Miracles vs Magic
And God did uncommon works of power through the hands of Paul, so as even handkerchiefs or aprons from his skin to be brought onto those sick, and the diseases to be released from them, and the evil spirits to go out from them. But certain from the strolling Jews, exorcists, undertook to name the name of the Lord Jesus over those having evil spirits, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.
And there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, doing this. But answering the evil spirit said, I know Jesus, and I comprehend Paul, but who are you? And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, and having overmastered them, he was strong against them, so that having been wounded and naked, they fled out of that house. And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, those living in Ephesus. And fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
And many of those who had believed came confessing, and reporting their practices. And many of the ones practicing the curious arts, bringing together the books, burned them before all. And they counted the prices of them, and found it to be fifty thousands of silver. So with might, the Word of the Lord increased and was strong. [LITV]Acts 19:11-20
(I have) been through the translations related to Acts 19:10 and every one of says ALL having knowledge of Jesus but in 19:16 there are two translations which say there were TWO sons overpowered whereas the others are not clear and indicating the seven sons of Sceva where overpowered.
BBE translation 19:16…………. ‘was stronger than the two of them….’
CEV translation 19:16…………. ‘jumped on them and beat them up….’
ERV translation 19:16…………..’ He was much stronger than all of them….They all ran away from that house.’
ESV translation 19:16…………..’ mastered all of them’…..
GNB translation 19:16…………’ he overpowered them all………
GW translation 19:16…………’ attacked them. He beat them up….’
ISV translation 19:16………..’ and so violently overpowered all of them’…
KJV translation 19:16………..’ overcame them, and prevailed against them…..’
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and mastered both of them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (ASV)
And the man in whom the evil spirit was, jumping on them, was stronger than the two of them, and overcame them, so that they went running from that house, wounded and without their clothing. (BBE)
I commend you for taking the time to dig into this matter. Clearly it has taken some time to do. Yes, it is true that there are a minor number of translations which have “two” instead of “seven” in verses 19:14 and 19:16. It appears to come from the fact that a minor Greek manuscript, Codex Gigas, changes “seven” to “two”. The issue it seems is the apparent contradiction between verse 14 which reads “seven” and verse 16 which reads in some translations “both” or “two”. Codex Gigas has an alteration changing “seven” to “two” in verse 14 and therefore “two” in verse 16.[αμφοτερων] amphoterōn which normally means both can also mean “all” in some standard Greek texts. It all depends how a translator handles the first verse as to what they do with the second. It depends if a decision has already been made to translate “two” as “seven” in verse 19:14. If that decision has been made then it follows that verse 16 must become “both”. There are some manuscripts which omit [αμφοτερων] simply maintain the other word [αυτων] “them” to get around the problem.
The standard reading is “seven sons of Sceva” and “fell on them”.
“A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits.” I am struggling with the dynamics here. If they were not casting out evil spirits in the Lord Jesus’ name then in whose name were they casting out the evil spirits. Was Satan working against himself?
This is a good question from a theological point of view. As Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25) That is indeed true in principle. But satan masquerades as an angel of light. Just look at the multiplicity of gods around the world and down through the ages. Satan is not concerned about truth as long as he can persuade human brings to worship a god, any god, other than the One true God. Thus we have had myriads of gods across the globe down through time. In fact the Hindu religion accommodates a multiplicity of gods within its own belief structure. So strictly speaking there is not a problem for satan to masquerade as one god and then even cast out that god in favour of another god, as long as it is not replaced by Jesus Messiah. I have encountered mind games in this regard when either dealing with evil spirits myself or observing others trying to cast out an evil spirit from someone.
I think now is the time to deal with another question that someone has asked: Namely –
- What do you think about having to command evil spirits to name themselves before they will come out?
- Is that necessary to do before you can have power over the demons?
To this question I would ask another question in return: If evil spirits are like their father, satan, “the father of lies” then why would you believe anything they have to say? I once observed people spend a good two hours in a church trying to get the spirit(s) to name themselves. The next day I was left to deal with the aftermath where the person was still manifesting indications that an evil spirit was still present. If evil spirits are liars why would we believe anything they tell us, especially if it is important to know the name of the spirit before you can cast it out? That makes no sense on two levels. Firstly, if it is important to know the name of the evil spirit before you can cast it out, why would a demon spirit from hell tell you its correct name anyway and thus give you power over it. It’s a game. Secondly, where do we get the idea that we must know the names of the spirits before they can be cast out? It probably comes from Mark 5:9 which reads – Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.”
The difficulty here is whether Jesus is saying this as a matter of course (descriptively) or prescriptively. Do we then have to spend time getting all the demons to name themselves? That makes no sense because Jesus didn’t get them all to name themselves, He just cast the bunch of them out together. No, I don’t believe you have to have the demons name themselves in order to cast them out. Why would you believe a lying spirit anyway if naming itself somehow gave you power over it? – it makes no sense. Besides it is not you or us who have the power. The power is in Christ’s name, the name at which every demon shall tremble and every knee shall bow. It is Christ in you who is THE POWER. That is why demons ought to be cast out in Jesus name.
But if I cast out the demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.Luke 11:20:
Inference being even God’s little finger is enough to move them. But note, it’s God’s little finger not yours.
Now to return to the story of dealing with the woman who had been exorcized the night before but was still troubled by evil spirits the next day despite having the demons all name themselves. When I walked into the house she started speaking in an unnatural voice not her own, “You stay away from me you man of God. You stay away from me.” Then she ran and hid under the breakfast bar in the dining room. I took my Bible and starting reading the verses in Colossians chapter one starting from verse 15 concerning the Pre-eminence of Christ. I literally saw the demons trembling as I read from the Word of God. Suddenly the woman started shouting out in a shrill voice crying, “No, not the sword! No, not the sword!” and leapt up out of the corner from under the bench and rose into the air spiralling as she went and landed in the middle of the kitchen floor and crumpled in a heap but still shouting “No, not the sword.” If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would never have believed it was possible. I kept reading the Colossians passage and saw the demon spirits shrink down to nothing. God’s Word has power. The demons are afraid of it. I have seen it time and again. They fear the Word of God.
Demons have even tried to snatch the Bible out of my hands as I have read the Colossians passage. They fear it.
There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why!William Barclay
Three Lies of Identity:
1. I am what I have
2. I am what I do
3. I am what other people say or think of me.Rick Godwin
No one ever made a difference by being just like everybody else?Anon
You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.Olin Miller
The Bible isn’t an inspirational book full of heroes, it’s a story of multitudes of problematic people that God chose to renew and redeem!Ian Vail