“And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (19:11,12). A most amazing text! The seven sons of Sceva misinterpreted this event, thinking they could exercise power simply by articulating the words “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims” (19:13). The possessed man jumped on them and beat the mess out of them. The name “Jesus” is not a verbal magic formula, which can be used to conjure up spells or perform miracles simply by its articulation. An important cautionary word here.
The story continues: the riot in Ephesus, but many coming to faith; the plot against Paul in Greece; Eutychus falling asleep while Paul preached, falling to his death, and raised from the dead; Paul's farewell address to the Ephesian elders; and Paul finally making it back to Jerusalem and reporting in James’ house all that God had done; and then, Paul's arrest in Jerusalem.
Let the people fight against Paul and his gospel. Let the authorities throw him in jail. Let riots break out. Opposition everywhere! And yet, the gospel moves forward. An amazing story! Charles Wesley wrote about this advance of the gospel and of the Kingdom of God.
When He first the work begun,
Small and feeble was His day:
Now the word doth swiftly run;
Now it wins its widening way:
More and more it spreads and grows,
Ever mighty to prevail;
Sin’s strongholds it now o’erthrows,
Shakes the trembling gates of hell. –Charles Wesley (1749)