16: And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18: And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19: And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20: And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21: And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22: And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23: And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26: And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 27: And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28: But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29: Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31: And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34: And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 35: And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36: And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37: But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38: And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39: And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 40: And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
Already the gospel had been successful but now the sparks are going to fly. There was a young girl in Philippi who was possessed of a demon and she was exploited by the men of the city because of her soothsaying. Soothsaying is practised by a person who says a sooth. This is a statement about someone which is often of a religious nature and the origin of the revelation is Satanic or Demonic. This young girl was exploited by the men of the city who took money from people looking for a ‘sooth’. Soothsayers often would dash about in crowds of people making statements which were supposed to be divine in origin. This young girl was doing the same to Paul she was crying out after them and what she was saying was actually true. However Paul was offended by this testimony because of its very dubious source so he determined to end it. Eventually Paul turned and faced not her but the demon who was controlling her to come out of her. She was delivered immediately. When her masters knew that the source of their income had gone they dragged Paul and Silas to the rulers of the city. The accusations were that they were Jewish trouble makers. This was a very Roman orientated city and a colony. The multitude and the magistrates rose up and had them flogged and then had them committed to prison. The jailer put them in stocks in the inner cell. Paul and Silas were overjoyed that they were allowed to suffer for Christ so at midnight they sang praises and all the prisoners heard them. Then a very great earthquake shook the prison and all the doors opened and all the chains were released. When the Jailer awoke and found all the cells open he immediately realised that he would be executed for allowing these escapes and was just about to kill himself with his own sword that Paul shouted out of the darkness, ‘Don’t hurt yourself. We are all still here’. The jailer called for a light and fell at the Apostles feet and the question that came next is now famous. He said, what must l do to be saved? Paul and Silas knew how to answer and they said in the simplest terms. Believe on the lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. They knew what to say and they said it clearly and emphatically. The jailer was saved on the spot and he called for his family to help him in tending to the wounds of the apostles. His whole house helped and they too heard the gospel and they all believed. Then the jailer set food before then rejoicing in the salvation of God.
When day dawned the magistrates sent messengers saying let the men go but Paul said no. They have beaten us openly when we had had no trial when we are Roman citizens and they now want to get rid of us in secret. No let them come and fetch us out for themselves. When the fact of their Roman citizenship was known the magistrates were very afraid because they had broken the most serious Roman law - The right of a Roman to a fair trial. The magistrates came and asked them to leave the city. Paul and Silas came out of the prison and entered Lydia’s house and after a while giving comfort to the believers they left the city. This company of believers would become very precious to Paul, Silas and Timothy. Paul wrote one of his letters to these Christians.