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Acts 16:16-19

Paul and Silas Are Thrown Into Prison

16:16 Now 1  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. 2  She 3  brought her owners 4  a great profit by fortune-telling. 5  16:17 She followed behind Paul and us and kept crying out, 6  “These men are servants 7  of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way 8  of salvation.” 9  16:18 She continued to do this for many days. But Paul became greatly annoyed, 10  and turned 11  and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ 12  to come out of her!” And it came out of her at once. 13  16:19 But when her owners 14  saw their hope of profit 15  was gone, they seized 16  Paul and Silas and dragged 17  them into the marketplace before the authorities.

1 tn Grk “Now it happened that.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

2 tn Or “who had a spirit of divination”; Grk “who had a spirit of Python.” According to BDAG 896-97 s.v. πύθων, originally Πύθων (Puqwn) was the name of the serpent or dragon that guarded the Delphic oracle. According to Greek mythology, it lived at the foot of Mount Parnassus and was killed by Apollo. From this, the word came to designate a person who was thought to have a spirit of divination. Pagan generals, for example, might consult someone like this. So her presence here suggests a supernatural encounter involving Paul and her “spirit.” W. Foerster, TDNT 6:920, connects the term with ventriloquism but states: “We must assume, however, that for this girl, as for those mentioned by Origen…, the art of ventriloquism was inseparably connected with a (supposed or authentic) gift of soothsaying.” It should also be noted that if the girl in question here were only a ventriloquist, the exorcism performed by Paul in v. 18 would not have been effective.

3 tn Grk “who.” Because of the awkwardness in English of having two relative clauses follow one another (“who had a spirit…who brought her owners a great profit”) the relative pronoun here (“who”) has been translated as a pronoun (“she”) and a new sentence begun in the translation.

4 tn Or “masters.”

5 tn On this term see BDAG 616 s.v. μαντεύομαι. It was used of those who gave oracles.

6 tn Grk “crying out, saying”; the participle λέγουσα (legousa) is redundant in English and has not been translated. The imperfect verb ἔκραζεν (ekrazen) has been translated as a progressive imperfect.

7 tn Grk “slaves.” See the note on the word “servants” in 2:18. The translation “servants” was used here because in this context there appears to be more emphasis on the activity of Paul and his companions (“proclaiming to you the way of salvation”) than on their status as “slaves of the Most High God.”

8 tn Or “a way.” The grammar of this phrase is a bit ambiguous. The phrase in Greek is ὁδὸν σωτηρίας (Jodon swthria"). Neither the head noun nor the genitive noun has the article; this is in keeping with Apollonius’ Canon (see ExSyn 239-40). Since both nouns are anarthrous, this construction also fits Apollonius’ Corollary (see ExSyn 250-54); since the genitive noun is abstract it is most naturally qualitative, so the head noun could either be definite or indefinite without being unusual as far as the grammar is concerned. Luke’s usage of ὁδός elsewhere is indecisive as far as this passage is concerned. However, when one looks at the historical background it is clear that (1) the woman is shut up (via exorcism) not because her testimony is false but because of its source (analogous to Jesus’ treatment of demons perhaps), and (b) “the way” is a par excellence description of the new faith throughout Acts. It thus seems that at least in Luke’s presentation “the way of salvation” is the preferred translation.

9 sn Proclaiming to you the way of salvation. The remarks were an ironic recognition of Paul’s authority, but he did not desire such a witness, possibly for fear of confusion. Her expression the Most High God might have been understood as Zeus by the audience.

10 tn Grk “becoming greatly annoyed.” The participle διαπονηθείς (diaponhqei") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. The aorist has been translated as an ingressive aorist (entry into a state or condition). See BDAG 235 s.v. διαπονέομαι.

11 tn Grk “and turning.” The participle ἐπιστρέψας (epistreya") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

12 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

13 tn BDAG 1102-3 s.v. ὥρα 2.c has “at that very time, at once, instantly” for the usage in this verse.

14 tn Or “masters.”

15 tn On this use of ἐργασία (ergasia), see BDAG 390 s.v. 4. It is often the case that destructive practices and commerce are closely tied together.

16 tn Grk “was gone, seizing.” The participle ἐπιλαβόμενοι (epilabomenoi) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

17 tn On the term ἕλκω ({elkw) see BDAG 318 s.v. 1.

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