Acts 19:21-40 The Riot at Ephesus

Around A.D. 56, Paul had been at Ephesus for 2 years where he continued to further the kingdom of God by preaching the gospel and sharing the truth about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ and prophesied Savior. The success of Paul’s ministry did not go by unnoticed by the enemy, as many Jews & Gentiles ventured against him and his fellow missionaries in the cities where they preached.

After a group of itinerant Jewish exorcists were overpowered by a possessed man when they attempted to heal in the name of Jesus, believers in Ephesus were led, by fear, to give up idolatry and burn manuscripts that were contrary to the gospel.

“21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.” (Acts 19:21-22)

Paul was given a vision by the Holy Spirit of his upcoming journey throughout the region, and onto Jerusalem. To prepare his mission field, Paul sent two missionaries ahead in Timothy, a devout servant and Erastus, known as the chamberlain of Corinth.

“23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.” (Acts 19:23-27)

Paul’s stay at Ephesus had been without significant persecution thus far, but this was about to change as Demetrius took offense to Christian preaching in the city, which threatened his business and that of other silversmiths in Ephesus, an epicenter for idolatry, where the temple of Diana was counted as one of the wonders of the world. Demetrius and the other silversmiths greatly profited from making and selling miniature representations of the temple, and this trade was in jeopardy since Paul and his fellow ministers were teaching a gospel that only included one god, Yahweh, the one true God.

“28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. ” (Acts 19:28-31)

Because their livelyhood was threatened, Demetrius and his fellow silversmiths caused an uproar and went on the offensive against the Christian missionaries in Ephesus. The resulting mob grabbed Gaius, a disciple from Macedonia as well as Aristarchus who originated from Thessalonica and brought both missionaries before the crowd assembled at the theater, where the mob would attempt to charge the men with an offense. Though Paul wished to go to the missionaries’ defense, he was prevented to do so for fear the enraged crowd would injure or perhaps even kill him.

“32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.” (Acts 19:31-41)

The assembly was out of control as many had no idea why they were gathered. It was up to you the city clerk to quiet and appease the mob, then judiciously instruct the accusers to take their plea to the Ephesian courts, rather than play judge and jury on their own. Eventually, the crowd was dismissed, and the missionaries set free to continue serving the Lord and advancing the gospel of the risen Christ. Let’s pray!

Father God;
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.

Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.

God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.

May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.

We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.

Praise God,
Amen!

This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre
Email: danielstpierre@thrivethroughchrist.com

Posted in Bible Studies.

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