13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.” (Acts 19:13–17)
Whenever the Lord performs a miracle there are certain to be those who will seek to imitate it. Such individuals are called charlatans. A charlatan is an imposter, a counterfeit and a pretender.
The purpose of God doing miracles is to display His character as the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. The purpose by a charlatan to perform miracles is to draw attention to themselves and to revel in the power and authority they seek. This was certainly the case with the seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva.
The sons of Sceva were itinerant exorcists. There is no biblical evidence from Luke that they were true converts of the Gospel. However, that did not stop them from invoking Jesus’ name over those who had evil spirits.
Luke records that they kept imploring the evil spirits to depart from the individuals they had possessed. Sceva’s sons did not even pretend to know Jesus. They invoked Jesus’ name as being the individual who the Apostle Paul proclaimed, but no mention is made that they personally believed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Dr. R .C. Sproul comments that, “In ancient times, it was common practice to use magical names to drive out evil spirits. Jews in Ephesus presume to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those possessed, trying to imitate what Paul does (Acts 19:12-18). Ephesus attracted religious pagans from throughout the empire. Papyri containing lists of divine names to be invoked in exorcisms, traced to Ephesus, have been found across the Mediterranean world.”
Such behavior by the seven sons of Sceva solicits a response by one demon possessed man. We will examine that response in detail when next we meet.
Take care to not be persuaded and fooled by false teachers who promise miracles but fail to deliver what they promise and make excuses for their failure.
Soli deo Gloria!