God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.”
Paul was still in Ephesus and was teaching daily in that medical school of Tyrannus. He did this for two years. People from all over the Roman province of Asia were coming to hear Paul teach the Word of God. They did not come to hear him during the three months when he was in the synagogue but once he broke away from the synagogue, once he is no longer associated with religion in any way, then everyone came. He had the greatest ministry here of his entire life because people came to him. He was in a neutral spot - the medical school.
God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.” God gave Paul a special authority and performed special miracles by the hands of Paul. The purpose of these miracles was to focus attention upon the Gospel and the teaching of God’s Word. God used miracles in the first years of the Church because the Canon of Scripture was not completed. The use of miracles, the gift of tongues, and other supernatural phenomena would all eventually cease as an authentication of authority from God. God now authenticates His authority from the completed Canon of Scripture.
The last phrase, the evil spirits went out refers to those with demon-induced illness. The apostle Paul had the ability to perform these miracles for two years only. In that sense it was the lesser part of his ministry because miracles were designed so people would focus attention on the Gospel and so Paul could establish himself as a teacher of the Word of God. This is illustrated by the fact that Paul later in his life no longer had the spiritual gift of healing according to II Timothy 4:20. This is another proof text that many spiritual gifts in the early foundational period of the Church eventually ceased. Both the gift of healing and miracles were used to establish Paul’s authority as an apostle and were eventually discontinued once Paul’s authority was well-established.
So powerful was the gift of healing in Paul that even cloth from his garments had healing authority. Since the gift of healing is no longer valid, the TV evangelist who claims he has cloths with healing power is a false prophet, pawn of Satan and involved in demon activity. The only healing that occurs in the period of the Church Age is done by the sovereign will of God without any human instrument.
“But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.” These were vagabond Jews who were traveling Jews, not vagrants. These were Jewish exorcists who had a kind of traveling medicine/magic show, which was connected with demonism. The word exorcists is “ecorkistes” and it means to remove demons by incantation, the pronunciation of a magic formula or conjuring up a spell or in this case trying to “ride the coat tails” of Paul by repeating his healing words. Adjure means “to bind by” as bind by the name of Jesus a demon and make it leave the body. It is in the plural here which means that all seven of the brothers were involved. They came to Ephesus because there were many demon-possessed people in Ephesus. Sceva was the chief of one of the twenty-four orders of the priesthood in Jerusalem at this time. He was a religious person but unsaved; his sons were religious but unsaved.
So serious was demon possession that capital punishment was prescribed by God for this practice. (Leviticus 20:27) There are five methods of demon possession and these are the methods which are used in getting into contact with demons a) Idolatry. (I Corinthians 10:19-21) Wherever idolatry is practiced today there are demons behind the idols. b) Drug addiction. Users of drugs are all liable to demon possession in the case of unbelievers, or demon influence in the case of believers. (Galatians 5:20 - sorcery Greek: pharmakia) c) Prostitution can be a basis for contact with demons when mixed with religion. (Isaiah 2:6; Luke 8:2) d) Mental attitude sins such as neurosis and psychosis can be cases of demon possession or demon influence. (Mark 5:1-20 - where the demon-possessed individuals had all of the characteristics of psychosis) e) Religious activity is designed to turn the body and soul over to some higher type of power, often demons. (Isaiah 8:19)
Demons are often the gods of certain nations, according to Psalm 96:5. Often the rulers of nations are demon-possessed. The firstborn judgment in Egypt included the judgment of demons, in Exodus 12:12 and Isaiah 19:3. The Jews, to be protected from this type of religious infiltration, were prohibited from making sacrifices to demons, in Leviticus 17:7 and Deuteronomy 32:17. Child sacrifice was inspired by demons, according to Psalm 106:37-39. Psalm 109:6-13 describes various demon activity: a) he can remove people from authority and he can shorten life, in verse 8 b) Satan can blind people by religion, in verse 9 c) God occasionally permits demons to kill someone in a painful way, in verse 10 d) demons can persecute children, in verse 11 e) demons can remove wealth, in verse 12 f) demons can turn people against people, in verse 13 g) demons can cut off human posterity up to the second generation, in verse 13.
Demons are related to many diseases. In Job 2:6-8 Satan produced illness in Job. Satan used demons to produce disease. (Acts 10:38; Luke 13:16; Matthew 12:22) Certain diseases are specified as being demon induced: deafness, dumbness, paralysis in certain passages. This doesn’t mean that everyone who is deaf and dumb is demon possessed. (Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Mark 5:5; 9:17-18) When demons are the cause of a disease, whether it is a mental or a physical disease, the disease is healed instantly when the demon/demons are cast out. Many people attribute such healings to “divine healers.” To support the deception, Satan often removes demons from people for a miraculous healing. (Matthew 10:1; Mark 1:32-34; 6:13; Acts 8:7; 19:12) The Canaanite nations were destroyed for demon activity in Deuteronomy 18:9-12. Demonism can eventuate in the fifth cycle of discipline. (Isaiah 29:4; 47:1-15) In the case of Mannaseh, evil is associated with the rule of demonism (II Kings 21:2-16; Jeremiah 27:6-10) Nebuchadnezzar was involved with demonism. (Ezekiel 21:21)
“And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” In Ephesians 6 we are given a list of the armor of God that we are to utilize against Satan and his demons, and the only offensive weapon in the list is the Word of God (the sword of the Spirit, Bible doctrine). Those who claim that Satan is personally after them are showing their ignorance of the Word of God. Satan knows very few of us personally, but he does have a corrupt world system to influence our sin natures and millions of demons to do his bidding. Satan relies on the negative volition of unbelievers to blind them to the truth of the Gospel. And he relies on the negative volition of believers toward God and His Word to accomplish his goal of deception, distraction, infiltration and destruction of their spiritual lives.
“And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” The Greek word for wounded is “traumatizo” from which we get the word trauma. This gives us a very good idea of the power of demons. The wounds that were inflicted were severe. One demon subdued seven men and sent them running for their lives.
“This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.” Because of this miraculous event the name of Jesus Christ was being magnified. This incident was a subtle Satanic attack but was unsuccessful. In the meantime, there was a great change of attitude as far as believers were concerned. This fear that came over them was used by the Holy Spirit to get the attention of the unbelievers. Fear of demon possession caused many unbelievers to give the Gospel a hearing and many believed. This same fear caused believers who were out of fellowship, because they were involved in the ‘magic shows,’ and sorcerer activities, to confess their sins and get back in fellowship with God.
“And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” Those who were involved in magic arts such as sorcery brought their books together and burned them in public. A piece of silver was a Dracma, which was a day’s wages (in today’s economy at $15/hr. x 8 hrs. = $120 x 50,000 = $6 million). These books were about ways to get rid of demons, which played right into Satan’s hand. Satan can indwell an unbeliever and then remove the demon deceiving people into thinking that it was from God. This is another one of Satan’s counterfeits.
“So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.” The word mightily is literally, “according to power.” We have the Greek preposition “kata” [according to the norm or standard] plus “kratos”[power]. In other words, because Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, Bible doctrine was taught with power. Spiritual power is always from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, and not from the communicator of it. The words growing and prevailing are in the imperfect tense which indicates that this was a constant process without any hindrance. Though there was a great deal of opposition, this did not hinder the teaching and communication of the Word of God. In Ephesus and throughout the entire Roman province of Asia, the teaching of the Word of God became so widespread that it began to curtail some of the activities of paganism/ heathenism.
There is a common question that has been asked for centuries and it is, “What about the heathen - those who have never heard?” The question implies that a heathen is a person in some remote part of the world, cut off from any form of “civilization” and will never have the opportunity to hear the Gospel message. It implies that the heathen are ignorant of God or even a concept of a “higher power.” So, let’s examine the subject and answer the question based on the Word of God.
The Bible tells us that God has revealed Himself in several different ways, so that mankind is without excuse when it comes to knowing that God exists. As a matter of fact, in Romans Chapter 1 we are told that when they knew God they did not glorify Him as God, but changed Him into a creature made with hands (an idol). So how is God revealed?
God is revealed in nature according to Psalms 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20. An organized design indicates a designer. The universe with its stars, sun, and moon is evidence of an intelligent creator. The trees and plants, the changing seasons, the science involved in growth, etc. all point to an intelligent designer and creator - God. A good analogy is a painting or work of art – it too must have an artist, a designer or a creator. God has also designed man with a conscience with which to reach God consciousness. There are several ways for mankind to reach God consciousness and everyone, except for infants and the mentally handicapped, will reach a point at which they are aware that there is a God. (John 1:9; 6:44-45; Romans 1:18-19)
It is not the absence of the knowledge of God that makes a person a heathen, but rather the rejection of truth at either God consciousness or Gospel hearing. This means that heathenism can exist anywhere, even in the United States of America, when people reject truth. Heathenism is not confined to a specific geographical location. Heathenism is negative volition towards God and His Word, and can be found anywhere, even in churches! Romans 1:18-19 tells us that a heathen is someone who suppresses truth and that God will pour out His wrath against that person (rejection of truth means a person has condemned himself). In verses 20 and 21 we are told that the heathen is a person who rejects truth at God consciousness, “For the invisible things of Him….are clearly seen…” And some reject truth upon Gospel hearing, “Because when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God…” The result of this rejection of God’s truth is emptiness (vacuum) and darkness (blackout) in the soul. The next few verses of this passage tell us where this leads and it is not a pretty picture: idol worship of man and animals, perversion of all kinds and unrighteousness in every aspect of life.
Upon reaching God consciousness, what is the responsibility of man and what is the responsibility of God? We must always remember that God does not want anyone to perish. However, He will never violate man’s freewill. With that in mind let’s discuss man’s responsibility. It is clear from Scripture that there is a certain group of people that will refuse the “light” they are given, regardless of which “approach” is used to bring them the “light.” If in fact a person, after reaching God consciousness, does not desire further truth, God is no longer obligated to get the truth to that person. This, however, does not mean that God gives up on that person, though that person may give up on God. (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4; Romans 1:18-32; Isaiah 40:17-22; John 1:3-5,9; 9:41)
When a person does reach God consciousness and makes a positive decision that he wants to know God, He (God) is then obligated to get truth to him. That person will be kept alive until truth can reach him. It may be weeks, months or years, but God is always faithful to bring them truth. (Deuteronomy 4:29; Psalms 9:10, 10:4; Jeremiah 29:13; John 7:17; Acts 17:22-31)