Acts 19: Holy Spirit vs. Sorcery

Ephesus is known as the gateway to Asia.  It is situated on a great harbor.  It is the terminus of a major highway between the coast and central Asia Minor.  It has the temple of Artemis.  This is the religious center of All Asia, and metalworkers make a rich living from the sale of shrines and miniature silver images of the goddess.

Many responded to Paul’s missionary team.  Paul’s strategy – choose capital cities and trade centers for preaching.  The missionary team makes sure that converts will carry the word through their own provinces.  Within 2 years of the concentrated effort in Ephesus, the gospel has been spread throughout the province of Asia.

Many churches have been established in Asia and Europe through Paul.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

Even the evil spirits recognize who Jesus is and who Paul is and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Those who merely try to “invoke” the name of Jesus without personally having relationship with the Lord through receiving of the Holy Spirit do not have power over evil spirits.

[Riot vs. Due Legal Process]

Before Paul leaves Ephesus, there is a riot, led by a silversmith whose idol-making business is being ruined by the mass conversion of the population!  The magistrates finally quiet the crowds, insisting that if anyone has a grievance, it should be handled through the courts or in a legal assembly.

37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.

The response of the city officials shows the great value of Roman authority to the early church.  Rome controls the western world and Rome insists on legal due process.

In the present time, I see riots and trials by mere accusations without any legal due process (e.g. Me Too movement, President Trump etc.).  No jury trial in open courts.  And media, no longer free but being owned by a small number of power elites are manipulating and shaping the public opinion.  A truly scary situation.

So, it’s good to be reassured in this chapter that the evil one and its followers do not have power over the Holy Spirit.  And, as an Asian, I’m glad to read about how God cared about Asians too and used Paul as his instrument to invite them to join his people.  No partiality.  Just come!




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