THE EXORCISM OF A DEMON (ACTS 16:16-18). On one Sabbath, enroute to the place of prayer, the missionaries were accosted by a girl “having a spirit, a Phython.” Soothsayers and ventriloquists were called “Pythons.” Actually, the girl was demon possessed and made a great deal of money for her owners by telling fortunes.
Her unsolicited testimony to the missionaries was true, and yet after putting up with it for many days, Paul cast the demon out on the authority of Jesus Christ. The testimony was true, but it came from a counterfeit witness. This testimony was not helpful but confusing to those who heard it. He was following the precedent of Jesus who always refused the testimony of demons, even though they spoke the truth (for examples, see Mark 1:23-25; Luke 4:41). Satan’s counterfeit failed; so he employed persecution.
THE CONVERSION OF THE JAILER (ACTS 16:19-32). To say the least, the owners of this girl were irate and seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place to face the magistrates. Although the reasons for seizure were economic, the charges were religious and political. It was not illegal, however, for Jews to proselyte actively among Roman citizens. The crowd joined the attack and persuaded the magistrates to have Paul and Silas severely flogged and thrown into prison. The jailer was commanded to guard them carefully so they were put in the inner cell and their feet were fastened in stocks.
The theme of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is rejoicing in the Lord always. That night the apostle modeled his teaching. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Not an angel, but an earthquake interrupted the hymn sing. The jailer obtained salvation along with his household.
Jailers were usually older soldiers who were not able to perform the more rigorous duties. Therefore, it can be assumed any of his children would have been grown. The evangelists spoke the word of the Lord to the Jailer and his household, telling them they would be saved if they believed.
The amazing thing about Paul’s work in Philippi is the cross-section that he encountered: a rich woman, a slave girl, magistrates, a jailer and prisoners were among the diverse backgrounds.