Acts 19:21-41 (web)

3rd Missionary Journey

Conflict with the Idolators

19:21 Now after these things had ended, Paul determined 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." 
19:22 Having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, 
Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 

19:23 About that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. 
19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith,
who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen, 
19:25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, 

"Sirs, you know that by this business we have our wealth. 
19:26 You see and hear, that not at Ephesus alone, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands. 
19:27 Not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be counted as nothing, and her majesty destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worships." 

The Usual Raving Mob

19:28 When they heard this they were filled with anger, 
and cried out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 
19:29 The whole city was filled with confusion, 
and they rushed with one accord into the theater, 
having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, 
Paul's companions in travel. 
19:30 When Paul wanted to enter in to the people, 
the disciples didn't allow him. 
19:31 Certain also of the Asiarchs, being his friends,
sent to him and begged him not to venture into the theater. 
19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another,
for the assembly was in confusion. 
Most of them didn't know why they had come together. 
19:33 They brought Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. Alexander beckoned with his hand, and would have made a defense to the people. 
19:34 But when they perceived that he was a Jew, 
all with one voice for a time of about two hours cried out, 
"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 

Saved by the Secular Civil Authority

19:35 When the town clerk had quieted the multitude, he said,
"You men of Ephesus, what man is there who doesn't know 
that the city of the Ephesians is temple-keeper of the great goddess Artemis, 
and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 
19:36 Seeing then that these things can't be denied,
you ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash. 
19:37 For you have brought these men here, 
who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 
19:38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen 
who are with him have a matter against anyone, the courts are open, 
and there are proconsuls. Let them press charges against one another. 
19:39 But if you seek anything about other matters,
it will be settled in the regular assembly. 
19:40 For indeed we are in danger of being accused concerning this day's riot, 
there being no cause. 
Concerning it, we wouldn't be able to give an account of this commotion." 
19:41 When he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly. 
 

Comments

vs 21-27 We live in a pluralistic society in which many have the false assumption that one's religious beliefs should have no bearing upon others in the society. And indeed perhaps the vast majority of Christians comply which such a philosophy. For many hear the Word, but few carry it out. But if you were to carry it out, you would inevitably experience conflict with others in the society. No man is an island. We all inevitably affect one another. This holds true also for deviant behavior. Homosexuals loudly and arrogantly demand their lifestyle be affirmed. And many such sinners demand free of expression. But what is often left out of the formula in determining the rights of individuals in this country is the fact that everyone's lifestyle has an inevitable effect on everyone else. Thus rights of freedom will inevitably conflict in a pluralistic society.  The solution the society has come up with is summarized as "don't ask don't tell". Anti-judgmentalism is the philosophy of the society and many a church. People isolate themselves both in the world and in the church and avoid as much interaction as possible so as to avoid any areas of conflict. But the Christians of the early church, also living in a relatively pluralistic society, did not isolate themselves. They did not conform to this world, or if they did they weren't behaving in a Christlike manner. They changed their own behavior, burned their magic books, destroyed their idols and as a result affected the economy. If all those who claimed to be Christians in this country would do the same there would be no drug war. The drug lords would be out of business. Pornographers would also be out of business along with many others. (Let's get rid of the yeast of Free-grace easy-believism antinominan theology which plagues the church today)

Ephesus was the Disney World of idolatory. Their economy was primarily supported through idolatry. Suddenly Paul with his gospel threatens their economy.  Those who make money off of the sinful passions of others should view the gospel as a threat to their financial security. And if they don't then Christians aren't doing their job. I'm not referring only to the preaching of the gospel. I'm referring also to the behavior of those who claim to have converted to Christianity. A continued practice of idolatry indicates a lack of conversion and a lack of genuine faith. 

Beware of the love of money. We saw early in Acts that is was the love of money that got Ananias and Sapphira killed. It led to the condemnation of Simon Magnus. And in Acts 16 and here in Acts 19 it led to the persecution of the Apostles. Paul warns Timothy of such greed saying, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."1Tim 6:9,10  And just as idolators peddled their idols for profit, so also many in the Christian community peddle the Word of God for profit. But Paul writes, "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit." 2Cor 2:17   Therefore "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Heb 13:5

vs 28-34 There is a trend revealed throughout Acts both among Jews and Gentiles alike that in their rejection of the Word they become irrational. Paul wants to reason, he wants to dialogue. But those against him are a mindless mob incapable of rational thought. Thus Romans reveals that "although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." and "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." The unbelieving Jews and Gentiles end up answering with stones and in this case by simply chanting. Try it yourself. Try to carry on a dialogue with an unbelieving skeptic concerning the Word of God and see just how irrational they become. Many such people as we see here with the Ephesians simply stopped listening.

Government

vs 35-41 We saw previously Paul was release from prision when he asserted his legal rights as a Roman citizen. And we will see that he will be saved from the raving mobs in Jerusalem once again under the protection of the Romans. Here we see again example how the propagation of the gospel benefitted from the civil authority, even from a secular non-Christian idol-worshipping authority figure. Paul writes, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Rom 13:1 Historically it's always been recognized that people are sinners and it's easy for sinners overcome by the passions of their flesh to get out of control and become a danger to others. This is why judicial systems are established in every nation in the world. Those nations whose people tend to have greater tendency to let their sinful passions get out of control, such nations need a stronger more oppressive government. Of course even so the government is composed of such people as well, which introduces another level of problems. But freedom cannot be dictated. It has to be earned through responsible behavior. It was good to have a strong government like the Roman Empire at the time to control the raving mobs who were ready to tear apart the peace loving Christians. And we are reminded of Israel's captivity because of its own rebellion against God. Though taken captive by unbelievers, they were commanded, "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."Jer 29:7 So also, whatever country in the world God has assigned us to,  let us pray in a similar manner. For "he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.  For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." Rom 13:2-4



The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015