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)
We have already seen that a charlatan is an imposter, a fraud, a fake and a counterfeit. They pretend to be, and to possess, someone or something that they are not and do not possess. Charlatans can be found in walks of life: We find them in education, economics, politics, government, entertainment, sports, the military, and even in the church.
The purpose of God doing miracles through the apostle Paul (Acts 19:11-12) was to display His character as the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. The purpose of the charlatans known as the seven sons of Sceva was to draw attention to themselves and to revel in the power and authority they sought.
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 evil spirits and to demand them to depart from the humans they possessed.
How did the evils spirit respond to the demands from Sceva’s sons? Luke records the humorous response. “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.”
Not only did the evil spirit expose and embarrass the sons of Sceva physically, but also spiritually. These self-proclaimed exorcists were proven to be nothing but fakes and forgeries. They had no power over the demons because they did not belong to the One who truly has the power over the forces of darkness: Jesus Christ.
Rather than the sons of Sceva receiving fame and fortune because of their presumed victory, great reverential fear of the One, True God occurred. In fact, Jesus Christ’s name was honored and highly praised. The fame Sceva’s sons shamelessly sought was the fame that Jesus properly received.
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. Be watchful for those who seek fame and fortune in the name of Christ. It is easy to find them. Do not be impressed or influenced by them.
Soli deo Gloria!