Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Six million dollar man

The manipulation of beings in the spiritual realm had rules. It was all about power. The gods were the most powerful beings, but there were legions of other spirits and influences, and this explains why Paul became famous indirectly when this exorcism went wrong. The demon the Jewish magicians were trying to cast out was so strong that he overcame seven grown men. When he said “I know Jesus and I know Paul,” he was saying in spirit-talk that he respected Jesus and Paul. The word in Greek suggests that he “acknowledges” Jesus. He was admitting that if Paul had been present, commanding him in the name of Jesus to leave, he would have had to go. But the group of seven magicians lacked the power to get him to do anything. That an enormously powerful demon capable of beating seven men, speaking from the spirit world, had acknowledged the authority of Jesus and of his servant, Paul, did not just impress a great mass of Ephesians; it struck fear into them. Huge numbers converted. Then another interesting thing happened.

The Ephesians brought their magic scrolls and spells and burned them in a great bonfire in the street (Acts 19:17-19). Acts suggests that the pile of material might have cost, in today’s terms, as much as six million dollars. (It was fifty thousand times the daily wage of a skilled laborer.) Even if the author is exaggerating a little, this is a huge sum of money being incinerated. Paul had made an impact! Try to imagine something similar happening in your town one day. The main street would be closed as six million dollars’ worth of porn videos, computer games, and insurance policies went up in smoke. That would make CNN. The bonfire also tells us something interesting about the things Paul was preaching.

The Ephesians were burning their magical scrolls because they no longer needed them. They were now being protected from demons and curses by the God revealed in Jesus for free. He was clearly an extremely powerful God who could shield them from any spiritual aggressors.—Paul: An Apostle’s Journey, 113

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