And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
— Acts 19:15
The evil spirits in the demon-possessed man in Acts 19 were very familiar with both Jesus and the apostle Paul. However, the demons did not recognize the seven sons of Sceva who were trying to exercise authority over them. We can know this from the original Greek in Acts 19:15, where the evil spirit responded to the seven exorcists: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”
The words translated “know” in those two phrases — “Jesus I know” and “Paul I know” — are two distinctly different words in the Greek text. In the phrase, “Jesus I know,” the word “know” is the Greek word ginosko. The word ginosko has a wide range of meanings, depending on the context in which it is used. The foremost meaning of ginosko was to recognize a person or a thing, to acknowledge, or to have a full comprehension about the person or thing being acknowledged. There is no question that the use of the word ginosko here means the wicked spirit that inhabited this man admitted, conceded, and affirmed that the name “Jesus” was well known to it. Like all evil spirits, this demon was familiar with Jesus — it fully comprehended and acknowledged who Jesus was — and had possessed this knowledge for a long time. So when the evil spirit said, “Jesus I know,” it was saying, in effect, “Jesus I know and fully comprehend with absolute certainty…”
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On the other hand, in the phrase, “and Paul I know,” the word “know” is translated from a completely different Greek word. It is the word epistamai, which describes a knowledge obtained by outward observation. In other words, Paul’s reputation was growing as one who had authority over demons, and it had captured the attention of the spirit world in Ephesus. Local demons were “tuning in” to observe Paul’s activities.
The word epistamai implicitly reveals that the dark spirit world in Ephesus had recently become familiar with Paul’s ministry. The apostle’s activities were a great threat to the demonic forces over that city, and they were taken aback by his spiritual power. Therefore, the evil spirits of the territory were scrutinizing this newcomer and carefully watching him move through each situation as one who possessed great authority. This word epistamai also implies that these demonic spirits were spying and conducting surveillance on this newcomer who had invaded their dark stronghold — so they could stay aware of what Paul was doing and look for ways to oppose him. The word epistamai therefore carries the idea: “…and Paul I know because I have recently become familiar with him by carefully following and observing his activities.”
But then the evil spirit asked the seven sons of Sceva an interesting question: “But who are ye?” This question should be understood in the context of the entire verse. The reader should understand the text to mean: “Jesus I know and fully comprehend with absolute certainty, and Paul I know because I have recently become familiar with him by carefully following and observing his activities. But I have no idea who you are! In fact, we know nothing about you! We don’t recognize you or your authority at all!”
One would think that demonic forces would recognize exorcists who regularly delved into occult practices; however, the evil spirit in the man didn’t recognize these exorcists at all. But oh, what a glorious thought that this spirit knew the name of Jesus and knew Paul because Paul was in Christ and was an authorized user of Jesus’ name!
You fit that description too! If you are in Christ, you are an authorized user of the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit! James 2:19 says that demons “tremble” when they hear that name. As we saw yesterday, the word “tremble” would be better translated that they are “spooked” or “terrified” when they hear the name of Jesus spoken with bold faith by an authorized user!
If you are a Christian indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit, you have all power in Heaven and earth given unto you (see Matthew 28:18). You are authorized to speak on behalf of Jesus and to take authority over any evil presence that comes your way. And it must obey!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I am thrilled and grateful to learn of the authority that I have in the name of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that I am a real, born-again child of God — and that You have authorized me to use Your power and Your name at any moment that it is required. I need never be afraid of the devil because demons recognize that the power of God inside me is greater than all of them put together. Thank You for encouraging me to be bold when I sense the devil is trying to manifest his presence or wage an attack!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that the Son of God lives inside me — and I am in Him — and when I am required to speak to an evil presence and command it to go, that evil spirit recognizes Jesus’ voice speaking through me. I am not afraid. I do not give way to fear. I do not listen to communication that would incite anxiety or fear. I receive from strong, Word-based teaching resources, like this one today, in order to build my faith and prepare me to take action when it is needed!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever thought about how sad it is that people involved in the occult are playing with powers that will ultimately work against them? Do you know someone personally who is operating under this kind of self-deceived influence?
- Demons know the name of Jesus — and if you are in Jesus, they know your name too. So let me ask you — have you ever had an experience where a demon spirit recognized you and obeyed your authority? Or have you heard of someone else who had that type of experience? Where was it, and what happened?
- How would you recognize a demonic presence in your immediate surroundings?