PAUL'S THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY -Paul Leaves Ephesus Briefly / Visits Macedonia and Achaia / Returns to Ephesus
- Acts 19:21 (KJV)
- Acts 19:22 (KJV)
- Acts 19:23 (KJV)
- Acts 19:24 (KJV)
- Acts 19:25 (KJV)
- Acts 19:26 (KJV)
- Acts 19:27 (KJV)
- Acts 19:28 (KJV)
- Acts 19:29 (KJV)
- Acts 19:30 (KJV)
- Acts 19:31 (KJV)
- Acts 19:32 (KJV)
- Acts 19:33 (KJV)
- Acts 19:34 (KJV)
- Acts 19:35 (KJV)
- Acts 19:36 (KJV)
- Acts 19:37 (KJV)
- Acts 19:38 (KJV)
- Acts 19:39 (KJV)
- Acts 19:40 (KJV)
- Acts 19:41 (KJV)
Well over two years had passed since Paul had made Ephesus his headquarters. In early 57 A.D. Paul departed from Ephesus briefly and revisited Macedonia and Achaia. Achaia is a reference to Corinth, the capital city of Achaia. This was his second visit to Corinth. During his second visit there, Paul was grieved and humbled with tears as he wept for many who had fallen back into moral impurity
and had not repented. Soon he returned to Asia (Ephesus) where he wrote an epistle to Corinth (an epistle now lost - 1 Cor. 5:9). The Corinthians wrote back to Paul, asking him many questions, especially regarding the subject of marriage (1 Cor. 7:1). Paul replied from Ephesus with the epistle we know as First Corinthians, in the Spring of 57 A.D. This was probably just before the time of the uproar over the goddess Diana (Acts 19:23-41). Paul is at Ephesus until the end of chapter 19.
During his brief departure from Ephesus into Macedonia and Achaia, Paul had a growing desire to visit Jerusalem and he determined to do so (v21). Also, he said, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” As it turned out, Paul did not reach Jerusalem until the next year, in May or June (58) during the feast of Pentecost (20:16).
The Uproar of the Silversmiths at Ephesus - Spring 57 A.D.
Meanwhile, Paul has now returned to Ephesus from Corinth and Macedonia. There was such revival going on in Ephesus that men were turning from idolatry and it was hurting the revenue of the silversmiths. When people think you are tampering with their pocketbooks, it will always stir up a hornets' nest! The uproar that is about to follow was over the issue of money. The complaint of the silversmiths was that the economy was being ruined by Paul and his Christian message.
Outraged Silversmiths Scream—“Paul Has Taken Away Our Wealth!”
The Gospel Paul preached detracted from the worship of the goddess Diana and threatened the industry of those who were largely dependent upon the cult for profit. The silversmiths of Ephesus relied on the sale of their small shrines as a source of sizable wealth. They were alarmed at the declining demand for their shrines, which the spread of Christianity was causing. When devotion to Diana and economic interests were diminished together, an impassioned anger was engendered. All of this was stirred up and fueled by Demetrius, a prominent member of the “union” of silversmiths.
Outrage of the Silversmiths Spreads to the Whole City
Infuriated by the words of their ringleader Demetrius, the “union workers” ran into the open street, invoking their goddess aloud, crying “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” Then the venom of the silversmiths infected the whole city, and a demonstration was hastily staged in the open-air theatre, which is estimated to have accommodated 25,000 people. As the populace hastened to the theatre,
they seized Gaius and Aristarchus, two of Paul's fellow-travelers, and dragged them along with them. F.F. Bruce suggests that it was probably from one or the other of these two men that Luke received his vivid impression of the proceedings in the theatre.
Paul Restrained by the Brethren and Prominent Civil Leaders
On their way, the mob seemed to have been foiled in the attempt to lynch Paul, but as soon as Paul knew what was astir, he made up his mind to go and face the unruly assembly in person. Perhaps this gesture was out of a sense of duty to protect his two companions, as well as his zeal for the truth. However, the Ephesian Christians used all their efforts to restrain him. Even the chief citizens urged him not to run such a risk. These “chief citizens” were high-ranking city officials who had a friendly feeling toward Paul; and well knowing the passions of an Ephesian mob when it was incited, sent an urgent message to him to prevent him from venturing into the scene of disorder and danger. Paul reluctantly consented to remain in privacy. The people continued to crowd violently into the theatre, filling the stone seats, tier above tier, and filling the air with their confused and fanatical cries.
In the Theatre - Utter Confusion
In the theatre there was complete disorder. The majority of the crowd had no idea why they were even there, except that there was rumor that some in the city were in opposition to Diana. The Ephesians knew well that the Jews as well as the Christians did not worship Diana. Therefore, the Jews deemed it necessary to dissociate themselves openly from Paul and the other missionaries, and they put Alexander forward, one of their number, to make it plain to the mob that the Jewish
society had nothing to do with the present trouble. When the assembly understood that Alexander was a Jew, they showed him no respect. All they cared about was the fact that he was no worshipper of Diana. Some of them may even have thought that he was the instigator of the trouble, seeing that he appeared so eager to make a speech of defense. Therefore, when he beckoned for silence and
audience, they shouted him down for the next two hours, crying “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”
The Townclerk's Intervention
There was one man who was especially alarmed by the people's riotous conduct. This was the “townclerk” or secretary of the city. He was the executive officer who published the decrees of the civic assembly. He was the most important official and acted as a liaison officer between the civic administration and the Roman provincial administration. The provincial administration would hold him responsible for the riotous assembly, and might impose a severe penalty on the city.
Therefore, he did his best to calm the assembly, and when at last he succeeded, he addressed them. The town clerk persuaded them to stay calm and not be led by excitement into some rash course of behavior which they would later regret. Furthermore, he said that the men (Gaius and Aristarchus, including Paul) had not committed any crime. “They have not done injury to or taken anything from any temple and they have not insulted anyone's religion.” Paul never lashed out against the beliefs of others. He simply delivered the truth in love. This statement is so important. Paul never got into politics and he never insulted the beliefs of others. He simply preached the truth. Therefore, we should preach a positive Gospel and be careful not to attack, revile, vilify, or denounce anyone. The town-clerk also advised that if Demetrius and his fellow union workers had any serious complaints to make, they should be done in the appropriate manner—in the court system according to the law.
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