“And it came to pass in our going on to prayer, a certain maid, having a spirit of Python, did meet us, who brought much employment to her masters by soothsaying, she having followed Paul and us, was crying, saying, `These men are servants of the Most High God, who declare to us a way of salvation;’ and this she was doing for many days, but Paul having been grieved, and having turned, said to the spirit, `I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come forth from her;’ and it came forth the same hour.” (Acts 16:16-18, Young’s Literal Translation)
A single word can, sometimes, make a world of difference.
The young girl in today’s scripture passage “dogged” Paul and his companions as they proclaimed the Good News, saying: “These men are servants of the Most High God (TRUE), who declare to us a way of salvation (FALSE).”
Here, it can get confusing because except for a literal, word-for-word, translation of the Greek New Testament one will probably find the word “the” instead of the word “a” in other New Testament translations to English of the girl’s characterization of the disciple’s message.
Paul and the others were not announcing one way of many ways; they lived to proclaim the way of salvation. It was this mis-characterization of their message that annoyed Paul and provoked him to “call out” the demon within the girl that was the true source of the half-truths.
As disciples of Jesus, our message today is the same as the message of Paul and the other disciples in the Acts: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, New Living Translation)
If we believe that to be true, we, too, should be annoyed at any attempt to mis-characterize or to alter the whole truth of God’s word — and use whatever tools at our disposal to set-straight the record. Words do matter. – Luther
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17, NIV)
It is worth remembering that Jesus’ primary purpose in coming into the world was to reconcile the world to God. As such, this is also our primary purpose as disciples of Jesus.
Amid all of the dysfunction and evil we see in the world, we are tempted first to pronounce judgment and then await divine retribution. However, this is not God’s way. He sent His only begotten Son into the world “to save the world through Him.”
Paul describes us this way: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV)
In all that we do, seek the reconciliation of others, both to oneself and to God, because that is our purpose. – Luther