Paul Frees the Slave Girl

Kenneth Blanchard recommends developing the practice of “one-minute praisings,” where the employer ... More


One day as Paul and his companions were making their way down to the riverside to the place of prayer, they were met by slave girl with “a python” (a divining spirit). In Greek myth “the python” was a dragon / serpent associated with the god Apollo and his oracle. These “divining spirits” were only demons cruelly possessing people. They had no real power to predict the future but being angelic beings, they might have had cosmic insights beyond human understanding. This poor girl was doubly enslaved as she had selfish human masters who made a tidy profit off her “prophecies” (v. 16). As they continued on their way, Paul and his companions heard the voice of the slave girl calling out behind them saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation” (v. 17). To those listening, the title “the Most High God” could have applied to either the Greek god Zeus or to the God of the Jews. Needless to say, having a slave girl involved in a demonic snake cult showing up wherever they went was not great for their public image, even if what she was saying was somewhat true. After many days Paul eventually had had enough. Turning to the girl, he spoke to the demon possessing her, and in the name of Jesus Christ he commanded it to come out of her, which it immediately did (v. 18). 

Enraged by having their source of income suddenly taken away, the slave girl’s masters seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the city magistrates in the marketplace. Their real motive was monetary loss, but what they accused Paul and Silas of was “disturbing / confusing the city” and “advocating unlawful customs” (vv. 19-21). Thinking it was an open and shut case, the crowd and the magistrates sided with the accusers, attacking Paul and Silas, and beating them with rods without any further investigation (v. 22). After beating them, the magistrates threw them in prison, giving the jailor specific instructions concerning them (v. 23). They were placed in maximum security, placed in an inner prison with their feet in the stocks (v. 24). 


Sometimes doing the right thing results in a lot of pain. Paul freed the girl from the demon, but he ended up with beaten and jailed. How would you respond in such a situation? 

Acts 16:16-24 (English Standard Version)

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