exorcism and exorcists in the Bible

See the incident recorded in Acts 19:13-18 involving men NOT of Christ who attempted to cast out demons.

“And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” —Acts 19:15

“In that sceptical and therefore superstitious age, professional exorcists abounded. Many of these professional exorcists were disreputable Jews, like Simon in Samaria and Elymas in Cyprus (Acts 8:9; 13:6).”

Other references to exorcism as practiced by the Jews are found in Matthew 12:27; Mark 9:38; Luke 9:49-50. It would seem that it was an opinion among the Jews that miracles might be wrought by invoking the divine name. Thus also these “vagabond Jews” pretended that they could expel demons.

In the Old Testament, the only exorcist mentioned is David (1 Samuel 16:23).

In the New Testament, the miraculous power of casting out devils was conferred by Christ on his apostles (Matthew 10:8), and on the 70 (Luke 10:17-19), and was cast out by believers during a period after his ascension (Mark 16:17; Acts 16:18), but this power was never spoken of as “exorcism.”

The purpose of this deliverance of great numbers of people so afflicted was to serve as clear proof of Jesus Christ’s true identity—as the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.

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Article Version: June 28, 2024