Paul in the Torture Chamber

PAUL IN THE TORTURE CHAMBER (ACTS 22:23-29). The spectacle of the riotous mob, shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, promoted the commander to have Paul flogged, like Pilate’s reaction to the angry crowd who wanted Jesus’ blood. Lysias was probably sorry he allowed Paul to speak. He may not have understood a word Paul said since he spoke in Aramaic. As a result, he was more mystified than ever and he ran out of patience.

The fortress seemed dark after the strong sunlight. The prisoner was taken to the lower floor, down narrow steps to the torture chamber. The soldiers removed his chains, stripped him then secured his ankles to a bar and tied his wrists to long thongs, which they threw over a beam above and slightly ahead of him, and pulled on the thongs until his arms were stretched high above his head and his whole body, leaning forward, hung taunt. The flagellum was a murderous scourge of heavy rawhide thongs loaded with jagged bits of zinc, iron and bone. If one survived this flogging, he would have torn nerves, damaged kidneys, and might be out of his mind.

If Paul took this flogging, he would never preach again. When the centurion in charge stepped forward to check that all was ready, Paul said, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?” The centurion’s heart was in his mouth! He went to the commander and reported emphatically, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”

The commander must have doubted when he saw on this little Jewish troublemaker the scars from whip, rod, and stones. He interrogated Paul and learned that unlike himself, his prisoner was a Roman born citizen. To put it mildly, Claudius Lysias was alarmed that he had put a Roman citizen in chains. Lysias released Paul, and undoubtedly was especially kind to him. God used the great power of the Roman Empire to protect His servant and eventually get him to Rome. And the Romans paid the bill since their is no record that the Jerusalem church took steps to assist him.

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