And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go.…
I. THE SECRET WORKING OF THE HEART UNDER DIVINE POWER. The decision of the magistrates to let the apostles go free is not explained. Paul and Silas had given no account of themselves. But the conscience of the magistrates had been smitten. While his servants suffer in silence, God conducts their affairs. The coincidence must have struck the jailor, and filled his heart with joy. Sore would have been the trial to the jailor's new faith had he received command to throw his now honored guests into stricter confinement. Such coincidences, although nothing can be demonstrated from them, may nevertheless well convey to the believing heart the sense of an ever-working Divine love.
II. THE PROTEST OF THE APOSTLES. To slink out of prison at the bidding of the jailor, as if they were escaped convicts, was not agreeable to Paul's sense of right. They were Roman citizens. Cicero, in eloquent words, had said that it was a crime to flog a Roman. In this case they had been beaten, imprisoned, thrust into the stocks, treated with every harshness and indignity. Paul stands upon his rights as a Roman citizen: "Let them... fetch us out!" Christian meekness requires us to reserve our strength, to subdue our anger, and to prefer the good of another to our own pleasure; but not to connive at injustice and submit to wrong. The Christian ought to maintain his honor and insist upon his rights, when his reason is not wounded self-love, but injured sense of right and zeal for God's honor; when his course is not that of a rude independence, but that of right and calm self-vindication; and if his object is not the overthrow of the oppressor, but his conviction and improvement.
III. THE HONORABLE DISMISSAL. Alarmed at the attitude of Paul, the magistrates send to beg the apostles to depart. Thus they receive their dismissal, "Go in peace!" from the lips of friend and foe alike - from the friends to whom they have brought peace and salvation; from the foes who dare not touch the anointed of God; from the Master himself, who has been with them in their trouble, whose promises have sustained, and whose providence has watched over and delivered them. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.