Under the government of Babylon, police magistrates were civil officers in the jurisdictional districts who were learned in the law and exercised limited judicial authority. They were among the officials gathered to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold.—Da 3:2, 3.
In Roman colonies, the administration of government was in the hands of civil magistrates, called stra·te·goiʹ in the Greek cities. There could be 3, 4, usually 5, or even 10 or 12 making up the magisterial board. These had the duties of keeping order, administering finances, trying and judging law violators, and ordering the execution of punishment. Sometimes their names and titles appear on coins issued by a city. Constables, or lictors, were assigned to them to carry out their orders.—See CONSTABLE.
The civil magistrates in the Roman colony of Philippi (Ac 16:12), without a trial, had Paul and Silas put into stocks. The next day, the magistrates sent constables to release them. But Paul, in order to give public and legal vindication to the good news that he preached, demanded that the magistrates personally release them. The magistrates, fearing trouble with Rome over flogging Roman citizens, entreated Paul and Silas and released them.—Ac 16:19-39.