Power Encounter: Acts 16:16-18
“16) And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17) Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 18) And she continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.” Acts‬ ‭16‬:‭16‬-‭18‬
This passage tells the story of a woman with a spirit of divination. She was a fortune teller. She was demon possessed. If you look up and study every passage on demon possession in the Bible, two categories emerge.
First, there were those who “used” or channeled a spirit. They had some form of paranormal ability but at some point pay day came. Examples of this category included Simon the magician. (Acts 8:9-24) Elymas the magician. (Acts 13:6-12) And the woman with the spirit of divination. (Acts 16:16-18)
The second and more common category were those who were “abused” by an unclean spirit. This category included the Gerasene demoniac. (Mark 5:1-20) The tormented boy. (Matthew 17:14-21) And the demoniac at Ephesus. (Acts 19:11-17) These people were tormented mercilessly. Jesus said; “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
As we return to the text we discover that the woman followed after Paul and the small group of believers for many days and made a public spectacle. According to verse 17; “she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” It was most likely in a mocking fashion.
Note that Paul was “greatly annoyed.” The scene she created was a deterrent to the message of the gospel. People channeling a spirit are full of deception, seek the spot light, challenge God given authority, are usually trapped in sinful bondage and are disruptive.
Paul finally took control and turned and said to the spirit; “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” This is an example of a “power encounter.” Paul took authority in the name of Jesus Christ, spoke directly to the spirit and commanded it to come out. The verse concludes by saying, “And it came out at that very moment.” This is an example of instant deliverance. It was accomplished through the authority of Jesus Christ and not any special gift or ability in Paul.
Demon possession was common in biblical times. Many are tormented today as well. The Bible says much about this subject. As noted in Mark 5:1-20, Jesus Christ can set free, save and restore those held captive by unclean spirits. The man Jesus delivered from legion, went out and told his story in the entire region. When Jesus returned to Decapolis, crowds came to meet him and a huge ministry resulted from the testimony of this transformed man. In fact, this is where Jesus eventually fed the four thousand.
This passage gives hope for those caught in the grips of the demonic. Jesus Christ and the gospel are the only cure for those trapped in the clutches of the demonic realm. No other world religion, philosophy, psychology or medical science offers freedom, healing and total restoration to the demonically tormented. Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost and to set captives free.
We have joyfully witnesses many cases of deliverance over the years. For more biblical teaching and training on this subject, attend a Freedom Quest Workshop or order a Freedom Quest Workbook from our GoServ Global office. It is a very biblical, practical and helpful resource for equipping and training in spiritual warfare and freedom ministry.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global