Acts 8:7

Inside the Texas House of Representatives. Austin Texas.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. Acts 8:7

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse referred to Philip being heeded by the multitudes when hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. That now is explained in this verse. It should be noted that there are several differences in the structure of the words in this verse in various manuscripts. However, none of them change the meaning. Rather it is mostly variations in the tense of verbs. Luke begins the words with, “For unclean spirits.”

What occurs here in the various ailments that are cured are given to confirm the ongoing work of the Lord through the disciples now. For example, the casting out of unclean spirits by Jesus is seen in the gospels, such as in Luke 4 –

“Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. 33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’
35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’ And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. 36 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, ‘What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.’ 37 And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region.” Luke 4:31-37

These unclean spirits were subject to the power of Christ Jesus, and now they are shown to be subject to the power of Christ working through the disciples, such as Philip. This continues to be seen with the next words, saying that they were “crying with a loud voice.”

These unclean spirits had found a home in the people they possessed, and they afflicted the people, controlling them or greatly influencing them. As they were cast out, the process was seen to be a noisy one. The one in Luke 4 recognized the power and authority of Christ. This is certainly what is happening now. They cry out loudly acknowledging that the power of the Holy Spirit had been endowed upon these followers of Jesus. As such, they “came out of many who were possessed.”

These visual and audible workings of the Spirit were given to confirm the work of Jesus. Acts is given as a record that they really occurred. The unclean spirits are shown to be under the control and authority of this power of the Spirit in them. It is a testament to the world that, in coming to Christ, the power of God is greater than anything that once defiled a person. Along with these unclean spirits, Luke also records physical healings by Philip, saying, “and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.”

This is also what Jesus did throughout the gospels, such as in Luke 5. In that account it says –

“When He saw their faith, He said to him, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Rise up and walk”? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’” Luke 5:20-24

In other words, the physical healing was a sign that Jesus has the power to forgive sin. By performing the healing, it confirmed that His words concerning forgiveness were true. As the disciples of Jesus proclaimed forgiveness of sins through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, the healings that were done in His name were given as signs that what they claimed concerning forgiveness was also true.

Life application: There are various views concerning the healing power of Jesus in today’s world. Some say it continues on and that disciples have the power to heal just as they did in Acts. Some say that healings have completely ceased and no longer occur. Some say that healings can occur, but they are not accomplished by any particular people like in Acts, but that the healing – if it comes – is brought about through prayer.

The third option is correct. God may choose to heal in accord with the prayers of His people. We are instructed to pray in the epistles for exactly this reason. If it were not so, and if all healings ended with the apostolic age, then we would not be given explicit instruction in the epistles to pray for such things.

It should be noted that even the apostles were not always able to heal those around them who were sick. The healings and casting out of demons were to be signs to the people concerning the work of Christ. As we now have the Bible that witnesses to these things, we no longer need such signs. The Bible is a testament to itself of God’s workings in Christ. Hence, we are to pray in hopes of healing, but we are to leave it up to God and His purposes for the healing to occur or not.

If healing comes about, who will receive the credit? God will leave it up to the faith of the person to decide, just as His word in the epistles says. We are to live by faith and not by sight. If we have sight, faith is excluded. The Bible will never contradict itself because the Bible is God’s word, and it is a reflection of who He is – unchanging, fixed, and non-contradictory in His being.

Have faith, pray for the sick, and be sure to give credit to God for the healing – even if a medicine, a doctor, or an extended stay at a hospital is involved.

Lord God, Your word asks us to pray for the sick, and so we do. But may we have faith that our words are heard, regardless of the outcome of our requests. You may have a different purpose for us than to be healed, and so may we be careful to never impute wrongdoing to You in the process, but to accept Your will as it is revealed through the person we pray for. Amen.