Paul’s Ministry Produces "People” Change

“To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be … More

Change

Scripture does not explain why, but the next morning the city officials sent word to the jailer to let Paul and Silas go (v. 35). Paul, however, was unwilling to “sneak out of town” because that would have left the new church under a cloud of suspicion. Instead he told them he was a Roman citizen and demanded a public apology for their unlawful acts the preceding day. We can not be sure why Paul waited so long to mention his Roman citizenship. Perhaps he did not have opportunity when he was arrested because of the haste of the magistrates. According to Roman law, Roman citizens, as both Paul and Silas were, could not be beaten and put in prison without a fair trial.

While the record does not say that the magistrates officially and publically apologized, it does say that they respectfully came to Paul and Silas, escorted them out of prison, and politely asked them to leave town.  Probably they were afraid that word of this illegal act might reach their superiors. Paul’s desire had not been to get personal revenge, but only to give protection and respect to the church.

I believe that it is significant that Paul made no attempt to change society; his work was to change people. He did not use his Roman citizenship, his influence with people, the power of his pen, or his ability to get people to give nobly to a cause to accomplish social change. He did not run for political office or try to be buddies with those in social power. He did not organize demonstrations, publish a paper, or seek alliances with unbelievers of liberal persuasion. In fact, he did none of the things activists consider to be part of the Christian program today. Paul could, and did, urge the claims of Christian love upon the family of God, but he did not campaign for social change in an unbelieving world. It is our job to “preach Christ crucified,” unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

Application

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit I need to use all of the liberties I have to get the gospel out. It is not my job to bring social change but to be passing out tracts and witnessing wherever I can.

Acts 16:35-40 (English Standard Version)

But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, "Let those men go." And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace." But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out." The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.

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More Acts commentaries

Acts 13:1-3
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Acts 13:4-12
Saul (Paul) Confronts a Sorcerer at Cyprus

Acts 13:13-31
Paul and Barnabas Say Farewell to John Mark

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Paul Preaches the Gospel Including Christ’s Resurrection

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Gentiles Receptive to Paul’s Message – Jews Become Envious

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Opposition/Rejection From the Iconium Crowd

Acts 14:8-12
Paul and Barnabas Refute People’s Worship

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From "God” to "Stoning” – Paul Still Committed to Preach

Acts 14:21-28
Paul and Barnabas Share their Ministry with Supporters

Acts 15:1-5
Jerusalem Council–Divisions Re: Circumcision

Acts 15:6-11
Jerusalem Council–Discussion Re: Moses’ Law

Acts 15:12-18
Jerusalem Council–Decisions Based on God’s Word

Acts 15:19-29
Jerusalem Council–Decisions for Unity

Acts 15:30-41
Paul and Barnabas Disagree About John Mark

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Paul & Timothy – New Ministry Duo

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Paul – Flexibility in the Itinerary

Acts 16:11-15
Lydia–Conversion to Christ and Hospitality Offered

Acts 16:16-34
Paul & Silas – Praising God While In Prison

Acts 16:35-40
Paul’s Ministry Produces "People” Change

Acts 17:1-9
Paul & Silas – Trust God’s Strategy for Ministry

Acts 17:10-15
Obstacles that Hinder the Work of the Lord

Acts 17:16-34
Religion ... Ridicule ... Results

Acts 18:1-4
Paul Adapts to His Audience

Acts 18:5-11
Opposition Enhances Ministry Results

Acts 18:12-17
Paul’s Roman Citizenship On Trial

Acts 18:18-23
God Works His Will in His Servants

Acts 18:24-28
Tactfulness–Words That Work Mightily

Acts 19:1-7
The Holy Spirit is a Person

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Miracles Performed by Paul for Authentication

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Beware of Cult Practices

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Results of Religious Greed