16:18 But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The Romans prided themselves on being a peaceful, sophisticated, and highly cultured nation. So do we in the west. We get involved in the business of other countries all over the world. We quite openly flaunt that other countries would be far better off if they modeled themselves after our system of government etc...
Yet Rome is no longer anything close to what it once was and so great was the disintegration that historians can't even agree on what or when or how it happened. Rome rotted from the inside out. It was a kind of collective suicide. All the elements that made it great in the beginning disappeared, replaced with pretty much the opposite. Hard work and self-government gave way over the generations to extreme laziness and dependence. In every way the value system was turned upside down.
You can see in this brief encounter between Paul and the slave owner how unprincipled and feelings based the culture was becoming. When the slave owner complained to the city officials they immediately reacted without any kind of fair or proper investigation. A mob formed. A violent beating ensued. Everything denotes the behaviour of something more closely resembling rabid dogs.
Yet even amid the seemingly mindless madness there is an indication that these men knew they were fighting a power greater than themselves. Paul and his companions had no weapons. They weren't staging a coup or mounting any kind of political uprising. Nothing in their behaviour indicated they were a physical threat. So why the beatings? History tells us these beatings were vicious. Then in their weakened state they put these men in a maximum security section of the prison designed to house the most dangerous offenders.
Because even in their depraved, irrational, reactionary state these men have enough sense to know they are up against forces far greater than themselves. That's why when this world (as we know it) ends, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the greatness of God and His fairness, justice, etc...
They knew they were fighting against God just as so many today do. The amazing part is He left them free to do it, to beat His disciples just as He permitted His own Son to be beaten. Sin must be exposed for what it is to the point that even those who are evil will confess how wrong they are and that it all needs to stop.
We don't understand it because His wisdom far surpasses ours and no one has paid or is paying a higher price to end sin once and for all than He is.
God is love. Love Wins.