Obedience in Limbo

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 24 And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. (v. 27) The accounts of Paul’s imprisonment often startle me with their simple accuracy. Two thousand years later, this is still how people and systems behave. Roman justice moved with the spastic rhythm and bizarre inefficiency of governments everywhere; it was often at cross-purposes with itself. (One contemporary example: innocent people who have been wrongly imprisoned often come home only to learn that their …

A Truthful Love

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 16:35-40 They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out. (v. 37) Thus far, we have been looking at how the Bible portrays Paul’s experience in custody in order to know what it means to remember those in prison. Today’s Scripture presents Paul, still a prisoner, in a role that may make some …

A Captor Captivated

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 16:28-34 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” (v. 29) Before Paul even walked through the miraculously opened doors of his prison, his first thought was for his captor. His cellmates, suddenly delivered, were still standing there when he called out to his guard. (I’d be six blocks away already.) Their continued presence was a greater miracle than any earthquake. The text’s details are fascinating. Why was the jailer …

God the Liberator

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 16:25-27 And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (v. 26) In my work with prisoners, I’ve met people locked up, like Paul, unjustly. I’ve met wrongdoers who were themselves the victims of greater wrongdoing, whether by parents, abusive husbands, systemic racism, or other prisoners. A few times (less often than TV would have you believe) I have met people in bondage to real evil, people who actively and habitually identified with their worst …

Paul’s First Bit

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 16:16-24 These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. (v. 20) It’s hard for people who have never been there to “remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them” (Heb. 13:3). Thankfully, the Bible shows us how—most of all through Paul, who did his share of time. We’ll examine his story over the next several days. Paul’s first bit happens in Philippi, a financial capital originally founded to help King Philip II …

Imprisoned Together

Phil Christman

Read: Hebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them. Like all the epistles, the letter to the Hebrews is best read as a letter. It’s urgent, practical, sometimes abrupt, written thoughtfully but in haste to spiritually needy people. It’s like the other epistles, too, in that it includes at least one terrifyingly hard command: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them.” Prisoners need to be as real, as immediate …