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Acts 19 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Sons of Sceva
11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
- Paul’s ministry in Ephesus was blessed by God with miracles and wonders. Some seeing this tried to imitate Paul’s ministry by using Jesus’ name to cast out evil spirits. But they failed miserably. But then, wonderful things continued to happen among many of the believers. The word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
- The practice of magic was common in the first century, and especially in the cult centre of Ephesus. The goal of magic was to manipulate supposed supernatural powers to protect oneself, or gain an advantage over another person. Apparently, the family of Sceva, a Jewish priest, made a good living in Ephesus by the practice of magic. When Paul came along, and began to heal and cast out demons in the name of Jesus, the family decided to go with the more powerful practice.
- But it didn’t work. Uttering or chanting the name of Jesus is no key to supernatural power. The key is having a personal relationship with Jesus, being available to Him and learning to see where He is at work. God uses us to accomplish His purposes, not ours.
- Do you use Jesus’ name lightly? If so, are you willing to honor God and ask God’s help to rid this bad habit?
- Is there still anything in your life that belongs to the idols or witchcraft? Do you want to honor God by getting rid of these objects? Ask God to give you peace and strength for it. (It’s best you consult your pastor or church leader for this decision and ask for their prayer and direction.)