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Powerful Encounters

Devotions

Most people know the name of Jesus, but they may not understand fully who He is. They have important gaps in their understanding. After a year in Corinth, Paul set out again, dropping off Priscilla and Aquilla at Ephesus. There they met Apollos, who taught what he already knew about Jesus accurately enough but “knew only the baptism of John” (18:25). The couple filled in the gaps in Apollos’s information, and he went on to be a powerful defender of the gospel. Meanwhile, Paul arrived in Ephesus, where he met other former disciples of John. They also needed more information about Jesus. They had been baptized by John but not “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (19:5).

Notice that Paul followed the same pattern of ministry in Ephesus as he had in Corinth. He preached every Sabbath in the synagogue until persistent rejection drove him out. During the week, he conducted discussions in the afternoon in the lecture hall of Tyrannus after working at his tentmaking trade in the morning. During these two years of his ministry, the Lord confirmed the authenticity of Paul’s message with miracles.

The sons of Sceva were itinerant exorcists who attempted to use Jesus’ name to cast out demons. Their approach appears to have relied more on incantations and magic spells than prayer or faith. The difference is reflected in the demon’s ironic reply in 19:15: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” When others heard about their failure, they confessed their sin and showed their repentance by burning their scrolls that contained the magic spells, which were considered valuable.

>> There is power in the occult, but it is no match for Jesus’ name. The power you have in Christ does not work like a magic spell but works by taking God at His word. If you have dabbled in the occult, confess, and find forgiveness in Jesus’ name.

Pray with Us

We praise you, Lord, as a powerful Creator, the source of truth and grace, and the giver of true freedom. Give us courage and discernment to follow you wholeheartedly, with commitment and strong faith.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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