I read through, once again the account of Paul and Silas traveling through Philippi. Having visited the ruins of this ancient city and walked down the same street that Paul and Silas were stripped naked and beaten on I experienced an epiphany. When reading the account (Acts:16) I see a different concept in my head now of two men beaten for defying government. I stood in the jail, according to our tour guide where these men were chained to the wall.
Paul was Jewish, he would not be espousing Christianity when referring to the Messiah. He would be reciting the information found in the writings of Moses and possibly knowledge of the Jewish Gospels or Besorah. Paul was a brilliant scholar during this time in Jewish history. He contended with the philosphers of his day. However, Paul would not be lecturing in the manner of Billy Graham. He was challenging the Roman government in the eyes of those who flogged him not with religious piety but with the King of Kings confirmation based on the news that the coming Messiah had indeed, come! This would have been seen as a threat against Roman authority and most certainly the Emperor. These people were not beating Paul and Silas over religious beliefs but rather, political blasphemy against the Emperor. They had to be progressive liberals in my opinion!
When I walked down the street where the beatings and flogging took place, to the place of the magistrate my concept of the Christian mindset, advanced in the translation, evaporated. The magistrate would be a government official, appointed by Rome who would be seated high above the individual brought before them. (I actually saw the ruins) This was not about church verses state but more likely, political persecution. The idea of a GOD who would be higher in stature to Ceasar, from Jewish circles would have been seen as outlandish!
My experience in Asia Minor visiting the ancient world solidified for me the political dynamic used to stop the information about a so called Jewish Messiah. The perseverance of the Jewish disciples and Paul along with a host of folks standing up for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords kept the idea of a resurrected Messiah who would one day restore Israel, now that the covenant was renewed. This would have been in the hearts and minds of those who followed Jesus, known in that world as Yeshua, King of the Jews, Lion of the tribe of Yehuda!
My point is to forever present the political tyranny that is not unlike what the church is facing today by those in government. The modern State of Israel is under global persecution by the so called United Nations. The battle is political not religious! I am convinced that the political rulers of this world are the adversity to the governance of a just and righteous kingdom.
Considering the persecution of Donald Trump, and the current political prisoners, due to the J-6 committee, who have distorted the truth for political reasons, as long as the people of GOD refuse to confront the government via the freedoms that we once enjoyed, things will get much, much, much, worse for the believers.
The epiphany is that I had an opportunity to see the ancient world of Phillipi up close and not the translated account. Understanding the biblical account based on the Hellenistic culture from which all of the New Testament writers would have cataloged their experiences makes a huge difference. None were Harvard educated, nor would that have written in like manor.