Saturday, 29 April 2023
And this she did for many days.
But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. Acts 16:18
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).
Note: The verbs are completely off in the translation by the NKJV. They follow four of the five translational errors of the KJV. For this study, the BLB will be used: “And she continued this for many days. And Paul having been distressed and having turned, said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out from her.’ And it came out that hour.”
In the last verse, the slave girl with the spirit of Python had been following Paul and those with him, crying out that they were servants of the Most High God who were proclaiming the way of salvation. With that noted, Luke next records, “And she continued this for many days.”
The verb, being imperfect, is rightly translated as “continued.” She just followed along and annoyingly kept calling out the same thing. As noted in the previous verse, the emphasis in her voice may have been mocking, provoking, dismissive, or in some other manner that finally took its toll on the men. It seems to have really been bothersome to Paul though because Luke next records, “And Paul having been distressed and having turned, said to the spirit.”
The use of participles brings life and motion to the event. Luke brings us into the event as it has started, preparing our minds for what next is to transpire.
As for the words “having been distressed,” they come from the Greek word diaponeomai. This is its second and last use in the Bible. The first was found in Acts 4:2 where the priests, captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon Peter and John as they preached in the temple.
The word gives the sense of being thoroughly worn out, as if a piercing fatigue. Paul was just done with it, and so he decided it was high time to end her annoying proclamations. Therefore, he called out, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out from her.”
The words leave no other option than that the girl was, in fact, possessed. Paul could not have commanded a spirit to come out of her that did not exist. As an apostle, he was given this authority and he obviously knew that the power had been endowed upon him at this time to exercise it. And so, proclaiming that his authority was endowed by Jesus Christ, he commanded the spirit to come out from her. With that, Luke next records, “And it came out that hour.”
It is a way of saying, “right away.” There was no need to conduct a ceremony, wait till the next day to do a checkup and then certify compliance, or any such thing. At the spoken word of Paul, the spirit departed from the slave girl and the annoying proclamations ended.
Life application: Acts is a descriptive account of events that occurred as the church was being established. Nothing is prescribed in this account, and no precedent for future exorcisms has been established through Luke’s recording of the events. Paul was given apostolic authority to do certain things at certain times. However, the ability to do these things was not unlimited.
Paul could heal at times. At other times, he could not do so. Paul was able to restore a dead person at one point, but it does not mean he could do so at any point. Likewise, he was given the power to drive out this spirit of Python, but this does not mean he always had this power. And more, these abilities were apostolic in nature. Nothing is said that these powers were to continue after the apostles were dead.
With the word of God compiled, we have the written record of what occurred at the church’s establishment. We can either accept that the events recorded are true or we can dismiss them as fairy tales. But we should not expect that they can be repeated by us. There is no need for them. The witness of the word is sufficient to establish the power and authority of Jesus Christ. Let us accept it and know that even when we have trials and troubles, sicknesses and sadnesses, we can know that they are temporary and will someday be behind us.
Lord God, we have confidence in our walk before You because we have the written record of who You are, of what You are capable of, and what You have done to establish the church which has continued for two thousand years. These things give us the full assurance that the promises recorded in it will come to pass. We are secure in You. Thank You for this wonderful reassurance! Amen.