18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
You could say that the city only got mad because of those guys that owned that poor slave woman. You could say that the magistrates didn’t care about Paul and the rest until they affected somebody’s money. You could even say that they shouldn’t be mad at them because they freed that woman from demonic possession and helped her out.
But that’s not going to get them out of prison.
You have to wonder if Paul knew this was a risk when he freed that woman. Remember there is no synagogue in this town. To find the Jews, Paul and Silas went looking for clean water. They don’t have any political influence to lean on here. As far as the city is concerned, they don’t think there is anything wrong with a woman being possessed by a demon and telling everyone their future for a small (or large) fee.
Note that getting stripped and beaten in the streets is not blamed on the devil. Luke doesn’t give Satan credit for this. It was caused by mercy towards that woman and the greed of the people of this city.
Part of getting thrown in prison was for their safety. The city was so crazed that the only place they were safe was in prison (or in the magistrate’s house, maybe.) This is the first time that Paul and Silas get thrown in prison together. This is the second time that Paul has been beaten for preaching the Gospel.
Without skipping ahead, take some time to soak in the idea that Paul was prepared for this. He preached to Lydia and the rest just long enough. He put up with fortune-teller girl for enough days to get the church planted and established before persecution would come. He may have even prepped Silas for the abuse at the hands of unbelievers.
And now they are cold, naked, beaten, and thrown in the deepest part of the prison — chained up in the stocks.
The church of Philippi, probably packed in and praying at Lydia’s house, waits and prays for them.
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