Torture and Interrogation
In crime movies, when a suspect needs to be broken, the interrogator often locks the door and proceeds to use physical force to pound the truth out of the supposed guilty party. So much for innocent until proven guilty. In real life Senator John McCain, the only senator who actually has been tortured, continues to argue strongly against “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
When Paul got arrested in the spring of AD 57, the Roman Empire had no qualms about using torture in interrogating suspects. They used brutality to enforce their power and authority to rule. Luke makes it clear that, in both Jesus’ arrest and Paul’s, Rome thought nothing about getting out the leather whips embedded with junks of metal to try to break those in their custody.
From God’s point of view, however, I don’t’ want to be on the side of those who believe like the Romans that you can use pain to reveal truth. In fact when Paul entered the barracks in Jerusalem, it wasn’t Paul who was in the most danger. It was the Roman tribune.
“The tribune commanded Paul to be brought into the barracks and said, ‘Whip him to discover why they are screaming against him.’ When they were stretching him out for the leather thongs, Paul said to the centurion standing there, ‘Is it lawful for you to scourge an uncondemned Roman citizen?’
Going to the Roman tribune, the centurion inquired, ‘Do you realize what you’re about to do? This man is a Roman.’ Then the tribune went to Paul, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’ And he replied, ‘Yes.’ Then the tribune said, ‘I paid a hefty sum to acquire this citizenship.’ ‘I was born a citizen,’ Paul said. As soon as he made this claim, those who were going to interrogate him with scourging, took their hands off. The tribune himself was alarmed because he had bound a Roman citizen.” Acts 22:24-29
Paul knew not to bring to light his Roman citizenship when he faced the anger of his own people. It would have made matters worse. But when Romans were about to unjustly use the lash on him, he used the power of his status to save his back and to protect those who had arrested him. The Holy Spirit was definitely helping him to follow Jesus’ command for us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
LORD, help my brothers and sisters in law enforcement and in the military to track this account and learn to be just and in control with prisoners. Help them to learn from the historical example of the Romans that force in interrogation doesn’t necessarily reveal the truth.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!