ALARMED AUTHORITIES (ACTS 16:35-39). It was illegal to publicly flog a Roman citizen and to do so without a trial was a heinous act. Those responsible were subject to the pain they inflicted. One can imagine their terror when they discovered Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. The officers wanted to get the missionaries out of town before their illegal act was discovered. But Paul and Silas insisted on a public escort by the magistrates. They doubtless wanted to secure a measure of protection for the Philippian believers, who might otherwise have suffered continued persecution. God used this flogging for his purposes. He would overrule evil for good—a truth that Paul experienced, understood, and believed:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Why did Paul and Silas sing in the midst of suffering? Jesus commanded it:
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).
Paul appreciated what the Lord had said: “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). He did not enter the ministry with false expectations. Paul endured tremendous physical pain for Christ’s sake, yet he rejoiced because of it. We try to alleviate the suffering, but many times it is for our best (Matthew 1 Peter 2:20; 3:14; 4:13-16). Certainly, God uses it to accomplish God’s purposes as in this case. Later, he wrote:
We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).
After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Apparently, Luke is left behind at Philippi to oversee the new church. The “we” is dropped from the narrative at this point, and is not resumed until Paul returns to Philippi on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:5). However, Luke is not the only partner left behind.