April 16, 2021 – Friday
Acts 16:16-18 NIV
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”
18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
Once again, I am deviating from believe because of a Bible study. Thursday evening’s Bible study had us finishing Acts 16 and while the above verses had been covered the prior week (which I missed due to a cold), I was fascinated by how the verses above tied to the final verses of the chapter.
For instance, consider verses 16-17, Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” It is so easy to read this and simply continue on but wait a minute! We have here a demon possessed woman telling everyone that Paul and Silas were servants of the Most High God and they are telling everyone the way to be saved. She was already recognized as having the ability to tell the future so her going on and on with this day after day after day (many days) added to the veracity of what they were teaching, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Since the demon was telling the truth through this poor woman why did Paul become so annoyed (sorely annoyed, greatly annoyed, grieved, troubled, upset in other versions) that he commanded the demon to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ? First, some additional background, Paul, Silas, and the others were in the city of Philippi within Macedonia. Guzik, quoting Boice, tells us the following about the demon or spirit that possessed her, “It actually says, ‘She had a spirit of Pythona.’ That does not mean much to most of us, which is why it is not translated literally. But ‘pythona’ was a certain kind of snake – a python. It is used here because the python was associated with the god Apollo…not far from Philippi, in this very area of Europe, there was a shrine to the Pythian Apollo.”
With the above in mind two primary considerations come to mind as to why Paul commanded the demon to come out of her. Number one, because the pagan idol she was associated was truly a false god even though many believed in it and Paul would not want anyone thinking he was in league with such a belief system or that the gospel of Jesus could be associated with such a belief. Number two, out of pity for the woman who was in a state of captivity by the demon as well as being a slave. Thus, it was good and correct to free her from demonic possession.
Going on and reading the rest of the chapter (I encourage you to do so), we find the woman’s owners were so upset they dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities in the marketplace. There they were ordered stripped and beaten, then thrown into prison in an inner cell with their feet in stocks. That night while in prison they prayed and sang hymns until about midnight. It was then an earthquake that caused all the doors to the prison to open and the chains to fall off.
When the jailer awakened and saw the doors open, he prepared to kill himself thinking everyone had escaped. But no one had escaped and v28, Paul shouted “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer’s reaction we find in the next two verses, The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He and his entire household came to be saved. Still, what brought him to such a mindset to ask, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? We are not told. However, the combination of what the demon possessed woman was always saying, along with what Paul and Silas were preaching, Paul commanding the demon, and an earthquake that apparently (we are not told) caused no other damage but to the jail all pointed to one thing, the truth of the message Paul and Silas had brought to Philippi.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for showing us how You can use everything to bring people to the faith, to believe, if they will but open their hearts and minds as you did with the jailer in Philippi. I pray that more and more people will open their hearts and minds to the truth of Jesus’ salvation. – In Jesus Name. Amen.