Summary: If we desire to have a part in the great work of salvation, every pursuit and pleasure—which hinders the effect of the gospel upon the mind, or loosens its hold upon the heart—must be given up.
July 31, 2015
By: Tom Lowe
Acts of the Apostles
Title: Seven Sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-17)
Acts 19:13-17 (KJV)
13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”
14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
It was common, especially among the Jews, for individuals to attempt to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think we can resist him by using Christ's name, or His deeds, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us. Where there is true sorrow for sin, there will be free confession of sin to God in every prayer and to man whom we have offended, when the case requires it. Surely if the word of God flourished among us, many vulgar, agnostic, and wicked books would be burned by their owners, and converts would rise up in judgement against professors, who write such works for the sake of financial gain. If we desire to have a part in the great work of salvation, every pursuit and pleasure—which hinders the effect of the gospel upon the mind, or loosens its hold upon the heart—must be given up.
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
“THEN CERTAIN OF THE VAGABOND JEWS—frauds; con men; sometimes called snake oil salesmen—who went from place to place, pretending to tell fortunes, cure diseases, and dispossess devils, by conjuring up spells, performing magic tricks and applying fake potions.
The word "VAGABOND" is now commonly used in a bad sense, to denote “a vagrant; a man who has no home; a hobo, bum, panhandler, and a worthless person.” The word, however, properly means “one wandering from place to place, without any settled habitation, from whatever cause it may be.” Here it denotes “those Jews who wandered from place to place, practicing exorcism.” Such wanderers and pretenders are common in Oriental countries even now. So were they called who cast out demons by forcing them to leave in the name of God: and in the beginning of the Church, those who had the gift of working miracles, and laid their hands on those that were possessed with demons, were called the same.
That such a power did exist, for some time at least, seems implied in Matthew 12:27: “And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.” But no doubt this would breed deception; and the present case is very different from that referred to in Luke 9:49, 50. "Master," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.""Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."The men in the case before us, belonged to a lower section of the class of which we have already seen representatives in Simon of Samaria or Elymas of Cyprus (See Acts 8:9; Acts 13:6.). They practiced exorcisms as a profession.
These Jewish “EXORCISTS” pretended to have the power to cast out evil spirits by magical arts derived from Solomon. We learn also from Josephus, that forms of exorcism, said to have been invented by King Solomon were used with great effect in his days; in fact, they were so effective that the devils cast out by them could never come back. He adds that he himself knew of an instance in which one of his own countrymen, Eleazar by name, had cast out devils in the presence of Vespasian and his sons and officers and a number of his soldiers. The method used was this: The exorcist applied to the nose of the possessed the bezil of a ring, under which was a certain root prescribed by Solomon, and so drew out the evil spirit through the man's nostrils. The possessed then fell to the ground, and the exorcist commanded the evil spirit in the name of Solomon never to return, and then recited one of Solomon's incantations. To give full assurance to the bystanders that the evil spirit had really left the man, the exorcist placed a vessel full of water at some distance off, and then commanded the ejected spirit to overturn it, which he did.