Jesus Versus Artemis

Before Paul left the city, there was a serious incident in Ephesus (290).  As Gentiles had become Christians & started worshiping the one true God, they had stopped worshiping the local false goddess, named Artemis.

Demetrius, a silversmith who made & sold silver models of the temple of Artemis, saw his business declining as a result.

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So he called a meeting of all the local artisans who had similar businesses, and he said to them, “You can all see for yourselves that this fellow Paul is ruining our business. He has convinced many people that Artemis is not a goddess at all, so there is a real danger that her temple will lose all significance.  Worse than that, it’s possible that Artemis herself will become completely discredited!”

As the crowd of artisans heard these words, they became furious & started shouting, “Hail Artemis of Ephesus!”  Before long, the uproar spread throughout the whole city of Ephesus.

A mob grabbed Gaius & Aristarchus (two Greek Christians who were friends of Paul) and rushed them to the main assembly hall. Paul wanted to tell  the mob about Jesus & appeal for the release of his friends, but the other believers wouldn’t let him take that risk. Friendly governmental authorities even sent Paul a message begging him not to show himself in the assembly. Meanwhile the mob in the assembly hall was in chaos; many people didn’t really know why they were gathered there.

The Jewish believers sent Alexander to address the mob on behalf of Gaius & Aristarchus.  But when he was recognized as a Jew, the mob shouted him down, chanting, “Hail Artemis of Ephesus!” And this general uproar continued for two hours.

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Finally, a city leader was able to calm the mob. “Fellow Ephesians!” he said. “Gaius & Aristarchus have not robbed temples or said evil things about Artemis. If Demetrius & the other artisans have any specific accusation against them, they must bring charges in court, according to our law. If there are larger policy issues to be considered, that will have to be done in a legal meeting of our citizens. But we cannot continue in this way; there really is no excuse for all this uproar.”  So the city leader dismissed the meeting.

After all the excitement died down, the Holy Spirit led Paul to call together the believers & share with them words of encouragement.  Afterwards, Paul said good-bye to them & left Ephesus for the Macedonian region of Greece.

 

(290) Acts 19:23-20:1