6/23/16 Imprisoned

The slave girl’s masters have been using her soothsaying ability as a lucrative business, offering fortune telling for a price.  They are outraged at Paul for what he has just done.  “You just lost us our business!  What right did you have to interfere?” one of them shouts.  “I’m sorry that you will lose income over this, but this girl has been enslaved both by you and by Satan for too long.  She is now free on the inside, and I would ask you to free her body as well, if she truly is no longer of any use to you,” Paul replies calmly.  But instead of defusing the situation, Paul’s words only fan the flames of rage in these slave masters.  They grab Paul and Silas and drag them into the center of the marketplace, demanding in loud voices to be heard immediately in the Forum, the council of the rulers of this Roman colony.  Paul and Silas are not even given an opportunity to tell their side of the story.  The irate slave masters shout their accusations to the generals assembled before them, saying, “These men, these Jews, are wreaking havoc on our city.  They are preaching about things that are against Roman law to even see or hear!  They have even sabotaged our livelihood and taken away our slave girl!”  The crowd, which gathered quickly upon hearing the shouting in the marketplace, turns on Paul and Silas, and the assembled generals order the men to be stripped and beaten severely with rods.  The flesh of their backs is torn open repeatedly, and by the time the beating is over both men are a bloody mess.  Soldiers grab them and drag them to the prison, telling the guard at the door to keep them in the dungeon and make sure they are chained securely.  The guard salutes and takes Paul and Silas down several flights of stairs to the bowels of the prison.  They pass by hundreds of prisoners as they go, all chained to the prison walls.  The prisoners spit at the guard and shout obscenities as the men pass by.  Some are placed in stocks – not just head and arms, but legs as well, leaving these prisoners unable to get into any kind of comfortable position.  The deeper into the prison they go, the darker it gets, and the foul odors grow exponentially stronger.  Finally, they stop at an empty cell.  The prison guard shoves the men inside and locks their ankles into two sets of stocks, which are chained to the brick wall of the prison’s foundation.  He leaves the rest of their bodies free, but with the ankle stocks several inches off of the floor, sitting is not an option for very long.  As painful as their backs are, the two men eventually must lay down on them in order to relieve their aching muscles.  The situation looks bleak for them.


Acts 16:19-24


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