Acts 16: 16-40 tells of a slave girl following behind Paul and Silas. She had a spirit in her, but it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. It was a spirit or pneuma meaning a “spirit of devination” or “ventriloquist”.
As the text tells us the girl was able to make a great sum of money for her master with her predictions, or as some scholars state she told the “truth” about life. Acts 16:17 tells us she followed after Paul and Silas exclaiming for all who would hear that they were men who were the slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.
At some point Paul commands the spirit in the woman to leave her, and it does.
Why would Paul do this if the sprit was speaking the truth? Notice the text states she proclaimed who Paul and Silas were for “many days” meaning Paul decided to let her talk, but later something changed. Perhaps he thought she would eventually go away. Perhaps she began to annoy him. Perhaps it began to anger him that the girl’s owner allowed her to be possessed and actually made money from the fact. Perhaps he decided he didn’t need the “other side” hanging about. At any rate Paul had enough and ordered the spirit to stop.
At this point you might be tempted to say…….so what? What’s the big deal?
It doesn’t matter why Paul commanded the spirit to leave. What this story reminds us is that evil spirits are at work in the world today, and we need to be reminded that Paul through the Spirit of God could overcome the presence of evil.
So can we.
We are confronted by the “other side” everywhere we go….even within the church. This is why we need to remain aware and be busy for the Lord The slave girl’s statements regarding Paul and Silas were true, but they were disruptive.
A look at the messages of Paul shows that his discourses were always well reasoned and logical. He wanted people to concentrate on the message. It was not just empty catch phrases or emotional outbursts, but an intellectual pursuit of truth. He wanted people to think about what they heard, but the girl's ranting made this difficult.
The picture with this post shows a 6th century Christian basilica in Philippi, so it would not have been around during Paul’s day, but it clearly shows that Christians remained in the city long after Paul’s time.