Acts 16:16
Verse (Click for Chapter)
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.

Berean Study Bible
One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl with a spirit of clairvoyance, who earned a large income for her masters by fortune-telling.

Berean Literal Bible
Now it happened of us going to the place of prayer, a certain girl, having a spirit of Python, met us, who was bringing her masters 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.

New Heart 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.

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.

New American Standard 1977
And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortunetelling.

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,
Study Bible
Paul and Silas Imprisoned
15And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. 16One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl with a spirit of clairvoyance, who earned a large income for her masters by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are 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 spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:6
'As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

Leviticus 20:27
'Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.'"

Deuteronomy 18:11
or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.

1 Samuel 28:3
Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists.

1 Samuel 28:7
Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor."

2 Kings 21:6
He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD provoking Him to anger.

1 Chronicles 10:13
So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it,

Isaiah 8:19
When they say to you, "Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Acts 16:13
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river, where it was customary to find a place of prayer. After sitting down, we spoke to the women who had gathered 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 …

(16) As we went to prayer.--Better, perhaps, to the oratory, or place of prayer. (See Note on Acts 16:13.) It should be stated, however, that the Greek noun is used without the article, and that this is so far in favour of the Received rendering. On the other hand, we find the noun ecclesia, or church, used without the article in 1Corinthians 14:4; 1Corinthians 14:19; 1Corinthians 14:35; 3John 1:6, and it is, therefore, probable that proseucha might be used in the same way, just as we speak of "going to church, or to chapel," without the article. This was probably on the following Sabbath, or possibly after a longer interval, when the mission of the Apostles had become known, and had caused some excitement.

A certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination.--Literally, as in the margin, a spirit of Python, or, as some MSS. give it, a Python spirit. The Python was the serpent worshipped at Delphi, as the symbol of wisdom, from whom the Pythian priestesses took their name, and from whom Apollo, as succeeding to the oracular power of the serpent, took the same adjective. The fact that St. Luke, who in his Gospel describes like phenomena as coming from daemonia, "evil spirits," "unclean spirits," should here use this exceptional description, seems to imply either that this was the way in which the people of Philippi spoke of the maiden, or else that he recognised in her phenomena identical with those of the priestesses of Delphi, the wild distortions, the shrill cries, the madness of an evil inspiration. After the manner of sibyls, and sorceresses, and clairvoyants of other times, the girl, whom Augustine describes as fmina ventriloqua--the phrase probably-expressing the peculiar tones characteristic of hysteria--was looked on as having power to divine and predict ("soothsaying," as distinct from "prophesying," exactly expresses the force of the Greek verb), and her wild cries were caught up and received as oracles. Plutarch (de Defect. Orac., p. 737) speaks of the name Python as being applied commonly, in his time, to "ventriloquists" of this type. As she was a slave, her masters traded on her supposed inspiration, and made the girl, whom prayer and quiet might have restored to sanity, give answers to those who sought for oracular guidance in the perplexities of their lives.

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. 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. 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.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.
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Alphabetical: a as bringing by deal divination earned for fortune-telling future girl going great had happened having her It masters met money much of Once owners place prayer predicted profit she slave slave-girl spirit that the to us was we were when which who

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