Online Bible Commentary
Jesus Cannot be Manipulated
Acts 19:11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" 16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is ministering in the city of Ephesus in Asia during his third missionary journey. He ministered there for two years and three months during 54-56 A.D.
The Lord worked miracles through Paul during this time, to affirm his ministry and to persuade his audiences to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (v. 11). Even Paul’s “handkerchiefs or aprons” were used by the Lord so that those who touched them would be healed of sickness and demons (v. 12).
Taking note of this, “Jewish exorcists” tried to incorporate Paul’s successes into their own businesses. They attempted exorcisms “saying, ‘We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches’ (v. 13). They were not successful because they were not men of God, as was Paul.
Also, the “seven sons” of “a Jewish chief priest” named Sceva tried the same approach as the Jewish exorcists (v. 14). They were even less successful.
When the seven sons of Sceva commanded in the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches that an “evil spirit” come out of a man, the evil spirit replied "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you" (v. 15)?
Then the man who was possessed by the evil spirit attacked them, and the seven sons “fled out of that house naked and wounded” (v. 16). This embarrassing episode “became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus” (v. 17a). There was a reverence among them for the power of Jesus and many of them became believers, confessing their sins (v. 17b-18).
“Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books” and “burned them”, publicly forsaking their businesses that were no match for the power of Christ (v. 19a). They did so at a high personal cost, some “fifty thousand pieces of silver” (v. 19b). Through these happenings “the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” in all of Asia (v. 20).
Paul had been used by Jesus to manifest His power and glory through both physical and spiritual healings. He was chosen because of his devotion and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus. When men who were not devoted to the Lord tried to manipulate the power of Jesus for their own personal gain, they failed.
Today there are still those who try to manipulate the power of Jesus for personal reasons. They may wish to make friends or impress others. They may sincerely be trying to help others. However their efforts fail, and sometimes Jesus is made to look powerless in the process.
Jesus still uses people to perform miracles. But He uses Christians who are devoted to Him and His Word, the Bible. He does this through the work of the Holy Spirit, and in His own time and in His own way. Jesus cannot be manipulated.