Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 19:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists - Τινες απο των περιερχομενων Ιουδαιων εξορκιϚων ; Certain of the Jews who went about practicing exorcisms. Vagabond has a very bad acceptation among us; but, literally, vagabundus signifies a wanderer, one that has no settled place of abode. These, like all their countrymen, in all places, went about to get their bread in what way they could; making trial of every thing by which they could have the prospect of gain. Finding that Paul cast out demons through the name of Jesus, they thought, by using the same, they might produce the same effects; and, if they could, they knew it would be to them an ample source of revenue; for demoniacs abounded in the land.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The vagabond Jews - Greek: Jews going about - περιερχομένων perierchomenōnThe 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 exorkistōnThis 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 285-90

There is still another lesson for us in the experience of those Jewish converts. When they received baptism at the hand of John they did not fully comprehend the mission of Jesus as the Sin Bearer. They were holding serious errors. But with clearer light, they gladly accepted Christ as their Redeemer, and with this step of advance came a change in their obligations. As they received a purer faith, there was a corresponding change in their life. In token of this change, and as an acknowledgment of their faith in Christ, they were rebaptized in the name of Jesus. AA 285.1

As was his custom, Paul had begun his work at Ephesus by preaching in the synagogue of the Jews. He continued to labor there for three months, “disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.” At first he met with a favorable reception; but as in other fields, he was soon violently opposed. “Divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude.” As they persisted in their rejection of the gospel, the apostle ceased to preach in the synagogue. AA 285.2

The Spirit of God had wrought with and through Paul in his labors for his countrymen. Sufficient evidence had been presented to convince all who honestly desired to know the truth. But many permitted themselves to be controlled by prejudice and unbelief, and refused to yield to the most conclusive evidence. Fearing that the faith of the believers would be endangered by continued association with these opposers of the truth, Paul separated from them and gathered the disciples into a distinct body, continuing his public instructions in the school of Tyrannus, a teacher of some note. AA 285.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 281-97

This chapter is based on Acts 19:1-20.

While Apollos was preaching at Corinth, Paul fulfilled his promise to return to Ephesus. He had made a brief visit to Jerusalem and had spent some time at Antioch, the scene of his early labors. Thence he traveled through Asia Minor, “over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia” (Acts 18:23), visiting the churches which he himself had established, and strengthening the faith of the believers. AA 281.1

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