Acts 16:16
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.

New Living Translation
One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.

English Standard Version
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.

New American Standard Bible
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.

King James Bible
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:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit of prediction. She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling.

International Standard Version
Once, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of fortune-telling and who had brought her owners a great deal of money by predicting the future.

NET Bible
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.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And it was that as we were going to the house of prayer, there met with us one girl who had a spirit of divination upon her and she was making a great business for her masters in the divination that she had been practicing.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
One day when we were going to the place of prayer, a female servant met us. She was possessed by an evil spirit that told fortunes. She made a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a Pythian spirit met us, which brought her masters much gain by divination:

King James 2000 Bible
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain maid possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

American King James Version
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:

American Standard Version
And it came to pass, as we were going to the place of prayer, that a certain maid having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by soothsaying.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain girl, having a pythonical spirit, met us, who brought to her masters much gain by divining.

Darby Bible Translation
And it came to pass as we were going to prayer that a certain female slave, having a spirit of Python, met us, who brought much profit to her masters by prophesying.

English Revised Version
And it came to pass, as we were going to the place of prayer, that a certain maid having a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying.

Webster's Bible Translation
And it came to pass as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, met us, who brought her masters much gain by sooth-saying:

Weymouth New Testament
One day, as we were on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl met us who claimed to be inspired and was accustomed to bring her owners large profits by telling fortunes.

World English Bible
It happened, as we were going to prayer, that a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling.

Young's Literal Translation
And it came to pass in our going on to prayer, a certain maid, having a spirit of Python, did meet us, who brought much employment to her masters by soothsaying,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

16:16-24 Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholy and false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with them by careless observers. Those who do good by drawing men from sin, may expect to be reviled as troublers of the city. While they teach men to fear God, to believe in Christ, to forsake sin, and to live godly lives, they will be accused of teaching bad customs.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 16. - Were going to the place of prayer for went to prayer, A.V. and T.R.; that a certain maid for a certain damsel, A.V.; having for possessed with, A.V. The place of prayer. The ἡ προσευχή of the R.T. undoubtedly means "the place of prayer," the proseuche. They went there, doubtless, every sabbath. What follows happened on one occasion after Lydia's baptism. A spirit of divination (πνεῦμα Πύθωνος, A.V.; Πύθωνα, R.T.). "Πύθων denotat quemlibet ex quo πύθωσθαι datur," "any one of whom inquiry may be made" (Bengel). It was a name of Apollo in his character of a giver of oracles. Delphi itself, where his chief oracle was, was sometimes called Pytho (Schleusner, s.v.), and Pythius was a common epithet of Apollo. The name Python (Plut.,' De Defect. Orac.,' cap. 9) came thence to be applied to a ventriloquist (Hebrew אוב), or to the spirit that was conceived to dwell in ventriloquists and to speak by them, just as in Hebrew the ventriloquist was sometimes called בְעַל אוב (or בַעֻלַת if a woman), the owner of a spirit of divination, or simply אוב, a diviner (see 1 Samuel 28:7 (twice) for the first use, and Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:11; 1 Samuel 28:3; for the second). In some passages, as 1 Kings 28:6 and Isaiah 29:4, it is doubtful whether אוב means the ventriloquist or the spirit. The feminine plural אובות (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; 1 Samuel 28:3, 9; Isaiah 8:19) seems always to denote the women, who, like the damsel in the text, practiced the art of ventriloquistic necromancy, whether really possessed by a spirit or feigning to be so. The word πύθων is only found here in the New Testament. The LXX. usually render אובות by ἐγγαστρίμυθος. Gain (ἐργασία), literally, work, craft, or trade; then, by metonymy, the gain proceeding from such trade (Acts 19:24, 25). By soothsaying (μαντευομένη). So one name of these ventriloquists was ἐγγαστρίμαντις.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And it came to pass as we went to prayer,.... That is, to the house of prayer, or to the oratory, as they were in the way to it; for this is not to be understood of their just going to the act, or duty of prayer; for the damsel that now met them, is said to follow them, and to do so for many days, one after another; and it was by their going to the prayer house, that she knew what they were; and besides, the phrase of "going to prayer", as used by us, for the act or duty of prayer, is a mere Anglicism, and unknown to the eastern writers: now this their going to the oratory, was after they had been at Lydia's house, and had been entertained and refreshed there; whether this was on the same day that she was converted and baptized, is not certain: however, so it was, that

a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, met us; in the Greek text it is, "the spirit of Python"; the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read, "the spirit Python"; the same with Apollo, who was called Pythius, as was his oracle, from the people coming to him, to inquire of him and consult with him, about difficult matters (y); or rather from the Hebrew word which signifies a serpent; and so Apollo is said to have his name Pythius, from his killing the serpent Typhon, or Python (z); hence the city of Delphos, where was the oracle of Apollo, was called Pytho (a); the prophetess that sat upon the golden tripos, and delivered out the oracles, Pythia; and the feasts and plays instituted to the honour of Apollo, were called the Pythian feasts and plays, and the place of the oracle Pythium (b): and so this maid, or the spirit in her, pretended to divine and foretell things to come; and the Arabic renders it, "an unclean spirit, foretelling future things": the Jews (c) make this spirit of Python, to be the same with Ob, which we render a familiar spirit, Leviticus 20:27 and the Septuagint by "Engastrimythos", a ventriloquist, one that seemed to speak out of his belly, and pretended to predict future events; and most of the versions in the Polyglot Bible render it by "Python", the word here used: so the Jews say (d), that a master of Ob (as the woman of Endor is called the mistress of Ob), , this is "Python": and so Jarchi on Deuteronomy 18:11 explains the word, and adds, that it is one that speaks out of his arm holes, as those sort of people did from several parts of their bodies, and even from their secret parts: the word signifies a bottle, and they were called masters or mistresses of the bottle; either because the place on which they sat, and from whence they gave forth their oracles, was in the form of one; or they made use of a bottle in their divinations; or as Schindler (e) observes, being possessed, they swelled and were inflated like bottles; and being interrogated, they gave forth answers out of their bellies, concerning things past, present, and to come: and this speaking out of their bellies might be done, without the possession of a real spirit, and much less was it from God, as Plutarch (f), an Heathen himself, observes;

"it is foolish and childish, to think that God, as the ventriloquists formerly called Eurycleans, and now Pythonists, should hide himself in the bodies of the prophets, using their mouths and voices as instruments to speak with, for this was done by turning their voices down their throats.''

The first of this sort was one Eurycles, of whom Aristophanes (g) makes mention; and the Scholiast upon him says, that he was a ventriloquist, and was said by the Athenians to prophesy by a "demon" that was in him, when it was only an artificial way of speaking; Tertullian affirms he had seen such women that were ventriloquists, from whose secret parts a small voice was heard, as they sat and gave answers to things asked: Caelius Rhodiginus writes, that he often saw a woman a ventriloquist, at Rhodes, and in a city of Italy his own country; from whose secrets, he had often heard a very slender voice of an unclean spirit, but very intelligible, tell strangely of things past or present, but of things to come, for the most part uncertain, and also often vain and lying; and Wierus relates of one Peter Brabantius, who as often as he would, could speak from the lower part of his body, his mouth being open, but his lips not moved, whereby he deceived many by this cunning; and there was a man at court in King James the First's time here in England, who could act this imposture in a very lively manner (h): but now whether the spirit that was in this maid was a cheat, an imposture of this kind, is not so easy to say; it seems by the dispossession that follows, that it was a real spirit that possessed her; though some think it was no other than a deluding, devilish, imposture:

which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: divining or prophesying; it seems she had many masters, who had a propriety in her, and shared the gain she brought; unless by them are meant her master and mistress: vast treasures were brought to the temple at Delphos, by persons that applied to the Pythian oracle there; and great quantities were got by particular persons, who pretended to such a spirit, by which they told fortunes, and what should befall people hereafter, or where their lost or stolen goods were, and such like things; and of such sort were the magical boys and servants Pignorius (i) makes mention of, out of Apuleius, Porphyry, and others, who either for gain or pleasure, performed many strange things.

(y) Phurnutus de natura deorum, p. 94. Vid. Schol. Aristoph. Plut. p. 6. & Macrob. Saturnal. l. 1. c. 17. (z) Homer. Hymn. in Apollo, v. 372, &c. (a) Pausan. l. 10. p. 619. (b) Alex. ab. Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 2.((c) R. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 36, 38. (d) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 7. sect. 7. (e) Lex. Pentaglott. Colossians 34. (f) De defectu oracul. p. 691. (g) Vespae, p. 502. (h) See Webster's Displaying of supposed Witchcraft, p. 122, 124. (i) De Servis, p. 355.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

16-18. as we went to prayer—The words imply that it was on their way to the usual place of public prayer, by the river-side, that this took place; therefore not on the same day with what had just occurred.

a … damsel—a female servant, and in this case a slave (Ac 16:19).

possessed of a spirit of divination—or, of Python, that is, a spirit supposed to be inspired by the Pythian Apollo, or of the same nature. The reality of this demoniacal possession is as undeniable as that of any in the Gospel history.

Acts 16:16 Additional Commentaries
Context
Paul and Silas in Prison
16It 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. 17Following 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."…
Cross References
Leviticus 19:31
"'Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:6
"'I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.

Leviticus 20:27
"'A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.'"

Deuteronomy 18:11
or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

1 Samuel 28:3
Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.

1 Samuel 28:7
Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her." "There is one in Endor," they said.

2 Kings 21:6
He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.

1 Chronicles 10:13
Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance,

Isaiah 8:19
When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Acts 16:13
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.

Acts 16:19
When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.

Acts 19:24
A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there.
Treasury of Scripture

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:

as.

Acts 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where …

possessed.

Acts 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said …

Acts 8:9-11 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the …

Exodus 7:11,12 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the …

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives …

Deuteronomy 18:9-11 When you are come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, …

1 Samuel 28:7 Then said Saul to his servants, Seek me a woman that has a familiar …

1 Chronicles 10:13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the …

Isaiah 8:19 And when they shall say to you, Seek to them that have familiar spirits, …

Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, …

2 Timothy 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist …

divination. or, Python. which.

Acts 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver …

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted …

2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise …

Revelation 18:11-13 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for …

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