“A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.” (Acts 19:19)
During Paul’s third missionary journey to Ephesus, he preached the word of the Lord to Jews and Greeks living in Asia for two years (v. 8), centering on the school of Tyrannus. There were many who listened to the Word and obeyed, and there were many who did not obey and slandered them. It is presumed that the Colosse Church, the Laodicea Church, and the Hierapolis Church were built by his co-workers while Paul preached the Word centered on Ephesus.
Magic and witchcraft appear
One of the privileges given to ministers who handle God’s ministry is to perform strange miracles. Peter and other great ministers were accompanied by signs and miracles as they ministered. The power shown in Paul was far stronger than that shown in Peter and other ministers. God also reveals His power through His ministers.
However, these miracles are fraught with side effects. Faith relying on these special signs may obscure the essence of the gospel. It happened that Paul took a handkerchief used to wipe sweat on his face or his hands, or an apron used when working, and put them on the sick person to heal them.
The false magicians who witnessed this tried to cast out demons by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus on a trial against those possessed by demons. Also, the seven sons of Sceva the priest did this. Then the demon attacked them, saying, “I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?” Embarrassed by this, they ran away from them without even being able to properly adjust their clothes. Seeing this, many people realized how dangerous it is to play a celebration without true faith and realized the power of the name of Jesus.
Miracles through faith
To perform signs and miracles is clearly a gift from God. It never separates the faith of those who proclaim it in the name of Jesus Christ from the faith of those who receive it. Some try to exercise these gifts artificially. They would misuse these gifts to establish their own honor, or to show themselves to be great men of faith.
On the other hand, many Christians who witnessed this repented and confessed their magical practices and their tendencies. And many of the magicians brought their magic books and burned them in front of everyone. The value of the books was about fifty thousand pieces of silver, and one piece of silver was worth a day’s wages for a laborer. This must have been a huge shock to them, and in the aftermath of the shock, they were able to make a bold decision. This incident provides an opportunity to check whether this tendency exists in us.
The end of the 3rd mission trip
Due to the ministry accompanied by signs and miracles, Paul’s ministry, centered in Ephesus, proclaims a solemn conclusion. “So the word of the Lord had power, and it flourished and gained power” (v. 20). By solidifying the church that Paul had established during his first and second missionary journeys, the Ephesian church and surrounding churches were able to stand firm. It means that Paul’s missionary activities were successfully completed throughout the eastern region of the Roman Empire. From now on, new horizons and goals appear before Paul.
Witchcraft was very widespread in antiquity. In Ephesus, it was so extreme that magic books were even referred to as “Ephesian texts.” But before the Lord’s name the false sorcerers suffered an ignominious defeat. It became an opportunity for many newly converted Christians who were watching this to voluntarily quit all magical practices. We should also keep in mind that God is not pleased with anything that is not done with faith in “Jesus Christ as Savior.” And if you confirm it, you will have to repent immediately and turn back that thought or action.
President Sung Jin Lim
World Mission University