Acts 16:16-40 (JDV)
Acts 16:16 Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a breath by which she predicted the future. She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling.
Acts 16:17 As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of rescue, are the slaves of the Most High God.”
Acts 16:18 She did this for many days. Paul was greatly annoyed. Turning to the breath, he said, “I direct you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away.
Acts 16:19 When her owners realized that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
Acts 16:20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews
Acts 16:21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.”
Acts 16:22 The crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods.
Acts 16:23 After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, directing the jailer to guard them carefully.
Acts 16:24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.
Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying praise songs to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose.
Acts 16:27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was going to take himself out, since he figured the prisoners had escaped.
Acts 16:28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!”
Acts 16:29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
Acts 16:30 He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be rescued?”
Acts 16:31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be rescued – you and your household.”
Acts 16:32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house.
Acts 16:33 He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized.
Acts 16:34 He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and was glad because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.
Acts 16:35 When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, “Let those men go.”
Acts 16:36 The jailer reported these words to Paul: “The magistrates have sent orders for you to be let go. So come out now and go in peace.”
Acts 16:37 But Paul said to them, “They beat us publicly without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to send us away secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Acts 16:38 The police reported these words to the magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens.
Acts 16:39 So they came to appease them, and escorting them from prison, they urged them to leave town.
Acts 16:40 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house, where they saw and encouraged the brothers and sisters, and departed.
Luke’s account here reveals a very important emotion that Paul expresses. Paul is annoyed. You don’t hear a lot about this feeling on the mission field, but it is most certainly there.
- Paul is annoyed by the constant distraction from this possessed slave girl.
- Paul is annoyed by the injustice of being stripped and beaten and falsely imprisoned.
- Paul is annoyed that the magistrates want the missionaries to leave quietly.
When we try to share the gospel in a new context, the devil will throw everything he has at us. This includes threats to our life, but it also includes thousands of mere annoyances than distract us from our mission.
Lord, give us the strength to endure all of the enemy’s attacks, from the full-on assaults to the petty aggravations.