Acts 16:39

Saturday, 20 May 2023

Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. Acts 16:39

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The NKJV does not properly translate the verbs. For this verse, the following will be used – “And having come, they consoled them, and having brought them out, they were asking them to go out from the city” (CG).

With the demand by Paul in verse 16:27 having been communicated to the magistrates to come and usher Paul and Silas out of the prison personally, it now says, “And having come, they consoled them.”

The word translated as consoled has a wide variety of significations, and so the context will determine what is said. Various translations say besought, pleaded, apologized, placated, appeased, appealed, etc. One can put themselves in the place of these magistrates to consider what occurred.

They certainly did not want to come to the prison, but under the circumstances, they really had no choice. They had violated the rights of Roman citizens and could have been held liable for what had transpired. Despite the utterly humiliating state they found themselves in, they came to the prison and probably fell all over themselves with apologies, reassurances, promises of restitution, or whatever else would come to the minds of people in such a situation. Hence, they were trying to console or placate Paul and Silas.

With that noted, it next says, “and having brought them out, they were asking them to go out from the city.” The main reason for this request would probably be to allow the magistrates to save face. One can see them having placated Paul and Silas enough to not bring charges against them. But even if they didn’t, the magistrates were afraid that others might find out about their wrongdoing if the two of them stayed. They would be humiliated and may lose their jobs simply because word would eventually get around. One can imagine the magistrates saying, “Please, just go. We don’t want any more trouble.”

Along with this, but still tied into it, would be the thought that there could be more trouble stirred up if some of the mob later came across Paul and Silas. Still not knowing Paul and Silas were Romans, more trouble could arise from their taunts or actions. This would eventually necessitate the intervention of the magistrates. At that time, the truth would come out and things would devolve for the magistrates from that point on. Therefore, getting these two to depart would be the happiest resolution for them.

Life application: Paul and Silas had to decide what was the best course of action to take. They could have stirred up the masses and gotten the magistrates in trouble, but who would that have helped?

They had converts in the city, including the jailor who was probably standing right there listening to the entire conversation. He would evaluate his own walk with the Lord by the actions of Paul and Silas.

In being gracious to their persecutors, he would learn to be gracious in his own actions. He would probably be more willing to speak about Jesus as well. Instead of fighting for his own gain in life, he would learn a valuable lesson about priorities.

Paul and Silas could come back at any point and there were others from their group who could stay and continue the work. Each thing had to be considered and weighed out accordingly. We too should look at the whole situation when something arises and consider what will bring the glory to God while maintaining or strengthening the faith of those who are involved. Let us consider this as we go forth each day.

Lord God, give us wisdom in our dealings with others. May we always strive to find the right balance in our actions so that people will see that we are people of integrity and who are rightly directed to follow You as we continue on life’s path. May it be so, O God. Amen.