Paul and Silas are examples of people who suffered unjustly. In Acts 16: 23-24 it says, “And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” This suffering came simply because they had healed a demon possessed slave who no longer could make her owners a profit.
Paul and Silas should not have been treated in such a manner because they were Roman citizens. This beating most likely was very sever. As Lenski states, “Under the many blows the skin would be broken, the blood would ooze out, and inflamed welts would cover the whole back.” The text also said that they were thrown into prison after the beating. Roman prisons had three sections. The first allowed prisoners light and air. The second area put them behind locked bars and gates and the third was the dungeon and used for executions. It is most likely in this third inner section of the prison that Paul and Silas were confined.
They were not just put in a cell, but the jailer “fastened their feet in the stocks.” Most likely the stocks were also a form of torture. In the stocks the feet were spread farther apart than they normally could go and then locked in place causing great pain.
This dark dungeon in which Paul and Silas are suffering would be a great place to start complaining and feeling sorry for themselves. Yet verse 25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Are you kidding me! They were singing? No wonder the text says the other prisoners were listening to them! Could they have been the first brutally beaten and tortured prisoners singing instead of moaning and complaining in this inner dungeon? What an amazing witness they had in the midst of the darkest time of their lives!
Tertullian, an early Christian author who lived around 200AD said, “Nothing the limb feels in the stocks when the mind is in heaven.” Wow! Paul and Silas somehow were more focused on their relationship with God and their gratitude for their salvation than their pain.
Father, my difficulties in life are not even worth mentioning when compared to what Paul and Silas suffered. In my problems in life, I rarely sing and praise you. Help me to have the right focus when suffering comes. Help me to respond in trials with complete trust in you and your will for me and give me the grace to display your character when the hards times come. Thanks for loving me.
Following Jesus with you,