God bless you in the exalted name of Jesus Christ, who is far above all principality and power (Ephesians 1:21).
In the many, many times I’ve read this account I have always chuckled at the humor I found in it, rarely ever considering how profound it must be. However, there are details important for us to realize if we want to rid our lives of fear and be able to help people like Paul did. We are still working through Acts 19 and have come to verse 16 which deals with the response of the possessed man to the seven sons of Sceva.
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped [ephallomai] on them, and overcame [katakurieuō] them, and prevailed [ischuō] against them, so that they fled [ekpheugō] out of that house naked and wounded [traumatizō].
The evil spirit in this man reacted violently to the seven brothers feeble and ineffective attempts to cast it out. The evil spirit unexpectedly took control of the possessed man’s body to physically attack and injure them. These exorcists had gone too far. They butted heads with another spirit with far more clout and authority than they had. The result was disastrous as they were sent running for their lives [ekpheugō].
Before we get into the assault let’s note the phrase “that house.” Of course, that refers to the house where the possessed man resided. This was not just “a house,” or “his house” there is a definite article in front of it. The wording of this phrase implies that this was a well-known house. It was well known and a place everyone avoided and stayed away from. It was a frightening place where violent activities took place. It housed a man with a major daimon, and not just any little daimonion. The exorcists may have had success dealing with minor spiritual adversaries like the daimonion. But armed with the new “magical name of Jesus Christ,” they thought they would make a name for themselves by taking on this major five star general in the adversary’s kingdom. Needless to say, it didn’t go as planned and they found themselves fleeing from “that house” in great haste!
We already read what happened: “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.” “Leaped” is the Greek word ephallomai, and this its only occurrence in the New Testament. It means to pounce, as a lioness leaps on a weak and defenseless animal. Like a lioness who stalks by sneaking up on its prey, this word carries the idea of taking a victim by surprise. These exorcists were completely taken off guard by this attack; it was definitely unexpected.
“Overcame” is katakurieuō, which is a compound of the words, kata and kurios. The word kata means down or according to, and kurios is the Greek word for a lord or master. It alludes to exercising lordship (Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42; I Peter 5:3). It properly, means to exercise decisive control as an owner with full jurisdiction. It denotes how a master lords over or exercises full and decisive control over his household. It describes a force that is dominating and completely subjugating. It implies a complete conquering that results in humiliation and surrender.
There is one more word used to describe the humiliating defeat of these seven exorcists. It’s the word ischuō. Ischuō describes strength or physical power that confronts resistance with such combative force that it achieves all it desires. Evil spirits have the ability to supernaturally energize those in whom they dwell. When they do, the possessed individuals may exhibit inexplicable physical strength. This man certainly did when he sent all 7 of these exorcists fleeing naked and wounded. Mark 5:3-4 describes a possessed man who could be so supernaturally charged that no one could bind him. The times he was successfully fettered and chained he was so spiritually empowered that he could tear those heavy iron chains off and free himself. This man who lived among the tombs in the Gadarenes was violent beyond anyone’s control — except Jesus.
Jesus had absolute authority over evil spirits when He walked this earth. This man in Mark 5 who terrorized the local community completely surrendered to Jesus falling at his feet. Jesus did speak with the spirit on this occasion. However, when spirits spoke and Jesus did not want them to speak, he commanded them to be silent and they were (Mark 1:23-25, 34; Luke 4:35,41). We have the same options when we engage spiritually. Jesus has given the authority to cast out spirits in His name to all those who trust in him (Mark 16:17). This was the reason for Paul’s success. However, these seven sons of Sceva were not believers; they were Jews who were exorcists simply trying out a new enchantment.
As the seven exorcists commanded the evil spirit to leave the man, the evil spirit suddenly seized the man’s body and energized it. He pounced on them like a fierce wild animal and completely overpowered them. We don’t know the exact details of the attack, how long it lasted, or how badly these seven sons of Sceva suffered, but we do know that after the encounter, they were naked, physically wounded, and traumatized.
You may frequently find this kind of discord in the kingdom of darkness. These spirits cannot always deny their nature, and they may act harshly and violently. However, a believer never has any reason to fear. Only a misreading and misunderstanding of this incident would discourage a believer from engaging in the deliverance of someone who comes to them for help. Remember these seven men were not part of the family of God commissioned to do this kind of work. They went looking for a fight. The man did not come to them for help. Believers never have to fear this kind of treatment or retaliation. We have God’s protection when we engage the enemy.
I assure you that will never happen to us when we come in the name of the Lord. We have the same power and authority our Lord Jesus had, and we can wield it with the same efficacy as he did. We are children of God and have the legitimate authority to use the name of Jesus to pull down strongholds and bring peace to troubled souls. Why not get after it. We are God’s best and certainly God blessed.