Jesus Creed

Ephesus.jpgThe sort of miracles done by Paul in Ephesus drew much attention, in fact, too much attention. You can read the report below…

19:11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, 19:12 so that when even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his body were brought to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 19:13 But some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were possessed by evil spirits, saying, “I sternly warn you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 19:14 (Now seven sons of a man named Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were doing this.) 19:15 But the evil spirit replied to them, “I know about Jesus and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?” 19:16 Then the man who was possessed by the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them all into submission. He prevailed against them so that they fled from that house naked and wounded. 19:17 This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; fear came over them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised. 19:18 Many of those who had believed came forward, confessing and making their deeds known. 19:19 Large numbers of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them up in the presence of everyone. When the value of the books was added up, it was found to total fifty thousand silver coins. 19:20In this way the word of the Lord continued to grow in power and to prevail.

This bizarre episode reflects the power of evil spirits and the potency of those who, like Paul through Jesus, can command them into obedience.

Group repentance occurs sometimes in missional work, and this text reflects an example of just that: those who were dabbling and participating in spirit-world practices openly burned their sources and, so it seems, repented from such practices.
Luke emphasizes the name of Jesus getting out and being heard about through these acts of spiritual power.
As Beverly Gaventa points out in her commentary, Acts
, there is an emphasis here on fraud: the fraudulent sons of the high priest also fraudulently appeal to the name of Jesus. These seven sons contrast with those in Ephesus changed their beliefs and practices when they heard of the gospel (Apollos and the disciples of John).
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