Summary: The book of Acts tells a story about two traveling evangelists, Paul and Silas, as they encounter severe resistance in Philippi, a Roman colony. After the pair are dubiously accused, savagely beaten, and shamefully incarcerated, an earthquake miraculously frees them from their chains and cells. What might look like a story of supernaturally aided escape is really a story about vindication, a means of God exposing the futility of Roman attempts to obstruct the preaching of the gospel. The whole scene has a burlesque quality to it, for its aim is to expose the powerlessness and peevishness of an imperial culture that sets itself up to resist God’s presence, with violence if necessary. The passage speaks about more than ancient Roman realities, however, for its portrait of imperial abuses looks uncomfortably similar to the ways in which modern societies protect their interests and prerogatives. In the end, the story suggests that God offers a different reality, one beyond our ways of suppressing outsiders and clinging desperately onto our attempts at self-preservation.
Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on The Huffington Post, Day1, and Patheos.