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Posts Tagged ‘Silas’

Verse 16: “Now while Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.”

In issue #22 of the old DC comic-book The Atom, the world’s smallest superhero wound up meeting a race of “little people” who lived in nearby Giant Caverns (Yes, I know it’s a pun, but I’m not making this up! :-)). A normal human gangster named Eddie Gordon had stumbled into their cave and learned to control them with the sonic echo generated by his revolver gunshot. He used their hypnotic state to make them rob for him; their warriors wore armor, wielded fantastic weapons, and rode bats. The Elvarans, as Gordon and later the Atom himself learned, retreated to caves to survive for centuries from the human-sized oppressors who sought to kill them. Though they loved peace, they fought with such ferocity to survive, that over generations there was born a “racial hatred” for any “tall humans”. Just the sight of one would send them into a warrior frenzy. They couldn’t help it. Even as the Atom aided them in freeing them from Gordon’s control, he wound up having to rescue Gordon from their battle frenzy when the hypnotic effects of his gunshot wore off.

I don’t know if Paul had such extreme emotion like the Elvarans when he saw that the beautiful city of Athens, with all its populace, was given over to idol worship. However, the NKJV translation of the Scriptures states that “his spirit was provoked”; the NIV translation says “he was greatly distressed”. The sight did deeply move Paul to do something, for he couldn’t stand to see so many lost people, especially when he knew the Truth. Did Paul lead protests of the pagan worship? Did he write letters condemning the idolaters? He couldn’t wait on Silas and Timothy to join him there; he had to act…and act he did. So what did he do? He reasoned with them…in the synagogues and in the marketplaces. More on that later…

Does knowing someone who is lost move you, Christian, to do something? To…act?

Something to think about.

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Verses 6-7: “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.””

In the old Marvel Comics series Sub-Mariner, issue #22 was a momentous meeting between Prince Namor (the Sub-Mariner) and Dr. Strange (2 heroes who would later go on to found the super-group known as The Defenders). Dr. Strange, exiled in another dimension to escape detection on Earth, telepathically guides Namor to Boston to the house of an old friend; his mission is to find a cursed idol that would allow a demonic race known as the Undying Ones, led by the Nameless One, to enter Earth’s dimension. Once Namor finds the artifact, Dr. Strange reveals himself and defeats a disguised demon. Dr. Strange answers indignant Namor’s questions about what this is all about. In relating the history of the Undying Ones, Strange describes to Namor various groups that worshipped or allied themselves with the demons, and how there were fanatical groups dedicated to stopping them. In one panel, they showed some villagers storm a house, accusing the occupant of practicing witchcraft and being in league with the cult. Despite the homeowner’s protestations to the contrary, the mob leader simply states that “it is enough that you stand accused”. (that may not be the direct quote, but I’m having trouble finding that story in my comics collection 🙂 ).

I remember that line though: “it is enough that you stand accused”. In today’s passage, the mob is livid because they can’t find Paul and Silas, so they do the next best thing: they harassed their host, a man named Jason, and bring him along with their accusation that Paul and Silas are preaching worship to another king beside Caesar (remember, that was the similar charge Jesus Himself faced from Pilate in Luke 23:2, per the footnote in my Holman NKJV Study Bible). This way the mob could “use” the current legal system to present a “legitimate” charge against the two.

What’s interesting is that later in the verses, Jason is released after paying a security to help ensure that Paul and Silas “leave town”. In my Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts (pages 285-286), I found some background information. First, although the Jews, as a whole, despised Roman rule, they weren’t above “using the system” to get their way when it was convenient. Also, the security bond procured from Jason here was not a bond found in our current legal system (where you pay money to guarantee your presence at a legal proceeding), but instead was “insurance” that Jason would “assist” in getting Paul and Silas to leave. Though Paul and Silas would leave, the church in Thessalonica would grow and not be snuffed out.

There are days that will come when “guilt by association” might be a charge levelled at you. It makes me recall, even today, an old rhetorical question: if you were to be accused of being a Christian…would there be enough evidence to prove it?

Something to think about.

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Verses 37-38: “But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.”

There was once a manager of a community garden who lacked the funds and the labor to do a wholescale renovation of the garden. He had the money for materials, but not the help. Enter a group of missionary volunteers who offered their services free of charge. The man in charge of the group was a retired veteran landscaper, and knew his craft well. Although grateful for the help, the manager soon found himself meddling in the work, trying to do things more cheaply, or with his own ideas on how things should be done. Among the people involved in the renovation was a video documenter, who was recording the progress for a local documentary on public television, spotlighting the work. Now, during interviews, the manager sometimes didn’t speak as favorably about the landscaper as he should have; he’d offer “his” opinions on him, and lament about the amount of money they were spending. Finally, the documenter politely told the manager that he should “trust that my father is not going to waste your money. He knows what he is doing, believe me.” The manager was aghast: “HE’S YOUR FATHER???” “Yes”, replied the documenter quietly, “didn’t you notice our last names being the same?” The manager’s demeanor changed. After that, the manager was somewhat more respectful, if not more quiet, in his dealings with the landscaper.

One of Paul’s gifts was his intellect and knowledge. He called out the magistrates on their rash treatment of them; it’s very interesting to note what happened when Paul informed them that they were “uncondemned Romans”. Roman society was very strict when it came to citizen rights and the denial of same, and here are these magistrates who had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten, and tossed in jail…and now they wanted them to go away “quietly”. The magistrates changed their tune; they more respectfully apologized and escorted the two from the prison. Though Paul and Silas “could’ve made a stink” about what had happened, they didn’t; they left town after visiting with their new Christian family.

We live in a world today that, more than often, seeks to treat Christians unfairly. Just remember, we have rights and resources others can only dream about…we have access to the Most High God. We can count on Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, in times of need as well as times of plenty. Never forget to Whom you belong.

Something to think about.

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Verses 32-34: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”

Filmation, producer of animated and live action Saturday morning shows heavily in the 1970’s, had an animated version of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Here, Tarzan was shown as more intelligent and literate than the movies preceding this series; he was also voiced by the wonderful voice of the actor, Robert Ridgely. In the very first episode, “Tarzan and the City of Gold”, Tarzan was taken captive by warriors from Zandor, the militaristic City of Gold. He was made to fight in a gladiatorial bout for the cruel queen Nemone against a warrior named Phobeg. Phobeg, a mighty warrior of a man, never understood why Tarzan didn’t kill him when Tarzan would get the upper hand. He, like most Zandorians, didn’t trust outsiders. Even when he tried to cheat and kill Tarzan, Tarzan bested him and refused to kill him. Phobeg asked Tarzan why he spared him. Tarzan let him know that his life was not Tarzan’s to take or anyone else’s. In doing so, Phobeg becomes an ally to Tarzan, realizing that there are kind, brave people in the outside world as well. Phobeg smuggles Tarzan and an acquaintance who had been captured, a woman named Thea, out of the prison. He later provides them with a disguise and a chariot to get them out of the city.

Here was the jailer, probably a tough, hardened man with a tough job. He was used to handling, to shackling, and to being in charge of prisoners of all sorts, but here he stood amazed by what he seen God do with the earthquake, as well as Paul and Silas not escaping. Once he accepted Jesus into his life, his relief at his life being spared (physically and spiritually) translated to kindness toward his two charges. He washed their wounds, brought them into his house, and set food before them. He began to exhibit the characteristics that we as Christians should exhibit today. Even when he came to them, in the next verses, and told them that they were freed by the magistrates, he probably did it with a kinder, better manner.

Something to think about.

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Verses 28-31: “But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.””

“Window of Opportunity” was an episode of the TV series Stargate SG-1 which contained an interesting and humorous premise. After the team returns from a mission on a planet experiencing strong solar and geomagnetic activity, only COL Jack O’Neill and Teal’c seem to be aware that they are replaying the same 10 hour timespan of the day (which began at breakfast). The archeologist Daniel Jackson is convinced that if they can solve the translation of some runes on an altar that is connected to the cause of the time loop, they can find the answer to this puzzle. Because the time loop resets everyone except O’Neill and Teal’c back to their memories at the start of the day, it’s up to these two to help Jackson determine the translation. Along the way, after a theoretical comment from Jackson explaining that a time loop would be interesting in that nothing you do matters if the loop resets, the two engage in some humorous outrageous behavior to break the monotony of repeating the day (the funniest being these two playing golf, and teeing off their shots through the Stargate!) Eventually, they solve the language and reset things back to normal.

But think about it: how fruitless it would be to realize no matter what you said or what you did, that it didn’t make any difference? That none of your actions counted for anything? Some defeatists have that attitude, and that can be downright depressing to think that way. It’s a wonderful moment here when the jailer, after the earthquake that freed all the prisoners and made him think they had escaped, was moments from taking his own life for “dereliction of duty”, that Paul cries out that they are all present and accounted for. Unlike others we have met in the book of Acts, who didn’t “get it”, this jailer does! He immediately brings Paul and Silas out and asks THE most important question in the world: “what must I do to be saved?”

And Paul and Silas give him the answer that counts: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The most important question in the world, and the only correct answer to it!

Something to think about.

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Verses 22-24: “Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

The court of public opinion wasn’t just something that started in this century or even last century; it has been around for a long time. Here we have the people who brought charges against Paul and Silas joined by a worked-up mob. It doesn’t take long for word to spread, especially when it has to do with people that you don’t want around. The magistrates hastily had punishment laid out on Paul and Silas. No investigation of the charges was made; quick “justice” to appease the mob was done. But God wasn’t through with Paul and Silas yet.

Today, we see that mob mentality take place. Many times I have read online news articles, and then scanned the posts of commenters from vox populi, “the voice of the people”. Overwhelmingly, the opinions are uninformed and bigoted, lacking knowledge of what truly happened and making judgments only on what was reported on (where have you gone, Joe Friday?) In this day and age when information travels almost at the speed of lightning, we must be careful not to give in to the anger of the moment. Either an investigation turns up information that changes the story…or it confirms what was already assumed. However, at least, in this country, all citizens should get the benefit of due process. Justice may not always be served, but it should be striven for.

Remember though, the justice that we sinners deserve is the cross. Thank Jesus He gave out mercy instead.

Something to think about.

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Verse 19: “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”

Al Capone was the vicious mob leader and gangster during the Prohibition era in Chicago. He had friends on both sides of the law, and for a while, no one thought he would be arrested. For all of the crimes he was responsible for (murder, bootlegging, and other violence), the charge that he was arrested and later convicted on was…income tax evasion. Seems like such a minor charge, but it was one that the federal authorities were able to get a conviction on. Once in jail, Capone’s influence began to wane.

When Paul cast out the prophetic demon from the young girl, her masters who owned her (and profited by her “gift”) were none too happy. But this wasn’t the charge that they had Paul and Silas arrested for. They complained to the magistrates that Paul and Silas were “teaching customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” It was the implication of “civil disorder” that was frowned upon in Roman society that more than likely snowballed the efforts to get Paul and Silas thrown in jail. You see, Paul and Silas preaching the Gospel, what they actually were doing, wasn’t the charge. It was “causing civil disorder”…that and probably some discrimination against them, since they were Jews. It doesn’t seem like anything more than a minor charge, but this was all it took to get them thrown into prison. We’ll see more in the next couple of verses of how these two were “railroaded” without due process.

Just a cautionary devotion on the fact that the devil cheats, and uses all sorts of weapons, major and minor, to attack Christians.

More to come.

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