Acts 19:16
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them.—The demoniacal possession brought with it, as in the case of the Gadarene, the preternatural strength of frenzy, and the seven impostors (men of that class being commonly more or less cowards) fled in dismay before the violent paroxysms of the man’s passionate rage.

Naked and wounded.—The first word does not necessarily imply more than that the outer garment, or cloak, was torn off from them, and that they were left with nothing but the short tunic. (See Notes on Matthew 5:40; John 21:7.) It may be noted, as an indication of truthfulness, that the narrative stops here. A writer inventing miracles would no doubt have crowned the story by representing the man who baffled the impostors as healed by the power of the Apostle.

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.Leaped on them - Several such instances are recorded of the extraordinary power and rage of those who were possessed with evil spirits, Mark 5:3; Mark 9:29; Luke 9:42. 16. And the man in whom the evil spirit was—Mark the clear line of demarcation here between "the evil spirit which answered and said" and "the man in whom the evil spirit was." The reality of such possessions could not be more clearly expressed.

leaped on them … so that they fled … naked and wounded—This was so appalling a testimony at once against those profane impostors and in favor of Paul and the Master whom he preached, that we wonder not that it spread to "all the Jews and Greeks at Ephesus, that fear fell on them," and that "the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified."

Leaped on them, &c.; by the power of the evil spirit, which by the permission of God did act in him, Matthew 8:28 Mark 5:4 Luke 8:29. Satan retains still his natural power, though he hath wholly lost his moral or spiritual power unto any good: and that his violence proceeded no further, is to be ascribed only to the bounds which God had set him, which he, being in chains, could not exceed or go beyond; not for his want of malice, but power. And the man in whom the evil spirit was,.... Being agitated by him:

leapt upon them; with great agility and force, and laid hold on them, and struggled with them, and beat and wounded them, and stripped them naked:

and overcame them, and prevailed against them; the Alexandrian copy, Beza's most ancient one, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version read, "and overcame both"; as if only two of these seven sons had made this attempt, and were so used; though the Ethiopic version reads, "and overcame them all"; all the seven sons:

so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded; having their clothes tore off, and their bodies beat and bruised.

And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and {g} prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

(g) He prevailed against them, though they struggled ever so much.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 19:16. Ἐφαλόμενος (see the critical remarks) ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς κ.τ.λ.] having leaped upon them, after overpowering both he so prevailed against them, that, etc. The mode of representation is not exact, as we only see from ἀμφοτέρων that here of those seven but two were active, whom Luke has already conceived to himself in αὐτούς. According to Ewald, ἀμφοτ. is neuter: on both sides, i.e. from above and from below. This would be ἀπʼ ἀμφοτέρων, παρʼ ἀμφοτ., ἀμφοτέρῃ, ἀμφοτέρωθων.

γυμνούς] whether entirely naked, or merely divested of their upper clothing (see on John 21:7), remains an undecided point.Acts 19:16. ἐφαλλόμενος; only here in N.T.; in LXX, 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 11:6; 1 Samuel 16:13.—κατακυρ.; only here in Luke; Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42, 1 Peter 5:3; frequent in LXX.—αὐτῶν, see critical note. There is no real difficulty if we read ἀμφοτέρων after ἑπτά, Acts 19:14; St. Luke had mentioned that seven of the sons of Sceva made the attempt to imitate Paul, but the incident which he describes introduces two of them only. ἀμφ. cannot be taken distributively, or with Ewald, neuter, as if = ἀμφοτέρωθεν.—γυμνοὺς: may mean with torn garments, not literally naked, so Grimm-Thayer, sub v., and Alford.—ἐκείνου: the pronoun seems to imply that the writer had a definite place before his eyes, although it is not fully described. But it is surely a mark of truthfulness that the narrative ends where it does; a forger, we may well believe, would have crowned the story by a picture of the man, after baffling the impostors, healed by the word or touch of Paul (see Plumptre’s remarks, in loco). The marked contrast between the New Testament in its description of the demonised and their healing, and the notions and practices which meet us in the Jewish Rabbi, may be seen in Edersheim’s valuable appendix, Jesus the Messiah, ii., 770 ff., and the same decisive contrast is also seen between the N.T. and the prevailing ideas of the first century in the cures of the demonised attributed to Apollonius of Tyana in this same city Ephesus and in Athens; Smith and Wace, Dictionary of the Christian Biography, i., 136. Ramsay is very severe on the whole narrative, St. Paul, p. 273, and regards it as a mere piece of current gossip; so, too, very similarly, Wendt (1899), note, p. 313, who refers, as so many have done, to the analogy between the narrative in Acts 19:11 and that in Acts 5:12; Acts 5:15; in other words, to the parallel between Peter and Paul (which the writer of Acts is supposed to draw on every possible occasion; see introd.). So too Hilgenfeld ascribes the whole section Acts 19:11-20 to his “author to Theophilus,” and sees in it a story to magnify St. Paul’s triumph over sorcery and magic, as St. Peter’s over Simon Magus in Acts 8:13. Clemen with Spitta, Van Manen, and others regard the whole section as interrupting the connection between Acts 19:10; Acts 19:21—but even here, in Acts 19:14, Clemen sees in addition the hand of his Redactor Antijudaicus, as distinct from the Redactor to whom the whole narrative is otherwise attributed.16. And the man in whom the evil spirit was leapt on them] With that power, more than natural, so often displayed by madmen.

and overcame them] Here we have a singular variation from the texts of the oldest MSS. These read, both of them, a reading which seems to preserve for us the information that only two of the seven sons were present on this occasion. This reading is not likely to have been substituted for the more simple one, but it is easy to see how the simpler pronoun would come in after the mention of the seven, and when there was in the story only this hint that five of them were not there. It is no objection to the acceptance of this old reading, that other words in the verse referring to these brethren are plural, and not dual. Plural verbs and adjectives are not unfrequently used of dual subjects. The verb is more closely translated in the Rev. Ver. mastered.

and prevailed, &c.] He tare their clothes to shreds, and left marks of the fierce tearing on their bodies.Acts 19:16. Κατακυριεύσας, having prevailed against) They irritated the evil spirit.—ἀμφοτέρων, both) More recent copies have αὐτῶν, from the alliteration to the αὐτῶν immediately following.[112] The seven sons of Sceva were wont to do that: two did so in this instance, which Luke records; comp. with this Acts 19:13, where the τῶν refers to the seven: the word ΤΙΝῈς, certain persons, refers to the two. Often there lies hid some such hint in one little word of the text, which, without that word, no one would have suspected from the circumstance (fact) itself.

[112] The reading αὐτὼν ἀμφοτέρων is approved of by the margin of Ed. 2: and the word ἀμφοτέρων is exhibited also by the Germ. Vers. The decision of the larger Ed. had been different.—E. B.

Ἀμφοτέρων is supported by ABDd Vulg. later Syr. Αὐτῶν is read by the Rec. Text. Ee omit the words altogether.—E. and T.Verse 16. - Mastered both of them for overcame them, A.V. and T.R. Prevailed against (ἴσχυσε)

See on Luke 14:30; and Luke 16:3.

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