11We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12From there we reached Philippi, a major city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony; we stayed there several days.
13On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we supposed that some people met for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had come together. 14One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am faithful to the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we did.
16One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. 17She followed along behind us shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
18This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and spoke to the demon within her. “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,” he said. And instantly it left her.
19Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20“The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted. 21“They are teaching the people to do things that are against Roman customs.”
22A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24So he took no chances but put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
Points of Interest:
- ‘If you agree that I am faithful to the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home”’—Jesus had commanded his disciples to look for receptive people and to stay in one person’s home when in a new town rather than move around. Here we see Paul using this strategy. The fact that Luke gives us more details about Lydia leads us to believe that she will play a key role in establishing the new church movement in Philippi. Her influence is already seen from the fact that her whole household is baptized.
- ‘we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.’—though many of us in the West are tempted to discount things like fortune tellers as myths or superstitions or charlatans, this is not how much of the world sees reality now nor how Paul viewed it then. The fact that this slave girl earns her masters lots of money indicates that she’s pretty good at what she does. Earlier we saw the Holy Spirit give people the ability to prophesy. Maybe here we are seeing another, malevolent spirit giving the same ability.
- ‘Paul got so exasperated that he turned and spoke to the demon within her.’—The fact that the demon is speaking the truth doesn’t mean it’s helpful. Apparently this demon is doing what it can to use Paul’s popularity to keep up its own audience and influence.
- ‘Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered’—more evidence that this girl is truly connected to a powerful demonic spirit. She can’t simply be replaced by a good actor.
Taking it home:
- Through you: Lydia offers what she has: her large home. By that simple offer she becomes a key player in the early growth of the Philippian church. What can you offer right now? Your time, money, and personal possessions are all things you can offer to God’s work in some way whether that’s volunteering in one of the church’s neighborhood programs through Vineyard Community Offerings, helping out on one of our Sunday teams, or helping host a small group. Ask God to show you how to concretely share what you have for God’s purposes.
- Through your six: One phrase we sometimes use to describe our neck of the woods is ‘grimly driven.’ I wonder if that grim drivenness is due to the influence of a spirit out to do our whole area harm, rather like the evil spirit who kept Philippi under its thumb through the slave girl’s prophecies. Either way, it can’t hurt to pray that your six would be free from ‘grim drivenness’ and able to pursue all the best that God has for them.
- Through our church: It seems like often the attraction of a fortune-teller derives from fear that our lives will turn out badly; we need to know so desperately how things turn out because we’re afraid they’ll turn out badly. Our church hopes to be a place that inspires people to trust Jesus for lives that are impossibly great. Pray that we could resist the temptation to fear the worst, instead trusting Jesus more and more every day to give us the best lives without our need to control the outcome.