Miracles vs Magic
God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!”
Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honoured. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.Acts 19:11-20
Here are the questions I received from you my readers:-
- How could the Word of the Lord spread all over the province when Paul stayed in Ephesus for all that time?
- Did God only do miracles through Paul and not the other disciples?
- The idea of articles of clothing that had touched Paul’s skin somehow seems talisman-ish to me. It opens up a window on Christian ministry that seems flakey. Please comment. (from someone who wishes to remain anonymous)
- Is it true that evil spirits can come out as result of the use of things touched by an apostle?
- Can that happen at the hands of modern day prophets and ministers of the Word and not just those considered Apostles?
- Are there Apostles today and who are they?
- Were “the group of Jews” the seven sons of Sceva or were they different? It seems they were priests, but I don’t think they could have been Jewish priests – it doesn’t seem to fit.
(I have) been through the translations related to Acts 19:10 and every one of says ALL having knowledge of Jesus but in 19:16 there are two translations which say there were TWO sons overpowered whereas the others are not clear and indicating the seven sons of Sceva where overpowered.
- BBE translation 19:10………….’ All those living in Asia had knowledge…..’
- BBE translation 19:16…………. ‘was stronger than the two of them….’
- CEV translation 19:10…………. ‘for two years, until every Jew and Gentile in Asia….’
- CEV translation 19:16…………. ‘jumped on them and beat them up….’
- ERV translation 19:10………….’ Everyone in Asia, Jews and Greeks……’
- ERV translation 19:16…………..’ He was much stronger than all of them….They all ran away from that house.’
- ESV translation 19:10…………..’ so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord…..’
- ESV translation 19:16…………..’ mastered all of them’…..
- GNB translation 19:10…………’ all the residents of Asia heard the word….both Jews and Greeks.’
- GNB translation 19:16…………’ he overpowered them all………
- GW translation 19:10…………’ all the Jews and Greeks…..’
- GW translation 19:16…………’ attacked them. He beat them up….’
- ISV translation 19:10…………’ all who lived in Asia, Jews and Greek alike…’
- ISV translation 19:16………..’ and so violently overpowered all of them’…
- KJV translation 19:10………..’ all they that dwelt in Asia…both Jews and Greeks…’
- KJV translation 19:16………..’ overcame them, and prevailed against them…..’
- “A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits.” I am struggling with the dynamics here. If they were not casting out evil spirits in the Lord Jesus’ name then in whose name were they casting out the evil spirits. Was Satan working against himself?
- Is there a particular formula for casting out demons?
- Do you always have to say “in Jesus name I command you to come out”?
- But somehow to add “the Jesus whom Paul preaches” waters it down doesn’t it? Don’t you have to know Jesus in order to be able to do these things?
- What do you think about having to command evil spirits to name themselves before they will come out?
- Is that necessary to do before you can have power over the demons?
- I have been told there is a certain formula to be used to effectively cast out demons. Is that true?
- Why does Luke tell us this story when I am sure he could have told us many more interesting stories?
- I am not sure why this story is in the Bible. It seems like it is a defeat. Why record a defeat?
- How is that one evil spirit can beat up on 7 men?
- If that really happened isn’t it dangerous to try to cast out evil spirits?
- How could “the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honoured” as a result of this happening? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
- Why would many people confess their sins and people who were practicing sorcery burn their books because of this? I don’t understand?
- Did this really happen Ian or was this just a legend?
One person wished to be anonymous while others seemed fine to allow me to add their names given the fact they added their names. But I chose this time to keep all anonymous in the hope it may encourage some others of you to come forth and ask your curly questions.
As I frequently tell people these days in Deeper Bible, no question is dumb. Your question is your question. Ask it because chances are there are 10 people behind you who have asked or wish to ask the same question or a similar question. Ask away.
If you ask a question the answer of which I don’t have a clue about I will tell you. That has happened to me on a several occasions and each time it prompts me to look in the text in question in more depth from which I have gained significant insight. So I welcome your questions if there are more. I will begin to address these questions in the next Gem. Maybe someone’s question here will spark a question in you from this rather interesting section Luke has given us.
The best route to self-discovery is Jesus-discovery. Jesus makes life make sense.Judah Smith
Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.Lou Holtz
The time is always right, to do what is right.Martin Luther King Jr
The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is sight.Ian Vail
Looking and accepting what we see, God says go back and look again. Gain a new perspective of what I (God) can do.Ian Vail