Acts 19:11-15
Acts 19:11 (KJB)
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
One of the important things God did by the Apostle Paul was to bring special miracles by his hands. These miracles were to confirm the truthfulness of the message Paul was proclaiming. Ephesus was also a center for the cult worship of Diana. The miracles which God did, would give credence to the Gospel and make those who worshipped Diana give the Gospel a second look.
Acts 19:12 (KJB)
So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
The mighty works which God did through Paul was unlike other times. In the past, the Apostles would physically see the sick person and then personally handle them and they would become healed. These miracles were different because the miracles were delivered in a different way. The people would come to Paul on behalf of the sick person and then Paul would give them something from his body, like a handkerchief or an apron, then those would be taken to the sick people and they would be cured from their disease, infirmity, or if they were possessed of devils, the devils would have to leave their body. This was a miracle of distance similar to the one Jesus performed in John 7:49-53.
(John 4:49-53 KJV) The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. {50} Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. {51} And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. {52} Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. {53} So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
Acts 19:13 (KJB)
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
Adjure - Exorcise
There must have been a group of itinerant Jewish exorcists there who had tried to imitate what Paul had done. It was just like Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses in attempting to duplicate the plagues. These Jews thought they could command evil spirits on a whim. They saw Paul doing the miracles but did not know that it was God doing the miracles through him. They called over some people who had evil spirits in their body and commanded them to come out of the bodies of the people they were indwelling. They had invoked the name of Jesus in this attempt but since they did not believe in Jesus as Messiah, the name really did not mean anything to them except they probably thought if they could exorcise these people, then they could make some money in this big town.
Acts 19:14 (KJB)
And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
The amount of men attempting to exorcise these people were the seven sons of Sceva who was the chief priest. He probably belonged to the Sanhedrin. Some feel that Sceva was in the exorcist business and just took the title of Chief Priest to deceive the Gentiles who would come to him for his services. No doubt that he probably belonged to some facet of the rulers in the temple. No matter what he was, his sons were about to gain a great lesson.
Acts 19:15 (KJB)
And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
The attempt to use the name of Jesus as some type of magic charm did not work. The demons answered him and said they knew Jesus because prior to the rebellion of Satan, they were up there with Him. They also understood who Paul was since under his ministry God had cast out many devils from people as we just saw. Then the evil spirit literally berates them and says, “who are you?” In other words, who do you think you are in believing that you can command us to do what you want, especially since you possess no power over us. (Luke 10:17 KJV) And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. The devils are subject to the true believers through the name of Jesus and the fact we have the Holy Spirit living in us, they have no authority over us but they had authority over the seven sons of Sceva.