The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious. When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?” When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!” So the commander went over and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” “Yes, I certainly am,” Paul replied. “I am, too,” the commander muttered, “and it cost me plenty!” Paul answered, “But I am a citizen by birth!” The soldiers who were about to interrogate Paul quickly withdrew when they heard he was a Roman citizen, and the commander was frightened because he had ordered him bound and whipped.
(Acts of the Apostles 22:24-29 NLT)
Around 67 B.C., Tarsus (capital of the Roman province of Cilicia in Asia Minor - Turkey) became a city under Roman authority. Jews living in the area were allowed to become citizens. Paul was born in Tarsus in approximately 5 A.D. He, therefore, by birth, became a naturalized citizen of Rome.
In this account, Paul was in Jerusalem, and was ordered, by the Roman military commander, to be lashed by whips to get him to confess the crime he had committed to cause the riot. As the soldiers strapped him down, Paul told the officer in charge that he was a Roman. Being a Roman citizen afforded someone certain rights, one of which was the right to due process of law. Beating a Roman citizen without that due process was an offense that carried punishment itself. When the officer heard Paul's statement of citizenship, he quickly went to the commander to inform him. The commander realized that he had made a serious mistake and immediately ordered the beating to be cancelled. The commander feared that punishment would be rendered for his rash actions.
Thank God that Paul was spared this brutal treatment.
No matter where we go or what we do, if we are serving Jesus, God will always watch over us no matter what. We may have to face adversity and unfair treatment but God promised to be with us (see Matthew 28:20) and to always work it out for our good (Romans 8:28). Are you truly and fully serving Jesus?
Rev. Curtis Norris