མཛད་པ། Acts 19:28-41

Acts 19.28-41 w B

When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. (Acts 19:28-41)

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The silversmiths succeeded in stirring up a great commotion, but two things protected from harm both Paul’s companions and Paul himself:

1. On the one hand, most people in the mob did not know the cause of all the noise.

2. On the other hand, the city of Ephesus had well-established procedures for keeping law and order such as modern civilized countries possess. Some high-ranking friends of Paul gave him wise advice at the beginning to keep out of sight. Then the town clerk, having learned eventually that the cause of the riot was not really religion at all, declared that if there were any actual individual complaints, then the law courts presided over by Roman officials were the right place for settling them.

མཛད་པ། Acts 19:21-27

Acts 19.21-27 w B

Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” (Acts 19:21-27)

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Once again as in Philippi (Chapter 26 verses 16-24) there was a threat to wealthy business. It was not the worshippers of idol gods who felt threatened, but silversmiths and other tradespeople who feared a fall in their profits. This was because so many people were repenting of idol-worship and following the Way of Jesus.

With great success Demetrius stirred up the craftsmen. Read on to find out what happened next.

མཛད་པ། Acts 19:11-20

Acts 19.11-20 w B

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:11-20)

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These Jews were not servants of the Lord Jesus, as the evil spirit knew. But they wanted to have the power of the ‘name of Jesus’, using it just like a mantra. That was their first mistake.

There are witchdoctors in Nepal who take care to find out the power of the spirit in a devil-possessed man, which might otherwise tear or kill them. These Jewish sorcerers commanded the demon to leave without first enquiring whether it were stronger than their own spirit. That was their second mistake. Nepalese soldiers have told me that it takes the strength of ten men to hold down one demonised man.

News of the incident led to many believers in Jesus confessing their own secret use of magic and mantras. So they repented wholeheartedly. And consequently the good news spread greatly.

Don’t play with spiritism. Let Jesus cleanse you, and have joy and His strength.