Thursday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 19:8-16

Incantation Is Not Faith and Godliness

Having arrived in Ephesus, Paul made his way to the synagogue where he promised to return so many months prior.  We are told that he preached in the synagogue for three months, which was much longer than he was generally allowed to preach in other synagogues, which speaks well of the Ephesian Jews.  And Paul was “reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.”  This is a significant statement.  We recall that usually Luke writes that Paul sought to persuade the people, Jews and Gentiles alike, that Jesus was the Christ, but here he persuades them about matters concerning the kingdom of God.  Is it not obvious then that the two are the same, that to preach the kingdom of God is to preach that Jesus is the Christ which is to preach the kingdom of God?  The kingdom is Christ’s kingdom and he is the king, and he is the king because he is the Messiah, God’s anointed One, sent to redeem and save his people.  And not only is he king but also lawgiver and judge, or as we usually say, prophet, priest, and king.  There is no kingdom without Christ, and Christ shall never be without his kingdom.  And then we read that, as usual, some Jews resented Paul’s teaching so that he leaves the synagogue and, this time, sets up his own lecture series in the “hall of Tyrannus” where he continued for two years.  All total, Paul spent more time in Ephesus than elsewhere such that “all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks,” understanding that “Asia” means “Asia Minor.”

We then have the amusing story of seven Jewish exorcists who thought to use the name of Jesus as a kind of incantation to ward off evil spirits; after all, it worked for Paul.  But when they sought to cast a demon out of some poor man, the demon responded, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”  Thereupon the man whom the demon possessed leaped on them and so routed these seven men that they fled the house naked and wounded – and most assuredly humiliated.

But the name of Jesus is not a magic spell one uses, even for good.  Yes, “there is power in the name,” but only for those who believe in that name and carry that name in all sincerity and faithfulness, in holiness and godliness.  And even if a handkerchief of Paul could heal someone, it wasn’t because it belonged to Paul, or because the handkerchief was magic; it was because of the One whom Paul worshiped, adored, and gave his life to serve.  “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you,” the demon said.  May we live such lives for Jesus that even demons know our names.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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