VERY interesting that there were traveling Jewish exorcists going around too. Seven sons of a Jewish high priest? What high priest is that? Of the Jerusalem temple? We don't know of any high priest by that name. Did the Essenes have people who called themselves high priests?
All sorts of novels you could write. Did some Essenes somewhere continue what they considered the proper high priestly line? Did this connect with followers of John the Baptist at Ephesus? Or were there Jews in the Diaspora who called themselves priests?
We have a whole bunch of magical papyri from this time period. They include long lists of the names of deities. It's like an exorcist would go through the lists until they came on a name that seemed to work on the demon in question. So it is no surprise that this traveling band of exorcists would try on the name of Jesus to see if it worked.
Of course it doesn't work very well. The man with the evil spirit drives them out of the house, naked and beaten. Believers who had those sorts of magical books burned them. I wonder how many book burnings in history this incident has inspired!
Then there is the riot. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the world (although here's all that's left)...
|Remaining pillar of temple of Artemis|
|Theater at Ephesus|
I love Ephesus. Just think of this place where Priscilla and Aquila started planting. What a significant ministry Paul watered here. Then he was followed by John in the latter part of the first century.
P.S. This passage uses the word "ekklesia" of the mob. People just used the word. They didn't think of "called out ones."
- The handkerchief incident reminds me of the woman touching the hem of Jesus' garment. Surely has something to do with the faith of the people?
- Be careful about trying to exorcise demons. Don't mess with demons unless you are really, really right with God.
- It at least seems like it took Paul longer to get in trouble here. If he wrote Philippians from here, he sure seems a lot more at peace than the earlier letters. It reminds me of the tone of 2 Corinthians 1-9, which is just after Paul left Ephesus. Is it a certain kind of maturity that comes when you reach the end of doing everything you can do and you just have to leave the outcome to God?