Acts 19:11-20 – Paul’s Extraordinary Deeds in Ephesus


Acts 19:11-20


Paul heals the sick and casts out evil spirits during his time in Ephesus. These miracles lead some practitioners of magic to renounce their activities.


The unsurpassable power of God that cannot be manipulated by human beings prompts  “a number of those who practiced magic” in Ephesus  to publicly burn their spell books and incantation manuals. Likewise, when the seven sons of a Jewish priest named Sceva, a group of well-known itinerant exorcists, try to use Jesus’ name and power for their own gain, the evil spirit they are attempting to cast out overpowers and injures them, strips them naked, and sends them scurrying away. In the process, the evil spirit cheekily replies to them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (19:15).

The practice of “magic” in Acts has nothing to do with card tricks or pulling rabbits out of a hat. It represents the work of hucksters and charlatans who promise special therapeutics and prophylactics for gullible people—typically for a hefty price. Acts regards these “magicians” as agents of “dark,” demonic forces (see 8:9‒24; 13:6‒11; 16:16-18; 19:18‒19), opposed to true, benevolent “miracle”-workers, like Jesus, Paul, and others who genuinely represent Jesus’ name.