Understanding Acts | Citizenship | Acts 16.35-40 | Movementministriesblog.com

by | Feb 24, 2023

“When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.”36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.” Acts 16.35-40

Going to Ben Franklin elementary school in the 1970’s in a conservative Texas town, we were taught citizenship. We said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before classes began and had lessons on how to be a good citizen. We also had prayer in school. We were taught a love for our country, neighbor and for God. I later completed a Boy Scout Merit badge called “Citizenship” which emphasized loyalty to the country and love for our nation.

Times have certainly changed and I’m not sure the same kind of morals and values are taught to children. In fact, I know they aren’t in many instances. But that’s a topic for another conversation!

Today we are discussing another type of citizenship in which Paul and Silas were a part. They were Roman citizens and used this towards their advantage after being beaten and imprisoned unfairly for preaching the Gospel of Christ. Unknowingly, the authorities of this town put them in jail without considering their citizenship status. When they discovered this “they were alarmed.” Roman citizens were afforded certain rights that had not been followed with Paul and Silas. Upon their release from prison, they required a public escort from the jail and an apology. With their tail between their legs, and for fear from reprisal from Rome, the magistrates came to appease these Christian leaders.

Although we may be citizens of an earthly nation, our true citizenship as followers of Jesus is in Heaven. We do not truly belong to this world as much as to the world that is come. The difficulties we face, the persecutions we endures, the injustices that plague us are nothing compared to the greatness of the coming Kingdom of God. For all who trust in Jesus, who put their faith in his Word, who confess their sins and call upon God for salvation, they will gain an eternal inheritance. Our reward will be spending eternity with God.

Although Paul and Silas were mistreated even as Roman citizens, our true citizenship is with the Lord. He is our hope and our security, our salvation and our grace. Therefore we place our allegiance to him and him alone. No matter what this world brings, we have a higher calling.

Let’s strive to live into that calling today as citizens of Heaven and as people of the King.

“O Lord God, I am so thankful for your love for me. Thank you for saving me and for the power of the Holy Spirit to live within my body. I thank you that my temple is your dwelling place. I’m thankful for how you pour out your Spirit upon all who call upon your name Lord Jesus. Bring down your fire from heaven. Call us to repentance and lead us to salvation. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen