The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God…
What a strange thing have we here! the devil preaching the gospel; at least confirming the word of those who preached it. How was it that the prince of darkness could thus support the men who were labouring to destroy his kingdom? How could he give his testimony to the truth of that gospel by which his throne was to be subverted? Was not Satan here casting out Satan, and contributing to the overthrow of his own dominion? No: his speaking truth was a master stroke of devilish policy. He spoke the truth to counteract it; to put Paul and Silas and the possessed woman on the same ground, as if they all agreed: and if Paul and Silas had been pleased with this testimony, and appealed to it, and observed to the people that she who had told them so correctly many things which they could not have found out, confessed them as the servants of God and the preachers of salvation, he would have gained a great point. Let the Pythoness once be identified with the Christian teachers and she might teach, under the name of Christianity, such things as the devil has since often taught, and called them the way of salvation. The devil confessing Christ is in fact more dangerous than the devil denying Christ: for he only confesses to oppose. He confesses, and misrepresents, so that he makes the doctrine of Christ sometimes one thing and sometimes another; and anything but what it really is. Sometimes it is salvation by man's merit, heaven purchased by the performance of outward works. Thus he builds up a fatal system of self-righteousness. Yet there is truth in what he teaches. The works are necessary; but he assigns to them a wrong office, puts them in the place of Christ, and thus leads men to reject that way of salvation, to which, by the mouth of the Pythoness, he bore witness. At other times he takes the direct contrary course; and with the show of honouring Christ teaches men to look for salvation by a faith which produces no works. Thus his doctrine is — what it were to be wished his kingdom was — divided against itself: sometimes it is Christ requiring what God has not commanded; sometimes it is Christ allowing what God has forbidden, or forbidden what God has allowed. Alas! this confession of the Pythoness, as it was not altogether the first instance of Satan's acknowledging Christ, so neither was it the last by many, many examples. And Christian teachers have too often been ignorant of his devices, not having received the wisdom to detect him, when transformed into an angel of light. Paul had this wisdom.
(J. Fawcett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.