Paul takes the opportunity afforded by the soldiers to address the crowd. He shares his testimony, revealing how to be saved: call on Jesus’ name, have your sins washed away, and be baptized. Is it his declaration of Jesus as the Messiah, or his testimony that he’s going to the Gentiles that makes the crowd so upset? Either way, the soldiers step in and are about to torture Paul. It’s only his declaration that he’s a free born Roman citizen that saves him. If the soldiers had carried through with the flogging without a hearing or a formal sentence, then they would have faced serious charges.
Paul consistently uses the laws of the land to assist his ministry. It reminds me of Matthew 10:16 where Jesus said, “I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” May we have the wisdom that we need when we face difficult circumstances. May those persecuted Christians around the world have the wisdom, strength, and courage that they need to face ongoing hostility.