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The Human Side of Christianity

Within any book, there is content that does not make the final cut.  Beside ensuring that authors make their deadlines, editors add, correct, delete and expunge unnecessary information.  Following the Council of Nicea in 323 AD, ten books were eliminated from consideration.  You won’t find the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas, Gospel of James, Shepherd of Hermas, 1 Clement, Gospel of Thomas, The Didache, 3rd and 4th Corinthians and the Lost Gospel Q in the New Testament.  Based upon the standard found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, only thirty nine books were deemed God inspired.  While these lesser known pieces give an unique historical perspective, the human side of Christianity devalued their importance.

Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their officers, saying, “Release those men.” 36 And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word to release you; so come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without a trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now they are sending us out secretly? No! Let them come here themselves and bring us out!” – Acts 16:35-37

According to the Lex Porcia written in B.C. 247, Roman citizens were exempted from degrading punishment, such as that of scourging.  In the passage above, Paul is exposing the wrongful actions taken by the chief magistrates, beaten with rods despite what the Lex Porcia states.  Sure, leading a jailor and his entire family to Christ was amazing, but Paul’s human side comes out in exclaiming. “you broke the law and now you want to sweep this injustice under the rug?”  Luke suggests that Paul is making a political statement, seeking justice for what was done to him and Silas.  Perhaps, Paul was waiting to receive an apology, refusing to leave without one.

The officers reported this message to the chief magistrates, and when they heard that the prisoners were Romans, they were frightened; 39 so they came [to the prison] and appealed to them [with apologies], and when they brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. 40 So they left the prison and went to Lydia’s house; and when they had seen the brothers and sisters, they encouraged and comforted them, and left, Acts 16:38-40.

There is an assumption that the Bible denounces anger.  However, the apostle Paul states that anger is allowed, but don’t let this emotion cause you to sin, Ephesians 4:26-27.  Since Paul visits Ephesus in Acts 19, maybe Paul uses this experience in Philippi as a teachable moment.  Frightened that news of Paul’s treatment might reach Rome, chief magistrates begged Paul and Silas to leave Philippi, appealing to them with apologies.  Before departing the city, they stopped at Lydia’s house where Paul and Silas were comforted and encouraged.  Just because individuals dedicate their lives to Christ, doesn’t mean addictions, bad habits or poor choices disappear.  Rather, the human side of Christianity highlights how hard it is to live in this world, but not of it, 1 Peter 4:19.

by Jay Mankus

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