Acts 19:13
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.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(13) Certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists.—The men belonged to a lower section of the class of which we have already seen representatives in Simon of Samaria or Elymas of Cyprus. (See Notes on Acts 8:9; Acts 13:6.) They practised exorcisms as a profession, and went from city to city, pretending with charms and spells to cure those who were looked on as possessed with demons. Many of these were said to have come down from Solomon. In Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon (c. 22) there is an interesting account of several bronze bowls containing such formulæ. To them “the name of the Lord Jesus,” which was so often in St. Paul’s lips, was just another formula, mightier than the name of the Most High God, or that of the archangels Raphael or Michael, which were used by others.

Acts 19:13-16. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists — Dr. Whitby, and several other critics, have produced many passages from Irenæus, Origen, Epiphanius, and Josephus, to prove that several of the Jews, about this time, pretended to a power of casting out devils, particularly by some arts or charms derived from Solomon. These men are called vagabond Jews, and exorcists, because they strolled through the countries of the Lesser Asia, practising that magic which was in such vogue among the heathen. But when they came to Ephesus, hearing of the wonderful things which Paul performed in the name of Jesus, and, perhaps, seeing some of them, they took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus — Vain undertaking! Satan laughs at all those who attempt to expel him, either out of the bodies or souls of men, except by divine faith. Saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth — They do not say whom we believe in, or depend upon, or have authority from; but whom Paul preacheth — As if they had said, We will try what that name will do. The exorcists in the Roman Church, who pretend to cast the devil out of melancholy people, by spells and charms which they understand not, and for which they have not any divine warrant, and, therefore, cannot use them in faith, are the followers of these vagabond Jews. There were seven sons of one Sceva — A Jewish chief priest, who did this, desirous of the honour or profit which they thought would redound from such cures, and imagining there was some secret charm in the name of Jesus, to which these infernal agents would submit. But the evil spirit — Contemning their adjuration; answered, Jesus I know, and Paul I know — I know the authority and power of Jesus and Paul, and am ready to obey them; but who are ye? — What power have you to command us in his name? Or, who gave you any such power? And the man, in whom the evil spirit was, leaped, or sprung, on them, and overcame them — To such a degree, as to tear off their clothes from their backs, and beat them with great violence; so that they fled out of the house — In which they had attempted the cure; naked and wounded — And became public spectacles of scorn and derision, in a city where these things were peculiarly regarded. This is written for a warning to all those who name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity. The same enemy, that overcomes them with his temptations, will overcome them with his terrors, and their adjuring him in Christ’s name to let them alone, will be no security to them. If we resist the devil by a true and lively faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the bare using of Christ’s name, or any part of his word, as a spell or charm, or by merely professing his religion, he will prevail against us.

19:13-20 It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons to profess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the using of Christ's name, or his works, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us. Where there is true sorrow for sin, there will be free confession of sin to God in every prayer and to man whom we have offended, when the case requires it. Surely if the word of God prevailed among us, many lewd, infidel, and wicked books would be burned by their possessors. Will not these Ephesian converts rise up in judgement against professors, who traffic in such works for the sake of gain, or allow themselves to possess them? If we desire to be in earnest in the great work of salvation, every pursuit and enjoyment must be given up which hinders the effect of the gospel upon the mind, or loosens its hold upon the heart.The vagabond Jews - Greek: Jews going about - περιερχομένων perierchomenōn. The word "vagabond" with us is now commonly used in a bad sense, to denote "a vagrant; a man who has no home; an idle, worthless fellow." The word, however, properly means "one wandering from place to place, without any settled habitation, from whatever cause it may be." Here it denotes "those Jews who wandered from place to place, practicing exorcism."

Exorcists - ἐξορκιστῶν exorkistōn. This word properly denotes "those who went about pretending to be able to expel evil spirits, or to cure diseases by charms, incantations," etc. The word is derived from ὁρκίζω horkizō, "to bind with an oath." It was applied in this sense, because those who pretended to be able to expel demons used the formula of an oath, or adjured them, to compel them to leave the possessed persons. Compare Matthew 12:27. They commonly used the name of God, or called on the demons in the name of God to leave the person. Here they used the name Jesus to command them to come out. Such wanderers and pretenders are common in Oriental countries now. See Land and the Book, vol. i. 224, 510.

To call over them - To name, or to use his name as sufficient to expel the evil spirit.

The name of the Lord Jesus - The reasons why they attempted this were:

(1) That Jesus had expelled many evil spirits; and,

(2) That it was in his name that Paul had performed his miracles. Perhaps they supposed there was some charm in this name to expel them.

We adjure you - We bind you by an oath; we command you as under the solemnity of an oath, Mark 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:27. It is a form of putting one under oath, 1 Kings 2:43; Genesis 24:37; 2 Kings 11:4; Nehemiah 13:25 (Septuagint). That this art was practiced then, or attempted, is abundantly proved from Irenaeus, Origen, and Josephus (Antiq., book 8, chapter 2, section 5). See Doddridge. The common name which was used was the incommunicable name of God, Yahweh, by pronouncing which, in a special way, it was pretended they had the power of expelling demons.

13. vagabond Jews—simply, "wandering Jews," who went from place to place practicing exorcism, or the art of conjuring evil spirits to depart out of the possessed. That such a power did exist, for some time at least, seems implied in Mt 12:27. But no doubt this would breed imposture; and the present case is very different from that referred to in Lu 9:49, 50.

We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth—a striking testimony to the power of Christ's name in Paul's mouth.

Vagabond Jews; who wandered up and down, making it their trade and livelihood; as jugglers amongst us.

Exorcists; so called from their obtesting the evil spirits in the name of God. Of these Josephus tells strange stories, Antiq. lib. 8, and thinks that the way of their exorcising was derived unto them from Solomon, and that they used the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; as also of Zebaoth, and Adonai, as Origen tells us. Some think, that though there is certainly no power in the words and syllables which they pronounced, yet that the true God, being rather willing to be known and owned by those names, than that any should call on the names of the false gods, did sometimes put forth his power in casting out of devils at such times, as Matthew 12:27. Howsoever, there being no warrant in the word of God for any such practice, and no promise to act faith in prayer upon, were the words never so serious, and the name of God and his attributes never so much (seemingly) manifested, it is a most abominable impiety.

The name of the Lord Jesus; instead of, or together with, those other names formerly mentioned.

Then certain of the vagabond Jews,.... Who strolled about from place to place, pretending to tell fortunes, cure diseases by charms, and dispossess devils by conjuration, and therefore are called as follows,

exorcists; such there were among the Jews, as Justin Martyr observes (h), who adjured by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: these

took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus; they imitated the Apostle Paul, and attempted to do as he did, using the same: name; hoping to get money or applause, or both, in this way; and it may be observed, that there were some who really did cast out devils in the name of Christ, who did not belong to him, Matthew 7:22

Saying, we adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth; that is, to come out the bodies of those men which they had possessed: and the Jews made use of the name of Jesus for healing diseases; for it is said of one (i), that

"he swallowed something which almost choked him, and one came, and muttered to him in the name of Jesus ben Pandira, and he was well''

The Alexandrian copy, Beza's ancient one, and others, the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, read, "I adjure you", &c.

(h) Dialog. cum Tryphon. p. 311. (i) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 14. 4. & Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4.

{4} Then certain of the vagabond Jews, {f} 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.

(4) Satan is forced to give witness against himself.

(f) So were they called who cast out demons by forcing them to leave in the name of God: and in the beginning of the Church, those who had the gift of working miracles, and laid their hands on those that were possessed with demons, were called the same.

Acts 19:13. But some, also, of the itinerant Jewish demonexorcisers (sorcerers, who, for the healing of demoniacs, used secret arts derived from Solomon, and charms, see Joseph. Antt. viii. 2. 5, Bell. Jud. i. 1. 2; Matthew 12:27) undertook (ἐπεχείρ., see on Luke 1:1), in expectation of greater results than their own hitherto had been, and provoked by the effects which Paul produced by the utterance of the name of Jesus, to use this formula with the demoniacs: I conjure you (to come out, ye evil spirits, Acts 19:15) by Jesus (who, besides, will punish you), whom Paul announces.

ἐπὶ τοὺς ἔχ.] denotes the local direction: towards the possessed, not, as Kuinoel proposes, on account of the possessed (perhaps with a design towards, of the direction of the will), in which case the vivid form of the representation is entirely overlooked.

τὰ πνεύμ. τὰ πον.] are the demons concerned, then and there to be expelled.

τὸν ʼΙησοῦν] Comp. Mark 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:27. Equivalent to τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ Ἰ., 3 Esdr. 1:48.

Acts 19:13. If we read καὶ after ἀπὸ (see critical note), it contrasts the Jewish exorcists who endeavoured to gain this power with those like St. Paul who really possessed it.—περιερχ.: “vagabond,” A.V., the word as it is now used colloquially does not express the Greek; R.V. “strolling,” Vulgate, circumeuntibus; Blass renders circumvagantes. The word “vagabond” is used only here in N.T.: in the O.T. we have it in Genesis 4:12; Genesis 4:14, R.V. “wanderer,” and in Psalm 109:10, R.V. “vagabonds,” cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, xi., 16.—ἐξορκιστῶν: the word points to a class of Jews who practised exorcisms as a profession, cf. Jos., Ant., viii., 2, 5. The usual method of exorcism was the recitation of some special name or spell, and these Jewish exorcists having seen the power which Paul wielded by his appeal to the name of Jesus endeavoured to avail themselves of the same efficacy. It would be difficult to say how far these Jewish exorcists would employ the incantations so widely in vogue in a place like Ephesus, but there is a notable passage in Justin Martyr in which, whilst admitting that a Jew might exorcise an evil spirit by the God of Abraham, he complains that as a class the Jewish exorcists had adopted the same superstitions and magical aids as the heathen, “Exorcist,” B.D.2, i., 1028. In the Didaché, iii., 4, the use of charms and sorceries is expressly forbidden since they led to idolatry.—ὁρκίζομεν: with double accusative = of the one adjured and of the one by whom he is adjured, cf. Mark 5:7 (1 Thessalonians 5:27), see Grimm-Thayer, sub v., cf. Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 25 ff., for the constant use of the verb in inscriptions in formulæ of adjuration as here, see further “Demon” and “Exorcist” for examples of such formulæ, Hastings’ B.D., i., pp. 593, 812, and for the absurdities involved in them.

13. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists] The best MSS. have “And certain also, &c.” In addition to the real, though ignorant, faith of the converts alluded to in Acts 19:12, some impostors, who had no faith, tried to win more credit for their jugglery by employing the names of Paul and Jesus. These were certain Jews who went about from place to place, professing by charms and spells to cure diseases. The A.V. “vagabond” conveys in modern language a moral censure, which probably these men well deserved, but which is not in the Greek. The Rev. Ver. has adopted strolling, which gives the sense of the original. We read in Josephus (Ant. viii. 2, 5) that “God gave Solomon skill against demons for the help and cure of men. And he arranged certain incantations whereby diseases are assuaged, and left behind him forms of exorcism, wherewith they so put to flight the overpowered evil spirits that they never return. And this method of curing is very prevalent among us up to the present time.” The Jews at Ephesus were professors of this pretended art of healing.

took upon them to call [Better, to name] over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus] From an early date the traditional literature of the Jews ascribed great effects to the utterance of the incommunicable divine name. By means of this (they say) it was that Moses slew the Egyptian, and Elisha brought destruction on the mocking children “by the name of Jehovah.” We can understand therefore, if the fame of St Paul were become known, and the name of Jesus connected with his preaching and with the powers vouchsafed, how these men would make a pretence to the possession of the same secrets by which, as they would declare, the cures were wrought.

saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth] The oldest texts give the singular, I adjure, and this no doubt is correct, for the words would be uttered only by the one person, who was performing the act of exorcism. It is easy to see how the plural form of the first part of the verse suggested the change.

Acts 19:13. Ἐπεχείρησαν, took in hand, attempted) And yet there was no room for temerity in the case of such matters. Comp. Hebrews 11:29, 1Ma 5:57, etc., concerning unseasonable imitation:—περιερχομένων, going about, vagabond) as impostors (jugglers) are wont to do.—τοὺς ἔχοντας, them who had) This is plural; but the singular in Acts 19:15. If the attempt had succeeded once, they would have dared to do it oftener.—ὀνομάζειν, to name) though they were in other respects aliens to Him, and void of the power of faith. “They say, whom Paul preacheth, as if they would say, We will try whether evil spirits go out in (by) this name: in short, there was no faith in them; but Satan is to be overcome by no forms of speech, and by no works, but by faith alone in the Word of GOD: wherefore also the very cunning spirit, seeing in this case that they have not faith, nor the word of GOD deeply fixed in their heart, laughs at their attempt. The expulsion of Satan from demoniacs is only an adumbration of the expulsion of Satan in ordinary cases from the hearts of all men. But even as he here mocked at those who attempt to effect the expulsion from demoniacs by a mere literal invocation of the name of Jesus without faith: so he derided, and in the present day laughs at, those who have attempted by works to deliver themselves from his power, ex. gr. priests and monks, etc.; for he then first began to have dominion over them, and to treat them altogether as he pleased. Satan is a most crafty spirit, as compared with whose cunning and strength all the light of reason is nothing. His cunning is not known except through the Holy Ghost; and he is not to be expelled except in the exercise of true faith, and by the most spiritual.”—Justus Jonas.—ὀνομάζειν τὸ ὄνομα, to name the name) A frequent phrase in the LXX. In the Hebrew there is added to the word שם, the verb הזכיר or נקב or קרא.—Ἰησοῦν, Jesus) “They use the appellation, Jesus, simply, whereas they ought to have called Him the Saviour of the world, who had risen from the dead.”—Chrysost.

Verse 13. - But certain also for then certain, A.V.; strolling for vagabond, A.V.; name for call, A.V.; the evil for evil, A.V.; I for we, A.V. and T.R. Strolling (περιερχομένων); going their rounds from place to place, like strolling players or like peddlers. The words should be construed together, "strolling Jewish exorcists." That certain Jews in our Savior's time exorcised evil spirits appears from Matthew 12:27; Luke 9:49. We learn also from Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 8:2, 5, that forms of exorcism, said to have been invented by King Solomon, so efficacious that the devils cast out by them could never come back, were used with great effect in his days. He adds that he himself knew of an instance in which one of his own countrymen, Eleazar by name, had cast out devils in the presence of Vespasian and his sons and officers and a number of his soldiers. The method used was this: The exorcist applied to the nose of the possessed the bezil of a ring, under which was a certain root prescribed by Solomon, and so drew out the evil spirit through the man's nostrils. The possessed then fell to the ground, and the exorcist commanded the evil spirit in the name of Solomon never to return, and then recited one of Solomon's incantations. To give full assurance to the bystanders that the evil spirit had really left the man, the exorcist placed a vessel full of water at some distance off, and then commanded the ejected spirit to overturn it, which he did. Thus far Josephus. Lightfoot, on Acts 13. (vol. 3:215), quotes the book Juchasin as speaking of certain Jews as "skilled in miracles," and the Jerusalem Talmud as speaking of their enchantments and magical tricks and charms" in the name of Jesus" (see, further, Alford on Matthew 12:27). Acts 19:13Vagabond (περιερχομένων)

Lit., going about. Rev., strolling.

Exorcists (ἐξορκιστῶν)

Only here in New Testament. The kindred verb, adjure, occurs Matthew 26:63, and means, originally, to administer an oath. These Jewish exorcists pretended to the power of casting out evil spirits by magical arts derived from Solomon.

Acts 19:13 Interlinear
Acts 19:13 Parallel Texts

Acts 19:13 NIV
Acts 19:13 NLT
Acts 19:13 ESV
Acts 19:13 NASB
Acts 19:13 KJV

Acts 19:13 Bible Apps
Acts 19:13 Parallel
Acts 19:13 Biblia Paralela
Acts 19:13 Chinese Bible
Acts 19:13 French Bible
Acts 19:13 German Bible

Bible Hub

Acts 19:12
Top of Page
Top of Page