At Philippi, Paul and Silas faced opposition from a very weird and diabolical source. Luke records the following:
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. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (Acts 16:16-18)
In the pagan culture of Philippi, “diviners” or “soothsayers” were quite common. As we’ve seen throughout the Book of Acts, demonic activity disguised as magic was always in opposition to the Gospel, but conquered time and again by the power of God. After many days of the slave girl’s annoying shouting, Paul finally cast out the demon in the name of Jesus. This angered her masters who had just lost their “fortune telling” business.
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. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The ancient forum at Philippi was probably the location where Paul and Silas were dragged before the Roman officials and beaten. The two were then thrown in prison and secured in stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:25-28)
Then, the jailer asked the important question “what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).