One day, as we were going to the house of prayer, we encountered a young slave girl who had an evil spirit of divination, the spirit of Python. She had earned great profits for her owners by being a fortune-teller.
She kept following us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Great High God, and they’re telling us how to be saved!”
Day after day she continued to do this, until Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit indwelling her, “I command you in the name of Jesus, the Anointed One, to come out of her, now!” At that very moment, the spirit came out of her!
When her owners realized that their potential of making profit had vanished, they forcefully seized Paul and Silas and dragged them off to the city square to face the authorities.
When they appeared before the Roman soldiers and magistrates, the slave owners leveled accusations against them, saying, “These Jews are troublemakers. They’re throwing our city into confusion. They’re pushing their Jewish religion down our throats. It’s wrong and unlawful for them to promote these Jewish ways, for we are Romans living in a Roman colony.”
A great crowd gathered, and all the people joined in to come against them. The Roman officials ordered that Paul and Silas be stripped of their garments and beaten with rods on their bare backs.
After they were severely beaten, they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them securely. So the jailer placed them in the innermost cell of the prison and had their feet bound and chained.
Paul and Silas, undaunted, prayed in the middle of the night and sang songs of praise to God, while all the other prisoners listened to their worship.
Suddenly, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All at once every prison door flung open and the chains of all the prisoners came loose.
Startled, the jailer awoke and saw every cell door standing open. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself when Paul shouted in the darkness, “Stop! Don’t hurt yourself. We’re all still here.”
The jailer called for a light. When he saw that they were still in their cells, he rushed in and fell trembling at their feet. Then he led Paul and Silas outside and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and all your family.” Then they prophesied the word of the Lord over him and all his family. Even though the hour was late, he washed their wounds. Then he and all his family were baptized. He took Paul and Silas into his home and set them at his table and fed them. The jailer and all his family were filled with joy in their newfound faith in God.