“About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.” (Acts 19:23, NASB)
Previously in Acts
- Bogus exorcists (Acts 19:16)
- Decision to see Rome
- Two ministers dispatched to Macedonia, Timothy and Erastus
- The name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified (Acts 19:17)
- The word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing (Acts 19:20)
- Stayed in Asia for a while. (Acts 19:22)
Disturbance breaks out
It was obvious that someone wanted to stir up the business world and use the courts to cripple the disciples’ effect on the whole of Asia. In the 21st century we have seen a lot of religious posturing by governments to the point where many are beginning to think that there may be crediblity to various examples of religion-dominated societies. Take three or four Asian examples, a couple more from the Midde East, a dozen from Europe and the Americas and the case closes. There is nothing more than a muffled whimper from religious governement. God will never consent to humans (especially exclusively males) being the arbiters of what people should think. The difference between God and humanity is too stark for thoughtful people to tolerate even the smell of thieves, robbers, blasphemers and religious artifacts and rituals.
Another day in court
For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. (Acts 19:37, NASB)
As it happened
- BIG BUSINESS … a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen;
- FORMING A LOBBY. these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business.
- MAKING THE LINK BETWEEN GOD AND BUSINESS. “You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.
- LOSS OF MARKET RANKINGS. “Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”
- ANGRY MOB SLOGANISM. When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
- CITY-WIDE MOB CHAOS. The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.
- PAUL PROTECTED. And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him. Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater.
- OFFICIAL DISTURBANCE AND VACUUM. So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together.
- ANTI-JEWISH SENTIMENT. Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly.
- LOUD DEMONSTRATION. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
- DEFENDING EPHESIAN TRADITION. After quieting the crowd, the town clerk said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from heaven?
- APPEALING FOR CALM. “So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash.” (Acts 19:24-36, NASB)
Lawful process vs kangaroo court
But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly. For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today’s events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering.Acts 19:39-40, NASB
Civic society has not learned how to appreciate the difference between God’s domain and human government. We can see this in the attempts to solve problems with religous laws and practice. The histories of Judaism and Islsm have taught us nothing. Along with a full embrace of the message from the Bible people remain slow to save themselves from their crooked and adulterous generations. It is no wonder that people find church, even the African thievery, Joel Osteen delusionary, and John Hagee shallow pool type sideshow, wholly unappealing and no blip.