Civis Romanus Sum

Civis Romanus sum

Acts 16:35-40

Paul and Silas have been beaten and thrown into prison publicly and now are being released privately. Paul does not like this- “civis Romanus sum!” he cries out.

The right of a Roman citizen- a Roman citizen may not be beaten or bound by magistrate, or by any other person in any circumstance, let alone untried and uncondemned. He would cry “Civis Romanus sum” and he would be immune to punishment; heavy penalties were prescribed for those who violated these citizenship privileges. v. 37

Therefore, the jailers feared and publicly escorted them out of prison.

Paul said unto them, the officers who were sent to the prison with the message about their liberty. Paul was a citizen by birth his father having probably been wealthy enough to buy this right, which brought with it commercial as well as personal privileges.

They have beaten us; the magistrates, who commanded them to be beaten, are justly charged with the beating of them, as if they had themselves done it. Openly; they had openly scourged them.

Uncondemned; for they were not tried, or permitted to speak for themselves.

Being Romans; having the privilege of Roman citizens, which was sometimes given to whole communities. Now such by their laws might not be bound, much less beaten, (and least of all uncondemned), without the consent of the Romans.

Let them come themselves and fetch us out; this the apostle stands upon, not so much for his own, as for the gospel’s sake, that it might not be spread abroad, that these preachers  were wicked and vile men, and did deserve such punishment. 

Civis Romanus

The fact that the public disgrace to which they had been subjected would seriously impede the acceptance of the Gospel message, and perhaps raise a prejudice to the injury of his new Philippian converts-  (remember the household of Lydia, the jailer and all his family)

In the region which he now for the first time visited, it might have created the opinion that he was one of a wicked life, and this would have been a reproach to Christianity and raise a prejudice in the way of the spreading of the Gospel

At first glance, it appears as if Paul is concerned with his honor. But, this is not the character or actions of Paul.

Philippians 3:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

1 Thes 2:1-12 (news travels fast)

Paul’s name, character, and influence belong solely to Jesus and His church.

Civis Romanus

What does it mean to you?

1.You are among wolves

Matthew 10:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless[a] as doves.

Paul is experiencing the fulfillment of Jesus’ words to his disciples: “I send you forth as sheep among wolves”

I am not sure if you realize this yet or not, but this world always has been and is increasingly hostile to those who follow Jesus.

John 15:18-19 New King James Version (NKJV)

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

1 John 3:13 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

And it is going to get worse. I am fearful for lukewarm Christians- you will not make it. If you won’t stand for Jesus now, you will not stand when it gets hard and you are persecuted and afflicted. If you barely make it to church now, you will not make it when we are persecuted and afflicted.

I have seen the persecution that’s coming- boats sinking. We are a battleship church and you better be on board. Dave Wilkerson was asked, “how do I prepare for the end times?”

I have been referred to as: bigoted, hateful, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, unloving, unforgiving, a cult leader, a zealot (all this just within my family) and I am sure much more than I am not aware of.

I am bold in my witness, and I try hard to not be offensive- my calling is of a prophet and a teacher. Woe is me if I do not proclaim his Word! BUT I have yet to experience persecution as the likes of Paul. But it may come to that.

Jeremiah 12:5 New King James Version (NKJV)

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the [a]floodplain of the Jordan?

Civis Romanus

2. Be Wise – Civis Romanus

Often we think Christians have to be doormats and we are to let everyone run all over us. Paul shows wisdom in using the Roman laws to his advantage.

Matthew 10:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless[a] as doves.

wise as serpents, and harmless as doves- The qualities required for the safety of the unarmed traveler. Wisdom and harmlessness are our defenses

Wise= “prudent,” full of precaution, possessing such “practical wisdom” as Paul had when he claimed the rights of Roman citizenship at Philippi.

A cautious character, discreet and sagacious- having and showing keen mental discernment and good judgment

This word for “wise” is used in the parable of the 10 virgins and also the wise man who built his house upon a rock.

Alone, the wisdom of the serpent is mere cunning, and the harmlessness of the dove little better than weakness: but in combination, the wisdom of the serpent would save them from unnecessary exposure to danger; the harmlessness of the dove, from sinful expedients to escape it.

The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature, and uses various arts and stratagems for its own preservation, and especially of its head; snake in a drainage ditch, they are great at camouflage

THIS is the part we are to imitate as the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve ourselves from the insults and rage of men, and not expose ourselves to unnecessary dangers: and, as much as it lies within us, we should be careful to give no just occasion of offense, or irritation, and provoke others to use us wrongfully, and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid for us.

Ex: countless stories of Billy Graham and how he inconvenienced himself and others because he would not be alone with a woman. Airport car, elevator, when I worked at Sylvan

This is wisdom- do not be alone with another of the opposite sex. WISDOM

Need more wisdom- ask of God and there’s a whole book of the Bible full of practical wisdom

Civis Romanus

3. Be Harmless, – Civis Romanus

“Be harmless as a dove”

At the same time, maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without bitterness, malice, or wrath; not seeking revenge, but meek and humble in our conduct, leading inoffensive lives, and proceeding in the course of our calling, though we are susceptible to many insults, and much oppression.

Paul allowed them to wrongly beat him and falsely imprison him and look at the beauty that came out of his imprisonment.

Romans 16:19 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

19 For while your loyalty and obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you well versed and wise as to what is good and innocent and guileless as to what is evil.

Why can you not just let yourself just be wronged?

“NOW THEREFORE, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” I Corinthians 6:7-8

When you wrong your brother in Christ, you wrong Christ. When you condemn your brother in Christ, you condemn Christ. When you sin against your brother in Christ, you sin against Christ.

What rights do you have to get your own way?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,

20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a [a]preciousness and paid for, [b]made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

23 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for by Christ]; then do not yield yourselves up to become [in your own estimation] slaves to men [but consider yourselves slaves to Christ].

Why can’t you just accept being wronged? Is your pride and ego that big? Is it all about you?

Paul, yes THIS same Paul, said: It is an UTTER FAILURE that you you cannot work out your differences. It’s an UTTER FAILURE that you cannot extend grace when Christ has done so much for you. It’s an UTTER FAILURE that your pride won’t allow you to be humbled before another.

Civis Romanus

Where’s your love for the brethren? Where’s grace and mercy that He’s so graciously extended to you? Why can’t you just be wronged and say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me” then move on?

Are you leading an inoffensive life? Causing no harm or injury as much as it pertains to you? OR do you bully your way through, burning precious bridges?

4. Because your name, character and influence belong to Christ and His church.

It may appear as if Paul cared about his own honor- but he had a greater honor to protect.

Not only was Paul keenly aware of his surroundings, he was keenly aware that he reflected upon Christ and the church.

Paul did not care about his own honor, but rather the honor of Jesus and how his actions affected the church.

Galatians 2:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Therefore, whatever you say and do reflects on us.

EX: I know so many people that casually attend FVC and they tell people, “I am a member of FVC”

Please do not live like the world and tell people you are a member here. It reflects on us

Please do not treat people poorly and despitefully use people, have bad business practices and tell people you are a member of FVC. It reflects on us

Civis Romanus

What YOU do affects the WHOLE body. Civis Romanus

1 Corinthians 12:26 New King James Version (NKJV)

26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Paul talks about sexual immorality in the church:

1 Corinthians 5:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore [a]purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed [b]for us.

What do you have that was not given you? Civis Romanus

1 Corinthians 4:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

For who [a]makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Your honor, your character, your name, your influence, your gifts and talents ALL belong to Jesus and the church.

The basis for Christian humilty is to realize that the endowments that we possess are from God and that we possess no superiority, status or pride. All that we have and all that we become are made possible by the Holy Spirit and His operation within other believers in His church. There is no place for pride, but only gratefulness to God and others for their role in our life.

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Civis Romanus

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