What does Acts 16:19 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was suddenly gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities,
CSB: When her owners realized that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
NLT: Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace.
KJV: And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
NKJV: But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
Verse Commentary:
Depending on how a historian defines the term, they might well say that most inhabitants of the Roman Empire were slaves. These ranged from prisoners who worked the mines to indentured servants who sold themselves to government officials to learn an administrative trade. In Philippi, some people own a girl who is possessed by a spirit of divination. They make a great deal of money from her ability to tell fortunes (Acts 16:16). The Bible is silent as to whether demons have any real ability to know the future. Even if demons cannot infallibly predict anything, they have observed humanity for thousands of years. They have more than enough intellect to interpret the actions and words of people around them. Like a con artist with thousands of years of experience and a genius' intellect, a demon could make very good guesses as to what will happen to the girl's clients.

During Jesus' ministry, demons seemed strangely compelled to confront Him (Mark 3:11). One would expect a demon would avoid the One who could destroy them with a thought. The man possessed by Legion in the tombs could have run away; instead, he ran to Jesus (Mark 5:1–7). In a similar way, the girl follows Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke for several days, identifying them as "servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17). Perhaps because he didn't want trouble with her owners, Paul ignores her at first. Her words might be true, but it's not good to let the work of God be associated with a false spirit. And, the girl is probably being obnoxious, interrupting or impeding their ability to preach. Finally, incredibly annoyed, Paul casts the demon out (Acts 16:18).

Usually, Paul's adversaries ran him out of town when traditionally minded Jews believed he was teaching contrary to Scripture. Or, because they were jealous of his popularity (Acts 13:45, 50). This may be the first time Gentiles persecute Paul for financial reasons. It's not the last. During his third missionary journey, a great number of Gentiles will come to faith in Jesus in Ephesus. They will burn their magic books worth 50,000 pieces of silver (Acts 19:19). The local idol makers will take notice. Paul will escape, but the silversmiths, fearful that the worship of Artemis—and the popularity of their idols—will wane, will grab two of Paul's companions and start a riot (Acts 19:23–34).
Verse Context:
Acts 16:16–24 shows that religiously confused Gentiles can hinder Paul's ministry as much as Jews. Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke are in Philippi on the border of Macedonia and Greece. When Paul expels a demonic spirit from a slave girl, her owners accuse Paul and Silas of illegally promoting a foreign god. The crowd and the city magistrates beat and imprison the pair. Only later do they realize their mistake: Paul and Silas are both Roman citizens (Acts 16:37), and you can't punish Roman citizens without a trial.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 16 follows Paul and Silas as they take the letter of Acts 15 into modern-day Asia Minor and Macedonia. They collect Timothy in Lystra and Luke in Troas. In Philippi, they meet Lydia and baptize her family. After expelling a demon from a fortune-telling girl, city officials illegally beat and imprison Paul and Silas. An earthquake frees them of their chains, but they stay and bring the jailer and his family to Christ. The next morning, Paul and Silas refuse to leave quietly, politely insisting that their civil rights have been violated. The officials apologize, and Paul, Silas, and Timothy go to Thessalonica.
Chapter Context:
Acts 15 ends with Paul and Silas spreading the news that Gentile Christians don't have to be circumcised. Acts 16 begins with Paul circumcising a Jewish man, Timothy, to prevent difficulties in preaching to older Jews as the boy grows into church leadership. Paul's second missionary trip finds the church growing east, into Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth (Acts 16:11—18:18). On his way back to Syrian Antioch, Paul will stop by Ephesus and soften the Jews for the extended ministry of Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos. During his first trip, Paul planted churches and ordained elders; in his second, he commissions more missionaries.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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