A Jew at Ephesus, a leader among the priests, perhaps the head of one of the twenty-four courses. His seven sons pretended to practice exorcism, and presumed to call on evil spirits to come out from persons possessed, in the name of Jesus. Their ignominious discomfiture by a man possessed by and evil spirit, promoted the cause of the gospel at Ephesus, Ac 19:14-16.
an implement, a Jew, chief of the priests at Ephesus (Ac 19:13-16); i.e., the head of one of the twenty-four courses of the house of Levi. He had seven sons, who "took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus," in imitation of Paul. They tried their method of exorcism on a fierce demoniac, and failed. His answer to them was to this effect (Ac 19:15): "The Jesus whom you invoke is One whose authority I acknowledge; and the Paul whom you name I recognize to be a servant or messenger of God; but what sort of men are ye who have been empowered to act as you do by neither?" (Lindsay on the Acts of the Apostles.)
A "chief priest", i.e. once having been high priest, or else chief of the priests at Ephesus, or of one of the 24 courses. His seven sons, Jews, exorcised demons in Jesus' name, whereupon the demon-possessed leaped on two of them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded: (Ac 19:14-16; the Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus manuscripts read "prevailed against both".)
At Ephesus, where St. Paul worked 'special powers' (Ac 19:11 ff.), certain itinerant Jews (RV 'strolling' perhaps conveys too much the idea of 'vagabond') endeavoured to exorcise evil spirits by naming over them the name of Jesus. Among them were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish 'chief priest' (probably one of the high-priestly family). In Ac 19:16 the demoniac overcomes 'both of them' (RV). Sceva himself is not said to have been present. The incident led to many conversions, and several brought and destroyed their books of magic.
There is a difficulty in the text. Seven sons are mentioned in Ac 19:14, and these are reduced to two in Ac 19:16. Perhaps St. Luke is here abbreviating a written source which detailed the incident more fully, and explained that two out of the seven sons tried to exorcise this particular demon. Inferior MSS (followed by AV) substitute 'them' for 'both of them,' and the Bezan Codex (Deuteronomist) omits the word 'seven' altogether, calls Sceva merely 'a priest,' and adds other phrases which are expansions of our text. But these seem to be but explanations of a difficult original text; and the RV is probably correct. The word 'seven' could never have been inserted if it were not St. Luke's.
Prof. Ramsay thinks that the whole passage is unworthy of Luke (St. Paul the Traveller, p. 272f.). But it is unsafe to judge first-century thought by that of our own day. The Apostolic age firmly believed in possession by evil spirits; and there is really nothing in this chapter unlike what we read elsewhere in NT.
A. J. Maclean.
A Jew at Ephesus, a chief of the priests, whose seven sons sought by the name of Jesus to cast out a demon. The demon acknowledged that he knew Jesus and Paul, but demanded "Who are ye?" and then by means of the possessed man attacked them, so that they fled away naked and wounded. Ac 19:14-16. Here Satan showed his power as the 'strong man.' The One stronger than he would not let His power be used by these men.
a Jew residing at Ephesus at the time of St. Paul's second visit to that town.