Daily Word

Fortune telling in the Bible | Acts 16:16-21

16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”

18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.

19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21 “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”

Acts 16:16-21 (NLT) 中文


The church at Antioch has sent out Paul along with Silas on the second missionary journey. They picked up John Mark in Lystra and now continue on their way. Originally Paul had intended to visit the churches he and Barnabas had started on their first trip and to extend to some newer areas North and West. But God stopped them and directed them, via a vision, to Macedonia, modern-day Europe. They just picked up Luke and saw their first converts in Europe.

Fortune telling in the Bible?

This woman was doing superhuman things using divination (fortune telling). What is that? “To practice divination is to uncover hidden knowledge by supernatural means. It is associated with the occult and involves fortune-telling or soothsaying, as it used to be called.” (gotquestions.org) She was telling the future. How? Through a demonic spirit. 

And it’s in the OT as well. King Saul sinfully sought a witch to bring up the spirit of Samuel to ask for advice, 1 Samuel 28. The Lord is very clear that this behavior is sinful (Leviticus 19:31) – often with dire consequences (1 Samuel 15:23, Leviticus 20:6). 

It’s interesting that Paul put up with it for a time…until it got annoying. And what happened? The power in Paul, Jesus, was infinitely stronger than the power in the slave girl (1 John 4:4) and it was cast out immediately. Jesus cast out many demons in His time on earth. One dramatic one that comes to mind is the man of the Gerasenes that was possessed by many demons. He (they) submitted to Jesus and left the man at Jesus’ command. (Mark 5:1-20)

The casting out of the demon from the slave girl resulted in her freedom. But it also resulted in trouble for Paul and Silas as we’ll see in the next passage.

Fortune telling today

Does divination still occur today? Yes. “The practice continues as those who claim supernatural insight read palms, tea leaves, tarot cards, star charts, and more.” (gotquestions.org) Much of the divination is smoke and mirrors; some is actually demon-controlled. Either way, both are evil and sin for it’s the state of our heart that matters. 


  • Have you encountered divination in your life? Maybe as a youth or young adult you dabbled in ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling or the like? Know that this is sin and like any other sin, must be confessed. Some believe these activities open your soul to demonic influence (but not possession for a Christian). 
  • God wants us to seek Him and only Him for wisdom, knowledge, peace, joy…and salvation. To seek anything else is idolatry and God hates idolatry. Examine yourself now. What are we seeking in place of God? Ask the Spirit to expose these false gods, these idols so we can repent and turn from them wholeheartedly to God.
Tarot cards. Image from pxfuel.com

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