I. CERTAIN VAGABOND JEWS, EXORCISTS.
A. The word vagabond means someone who traveled about, without a permanent home. People who wandered from city to city, much like many gypsy families.
1. In those days they would make a living however they could.
2. These particular Jews made their living through exorcism.
3. In those days people would pay a handsome price to have exorcism rites performed.
B. They had no doubt observed Paul casting out demons in the name of Jesus, and saw how the demons were subject to the name of Jesus.
1. We read that when the 70 who Jesus had sent out returned, they reported with joy: LUK 10:17
: Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Your name.
2. Usually the exorcism rituals were long drawn out affairs with a lot of superstition mixed in.
3. They saw how easily Paul just commanded the evil spirits and they came out, so they thought they would try Paul's formula.
C. So they got hold of a man with an evil spirit and commanded, "We adjure (or command) you by Jesus who Paul preaches."
D. We are told that these men were seven brothers and their father's name was Sceva. He was a Jew and a chief priest.
1. A chief priest of what? We are not told.
E. The evil spirit responded, "Paul I know, and Jesus I know, but who are you?"
1. A secondhand relationship is not valid.
2. It cannot be Jesus, who Paul preaches.
3. It must be by Jesus who dwells in me.
4. Someone has said that God has no grandchildren.
5. We, each of us, need our own personal experience with Jesus Christ.
6. There are those who are trusting to make it into heaven on the faith of their parents or grandparents.
7. The Bible clearly teaches that every man will be responsible for himself.
8. In the Old Testament their was a proverb, "Our fathers have eaten sour grapes and our teeth are set on edge."
a. It seems that those who had gone into captivity were trying to blame their problems on their parents.
9. In response to this God said,
In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.
But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
10. When you stand before God you will only have to answer for one person, and that is yourself.
11. There is only one other who can answer for you and exonerate you from your guilt and that is Jesus Christ.
II. THE MAN IN WHOM THE EVIL SPIRIT WAS LEAPED ON THEM, AND OVERCAME THEM AND PREVAILED AGAINST THEM AND THEY FLED OUT OF THE HOUSE NAKED AND WOUNDED.
A. In the scriptures when a person was possessed with an evil spirit, it could be manifested in many ways.
1. Often they had supernatural strength much like this man in the story.
And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
Who had [his] dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any [man] tame him.
And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
2. Often times it was manifested by physical infirmities.
As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.
And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up [herself].
And when Jesus saw her, he called [her to him], and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
And he laid [his] hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
The Lord then answered him, and said, [Thou] hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or [his] ass from the stall, and lead [him] away to watering?
And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
3. Sometimes there were self destructive tendencies.
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a [certain] man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
4. Sometimes divining abilities, or occult powers.
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
III. THE STORY OF THIS ABORTED ATTEMPT TO USE THE NAME OF JESUS IN THE EXORCISM SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE AREA, AND THE RESULT WAS TWOFOLD. WE READ:
And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
A. Fear fell on them all. They began to realize the supernatural power of God and that is an awesome thing.
B. They magnified the name of Jesus.
1. Jesus had told His disciples, "Let your light so shine before men that when they see your good works, they glorify your Father which is in heaven."
2. Whatever work we do in the name of Jesus, should be done in such a way that God is glorified.
C. Many came and confessed their deeds; i.e, the evil things that they had become involved in.
D. Act 19:19
: Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all [men]: and they counted the price of them, and found [it] fifty thousand [pieces] of silver. [Which used curious arts].
1. The use of this word in the Greek writers, we know that it signified magical arts, sorceries, incantations, etc. Ephesus abounded with these. Dio Cassius, speaking of the Emperor Adrian, says, "Adrian was exceedingly addicted to curious arts, and practiced divination and magic." These practices prevailed in all nations of the earth. [Brought their books together] The Ephesia grammata, or Ephesian characters, are celebrated in antiquity; they appear to have been amulets, inscribed with strange characters, which were carried about the body for the purpose of curing diseases, expelling demons, and preserving from evils of different kinds. The books brought together on this occasion were such as taught the science, manner of formation, use, etc., of these charms. Suidas, speaking of these proportedly magic letters, gives the following account: When Milesius and Ephesius wrestled at the Olympic games, Milesius could not prevail, because his antagonist had the Ephesian letters bound to his
heels; when this was discovered, and the letters taken away, it is reported that Milesius threw him thirty times. These words served, no doubt, as the keys to different spells and incantations; and were used in order to the attainment of a great variety of ends.
E. The books that were burned were the books that taught these curious arts; such as the Ephesia grammata, or Ephesian characters. They no doubt had been convinced of the greater power of Christianity.
1. The value of the books were about 50,000 pieces of silver.
2. Just how much that was in modern currency, we do not know; estimates range from 5 to 10 thousand dollars.
F. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
1. A few verses down we will find that the influence of Christianity had become so strong that it began to affect the industry of the silversmiths who made jewelry and silver idols of the goddess Diana.
2. The enemies of the gospel also testified that the influence of Christianity was spreading throughout all of Asia.
IV. AFTER THESE THINGS HAD ENDED; I.E., THE GOSPEL WAS SO FIRMLY ESTABLISHED IN EPHESUS THAT PAUL DID NOT FEEL THE NEED TO REMAIN THERE ANY LONGER.
A. Paul purposed in his spirit to go to Macedonia, then to Achaia, and then to Jerusalem.
1. His purpose was to collect an offering from the Gentile churches to help the impoverished church in Jerusalem.
2. Paul was seeking to break down the great prejudice that existed in the Jewish church against the Gentiles.
3. In the body of Christ there should never exist any form of prejudice. Ethnic or social, this is manifestly wrong. "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female, for Christ is all and in all."
B. After Jerusalem, Paul had a long standing desire to visit Rome.
1. He wrote to the church in Rome:
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
V. Act 19:22
: SO HE SENT INTO MACEDONIA TWO OF THEM THAT MINISTERED UNTO HIM,
A. Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.