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Jesus Creed

Philippi.jpgLydia responds to the gospel and offers hospitality. In strong contrast, the next woman — a demonized woman — ironically declares Paul has the gospel of salvation but her annoying declarations lead to an exorcism that shuts down her ability to tell fortunes and that lands Paul in trouble with the magistrates.

16:16 Now as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit that enabled her to foretell the future by supernatural means. She brought her owners a great profit by fortune-telling. 16:17 She followed behind Paul and us and kept crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 16:18 She continued to do this for many days. But Paul became 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 of her at once. 16:19 But when her owners saw their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 16:20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion. They are Jews 16:21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us to accept or practice, since we are Romans.”

16:22 The crowd joined the attack against them, and the magistrates tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 16:23 After they had beaten them severely, they threw them into prison and commanded the jailer to guard them securely. 16:24 Receiving such orders, he threw them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

What strikes me about missional work is how spontaneous and unplanned and odd it can be: Paul’s going about his business of attending a synagogue and a woman, a demonized woman, begins to declare that he tells the way of salvation. It annoys … and the whole work of Paul is triggered by that. But it’s not the work of Paul: it’s God mighty work to exorcise a demon.
And it lands Paul and his companions in prison. They are beaten severely and they are persecuted because of the gospel, because of their courage, because they advocate ways contrary to the customs of the Romans in Philippi.
The call from the man from Macedonia now landed Paul and Silas in prison.
You know we are being set up when Luke ends the account with the observation that they are put into the inner cell with feet put in stocks.
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