When you look back in time and even at present we see the conditions of places on incarceration:
Yes, many of us may feel “they deserve it!”
How about if they were wrongly accused?
It may be overload physically or even spiritually.
Paul was so filled with The Spirit that he shared ALL the time, hence the youth falling from the window from 2 storey up, Paul was so used to praise and thanks giving that when he and Silas were whipped and thrown into the most despicable part of jail, he praised The Lord. We have shared on this earlier, there was a ‘reason’ Paul was sent there. The tombs of jail were just that. Imprisoned fellows awaited executioner died while imprisoned.
Prisoners have never been regarded with respect! Especially before ‘human rights’ were enacted. But as we see above, many prison systems have areas of lack.
Think! When people had to ‘ease’ themselves, they had to do it right there! The smell? The conditions? We tend to miss these salient facts.
In the New Testament, we hear a lot about Christians being imprisoned—especially Paul. In fact, he wrote his letter to the Philippians while in jail! We’ve gathered some information from the ESV Archaeology Study Bible here for you to learn more about Roman jails were like.
PAUL WRITING THE PHILIPPIANS FROM PRISON
In the Roman world, imprisonment was rarely a long-term punishment. Most prisoners were awaiting either trial or execution. Debtors could be imprisoned until their friends or family paid o‘ the debt (Matt. 18:30). The length of imprisonment depended on the swiftness of a trial, which could be drawn out for years, especially in political cases. Conditions of imprisonment were closely linked to the status of the prisoner. Non-Roman citizens, even of high status, were often harshly treated. In contrast, house arrest was typically more comfortable for the prisoner, who was usually physically chained to a guard but could still host visitors.
Paul experienced a wide variety of prison conditions. He was chained in a common holding cell in Philippi (Acts 16:23– 30), imprisoned in probably better conditions in the praetorium at Caesarea (Acts 23:35), and held in relative comfort while in house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16). In Rome, Paul was responsible for maintaining himself during his imprisonment, including his meals and clothes (Acts 28:30). Paul’s Roman citizenship meant he was eligible for a daily food allowance, but Paul depended on his friends and fellow believers to supply this food. While under house arrest in Rome, Paul was guarded around the clock by soldiers of the elite Praetorian Guard.
AFTER PAUL WROTE PHILIPPIANS
Finally, when he was later rearrested and executed (likely a few years after this letter), Paul was probably placed in an underground cell somewhere in Rome. It is possible that he was then imprisoned in the Mamertine Prison in the Roman Forum. This was where major convicted enemies of the state were strangled or kept before being thrown off the Tarpeian Rock on the Capitoline Hill. However, if Paul was executed by a sword outside the city, as later tradition claimed, he probably would not have been imprisoned at Mamertine.
The Mamertine Prison in Rome could have been called the “House of Darkness.” Few prisons were as dim, dank, and dirty as the lower chamber Paul occupied. Known in earlier times as the Tullianum dungeon, its “neglect, darkness, and stench” gave it “a hideous and terrifying appearance,” according to Roman historian Sallust.1
It sounds like suffice punishment to spend any amount of time in Mamertine, but prisoners in the ancient world were rarely sent to prison as punishment. Rather, prisons typically served as holding cells for those awaiting trial or execution. We see this throughout Scripture. Mosaic Law made no provision for incarceration as a form of punishment. Jeremiah was imprisoned under accusation of treason (Jeremiah 37:11–16) but was transferred to the temple guardhouse after an appeal to King Zedekiah, who sought to protect the prophet (37:17–21). And though Jeremiah was later thrown into a cistern, the purpose was to kill him, not imprison him (38:1–6). Even Jesus temporarily endured incarceration just before His trials and execution.
During Paul’s first imprisonment, he awaited trial before Roman governors Felix and Festus (Acts 24–26). He then was under house arrest in Rome for two years (28:30), awaiting an appearance before Nero. Scholars believe Paul was released sometime in AD 62 because the Jews who had accused him of being “a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension” (24:5) didn’t press their case before the emperor. During Paul’s second imprisonment, however, in the Mamertine dungeon, he had apparently had a preliminary hearing and was awaiting a final trial. He didn’t expect acquittal (2 Timothy 4:16); he expected to be found guilty, in all likelihood, for hating mankind2—his refusal to participate in Rome’s social and civic life, which was intertwined with pagan worship. From there, Paul believed only his execution would be left, which was probably carried out in AD 68 (4:6–7).3
God’s servants often have faced a variety of unjust circumstances—just as Jeremiah and Jesus and Paul did. But regardless of the places in life that seem to imprison us, we must keep the broader view that Paul embraced even while in chains—a perspective that gives purpose even to the most painful of circumstances: “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1).
We spend time on Paul for a few reasons, his conditions closely mimicked the conditions of scores of prisoners for The cause.
We man see other examples, so many others. We have failed to see or be aware of conditions. All we can honestly say is that it was where we never wished to be!
And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying…
I. If we take our whole impression of his prison-life from the Book of Genesis, our impression cannot be either accurate or complete. For, though the inspired narrative tells us that Joseph was bound; though it records his earnest entreaty that the cup-bearer, when he was released, would do his utmost to deliver him; though it represents him as speaking with a certain bitterness of having done nothing to deserve that he should be “thrust into this hole”; though, therefore, it implies that Joseph was the victim of a gross injustice, and had a keen sense of the injustice done to him, it nevertheless leaves the impression on our minds that, for a prisoner, his condition was a singularly happy one; that he enjoyed an altogether exceptional freedom, and rose to no small measure of official place and dignity. But, as we learn from a supplementary Scripture, Joseph was by no means of our mind, nor were his circumstances altogether so happy as we have supposed them to be. In Psalm 105:17-19, we read: “He sent a man before them: Joseph was sold for a slave. They tormented his feet with fetters; his soul came into iron, until the time when his word came; the word of the Lord cleared him.” The light shed by these words shines into the dark Egyptian dungeon, and enables us to see the prisoner and his condition more distinctly. Honoured and trusted as he was, he was nevertheless “tormented with fetters.” He was a prisoner, although a favoured prisoner, and thought more of his captivity than of the favour which softened its rigours. Through long bitter months he bends sad questioning eyes on a heaven no longer flushed wit-h rosy dawns of hope, but dark with the hues of doubt and despair. Yet, as we know, the road to the throne lay through that “hole”; and but for the hateful fetters which tormented him, he would never have worn the signet from Pharaoh’s hand, nor the golden chain which Pharaoh flung round his neck. The night in which he sat ushered in a long and brilliant day.
II. Now, the prison experience of Joseph is by no means an exceptional experience. Its value for us lies mainly in the fact that it helps us to understand the common lot of man. It would seem to be a law of the Divine government that in proportion as men are great in capacities for service, they should have their capacities developed by bitter and long-sustained afflictions. We can be patient and hopeful when once we are assured that all our defeats and disappointments, our failures and reverses and broken illusions, are parts of the discipline by which God is training us for the work we long to do, and are qualifying us to enjoy the freedom we crave. If only our character is being moulded and hardened, and its capacities brought out by suffering, then it is not unjust of God to inflict suffering upon us. If we can become perfect only through suffering, shall we not thank Him for the suffering which perfects us? If only as we learn to rule in the prison of deterred opportunities and defeated hopes, we can become fit to rule over the “many cities” of the heavenly kingdom, shall we shrink from the prison which leads to the throne? If the iron must enter our souls that we may be strong amid the flatteries and the adversities of fortune, shall even the fetters which torment us be unwelcome to us?
We can ask…was Daniel thrown into prison after his accusation before being lowered to the lions? Here, many things become evident when we think on it. The lions were hungry!
I have a question; Who was thrown in the lions den?
“And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.”
Lions that did not affect Daniel? I will be honest. I had no idea that the men and their families were thrown in as well. In re-reading what I thought I knew, I was schooled to see that their families were thrown in with them!
Each time we read a verse/passage we are touched in different ways. Read and enjoy learning. Remember when you were in school? Yes! Hard work, but the joy at recieving good grades?
Incline my heart to you, not to prideful gain or any false motive.
Open my eyes to behold wonderful things in your word.
Unite my heart to fear your name.
Satisfy me with your steadfast love.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are figures from chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel, three Hebrew men thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when they refuse to bow down to the king’s image; the three are preserved from harm and the king sees four men walking in the flames. But, only 3 were thrown in. Walking not writhing!
Many of great characters of the biblical story experienced periods of imprisonment — Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah, Micaiah, Zedekiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Silas, Paul, Epaphras, Aristarchus, Junia, and even Jesus himself, who was held in custody between his arrest and execution.
We can and shall go on, but what needs to be realized is that we truly do not realize how blessed we are.
Wake up, school/work/lunchtime/home – repeat.
Weekends? Shopping, cleaning, laundry, some may work. But where does our Reason come into play?
We go down the faniliar. What is your reason? Wow! We have shared! This time, I will ask you with a polite tap on the shoulder. What is your reason? Why are you here? Kids? Ok, you have them, now what? Work? You move up! Then? Retire. ALL the money that you did or did not put away. Then?
Let me answer that for you! You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know this. Then you are ‘no more’! Really? No more?
What does that mean? Yes! You in the flesh are no more, but in The Image of Who were you made? I will stay off religion for a second and thing Evolution! Supposedly we came from apes! Why are there still un-evolved us? Where chickens, chickens? An eagle, an Eagle? Hawks, could did they fly. Shortest travel time beyond two points?
Ever watched “Those magnificent men in their flying machines…”
Shortest distance between two points! A flying car?
As I said we can go on and on….
And we shall.