Sunday, October 06, 2013

Demons and a Riot (Acts 19b)

I bet this is the passage from which some televangelists got the idea of mailing out handkerchiefs and such that they had blessed.  Fascinating...

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
Looks like a typical mob.  Everyone shouting.  Not even quite sure what they're upset about.  They're in the theater:

Theater at Ephesus
I wonder if Paul was imprisoned for a while after this incident.  Acts doesn't mention it, but check out 2 Corinthians 1:8 and compare it to Philippians 1:20. It might also give another reason why Paul doesn't go back into Ephesus when he travels back through in 20:17. If he was imprisoned, this would be a time when he could have written Philippians.

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?

1 comment:

Susan Moore said...

1. In the picture of the remains of the temple of Artemis, any idea what the buildings are that show in the background? Just curious.
2. I've never understood that part about the Jews casting out demons in Jesus name. Thanks for the possible explanation!
3. I think the city clerk gets an 'A' in diplomacy (if he had handled it like Stephen he would have been stoned? I'm learning. :-))
4. In regards to the handkerchief incident I don't know anything about the superstitions of the time. But it puts me in mind of Acts 5:15, when "people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by." I can't help but think of the fruit of the Spirit beaming out of those early believers. They had zero doubt about the reality of God, or their salvation and impending resurrection and glorification for eternity with Jesus. Zero doubt. A level of faith that most believers today seem unable to even imagine. I remember about Moses' face glowing as he exited the presence of God. Although obviously still mortal humans, I think those early believers beamed out the presence of God in their works and words, and people can tell. Their love from God through them to people (and strangers at that) was palpable, even in their passing shadows...
5. Good word, about being really really right with God before messing with demons. Moral of the story; if one says, "Who are you?" expect pain. Fear is their friend, love is their enemy.
6. Is it maturity, or sense of complete freedom?