“Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from his; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him” (Acts 22:29).
Then Paul visited Jerusalem for the second time, his enemies spread the rumor that he allowed uncircumcised Gentiles to sit in the section of the synagogue that was reserved for Jewish citizens only. That was an insult to the Jewish community. With wildly excessive indignation, they dragged him outside, planning to stone him to death. The Roman governor, fearing an insurrection, sent armed soldiers to take Paul captive. In perfect Greek, Paul announced his Roman citizenship and asked for permission to address the people in his defense, in the Hebrew language. He assured them that he had been designated by God to carry the message to the Gentiles. When they heard him, the riled crowd called for his death.
The tribune did not understand Paul’s speech in Hebrew, but they deduced that he must be guilty of some felony and ordered for him to be whipped. Shipping was a mean of obtaining answers from a prisoner. The whip had three cords: one of ox skin and two of donkey skin, all three dry and twisted. Each of them had a lead ball at the end, with pieces of iron or bone embedded into it to increase the suffering. The victim was stripped from the waist up and tied to a post with their hands together. The lashes were so lacerating and brutal that the muscles and tendons were left exposed; sometimes even the intestines spitted out. The law of Moses allowed for a maximum of 40 lashes, but the Jews reduced the number to 39 so that they would not accidently break the law if they counted wrong.
Roman citizens were exempt from this punishment, although some governors did not respect that right and had Roman citizens whipped in small towns or provinces. Paul demanded his rights, and clarified that this was not a far-away province but the great city of Tarsus. His hands were already tied to the post when he declared himself to be a Roman citizen, accusing the tribune of abusing his authority. Such an accusation could cost the tribune his position and lead to his imprisonment, so he was suddenly afraid.
Know your rights and make them be respected; those who violate them Will be filled with fear. Curzio Malaparte said, *Fear make men believe the worst.” This fear only attacks those who are not doing the right thing.
Your great privilege as a citizen of the eternal kingdom is that you do not need to be afraid.