The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Thoughts for Today:Previously Paul and Silas had been brought before the magistrates on trumped up charges. As the crowd joined in the attack, the magistrates gave in to popular opinion and ordered Paul and Silas "to be stripped, beaten [and] thrown into prison." I find particularly interesting the order given to the jailer, "guard them carefully." I wonder what heightened their level of concern so much so that the guard, upon receiving such orders would "put them in the inner cell and fasten their feet in the stocks." It's not as if Paul and Silas were mass murderers, child molesters, or violent revolutionaries; so why did they receive such harsh treatment?
I think there are two reasons:
1. The first, people of influence (including the ruling body of government within Philippi), believed Paul and Silas to be a threat to their way living. I have found the most violent opposition occurs when a suggestion of change (in this case the Gospel message) is made, no matter how true or passively it is presented. Why? Because most people (especially leaders) are fully invested in the status quo. They may not like the way things are, but they fear change even more.
2. The second comes under the complex headings of: refining, defining, testing, servanthood, discipleship, example, faithfulness, and humility, etc. In other words, we don't always know why something happens, but the Bible is very clear on how we are to behave when it does. Every test that God provides is part of the process of making us more and more like Jesus.
We will have to wait until our next devotion to see how Paul and Silas met this very difficult and life threatening challenge, how would you handle it?
Questions to Ponder:If you were in Paul and Silas position: totally humiliated after having been stripped naked, severely flogged, then jailed with your feet in stocks (so you couldn't move or get up), what kind of thoughts would be in your head? Fear for your life? Regret over something you said and how you got yourself into such a predicament? What does the Bible say about how to deal with physical pain, humiliation, fear, unfair punishment, etc? Now look at where you are right here right now as you read this devotion -- are you modeling your faith in a difficult situation? Would someone be strengthened by your example? What needs to change?