Daily Word

Right to demand rights? | Acts 16:35-40

35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36 So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.”

37 But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!”

38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city. 40 When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.

Acts 16:35-40 (NLT) 中文


Paul and Silas are on the second missionary journey. God directed them to new territory in Macedonia, modern-day Europe. God blessed their work with converts. Later Paul & Barnabas are beaten, thrown in jail, then miraculously freed. Then the jailer receives salvation – along with his household – and they’re baptized.

Not so fast!

The city officials who had sought to appease the crowd yesterday are now having second thoughts. So they send word to the jailer to quietly let them go. Likely they don’t want the crowd to know. But Paul says, “Not so fast! You broke the law.” Actually, the leaders should be held accountable for their actions. Paul demands they humble themselves and come in person to release them. 

When the city officials hear the situation is worse, that Paul and Barnabas are actually Roman citizens, their fear of consequence increases. They quickly concede to Paul’s request and go to the jail personally and beg them to leave.

Right to demand rights?

This may beg the question: Is it right to demand rights? Paul could have demanded their rights and insisted the city leaders be tried for their actions and bring trouble for them. Or, they could have quietly left without saying anything. Paul chose the middle ground. Insisting on their rights likely would have resulted in a distraction from their gospel work and caused trouble for the new church after Paul left. But he wanted to make a point as well. 

Final thoughts

As we close this time in Philippi, let’s consider these final thoughts:

  • Grace for the jailer. We mentioned in a previous post the jailor could have suffered execution. But since they were released, he was released. Actually, the city officials may not have known the details of what happened.
  • Earthquake evangelism: “If Paul and Silas were released the day after their beating, arrest, and imprisonment, why did God send the earthquake? We see that the earthquake had absolutely nothing to do with freeing Paul and Silas from prison. But it had everything to do with the salvation of a certain prison guard and his household.” (enduringword.com)
  • Paul and Silas make a point to encourage the new church in Philippi. It started with Lydia with her household and included the jailer and his household. Quick results!


  • Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “acknowledge the Lord in all our ways”. When things happen, even miracles like the earthquake, we don’t have full knowledge of why – but He does (Is 55:8-9). We should look for Him in the situation. Learn. Listen. Respond.
  • Are you in a situation where your rights have been trampled? Consider prayerfully how to respond. Err on the side of grace and love. And, trust our God, the Righteous Judge, to make things right.
Protesters clash. Image from https://www.theguardian.com *

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