Acts 16:36

Artwork by Doug Kallerson

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.” Acts 16:36

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, the magistrates sent the rod bearers, telling them to release Paul and Silas. With that, it now says, “So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul.” The word translated as “keeper of the prison” is the same as that translated as jailor in verse 16:27. This is referring to the same man who was baptized by Paul.

It seems that Paul and Silas were returned to the prison cell prior to anyone arriving in the morning, probably to keep the jailor out of hot water with the authorities for having people who should be in prison not kept there.

Once he had received the permission to release the men, he carried those words with him to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go.” This is per their instructions as just conveyed to him by the rod bearers. With that, he adds his own words of encouragement, “Now therefore depart, and go in peace.”

Rather, the verb, being an aorist participle, reads, “Now, having gone out, depart in peace.” The words mean that the men are in the prison. The jailor is telling them that once they have left the jail, they are free to go without any further requirements, such as reporting to the magistrates in the agora for a hearing. This was obviously done in the presence of the rod bearers because of what occurs in the coming verses.

The events of the previous day have been considered as settled and the matter is over in the minds of the magistrates.

Life application: In such a situation as occurred with Paul and Silas, what would you do with the news that you were to now be released?

The answer is surely dependent on many factors. If you are in a foreign land that is unsympathetic to the plight of foreigners, the best thing to do would be to accept the beating without making any fuss and to then get out of the prison as quickly as possible, not making any waves.

If you were in an area where your title, position, or standing within the community allowed it, you might consider speaking to someone about the treatment you had received. If you were in your own country bearing the rights of a citizen and your rights were violated, you may want to take even stronger action.

Paul will respond according to his own situation in the coming verse, and there is nothing wrong with the avenue he will pursue. Likewise, it is never wrong to pursue what is proper if your rights have been violated. Too often, Christians misuse Scripture and peevishly act as if they should never stand against injustice. Others claim it is inappropriate to vote, as if that is mixing in affairs of the state by people who are “citizens” of heaven.

That is a ridiculous stand. It is certain those same people pay taxes, apply for driver’s licenses, and register their newborns according to the laws of the land in which they live. The old adage, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good” is appropriate. The rights of Paul and Silas have been violated. Wait and see how they respond to their release as Luke details it in the words ahead.

Lord God, You have placed us in the world to interact with the world. We are born into various countries with certain rights and responsibilities within those countries. Why would we not use those rights to further Your kingdom? Your word provides abundant evidence that this is just what we are to do. So, Lord, help us to fulfill our responsibilities as citizens of the land in which we live while also fulfilling our responsibilities to You. Amen.