, encouraging the nascent church.
This passage shows us Paul sovereignly seeking to protect those in the church, it shows Paul refusing to allow the Roman Goverment to not acknowledge it wrong doing by letting them go is secret. And we see Paul and Silas, sharing God’s power of deliverance and encouraging others in the church.
Let us pray....
Let them go...sovereignty seeking to protection those in the church
, But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.”
The presumption here is that all the prisoners had been returned to the jail and secured once more. The officers here called the magistrates are also those in verse 38 who carried a rod or staff, symbolizing their task of carrying out arrests and punishments. The text here gives no reason for this apparent about-face on the part of the magistrates. They could hardly have been ignorant of the earthquake and its aftermath, and maybe were afraid of divine retribution if they continued to keep Paul and Silas captive. We see in , a quick repetition of what was just said from the jailer, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore, come out now and go in peace.”
This command must have been particularly aggravating since it was communicated by the same men who had stripped naked, beaten, and dragged Paul and Silas into prison only days before. Yet, repetition of the magistrates’ order for the release of the prisoners highlights the fact that the Roman government wanted to quickly put this problem behind them with as little fanfare and possible. That is what the text says, ...therefore come now and go in peace. This urgency adds a spotlight to the strangeness of Paul’s immediate response. Paul’s immediate response is not the response of someone desperate for deliverance, Paul’s response is not the response of someone seeking a quick release, but Paul’s response is the response of someone who is determined not to be dismissed and disrespected as though having no value or worthy of respect and protection as a child of God. In , But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Paul refuses another opportunity for freedom because this freedom is a farce, this freedom is fraught with the full weight of illegal guilt, this freedom does not address the facts at hand. What are the fact at hand in this case? Well, Paul wants to make three important points concerning them as he seeks to sovereignly protect those in the church. (1) Paul is saying here do you understand that they beat us publicly? Do you understand that we have been humiliated for no good reason? Do you understand that we had done nothing wrong?
Do you understand that the owners of the slave girl lied to the authorities because of their loss of income because from her fortune telling?
(2) Do you understand that we should have never been treated so harshly and unfairly? Why? Because we are Roman citizens and it is against Roman law as citizens to be dealt with in such a horrible, unfair manner. (3) Do you understand that we were uncondemned, that there was no trial, that we were never given the opportunity to share our side of the story, that there were no charges applied, but we were just thrown into prison. And now all of a sudden you want to right all those wrongs by simply letting us go! NO! NO! NO! Now you want to let us go and ask us to go quickly and to go in peace without in acknowledgement of what was done? And without any assurance that others in the church would not be treated as such later? No, this is not going to work for me, all freedom is not free, whom the Son sets free is free in deed.
Paul knew as Roman citizen’s, they should not have been treated accordingly. They should have not been publicly beaten without a trial, and they should have not been thrown into prison, which was against Roman law and custom. Look at
, But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, "Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?" 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, "What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen." 27 So the tribune came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" And he said, "Yes." 28 The tribune answered, "I bought this citizenship for a large sum." Paul said, "But I am a citizen by birth." 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.”
This offense could not be handed in secret; what had been done in darkness must now come to the light. Paul derides their attempt to sweep this injustice under the carpet (‘And now do they want to get rid of us quietly?’) and demands some form of public recognition of the evil done to them (‘No! Let them come themselves and escort us out’).
Paul was not in the habit of insisting on his own rights, many times Paul deny himself, so why did he do so here? The refusal to settle without a public act of vindication shows a concern with the public standing of the mission of the church. Acts of ignorance and injustice must not be allowed to masquerade as truth and justice in the public eye. Paul and Silas were not simply demanding satisfaction for the abuse of their personal rights. Here in the text the context suggests a wider concern, ‘specifically with the fate of the mission before Roman magistrates, reacting to their proud and suspicious citizens’. When you look that the total picture there are four scenes in the Book of Acts in chapters 16–19 that feature accusations against Christians in similar sequences of events, let’s look at them;
, But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice." 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice." 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.
23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
, But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
, But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, "This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law."14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint.15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things."16 And he drove them from the tribunal.
13 saying, "This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law."14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint.15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things."16 And he drove them from the tribunal.
Acts19:25–29, 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship."28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel.”
27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship."
28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel.”
These four examples give us an understand of Paul’s strong concern here with the way that the outside world perceives the Christian mission and what effect those perceptions may have on Christians. Although Paul has frequent disputes in synagogues, in these four cases the dispute does not begin or does not remain in the synagogue, but ‘spills over into the public sphere and is brought to city officials, the provincial governor, or the public assembly’.
Paul is caught between ‘two suspicious communities’. Both Jews and Gentiles view the mission of the church as a threat to the customs that provide social cohesion, to the religious basis of their cultures, and to political stability through Caesar’s rule. Paul knew that if he and his co-workers who were going to turn the religious world upside down. Turning it upside down by offering one God and savior instead of many (and also instead of the emperor), one way of salvation instead of many, one people of God that were not ethnically defined but spiritual defined’. That he needed to take stand now! But why did Paul delay the claim of Roman citizenship until this late stage? Well I think Scripture clearly shows that Paul had an attitude of detachment to his Roman citizenship and a detachment about his Jewishness, if that detachment would further the cause of Christ. Look at , For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Paul believed he should take advantage of this only insofar as it furthered the cause of Christ.
Let them go... in secret
The police reported Paul’s words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans citizens. And the officers were alarmed. The magistrates were alarmed because they knew they had violated Roman law, they were alarmed because this incident could really start a stir if it were to be publicly know, they were alarmed considering there was a possibility of them becoming involved in expensive legal proceedings with an unfortunate outcome. So, to keep the alarm from going completely off and to silence its effects somewhat they tried to handle it secretly. Verse 39, shows us the Paul’s request was answered, “So they came and apologized them. And took them out and asked them to leave the city.” So, they came in person to the jailer’s house, to appease Paul and Silas and they escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. Here was a public acknowledgement of the wrongful treatment by the magistrates and an attempt to appease these Roman citizens, to avoid any recrimination. So, in terms of Luke’s overall narrative, the imprisonment and release of Paul and Silas in this manner holds out the hope that ‘the forces of opposition are either open to conversion (as with the jailer) or correction (as with the magistrates). There is always hope when there is repentance. , “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Let them go... sharing God’s power in deliverance and encourage others.
The final picture we are given of Philippi is of Paul and Silas in Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Having been asked to leave the city, they went into Lydia’s, and only after ministry to the believers left the city. The text tells us that, 40 “So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.” Paul and Silas were not only responsible for founding this house-church but also for encouraging its growth and stability by their teaching and actions, defending the mission in the public sphere. ‘It was vital for Paul to find a venue where Christians could meet in this Roman colony, for he was promulgating a foreign religion, and one not clearly licit, especially if it was distinguished from Judaism. Lydia’s providing of a meeting place was thus crucial to the existence and growth of Christianity in this place.’ What words did Paul share with them to encourage their hearts. He probably told them what had happen during their imprisonments, told them what and how God had deliver them, told them how the magistrates finally acknowledged their wrong doing. And perhaps he share with them all these blessings and miracles we made possible by the God in which they all served. Perhaps he shared with them that it was the same God who sent Moses to Pharaoh with the words let my people go was the same God who sent the earthquake to the jail. Perhaps Paul told them that it does not matter who you are as long as you know whose you are. Perhaps he shared with them that the same God who said to Moses I Am that I Am is the God who is a noun and needs no adjective. That He is a God who sound in His eternal noun ness , for He is the God that was, the God what is and the God that is to come, that might be shaking grammar but that is stable theology.
Perhaps he shared that this God is greater than the balm in Gilead.
What is the balm of Gilead pastor?"
A balm is an aromatic, medicinal substance derived from plants. Gilead was an area east of the Jordan River, well known for its spices and ointments. The "balm of Gilead" was, therefore, a high-quality ointment with healing properties. The balm was made bark of tree or from resin taken from a flowering plant in the Middle East, although the exact species is unknown. It was also called the “balsam of Mecca.” Myrrh is taken from a similar plant—The Bible uses the term “balm of Gilead” metaphorically as an example of something with healing or soothing powers. Perhaps, Paul shared with them that though this balm from bark this tree or plant brought healing and relief. There was a greater balm that came not from the bark of a tree but from the body of a Savior hung a tree on a hill called Calvary. This balm was Jesus, the Son of God, who is stead of given resin for relief, He gave His own blood, and that blood of a healing blood that cured all sins and washed them away.
A blood that soothe all pain and provided the promise of eternal life.
That balm is available freely not at CVS but through Jesus Christ .
Perhaps, Paul simply remind them, the God gave His only begotten Son, that whosever would believe in Him would have everlasting life.
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