(Acts 16:16-40)

Because of a slave girl God rescued from an evil spirit of divination, she and a jailer’s household, entered into The Kingdom of God.

In A.D. 50, during Paul’s second missionary journey he and his companions visited Philippi. This Roman Colony and leading city of the district of Macedonia was an independent provincial administration. It’s official organisation was modified after Rome. Many retired Roman soldiers settled there, but there were few Jews.

The small missionary group lived at Lydia’s house who was a Christian business woman (see Lydia). Lydia, a gentile who had become a full convert as a Jew, went on to recognise Jesus as her Lord and Saviour.

At Philippi, a slave girl who had an evil spirit of divination by which she predicted the future, earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling.

This demon spirit is known as a ‘python spirit’ named after a mythical snake which was once worshipped at Delphi, near Corinth in Greece. Apollo was a major god in Greek and Roman mythology and supposedly he killed the serpent and was to have taken it’s powers and wisdom. The chief shrine to Apollo was at Delphi, where it was believed the snake protected a well known prophetess with the 'spirit of python'. This city was the major centre of this oldest and most influential religions of ancient Greece.

When a person has a 'spirit of python', it means that the person is controlled by an evil force. The demon in the slave girl could apparently make her speak similar to a ventriloquist because it controlled her.

This slave girl was not an impostor or a mad woman, she was a demonic, who, when possessed by the evil spirit, others thought of her as having power to predict oracles for them.

She would spasmodically cry out wildly; her onlookers believing she spoke guidance oracles listened intently. In a trance she would utter indistinct words and others would translate the oracles. She was clearly possessed by a depraved spirit and was a soothsayer of evil inspirations.

Those who had known the slave girl did not regard her insane or fraudulent but they paid her masters for her divination (fortune-telling) services. Her masters were not priests from Delphi but private individuals who interpreted the oracles said by the girl under the influence of the demon and they were rewarded with gifts.

When the Christian party was on their way to prayer along the banks of the Gangite River, as it was customary that such a place of worship be near running water, they were met by the slave girl who was under the spell of the 'spirit of python', and she continued the cry at Paul and his companions shouting for all to hear, “These men are servants of The Most High God who are telling you the way to get saved”. Evil spirits also recognised and acknowledged Jesus’ ministry as well.

She was not actually predicting the future but was stating a fact, for it was a true description of Paul and his friends. Whether she was mocking the group or seeking help while under the influence of the demon is not known, but the girl followed these Christians for many days.

All pagan gods were called The God Most High and those who believed the girl would also believe that Paul and his co-workers were involved in pagan religions of Greek mythology as her comments daily attracted attention. He recognised this as a hindrance for The Truth was coming through the wrong source.

The slave girl was not hostile toward those in the missionary company. Paul was annoyed because the demonic girl was seen as a source of truth, no matter what she said.

Paul continued to be weary and troubled by the girl, and responded with The Power of God for her deliverance. He commanded the demon in Jesus’ Name to come out of her and immediately the woman was delivered. Paul in no way reproved the girl but the evil spirit possessing her. He ordered the demon leave permanently and it did, instantly. Her deliverance was complete. The slave girl had a visible transformation and healing.

Demons recognise Jesus Christ and His disciples. His disciples have His power to release those from demon possession by calling on His Name. All spiritual powers are subject to Jesus Christ.

The exorcism had taken away the ability for the slave girl to speak oracles and the source of income and profit was no longer able to help her master in their business venture.

However when her owners realised their hope of making money was gone, they physically seized Paul and Silas, dragged them to the market place and brought them before the magistrates of the Roman Colony because although Judaism had legal recognition, Christianity did not, making Paul and Silas' customary and typical actions unlawful in the Roman Province. The charges were brought for interfering in the slaves owner’s business by religious means other than Roman religion.

Lydia, being Paul’s co-worker in Philippi no doubt offered shelter and comfort to the girl as well as guidance.

Paul and Silas were roughly treated and flogged, they were thrown in prison with feet fastened in stocks but were able to sing praises and witness the saving grace of God to the jailer and his household, after an earthquake had taken place in the vicinity of the jail.

The complaint made against Paul and Silas was serious as it was not a Roman religious practice, but both were Roman citizens and should not have had cruel treatment such as the maximum security cell that they were placed in. Because they were imprisoned without a trial, they received public apology. After their release they returned to Lydia’s house.

Some people try to predict the future for gain of wealth pretending to have answers to questions that others wish to know. Many are dishonest fakes, others have unfavourable evil spiritual help but in this case the slave girl had demonic power.

Essentially the slave girl was like a medium for spirits of divination, which is an attempt to discover the unknown by spiritual means. It is forbidden by God because it has disastrous consequences. The spirit world is powerful and dangerous. Involvement with any evil spirit or mediums is forbidden by God.

The driving out of the demon was an instant miracle. Deliverance of the slave girl from the demonic influence that troubled her showed a clear demonstration of God’s power over evil power and forces in the world.

It is God’s divine privilege to reveal or conceal things.

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Managed by Stefan Kreslin, Last updated August 2017