The morning after the miraculous (Acts 16.25-34) begins in a fairly routine manner. The magistrates decided that Paul and Silas can be released, but this news is not received with joy as we might expect:
“They had us beaten in public without a proper trial— even though we are Roman citizens —and they threw us in prison. And now they want to send us away secretly? Absolutely not! They themselves must come and escort us out!”
(Acts 16.37, NET)
This is no empty claim (we are Roman citizens), Paul and Silas would have had documentary evidence or they simply would not have made this claim: to do so falsely was punishable by death. To beat a Roman citizen without a proper trial was also a big deal. Paul and Silas’ civil liberties could have prevented their ordeal (vv.22-25) but they chose not to exercise them to alleviate suffering for the Gospel.
Instead, they chose to focus on their main mission in Philippi, which as they leave town we see. We look back with them and see the conversion of Lydia (v.40a), we see the Philippian jailer and his family (v.34b), and we see the fledgling church community (v.40b). Rather than focus on what was good for them, Paul and Silas (perhaps now minus Luke, notice ‘we’ changes back to ‘they’ in v.40) move on having established a committed core of believers who, no doubt, would then have carried on the work of planting and watering whilst God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3.8-9).
With the world as it is right now, Paul and Silas’ choice not to exercise their civil liberties in order to further the Gospel is hugely convicting. They could have spoken up, they could have chosen to look after #1 first, they could have put themselves before God’s purposes and plans. They didn’t.