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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Acts 16:16-24 – The experience of the slave girl

While one cannot be dogmatic, it is possible from the Greek term to suggest that she was young, no more than a teenager. It is obvious that she was in a desperate condition, with a very poor lifestyle. She was demon-possessed, which may not be a common condition with us, but is in many parts of the world and was the case throughout the known world in Paul’s day. She had become this by her involvement in pagan religions. But her religious experience had only brought her into great bondage. In her heart, there was great spiritual darkness.

Further, she was abused by her masters because she was used by them to tell the future of their clients. Luke does not say that she could actually predict what was going to happen. Her involvement with the occult could give her supernatural knowledge of her clients and she could adapt her message to their personal circumstances.  

It is possible that her words indicated a longing in her heart for deliverance by the God whose message of salvation was being proclaimed by Paul and his friends. She knew within herself, in a degree not known by those who are not involved in the occult, the awful chains of sin. What was the response of Paul and the others?

It is certain that they would have prayed for divine power to deal with this opposition, which may explain the delay in Paul rebuking her. As Calvin put it, Paul did not ‘attempt any thing without the motion of the Spirit; neither did he enter the conflict until he was armed with power from heaven.’

Paul also was grieved at what she was doing. The situation of this poor woman brought forth his compassion. He was distressed at what had become of her, a creature made in the image of God. His loving heart longed for her deliverance. In this attitude, he was Christlike. This is another reason for the success of the gospel in Philippi – the messengers were like their Master.

Aware that he possessed the authority to help her, Paul commanded the demon to leave her. In a second she was delivered. Perhaps the deliverance happened as they were on the way to the prayer meeting, and she may have joined them. No doubt she became a member of the church. It’s nice to imagine Lydia, the prosperous businesswoman, hugging this girl as she entered the villa for the meetings. And her testimony told the inhabitants that Jesus could set them free from the spiritual slavery they were under.

She is an example of what Paul would later write in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29: ‘But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.’

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