Acts 19:13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed.
No one ever exercised greater power over demons than Jesus; and those who were delivered experienced great relief (Luke 8:35). Jesus gave this power to his representatives who also cast out demons (Luke 10:17). Paul exercised such power over Satan that even handkerchiefs he touched were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them (Acts 19:12).
Paul was so successful at driving out demons that seven imposters tried to imitate him. In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out (Acts 19:13), they said. But the evil spirit replied, Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you? (Acts 19:15). Then the demonized man gave them such a beating that they ran away naked and bleeding (Acts 19:16).
Demons hate everyone made in God’s image, and often attack believers. This is why Jesus taught us to pray, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). Likewise, Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against . . . the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12), wrote Paul.
When we understand the role of demons in the world, we might suspect their influence in our lives, and wonder if we could be helped by having a demon cast out. Our sinful nature likes to sin, and perhaps a demon is making it worse. The burdens of life are heavy, and perhaps a demon is weighing us down. Life is confusing at times, and perhaps a demon is adding to our bewilderment. Could these problems be solved by having a demon cast out? Probably not.
There are three reasons for this conclusion. First, there is no example in the New Testament of an apostle casting a demon out of a Christian. Second, the apostles never taught believers to cast out demons, or to seek deliverance. Third, once we receive Christ as Lord (Colossians 2:6), we have all the power we need to resist Satan. [T]ake up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16), wrote Paul.
James, the brother of Christ, is also helpful. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:7-8), he wrote. Satan will not be completely defeated until he is thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Until then, we must oppose him daily by saying yes to Christ and no to sin.
Acts 19:23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.
Paul’s ministry in Ephesus lasted a couple years, and was so successful that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord (Ephesians 19:10). This was a wonderful time for all who believed, but not for those who earned a living making idols. Christianity was hurting their business, so they began to push back.
Acts 19:24-27 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia.
He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.
Ephesus was home to the temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was more than four hundred feet long, two hundred feet wide, sixty feet high, and had over a hundred white marble columns. People came from all over the world to see it, and to buy images of Artemis.
Paul stepped into this world of idolatry, and taught that it was false. Artemis was not divine, and idolatry was a sin (Exodus 34:17). Paul’s preaching undermined the city’s religious foundation, and hurt it financially. The intrusion of Christianity created social, religious and economic chaos. Did Paul have a right to do this? Should he have gone somewhere else? Absolutely not.
The purpose of Christianity is not to improve people’s lives. That is often the effect, but it is not the point. The point of Christianity is to reconcile people to God through faith in Jesus Christ, so they can avoid eternal punishment, and live forever with him. If Christianity is true, it must be preached at any expense. If it is not true, we should believe something else, and leave the poor pagans alone. That, of course, never crossed Paul’s mind.
Acts 19:29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar.
They went to the amphitheater (which seated around twelve thousand people) and shouted in unison for about two hours: Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! (Acts 19:34).
But all their shouting did not prove a thing. Their crazed devotion to Artemis was based on little more than an image, which they believed fell from heaven (Acts 19:35). This is a weak foundation on which to build a religion, and few follow Artemis today. In fact, all that is left of her temple is a single column, reconstructed from fragments found at the site.
Christianity is not a frenzied religion, with little or no proof, but a thoughtful religion based on many convincing proofs (Acts 1:3). The most compelling proof, besides the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is knowing Christ for ourselves. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17:3), said Jesus. Knowing Christ personally leads to calm assurance, not wild fanaticism.
Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.
Paul was in the city of Troas and was leaving the following day. He wanted to provide as much teaching as possible, so he kept on talking until midnight (Acts 20:7) wrote Luke.
Most of those gathered probably enjoyed the meeting, but a young man named Eutychus drifted off to sleep. He may have the distinction of being the first person to fall asleep in church. Some preachers go on too long, but preachers everywhere should be encouraged that even Paul put someone to sleep.
Acts 20:9 When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.
Imagine the alarm this brought to the little congregation. They had a wonderful time with Paul, but this was a terrible way to end. It would take years for this memory to fade, and his parents might never recover. And Paul would blame himself.
Paul had done several miracles (Acts 19:11-12), but had never raised anyone from the dead. Perhaps he thought of the prophet Elijah who raised a child from the dead by laying on him (1 Kings 17:21). A few years later, the prophet Elisha did the same thing (2 Kings 4:35). So Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. Don’t be alarmed, he said. He’s alive! (Acts 20:10). This was no time to go home, of course. So they went back upstairs, and Paul spoke until morning. Some preachers never learn.
Reflection and Review
Should Christians cast out demons?
What is the purpose of Christianity?
Are sermons boring?