Acts 16:17
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.
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(17) The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying.—Better, kept on crying. Assuming that the case now before us presented phenomena analogous to those of the cases of demoniac possession, we may refer to what has been said in the Excursus on that subject appended to St. Matthew’s Gospel for general views of the question. Here it will be enough to note the same symptom of a divided consciousness. We lose much of the human interest of the narrative if we merely think of a demon bearing, as in mockery, his witness to the work of Christ, in order that he might thwart that work. That continual cry spoke, we may well believe, of the girl’s mind as longing for deliverance, and peace, and calm. She sees in the preachers those whom she recognises as able to deliver her, as unlike as possible to the masters who traded on her maddened misery. And yet the thraldom in which she found herself led her to cries that simply impeded their work. We note, as characteristic, the recurrence of the name of the Most High God, which meets us from the lips of the demoniac in the Gospels. (See Note on Mark 5:7.) As the name which was often in the mouths of exorcists, it became familiar to those who were regarded as subjects for their treatment. As she seems day by day to have gone to the river-side oratory, it is probable that she also had some points of contact with the faith of those who worshipped there, and had listened there to the preaching of the Apostles. Might not she claim a share in “the way of salvation” which was proclaimed to them?

Acts 16:17-18. The same followed Paul and us — Luke, Silas, and Timothy; and cried, saying — With great earnestness of voice and gesture; These men are the servants of the most high God, &c. — A great truth: but they did not need, nor would accept of, such testimony. And this she did many succeeding days. But, at length, Paul being wearied with so tedious a circumstance, and grieved — Under an apprehension that this stratagem of Satan might lead the people to imagine that the preachers of the gospel acted in a confederacy with the evil spirit, to whom the heathen worship was addressed; turned — Toward the damsel; and said to the spirit — By whose emotion she spake; I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ — Whose gospel I preach; to come out of her. And he came out the same hour — So that she had never afterward such kind of supernatural agitations, nor pretended to any gift of prophecy for the future.

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.The same followed Paul ... - Why she did this, or under what presence, the sacred writer has not informed us. It may have been:

(1) That as she prophesied for gain, she supposed that Paul and Silas would reward her if she publicly proclaimed that they were the servants of God. Or,

(2) Because she was conscious that an evil spirit possessed her, and she feared that Paul and Silas would expel that spirit, and by proclaiming them to be the servants of God she hoped to conciliate their favor. Or,

(3) More probably it was because she saw evident tokens of their being sent from God, and that their doctrine would prevail; and by proclaiming this she hoped to acquire more authority, and a higher reputation for being herself inspired. Compare Mark 5:7.

17. These men are servants of the most high God, &c.—Glorious testimony! But see on [2034]Lu 4:41.

this did she many days—that is, on many successive occasions when on their way to their usual place of meeting, or when engaged in religious services.

The devil might be forced by God to confess this; or, he might do it voluntarily by God’s permission: First, To draw men on to believe him in other things, being he commended the servants of God, and spake the truth in this. Secondly, That, by flattering St. Paul, he might puff him up, and occasion him to sin. But an evil spirit, (or an evil man), when he dissembles as it he were good, is then worst of all.

The same followed Paul and us,.... Silas, Luke, and Timothy; the Arabic version reads, "the same followed Paul and Silas"; as they were going to the oratory:

and cried, saying, these men are the servants of the most high God; not of Python, or Apollo, as she and her masters were; or of any of the deities of the Gentiles; nor of sin, nor of Satan, nor of men, but of the one only true and living God, one of whose titles is "Elion", the "Most High", Genesis 14:22 and these men were his servants, not merely by right of creation, as all men are, or should be; nor only through the power of divine grace upon their souls, bringing them into a willing obedience to him, as all the saints are; but by office, being ministers of the word: wherefore it follows,

which show unto us the way of salvation; which is not by the works of men; for by them the justice of God cannot be satisfied, nor his law fulfilled; God has declared against this way of salvation; it would make void the death of Christ, and frustrate the design of God in it; which is to magnify his grace, and exclude boasting in man: to which may be added, that the best works of men being imperfect, and attended with much sin, would rather damn than save; wherefore it is sinful, dangerous, and vain, to attempt salvation in this way. The only way of salvation is by the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the law is fulfilled, satisfaction is made for sin, peace and pardon are procured, an everlasting righteousness is brought in, and through whom grace and glory are given: and this is a way of salvation, agreeable to all the perfections of God; in which the vilest sinner made sensible of his sins, and of his need of this, has no reason to despair; it is exceeding suitable to his case, and is a way in which none ever perish, that are directed to it: and now this way of salvation is only shown in the Gospel, by the ministers of it; not by the light of nature, for to men who only have that, it is foolishness; nor by the law of Moses, for to such who are under that, it is a stumbling block; nor by the carnal reason of men, it is not of men, nor after men, but by divine revelation: and therefore the natural man receives it not, it is hid from such; and therefore they project various ways of salvation, which are pleasing in their own eyes, but the end of them are the ways of death; the way to life and immortality, is only brought to light in the Gospel: whether she said this of her own accord, or was obliged to it by divine impulse; and whether it was through fear of Paul, and in flattery to him, or was with a good or bad design, is not easy to determine: however, certain it is, what she said was truth; and sometimes the devil himself, the father of lies, is obliged to speak it.

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.
Acts 16:17-18. The soothsaying damsel, similar to a somnambulist,[57] reads in the souls of the apostle and his companions, and announces their characteristic dignity. But Paul, after he had first patiently let her alone for many days, sees in her exclamation a recognition on the part of the demon dwelling within her, as Jesus Himself met with recognition and homage from demons (Mark 3:11); and in order not to accept for himself and his work demoniacal testimony, which would not of itself be hushed, at length being painfully grieved (διαπονηθείς, see on Acts 4:2), and turning to her as she followed him, he, in the name of Jesus Christ (comp. Acts 3:6, Acts 4:7), commands the demon to come out of her. Now, as the slave considered Paul to be the servant of the most high God, who thus must have power over the god by whom she believed herself possessed, her fixed idea was at once destroyed by that command of power, and she was consequently restored from her overstrained state of mind to her former natural condition. Of a special set purpose, for which the slave made her exclamation, οὗτοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι κ.τ.λ. (Chrysostom: the god by whom she was possessed, Apollo, hoped, on account of this exclamation, to be left in possession of her; Walch: the damsel so cried out, in order to get money from Paul; Ewald: in order to offer her services to them; Camerarius, Morus, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Kuinoel: in order to exalt her own reputation), there is no hint in the text; it was the involuntary and irresistible outburst of her morbidly exalted soothsaying nature.

[57] But she was not a somnambulist. See Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 310.

Acts 16:17. κατακολουθήσασα, but if we follow R.V. the present participle denotes that she continuously followed after (κατά), and kept crying (ἔκραζε). The verb is only used by St. Luke in N.T., cf. Luke 23:35; in LXX, Jeremiah 17:16, Dan., LXX, Acts 9:10, 1Es 7:1, Jdg 11:6, 1Ma 6:23, but not in same literal sense as here; used by Polyb., Plut., Jos.—οὗτοι: placed emphatically first (see also Friedrich, pp. 10, 89). If we turn to the Gospel narratives of those possessed with evil spirits, as affording an analogy to the narrative here, we recall how Jesus had found recognition, cf. Mark 1:24; Mark 3:11, Luke 4:41 (where the same verb, κράζω, is used of the ἀκάθαρτα πνεύματα καὶ δαιμόνια).—τοῦ Θ. τοῦ ὑψ.: similar title used by the demoniacs in Mark 5:7, Luke 8:28; see Plumptre’s note on former passage. Both Zeller and Friedrich note that Luke alone employs ὁ ὑψ. of God without any word in apposition, Luke 1:32; Luke 1:35; Luke 1:76; Luke 6:35, Acts 7:48, and that we have the title with τοῦ Θεοῦ, both in his Gospel and Acts. (Hebrews 7:1, probably from Genesis 14:18.)—ἡμῖνὑμῖν very strongly supported, see critical note. But ἡμῖν might easily have been altered into ὑμῖν, as the former would appear to be an unfitting expression for the evil spirit: but ἡμῖν may point to that disturbed and divided consciousness which seems to have been so characteristic of the possessed (Edersheim); at one time the girl was overmastered by the evil spirit who was her real Κύριος, at another she felt a longing for deliverance from her bondage, and in ἡμῖν she associates herself with those around her who felt a similar longing for some way of salvation, for we must by no means regard her as a mere impostor (Ramsay).

17. followed Paul and us, and cried] Whatever the nature of the mental and spiritual malady under which this damsel suffered, it produced on her the like effect which is recorded of evil spirits in the history of Jesus (Mark 1:25; Luke 4:41), and forced her to confess to the true character of the Christian teachers. The devils believe and tremble (James 2:19).

After this verse the writer ceases for a time to indicate by his language that he was with St Paul, but in Acts 20:5, where the Apostle comes once again to Philippi, the first person plural appears in the narrative. It seems therefore not improbable that St Luke was left behind to labour for the spread of the Gospel in Macedonia and only taken away again by St Paul after the work had been well established.

most high God] Cf. the words of the demoniac, Mark 5:7.

shew unto us] The older reading is “unto you.”

Acts 16:17. Κατακολουθήσασα, having followed close after) near, much, and from behind. Comp. the ἐπιστρέψας, having turned, in Acts 16:18.—οὗτοι, these) Noble words; but there was no need of such a testimony, but rather need of repressing it, lest Paul should seem to have dealings with this spirit. It was not one of the worst spirits, inasmuch as it did not sooner move Paul to restrain it: but yet it deserved to be expelled.

Verse 17. - Following after... cried out for followed... and cried, A.V.; servants for the servants, A.V.; proclaim unto you for show unto us, A.V. and T.R. This testimony of the spirit of divination to the doctrine of St. Paul is analogous to that of the unclean spirits who cried out to Jesus, "Thou art the Son of God" (Mark 1:23-26; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:34, 35); and St. Paul's dealing with the spirit of divination was similar to that of our Lord's with the evil spirits in the cases referred to. What was the motive of the damsel, or the spirit by which she was possessed, for so crying out, or St. Paul's for so silencing her, we are not told. Perhaps she interrupted him, and diverted the minds of those to whom he was preaching. And he did not like the mixture of lies with truth. The motive of secrecy which was one cause of our Lord's rebuke to the spirits would not apply in the case of St. Paul. Acts 16:17
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