Acts 22:25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?
26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.
28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.
29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
We see in these verses that the Roman government of Paul’s day operated much like our governments do today. They assumed Paul was guilty and they were going to treat him like a wicked man and ask questions later. Our governments as well treat those who refuse to bow to their wicked plans as evil people and they have already condemned us as being guilty.
Paul understood when to speak and when not to speak. He had given a very clear testimony of God’s work in his life and how he was saved. He had also shown how God had a purpose for him and that he had been faithful to that purpose. The religious elite did not want to hear this. They claimed to be following God, but they had no testimony of anything like what Paul talked of. They had no power to affect the hearts and lives of the people like the message that Paul preached.
Paul was now facing a grave injustice from the Roman government. Again, we see that Paul did not run to try to find a lawyer to defend him. He was given a mouth by God. He did not need to go to law school to be able to ask some very simple questions. He wanted to know if it was lawful to scourge a Roman citizen that was uncondemned. No charges had been laid against Paul. The ungodly crowd wanted him dead. However, there had been no trial and no accusations proven against him.
In verse 26 we see that the centurion listened to Paul’s question and stopped what he was commanded to do. He was wiser than many police officers in our country today. There have been many unlawful orders given to them over the past two years. Too many of the officers have followed through with those unlawful orders, claiming that they were just doing their job. Their job is to uphold the law, not to break the law. They have proven themselves to be unworthy of the badge they wear. They have acted like goons who will protect ungodly officials no matter what they demand of them. It is a sad thing when a person will do anything for money. Our country cannot last if that is the way it is going to be run.
Paul asked for some clarity on the law, and the centurion was willing to listen to this request and he went to the chief captain with this request. He warned the chief captain regarding Paul’s question. Even though the Roman government was quite corrupt at this time, there was still some fear of God there. I believe part of that reason was because Paul did not cower in a corner. He stood up and let it be known that what was happening was unjust. God was able to bless Paul’s words because Paul was not ashamed to identify himself as a servant of God. His identity was not just words, it was true in his actions as well.
The centurion warned the chief captain that he needed to be careful what he was demanding here. There was still some respect for law and order here. This is to be applauded. We do not have that in our country today. If Rome could not survive the corruption that was rampant in Paul’s time, how can Canada expect to survive with the corruption that is rampant in our system today?
The chief captain was wise to go and talk to Paul and inquire further about who he was. Paul testified that he was a Roman citizen by birth. The chief captain had bought his citizenship. Paul was a more authentic Roman than the chief captain was. This new information that the chief captain learned caused them to back away from their plans to punish him without cause.
The Roman law still had some decency in it at this time. Paul was directed by God to stand on the good laws that they still had. This would give him further opening to testify of who he was in the future.
This new information gave the chief captain and the centurion occasion to stop and rethink their evil plans. They could not just run roughshod over a Roman citizen. God was at work here granting Paul an opportunity to testify further of His authority in his life.
In verse 30 we see that the chief captain now acted in the manner he should have in the first place. We see that even though the Roman government was corrupt, they had some laws on the books that were based on Godly principles. God taught that a person has the right to a fair trial. The facts need to be brought out and people need to have a fair hearing. God has a way of making His law impact even wicked societies.
Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Thus we read in verse 30 that those who had a quarrel against Paul needed to bring their case before the council. Now the burden was upon the false religious leaders to make their case. This would give Paul the opportunity to further expose the false teachers and also to further proclaim the truth. Again, we see why we should not be hiding behind lawyers to defend ourselves. We need to know God’s Word and we need to be willing to speak the truth to those who would falsely accuse us. This is why we need to be faithful students of God’s Word. God will bring verses to mind for those who spend time in His Word. God does not drop verses from the sky for those who are lazy with regard to His Word.
Christians cannot hide behind their pastor and assume that he has the answers and they do not need them. Every Christian needs to be a faithful student of God’s Word and be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope that is in them. It is important to consult with the pastor and other faithful saints if there is opportunity. It is important to prepare for what may lie ahead by being a faithful student of the Word of God.
Luke 21:14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
We do not need to hold “mock” trials and try to imagine different scenarios of what the wicked might accuse us of. We need to spend time in the study of God’s Word and then trust God to give us the answers we need when the occasion arises. That is God’s way of doing things. We do not need to be mind readers. We need to be humble servants of God who are walking in the Spirit and redeeming the time because the days are evil. We can certainly see that more clearly right now.
As we mentioned before, Paul did not “win” in the eyes of the world. However, he had already won, from God’s perspective.
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Paul was able to give a clear testimony to different levels of the government. He also had a godly impact on others who observed what was going on. He eventually was killed by a wicked emperor. However, he was always on the winning side. He was ushered into heaven with a welcome from his Saviour and Lord. Those wicked people that were used to silence him faced hell at death and their final end will be the lake of fire.
God’s people need to wake up and be in the Word. We need to see the importance of God’s exhortation in Hebrews 10:22-25. We should be assembling for true study of God’s Word more now than we have in the past. We need to be ready to face the enemy at any time. We can be ready if we know the Lord and are in His Word as He commands us to be.