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The Seven Sons of a Sceva

Updated on January 16, 2018
Acts 19:11-20
Acts 19:11-20 | Source


Have you ever considered the true power of Jesus? I know the “Christian Correct” answer, but I mean have you really thought about it? I have talked to countless people that think their past is too bad to be forgiven, or that they’ve done too much to be of any use to Jesus now. I fell into that group for a long time. I bet all of us have at some point. Have you ever wondered how your bills were going to get paid? Or how you were going to get out of a certain mess you created? We all have, and that’s the place that we generally do not understand how big and powerful our God is. We see it clearly when we make it through. That is how He grows us in faith. He knows we are weak, and untrusting. It’s not a good quality, but He is a Good Father, and understands. He reveals to us how big He is. He did that in a story in the Book of Acts. It is one of my favorite stories. It is about the Sons of Sceva. If you don’t know how powerful our Lord is now, I pray after this you will have a better understanding.

The Backdrop to the Event

The event can be found in Acts 19:11-20. It is a relatively small section. The setting of this event is the city of Ephesus, which is in what is now the country of Turkey. Paul had been traveling around preaching the Gospel or “The Way” as it was called at that time. Many people were converting. God was performing many miracles at the hands of Paul by healing the sick and removing evil spirits, as it says in Acts 19:11. Ephesus was a very superstitious city, so when they saw these miracles they were in awe. Paul received great respect, and the people had great reverence for Paul’s God (Jesus). There were numerous gods worshipped in Ephesus, and sorcery was very common and revered. The people had a fear of spiritual beings such as demons and unclean spirits. Now that you have a little backdrop of what was going on during this time, we can continue with the story of how the Holy Spirit was making His presence known.

City of Ephesus

The Power of Jesus Revealed

Acts 19:11 starts off saying, “God was performing extraordinary Miracles by the hands of Paul so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick and the diseases left them and evil spirits went out,” (NASB). Think about this verse for a moment. God has so much power over these demons and evil spirits that just his presence on a handkerchief ran them away. What does that tell you about God? What does that tell you about the evil spirits? They know the truth. They are believers. They know his power and know who he is. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (NIV). They don't worship him and don't put their faith in him but they know who He is. They believe, because for handkerchief to be able to run somebody off, you must believe that there's some power behind it, because the handkerchief in itself is nothing. The people of Ephesus, the people that worshipped false gods, who were most likely demons pretending to be gods saw these miracles. This didn’t happen in front of a group of believers and they all shared their story. This happened in front of people that had no reason to believe it, unless it was real. This happened in front of pagan sorcerers. The result of the miracles through Paul and the butt-kicking by the possessed man led the sorcerers of the city to burn their scrolls, which represents them repenting from their old ways and turning to Jesus. These men made a living using those scrolls and they gave them up that day. That is life-changing stuff happening in front of them, and they knew it and accepted it.

Now on the other side we see the Marx Brothers of Pharisees enter the scene in Acts 19:13 trying to do like Paul. The Seven Sons of a Sceva were seven literal sons of a Jewish chief priest (sceva). It does not mention the age of these sons, but from the reaction of the people regarding the outcome, who their father was, and that they were going place to place exorcising demons we can assume that they were men of some age. Exorcism was taken seriously, and not considered child’s play. So, with that said, and an understanding of who these 7 men are, let’s move on to the painful lesson from God. Acts 19:13 sets the stage and tells us, “But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Acts 19:14 continues, “7 sons of one Sceva a Jewish Chief priests were doing this.” So, we have our seven men taking on one man with a/or multiple demons inside him. This is that point in all of our lives where God just needs to remind us who we are, and who He is. Acts 19:15 says, “and the evil spirit answered and said to them I recognize Jesus and I know about Paul but who are you?” I want to get off topic a little here. If that doesn't prove spiritual warfare, I don't know what does. I have to say if you question whether demons or spiritual warfare is real then you should consider if you truly believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Do you believe that everything in the Bible is factual? This is an important question that I would like you to consider. I know it may sound harsh and I’m not sure how to soften it. The Bible is all we have. If one thing is false, then how do we know what else is and is not false? The complete system of faith then becomes very tedious and nothing more than a really good story, but that is a different rabbit trail. Moving on, this demon is talking to the seven exorcists. Acts 19:16, “and the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpower them so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded,” (NASB).

Sons of a Sceva

Depiction of the fight with the possessed man
Depiction of the fight with the possessed man | Source

The Wrap Up and What This Means to Us

It is hard not to be amused by this even though there’s nothing funny about demons or spiritual warfare. Think about this though, 7 guys going to the house to take care of one guy and not only did the one guy beat up all 7 but took their clothes. I'm not trying to give this demon or any others evil spirits any kind of power, but I want you to know what my point is, and what I see here is that we don't have power over them without the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus is our power, because of the power behind the name. These men went in there on their own and got humiliated. Remember what the first the first verse read, it said that God was performing extraordinary Miracles at the hand of Paul so that handkerchief or apron were even carried from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and evil spirits went out. This same evil spirit that beat up 7 grown men is the same evil spirit that runs away from a handkerchief that had been blessed by Jesus.

Let's go ahead and squash all these lies that we've been told our entire life that Jesus was weak or that he was this little pacifist guy. You know this image. Hippie Jesus. Floating on a cloud Jesus. This “little runt” Jesus is and was as tough as they come. He's the tough guy that doesn't have to prove himself. Just his presence or the thought of him coming around scares off His enemy. His enemy is our enemy and they know Him and they are afraid of Him but they continually lie to us to make us think that they are not afraid of Him, or that He's not strong enough, or He's not good enough to handle our needs. We need him because we’re not going to do it alone. We can't. He is all that we need. Scripture proved it in Acts chapter 19, and that is one of many examples. Let Jesus be your strength. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, and you will have all the power you need to overcome whatever the world has to offer.

Sorcerers Repent

Sorcerers repent by burning their scrolls, and turning to Jesus
Sorcerers repent by burning their scrolls, and turning to Jesus | Source

The All-Powerful Jesus Loves You

Digging into this scripture really brought to life how powerful our God is. I questioned so many things. I used the word “how” more than I can remember. The question isn’t “how”; it is “why”. Why not put all your eggs in one basket? Why not have the confidence that the creator of all, can handle all? Why don’t we surrender to Jesus, and let Him handle the situation when we know we can’t do it anyway? I pray this article helped you understand Jesus better and who He really is, and not the worldly image we’ve been told. Mostly, I pray that if you do not have a relationship with Jesus right now that you come to have a relationship with him. He loves you, and He is waiting for you. There is nothing you have done that His power cannot overcome, get past, or forgive. In fact, you are already forgiven. The gift is waiting for you to accept it. All you have to do is ask Him, talk to Him, and tell Him you are ready for a different life; a life of eternity. A life with our Father. Romans 10:9 says, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved," (NASB). If you prayed that, I would love to know. Feel free to message me or ask me anything. I will do all I can to guide you to your next step. God Bless all of you.

I Want to Hear From You

Thank you again for taking the time to read my article. Have you read this story before? Did you learn anything new from the story, or did God reveal anything to you through the story? If you haven't read it before, I challenge you. I believe you will enjoy it. It is in The Book of Acts Chapter 19, Verses 11 through 20. If you go back and read it, I would love to hear your thoughts. I welcome any questions, comments, or suggestions. Have a blessed day.


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