Acts 19:11-17 – Exorcists in Ephesus

Acts 19:11-17 reports the amusing story of the Sons of Sceva who attempt to cast out demons in the name of Jesus and Paul. Jewish exorcists are well known in the ancient world. Legends about Solomon’s great power of demons were well-known. Josephus says God gave Solomon great wisdom, but also remarkable magical powers (Antiq. 8.42-49).

“God also enabled him to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return, and this method of cure is of great force unto this day.”

He goes on to describe a Jew by the name of Eleazar who cast out demons in the presence of the emperor Vespasian and many other witnesses. The method Eleasar used to cast out the demon was strange: “He put a ring that had a root of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed.”

seven-sonsSolomon is not the only Jewish name thought to have magical powers. In Paris Papyri 574, the exorcist says to the demon, “I abjure you by Jesus the God of the Hebrews,” and “hail God of Abraham, Hail God of Isaac, hail God of Jacob, Jesus Chrestus, Holy Spirit, Son of the Father.”

In Ephesus, at least some Jewish exorcists attempted to use the names of both Jesus and Paul as “power words” to cast out demons. This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek ἐξορκιστής (exorcist) is used.  When commanded, the demon reverses the usual process and “exorcizes” the exorcists! This humorous scene shows that the God of Paul is not to be manipulated like the other gods of the ancient world.

The news of beating of the sons of Sceva spreads quickly.  The text says that the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor (μεγαλύνω).  This does not necessarily mean people became believers. The word appears in Acts 5:13 to refer to the reputation the apostles gained in Jerusalem (“held in high regard by the people”), but certainly in that context people were not converted to Christianity.

What are the implications for modern evangelism and/or church life? While I suspect this will have a different application in the West as opposed to other parts of the world where a belief in demons is more vivid, American Christianity is not immune from using the name of Jesus as a quasi-magical word that someone guarantees we “get what we wished for.” This kind of neo-paganism is common, but very dangerous.

38 thoughts on “Acts 19:11-17 – Exorcists in Ephesus

  1. And why have you not said something on the positive side of exorcism. You mean there are not demons in America? Maybe they existed in that world and in Africa, but not in America??

    • Thanks for the comment, this is exactly the discussion I was hoping to encourage. I would not say “there are no demons in America,” however, people in the West likely diagnose a classic, biblical possession as a mental illness and medicate the person until the symptoms went away. I think there are many examples of Satanic activity in the West, but far more “masquerading as an angel of light” than the sort of thing described in Acts 19. As for the “preaching” of this passage, I might focus less on the practice of exorcism and more on the fact exorcists in a pagan culture tried to employ some element of Christianity to their advantage, and in the next story, former-pagan now-Christians thought they could continue to practice magic despite their relationship with Christ.

      From you comment and blog, I see that you are far more qualified than I to comment on contemporary African use of this passage – how would you, as a pastor and leader in Africa, teach this passage? Does the fact the Sons of Sceva are not believers caution against the use of t his passage as a model for contemporary exorcisms?

      I am not sure what you mean, however, by the positive side of exorcism. Possibly this is because my article was on the historical background of Acts, not contemporary exorcisms.

    • Let me add this – everyone should read your blog! The three part article on African Theologising is very good and will challenge western Christians!

      “…self-proclaimed spiritualists have seized the opportunity and have established their own driven business empires that continue to swindle the ignorant of their hard-earned livelihoods.” This is as true in America as Africa!

      • Am sorry if my comment is confusing. I would have expected a positive observation on the significance of exorcism after cautioning us from taking the passage as model for exorcism. I am in total agreeemt with you on that regard. Yet, the fact that such things are happening, whether in America or Africa, doesn’t negate the fact that there is need for practising the right thing. I think keeping quiet, especially within the Western world, continues to marginalise, while robbing Christians, important aspects of their chriatian life.

        Please, know that everyday I read your Acts blogs and have benefited greatly from them. Keep the good work.

  2. It shows me that God’s not a show pony. He doesn’t turn up and do tricks on demand: not for unbelievers, but not even for believers! It’s a cautionary tale for everyone.

  3. In Acts 19:17 it tells us that this story was known to those in Ephesus both Jews and Greeks. I believe that in modern evangelism it is important to look at the response this story created from the audience. The blog mentions that other cultures may take this verse more literally in using it against demons or other spirits. I would say that in a literal sense that may be more true but I think every culture struggles with that. Also , towards the end of the blog it mentions how as westerners we are not exempt from believing we can use Jesus’ name for our own magical purposes. I would have to agree that is true at times when we pray and end our prayers with in Jesus name. I believe that no matter where you live or what you believe just because people say Christ’s name does not mean they deserve to have whatever they are asking.

  4. In Acts 19:13-17, we can see that it was common, especially among the Jews, for people to profess Jesus’s name and try to cast out evil spirits. The Seven sons of Sceva also tried to do this and it resulted in them being overpowered by the demon possessed man. The news of this incident spread throughout the city and people held the Lord in high esteem. Just because people use the name of the Lord, does not mean that they truly believe in him and have a relationship with him. The Lord promised that if we ask anything in His name, He will grant the request (John 16:23). As P. Long mentioned earlier in the blog post, we as Americans are not exempt from using the Lord’s name as a magical tool. We also use his name in hopes that we will get what we asked for. I believe that God will answer people’s requests out of His goodness and not because He is obligated to do so.

  5. Using the name of someone powerful to evoke some sort of blessing or fix a problem seemed very prevalent during this time. Using Solomon, Jesus or Paul as a way to cast out demons, or even being baptised under a certain person’s name. People were baptised into Jesus’ name but also even into John the Baptist. However, using “power” names or references with regard to spiritual matters is also prevalent today. As Cahara mentioned, people often use God’s name as a magic word to receive things they need, even unbelievers. There is an understandably recognized power behind the name of God, that is not always used correctly.

  6. I think that at the evangelism church of America dozens consider much with demon possession. I disagree that America things that’s using this is Jesus is name is quasi-magical, in fact I don’t think that’s America takes time to consider it at all. I do agree that’s doing with demon decision very serious matter and can be very dangerous. Lowes 16 I went on a mission trip to New York City and while I was there our group was advised. If we come across the person whose demon possessed we miss leave that area immediately. The magicians who thought that they could use the name are Jesus along with called name to cast of the demon was very foolish. I wonder if Paul thought that’s the Sons of Sceva were very foolish men who thought they could make an extra buck for casting out demons. As they say please demon casting out to the professionals.

  7. It’s interesting to see the different reactions to exorcism in the different locations Paul travels to. In my major paper for this class, I discussed quite a bit about the possessed slave girl in chapter 16 and why liberating her was an offense worthy of beating and imprisonment. Having looked onto first century Roman law and its cultural context at the time, the most likely charges brought against Paul and Silas was the use of magic. Magic was illegal by Roman law, though it was only punished when it had harmed someone or their property or had disturbed the peace. We are well aware that exorcism and magic are two very different things, but to pagan cultures, exorcism was a sort of Jewish magic and, in a largely pagan city such as Philippi, this was deserving of a brutal scourging and maximum-security confinement. This in itself really goes to show the differences between Philippi and Ephesus, where this resulted in “high regard”.

  8. In the modern Western world, we don’t often talk about the idea of demon possessions or exorcisms. In your comment above, you mentioned that more often we assume they are mental illnesses and medicate the person until the symptoms go away. But you also mentioned how we tend to use the name of Jesus as a “power-word” or “magical” term that can get us everything we want. I’m going to assume you meant this in the way of prayer, and write on that. What I see happening a lot in our culture today is prayers becoming very selfish. We don’t have an overly-active prayer life, but every time something big comes up, we ask Jesus to fix it. It’s like not studying for a test, but as the professor is handing it out, you say a quick prayer for Jesus to get you a good grade. It’s like we are using Jesus’ name as a prize box or an ATM. Yes, God wants us to come to him with the things we need, but that isn’t all we are supposed to pray for. Instead of just assuming that if we pray for something to Jesus it will happen, we need to remember Jesus isn’t just a magical word, and that our prayers need to be more focused on his will, and not our selfishness.

  9. We invoke the name of Jesus in the wrong way in numerous ways her in America. In regards to exorcism, perhaps less than countries around the world–I, for one, have never experienced being in the presence of someone who is demon possessed. Having been sheltered in a city where the majority of the population is Christians, this topic doesn’t come up much in conversation or church, for that matter. However, considering the ways that Jesus’ name could be used as almost a “talisman” for getting what we want, we are able to see ways in which we invoke Jesus’ name incorrectly. For instance, we talked in class about the church that sends out symbolic objects, “in the name of Jesus” to encourage the sacrifice of money towards their ministry. These objects are supposed to help you succeed in life–giving you what you want through Jesus’ power. Thank God that we do not live in a world that is run like that–we wouldn’t last long. I can’t help, also to think of prayer nowadays. I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes we can use the name Jesus one too many times in our prayers. I know for me I say Jesus about every three word, as if I am trying to get and hold His attention, but I already have His attention. It takes the element of faith away when we are grasping after a miracle to give substance to our belief. Perhaps this is why we are told to “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). The Sons of Sceva wanted what was tangible and seeable, instead of the invisible, all-powerful God. Likewise, Americans today want what’s in front of us, those things that we can experience with all of our senses. We use Jesus’ name, whether it’s through selfish prayer or simply as an exclamation, to express a certain heart attitude, both of which are not Christ-like. As for modern evangelism, we need to fall in love with Jesus Christ, not His gifts to us. When we are in love with Christ, our lives will naturally express that love to others, then we just need to start talking.

  10. I find it interesting that in verses 11 and 12 that God gave Paul power to perform unusual and extraordinary miracles. So much so that even a handerkerchief or apron Paul had worn were placed on sick people and were healed from any disease or evil spirit (Acts 19:11-12). This is similar to that of Jesus and Peter and is relevant in discussing the topic of healings and the Sons of Sceva (Mark 6:56, Acts 5:15).

    The miracles following Paul had given some of those witnessing them a wrong impression such as Simon Magus seeing Phillip’s miracles. Simon wanted that same power and was deceived because of his own selfish interest (Acts 8:9-24). These people wanted to use the name of Jesus to get what they wanted but, in all circumstance, it backfired for them.

    At this time in the Greco-Roman world, Jewish exorcists were held in high esteem for the venerability of their religion and the strangeness of their Hebrew incantations. Magicians and charlatans were omnipresent in the culture, offering various cures and blessings by their spells and incantations, all for a financial consideration. The more exotic the incantation, the more effective it was deemed to be (Polhill. Acts. p. 403). Those who practiced exorcism, whether pagans or Jews, would borrow terms from any religion that sounded strange and proven effective (Polhill. Acts. p.404). This may be why the Sons of Sceva failed miserably and made themselves to be a comedy sketch for those watching. The demon had responded to the Sons of Sceva, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” According to Polhill, the two words for “know” are different here, in reference to Jesus the term is “Ginosko” meaning to be aware of, acknowledge or familiar with. Paul’s reference is along the lines of respect (Polhill. Acts. p.404). Regardless, the demons are aware of who Jesus and Paul are, but they want to know who they are.

    It is interesting to note also that when Jesus told his disciples not everyone who calls him Lord will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. They will call him Lord and even do wonderful miracles, but Jesus will say “I never knew you depart from me you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:21-23). The word for know here is ginosko. So, these two contrasts one another, in one they don’t know Jesus and don’t have his power to cast out demons, the other they do not truly know Him, but do cast out demons.

    I think, the western church does not really believe in miracles like this or the casting out of evil spirits. After the Sons of Sceva incident many heard what had happened and the fear of God descended upon them and as a result highly esteemed the name of Jesus and people repented of their sins and threw away their practice of sorcery. (Acts 19:17-20). The more we ignore or water down this form of ministry I think we allow spirits of deception to veil over the hearts of those in the nation. It is clearly harder to see the truth and power behind the Gospel and the nation has the attitude of the demons saying, “Jesus I am familiar with, and Paul I’ve heard of and respect what he did, but who are you?” (Author’s Paraphrase). Demons exist in all nations, and it is important that we grow in intimate fellowship with God as Paul did and be faithful with what we are given and perhaps be endowed with the ability to perform “unusual miracles” with our mere presence (God’s presence).

  11. The implications that this passage has for the modern world, would be a warning. The name a Jesus may not carry the “magic” that people thought it did. Nonetheless, the name of God and His Son, are powerful names and should not be thrown around by people who do not completely understand the name they are saying. That is what I think happened to the sons of Sceva, they went to try to do the same sorts of things that Paul was doing and knew that he commanded demons out in the name of Jesus. So, they thought that they would use this name to do the same thing. Yet, it completely backfired on them, why? Because they did not really know who Jesus was, they were treating His name more like an incantation rather than the name of the Son of God.

    • What do you think of Matthew 7:21-23?

      “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

      Just wondering because in this circumstance it would appear that these “followers of Jesus” used Jesus’ name to prophesy, cast out demons and do wonders and yet they didn’t know Him. In this Acts passage, they used Jesus’ name for a similar thing and they got embarassed and beat up. Why is that?

  12. I think nowadays it is so difficult to know what is spiritual warfare and what is just a side effect from sin. And I think it is a dangerous game to be playing to really get obsessed with spiritual warfare. I firmly believe that if you are a saved human being and the Holy Spirit has come upon you there is no way for a demon to posses you. I personally think that demon possession came be anywhere at any time, not only in the east. I just think that people nowadays have a harder time knowing the difference. Especially with all of the mental illnesses that are coming up today. People back in Biblical times with a mental illness was claimed that someone was demon possessed. I don’t think the name Jesus should be seen as a magical thing. The creator of the universe is more than just magic tricks.

  13. It is humorous to hear the story of the Sons of Sceva and how they tried and failed to cast out demons. They misused the name of the Lord, thinking that they could harness God’s power foolishly, when in the end they did nothing and were, as you said, “exorcised” by the demon in this story. What’s interesting today is watching all of the ghost hunting shows you see on TV and online with people trying to either find proof of spirits, or just going to “haunted” locations. Many times, when they go to a place where there is a supposed demon, some of the people will try to get its attention, or try to cast it out. Many times, they foolishly use the name of God, but don’t really believe in His power. While modern day evangelism is quite different in how it deals with things like demons, thinking that we can harness God’s power in such a way to further ourselves or bring fame to ourselves is a terrible idea. Those who truly believe in God and understand their theology know that it is God’s power that drives out evil, not our own. The Name of God is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly like what the Sons of Sceva did, but rather something that should be held in high regard and respected.

  14. I think the use of names has always been connected with a certain sense of assertion over someone. Whether that be something “magic” or something more mundane such as “I know ____, he/she said I can get this special treatment.” So, in the ancient world, it makes sense that the use of names held an amount of mysticism. Some of the “magic” that was practiced back then that involved names certainly could have been a placebo effect. I agree that many people use the name of Jesus as a quasi-magical word, as you put it, in modern times. They think that just because they use the name of Jesus, their prayer will be answered with a yes. That may be the case sometimes, but might also be a no. In modern times, I think the placebo effect of using “magic” for healing has dwindled because of modern medicine and science. We know what cures headaches or the cold, and what doesn’t. Certainly, God can heal a sickness, and I believe he still does, but I also think that God has provided the knowledge of modern medicine as a source of healing.

    In the case of exorcisms, I do think that the name of Jesus holds power. The demons know who he is, and when you let them know you are allied with Him, they are in fear. In America, I think that we are more skeptical of possessions and the like because of our modern advancements and our heavy Christian background. I am positive that things like demon possession still happens in America, but many people have faked it for attention that I think the fear of possession has lessened and therefore probable doesn’t happen as much anymore. In other parts of the world where mysticism is still prevalent, I think the supernatural holds a tighter grip on people and therefore the demons are more eager to act.

  15. This topic is so incredibly important in this day and age. Especially with the rise of the New Apostolic Reformation (which includes such heretical occultists such as Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Kris Vallotton, Kat Kerr, Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, and many more “Apostles”) and similar movements, there is an uptick in “spiritual experiences” at Churches like Bethel and Hillsong. These false prophets claim to cast out demons in their own power, heal in their own power, and cause other miracles by using “power words” and “spiritual fire”. Of course, real Christians have the discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit and understands that no one can cast out demons in their own name regardless of any “power words” they may use. Kris Vallotton even claimed that he was able to cast out a “demon that sounded like Darth Vader” because he was “trained by the Sons of Sceva,” clearly displaying his complete misunderstanding of this passage! Christians must remember that NO ONE has the power to cast out demons and perform miracles except for Christ, and anyone who claims that – like one most unfortunately deluded Grace student said in class recently – Christians have the “power of the Gospel flooding through their veins”, is ignorant of Scripture. The story of the Sons of Sceva serves as a reminder that no one can cast out demons unless the Holy Spirit is doing 100% of the work. Anything else is vague spiritualism and occultism, not Christianity.

  16. I would agree that the presence of demons and demon possession is not something that many in our Western culture would think of as a common occurrence. However, I don’t think people realize that they are more present than we think. So, like the sons of the Jewish high priest, when they did not take the name of Jesus seriously because they did not understand the authority that lay behind the name, the demons did not take them seriously. Polhill mentions in his notes that the faith in Jesus is just as important as addressing demons in his name (2127). I think because there are so many people who are either blinded to or do not believe in the existence of demons, that they do not take the name of Jesus as seriously as they need to. So, when they do happen to encounter demonic influences in some way, they lack the authority and power that is in His name to remove the demons from the situation.
    As we saw in the passage, the demons actually chased out the very people who were trying to cast them out. This is why it is so important to read the Bible and be familiar with what the scriptures say. Like it says in Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” There is a constant battle going on in the spiritual realms and if we are not prepared for it, we will be chased away in humiliation just like the sons of the high priest.

  17. This story in Acts 19:11-17 is certainly humorous within the way things happened, and surely Luke has a sense of humor when writing this story, I can almost hear him chuckling while writing about the encounter. However, there is certainly a serious lesson to be learned from the men who were “falsely working miracles” and using the name of the Lord so flippantly (Polhill, 2126). Paul encounters these men while in Ephesus working miracles himself through God (v.11). As stated by Long, these men were taken over by the demon they were trying to exorcise from the possessed, and they were “exorcised” instead of performing the ritual properly. I like the point that Long makes when he states, “American Christianity is not immune from using the name of Jesus as a quasi-magical word that someone guarantees we “get what we wished for” (para 7). This makes me think.. how often is the name of Jesus used so wrongly and selfishly? Some act as though Jesus is a magic “genie” that will grant them what they wish for if they pray for it in the wrong way. In the case of the exorcists, they were wrongly using the name of Jesus combined with their “faith” in “magical spells” (Polhill, 2126). While it is probably true that people are still doing this practice and using the Lord’s name wrongly, in Western America, I believe it would be safe to say that trying to use God as a “genie” is more common, and a wrong way of thinking of the name of Jesus. This story reminds me of Proverbs 18:21 which states, “Wise words bring approval, but fools are destroyed by their own words.” In the case of the exorcists, they foolishly used the name of Jesus, which resulted in their injury and humiliation. In Western America, while the name of Jesus is used differently, it is important to remember the power and respect it requires, and that the name of Jesus represents his sacrifice as humanity’s Savior.

  18. I agree that we use the power of Jesus’s name very loosely. When we end a prayer we say in Jesus name thinking that if we use that, that somehow that makes it send up to God. Maybe we think that it will reach God faster that way. For our God is not a genie that grants every wish the way we want it. When he does not give us what we want it does not mean he was not listening. But it is interesting that a name can have so much power. I know that it mentions that Jesus’s name will be higher than any other name. I wonder if the names that we have do have “magical powers”. What i mean by that is it has some sway in our lives that we do not necessarily see. That is just a thought i thought I would throw out to munch on.

  19. Using the term “In Jesus’ name” is something that I hear in prayers for healing and things of that nature. I remember a time where I was so sick that I could not walk, and the thing that people kept saying was “In Jesus’ name, heal her”. I do not think that it is bad to call out to Jesus like that if you have received the Holy Spirit and believe in the mission and truth of Jesus. Looking at Acts 19, what the exorcists did was wrong. They tried to manipulate God in a way that they saw around them. People were being healed by Jesus and Paul, so they thought they could do the same. The thing that I like most about this part of Acts 19 is that it shows that you will not be able to manipulate the power of God. His power is mighty, and no one can fake being a believer to get what they want.

  20. The Power in the name Jesus is very much real and powerful. But I do believe that it is something that is a confusing topic to believers in todays world. I think this is due to us having a false definition of what power truly is. We are all programed by what we see on the TV and in movies that we expect power to be showcased through some amazing scene. But I believe that Jesus’ name still provides this amazing result when it is used correctly. You can see this by looking at peoples testimonies, when they discover the true story of Jesus and what he did he name becomes so powerful and life changing. And that is where the true “power” is in todays world. We still have miracles happening through his name today just in a different fashion.

  21. After reading this post my previous knowledge about exorcism was non, Thinking that you only had to sprinkle holy water on the demon possessed person. “I abjure you by Jesus the God of the Hebrews,” and “hail God of Abraham, Hail God of Isaac, hail God of Jacob, Jesus Chrestus, Holy Spirit, Son of the Father.”(Long). This was interesting because often in times of prayer and worship you here people shout out “In the name of Jesus” Or “Son of the father” because they are powerful connecting words which actually makes reason how screaming out “power words” to cast of demons.

  22. In a previous posting I read about how using Jesus’s name and the power that his name alone holds in something that is misused and overused. I would say that in these examples of exorcisms the meaning behind Jesus’ name is significant and important to be using. Now the use of Paul’s name with Jesus’ name is a little more strange in the sense that Jesus’ name is the one that holds power. What Paul did was great work but he was a disciple and like any other human, still sinful. Jesus was brought to this world to save us and he died for all our sins. Jesus also was a human that was set apart. He had not sinned and that is what made him holy and uniquely set apart from the rest of us. Jesus’ name holds more power because he is our savior and the son of God. Exorcisms to this day are still needed because people are still possessed by demons and depending on the culture is how others see whether or not a person is truly overcome with that demon. Culture plays a big role in how exorcisms take place but also if a person is truly dealing with a demon. What is known is that the more time that goes on the more darkness is entered into this world. Yes, the war has already been won by Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. But the end times are coming and the devil is still working hard and demons are growing more whether we see it or not. Like Lucifer, demons are fallen angels and this is a fallen world.

  23. In Acts 19:11-17, it shows how powerful the name of Jesus is. I feel like in today’s world we forget how powerful the name of Jesus is. We miss using His name and people use it in situations that aren’t correct. I feel like I have heard the saying “in Jesus’s name” was a common phrase used when something was super important in a prayer, it was kind of a way that people thought it got Jesus’s attention more. I agree with the statement that people think that “we get what we wish for” kind of mentality is super dangerous. One way that this could have been implied when Paul was healing people through Jesus. That when Paul would say “in Jeus name”, people might have taken that into consideration that all they need to say is “in Jesus’s name” and that they would be healed. The truth is that those words hold more than just getting what people wanted. Exorcisms are very evident in the culture that is in the world today. Meaning that people are still affected by demons. I feel like some kinds of cultures know the fact that what they are doing is letting demons in and some don’t recognize what they are doing is also. I think that it can go throughout culture, and it can go into different kinds of religions. I feel like within today’s world, people just see all of the bad and they don’t think about where that bad is coming from. And this bad isn’t going anywhere, it is only going to get worse and worse will happen in this world.

  24. In Acts 19:11-17, we read one of the most bizarre and fascinating stories in the New Testament. It tells the account of some Jewish exorcists who tried to use the name of Jesus and Paul to cast out evil spirits, but ended up being overpowered and humiliated by a demon-possessed man. The incident not only exposes the danger of spiritual presumption and deception, but also highlights the power of true faith and the glory of God. The irony and the lesson of the story are clear: you cannot fake faith, and you cannot manipulate God’s power. The exorcists had no personal relationship with Jesus, no authority from him, and no understanding of his gospel. They merely copied what they had heard and seen, without repentance, conversion, or discipleship. They were using Jesus as a talisman, as a magic word, as a commodity. They did not have the Holy Spirit, who is the true source of spiritual power and discernment. The exorcists also exposed their ignorance and arrogance. They thought they could control the supernatural realm by their own words, and they thought they were equal to Paul and Jesus in their status and reputation. But the demon exposed their fraud and their inferiority. They had no power over him, and he had no respect for them. He knew who Jesus was, and he knew who Paul was, but he did not know who they were. They were impostors, pretenders, and fools.

  25. In Acts 19:11-17, we read one of the most bizarre and fascinating stories in the New Testament. It tells the account of some Jewish exorcists who tried to use the name of Jesus and Paul to cast out evil spirits, but ended up being overpowered and humiliated by a demon-possessed man. The incident not only exposes the danger of spiritual presumption and deception, but also highlights the power of true faith and the glory of God.The irony and the lesson of the story are clear: you cannot fake faith, and you cannot manipulate God’s power. The exorcists had no personal relationship with Jesus, no authority from him, and no understanding of his gospel. They merely copied what they had heard and seen, without repentance, conversion, or discipleship. They were using Jesus as a talisman, as a magic word, as a commodity. They did not have the Holy Spirit, who is the true source of spiritual power and discernment. The exorcists also exposed their ignorance and arrogance. They thought they could control the supernatural realm by their own words, and they thought they were equal to Paul and Jesus in their status and reputation. But the demon exposed their fraud and their inferiority. They had no power over him, and he had no respect for them. He knew who Jesus was, and he knew who Paul was, but he did not know who they were. They were impostors, pretenders, and fools.

  26. This is a very interesting story to me. This story shows the true power of the name of Jesus. Using the term “in Jesus” name is not something that should be taken lightly. In the blog post, we see how powerful the “in Jesus’ name” statement is. The sons of Sceva are an example of what happens when using “in Jesus’ name” as a statement to get them what they want. This still reigns true in today’s Western American culture. I agree with the statement made in the blog post where the author describes how people in American Christianity use that phrase as a “get what we wished for” statement. People use this statement as a tool to gain personal success or material goods. As Christians, we must remember that Jesus is not a means to an end. Our main goal should be to get to know and love Him. We should not just toss His name around so that we can gain a personal advantage. This story is a reminder of how powerful His name is and the authority that He holds over mankind. Using “in Jesus’ name” as a magical phrase is dangerous and should be avoided aat all costs.

  27. The idea of a “power word” is very interesting, particularly with exorcism. Jesus’ name should be defined as much more than just a “power word”.
    To even slightly try to compare this story to modern-day life now, it is interesting how blatantly Jesus’ name can be thrown around to get what we want. I think, especially in Christian circles, we often pray in Jesus’ name without understanding in our hearts the significance of who He is and the true power that his name holds.
    It makes sense that the sons of Sceva got a scare in this story, because our God is not one to be messed with or just have his name casually thrown around without understanding the full power.
    While modern-day Americans don’t typically cast-out demons regularly in everyday life, we do still look to God only for the God that we want him to be. I might be over-spiritualizing this text a bit, but like the Sons of Sceva and as I mentioned before, we often can find ourselves tossing around the Lord’s name without any second thought—we do this often to back up our own personal, selfish beliefs. It’s weird that we can make a god out of putting God into our own selfish boxes.

  28. I’ve definitely seen many people during my lifetime see the name of Jesus as powerful, even if they do not follow Jesus. Many resort to the name in times of trouble, etc. I personally believe in the Power of the name of Jesus, but I think there is a difference in seeing His name as a “magic, genie-in-the box” name and actually knowing Him and knowing his name, adoring it, respecting it. I truly believe that the demons mocked the seven sons of Sceva because they lacked relationship with Jesus. They wanted to abuse and misuse his name. One cannot have spiritual authority without having a relationship with the one who gives spiritual authority. If you flirt with the devil and spirits of this world, those are the things that will have authority over you and mock you when you try to come against them.

  29. We know Jesus and Paul have healed and cast out demons of people with success, as it seems so do the demons in Acts 19:15, they realize the people who are attempting to cast out the demon is not God or Paul, but instead they are Jewish exorcists. As Polhill states, Jewish exorcists perform “extensive ceremonies and spoke formulas that Jewish people in the first century used to free themselves from the influence of evil spirits, but it is unlikely these were effective.” (2008, p. 2127). Going make to the point where the evil spirit recognizes the Jewish exorcists are not God or Paul, the evil spirit says, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” When “some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits” in them, their casting out of those evil spirits did not go as planned. Acts 19:16 states, the result of the Jewish exorcists trying to cast out these demons “overpowered them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.” This scene of these Jewish exorcists’ being humiliated, as Long’s blog post explains, this scene was noted because it “shows that the God of Paul is not to be manipulated like the other gods of the ancient world.” We can infer from this example in Acts chapter 19 that we should take seriously how we go about sharing the Gospel and God with others. We should not abuse any gift the Lord has given us. If we have the gift of evangelism, we should share the truth with those people, not try to be and act like God himself. The Jewish exorcists getting thrown out of the house and being humiliated shows us that God has wrath and chooses when to use it over us when He so desires to. He is the ultimate authority and knows when we as people are being true to our faith as He wants us to be.

  30. Exorcism is something that many people talk about. We see a lot of this taking place in horror films and things of that nature. In the bible we see a few instances of exorcism being taken place as well. Long gives an example of Paris Papyri 574 where the exorcist is talking to the demon. I find it very interesting that in Ephesus like Long stated, the Jewish Exorcists would attempt to use Jesus and Paul’s names as “power words” in order to help with casting out demons. So does this mean that if they did not state these names the demon wouldn’t leave the body of the person that it has taken over? Reading on to Acts 19:15, the demon literally is like yeah no absolutely not and pretty much casts himself on to them. So after this we read that the people are gathering around as believers but Long states that this does not necessarily mean the people became believers. I think this just teaches us about saying the Lord’s name in vain. We know that there is so much power in the name of Jesus. Agreeing with some of my fellow classmates, there are a lot of people who go and cry out to the Lord in times of need. We talked about this in devotionals for volleyball. We as even Christians tend to ask God why? And we ask him for help when we are down, but what about the times where he does the smallest things. At Cornerstone before classes begin our professors ask if we have any prayer requests or if there are any praises. A lot of the time we get more requests than praises, but we could all share a praise even if it was God waking us up in the morning. I agree with Jess, when she states that the sons of Sceva were mocked because they were missing that relationship with Jesus. It’s one thing to know his name but it’s another when you know him!

  31. I think it is fascinating how there were men (the seven sons of Sceva) who tried to take the role of Paul, cast out demons, and tried to perform those acts. It is funny to me because the actions that Paul did were gifts from God and to hear that other individuals tried to take on that role (the role that God had given Paul) is ridiculous. It is not a far-fetched idea to think about all of the different individuals who mocked Paul and even Jesus because of the miracles and all of the performances they had because false individuals who tried to do the actions that Paul and Jesus did were only trying to make themselves look better in other peoples peace of mind. Long states that “In Ephesus, at least some Jewish exorcists attempted to use the names of both Jesus and Paul as “power words” to cast out demons.” (Long, 2019), and it is something very concerning on how these individuals used Jesus and Paul’s name in the realm of “casting out demons”. This is because they knew that Paul had a gift and that they were trying to form new individuals to believe in themselves as being a godly figure. Just knowing how those individuals like to throw out Paul’s name in the act of trying to cast out the demons of different people is a figurative way of promoting on how they were false believers and that they were trying to create a popular word for themselves, these were very selfish acts.

  32. Using the name of Jesus can be very dangerous if done wrong and looking at this section of scripture shows it in full force. The exorcists made a grave mistake in using the name of Christ wrong and I think this is a great warning. I love the humor we have seen in how they become the ones being exorcised (Acts 19:16). The exorcists were using the name of Jesus for personal gain and not because they had a genuine relationship with Christ (Long, 2023). Often, we see that people today use the name of Christ for their personal gain. All over we have people that profit from the name of Christ but if one has any discernment, we can see through them. People on TV can be seen asking for money all the time and not using it for what they say. They profit from the name of Jesus Christ but do not have that relationship. Now the punishment today is not always the way we find in Acts 19, but there are other ways that God punishes us. Sometimes he gives up to our desires and that is almost worse (Romans 1:24). Either way using the name of Christ wrongly and for personal gain is never a good sign.

  33. The fact that Jewish exorcists were common in the biblical age came as a surprise to me. I understand that there were Jews, like the disciples that were given the power to cast out demons, as mentioned in Matthew 10:8, but I don’t ever recall me hearing Jewish Chief Priests trying to cast out demons, like described in Acts 19:11-17. It is the first time I’ve ever heard of Chief Jewish Priests trying to do an act like this. I know that people would get possessed by demons quite often because there is a lot of scripture that discusses this topic like Mark 1:23-32, Mark 5:1-10, and Matthew 15:22. It was also intriguing to read about how some think, like Josephus, that Solomon cast out demons and had powers (Long). I do believe that the name of Jesus Christ carries great power and The Bible reinforces this point (Mark 16:17-18, Col 3:17). Though, the passages that mention Jesus’ name having the power have to do with actions by individuals that are aided by The Holy Spirit already. So is it the meaning behind the action or the word itself that carries the power? I believe that the working of God is what produces the power, and the name adds meaning to the power. It’s definitely impactful to use the name of Jesus when doing good works and actions for the Kingdom of God because one is giving glory to God by recognizing and saying His name to the world. As long as one knows that a simple word doesn’t hold all the power, but the person of Jesus Christ behind the word is what carries the power!

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