Riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-41)

November 18, 2012

Book: Acts

Riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-41)
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Scripture: Acts 19:21-41


Sermon Notes

Little bit of controversy about Paul’s decision to go to Jerusalem.
NIV says, “Paul decided” as if his own choice.

Greek (antonemati) – by his spirit (or HS)

But when Paul talks about it, he says, “I was compelled by THE Spirit.”

He knew he’d face trouble, but he wasn’t saying “don’t go” rather “I’ll go with you” (the HS)

Paul seemed to think it was God’s will to go.

Luke didn’t explain specifically his motivation, but Paul did so in his letters. He wanted to distribute a collection for the poor people.

1 Cor 1:4? – “As for the collection for God’s people…when I arrive I will give letters of intro to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.”

2 Cor 1-9
Romans 15 both speak of this event as well.

This must have been on Paul’s mind, heart, he wanted to do something about it.

He wanted to show that the Gentile churches stood with the mother church even though they didn’t hold to the same traditions and culture. This was an opportunity to show that they held to the same love, the same Spirit, as the Jewish Christian churches. This was a symbol of unity to help the Gentiles realize their unity with the mother church and for the Jewish churches to realize the Gentiles worshiped the same God.

2 Tim 4:20 – Erastus is mentioned, and here in Acts.

There came a big stir because of The Way. Demetrius, probably a leader of a regional guild, who called people together
The silversmiths of that time regarded their guild under the protection of Artemis (Diana).

There were silver shrines with an image of the goddess – these were a source of great income for the silversmiths – and people used them in the temple as a sacrifice.

Here image was believed to have been constructed in heaven and fallen to earth.

The temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – 4x as big as the Parthenon, and could hold up to 50,000 people.

Ephesus was a large port of shipping.

Now, because of Paul’s preaching, people were turning away from the Artemis cult, and the silversmiths were worried about their source of income – their economy.

“Transformation” videos show what changes happened in various parts of the world.

They showed that when people turned to the Lord, God blessed them, plants grew, etc.

God delights in the prosperity of his people – spiritually speaking, although he can bless physically as well.

Paul notes, “Gods made by human hands are no gods at all.”

Demetrius united their economic concerns with their superstitions, “We’ll lose our trade, AND the temple of the GREAT goddess will be discredited.”

The tradesmen were assembled in an open-air theater – on the east side of the city – they would have been in full view of the temple, and they began to shout, “Ar-te-mis! Ar-te-mis!”

The city began to be in confusion, because some shouted one thing, others another.

Gaius and Aristarchus were working with Paul, dragged into the middle of the mob. Paul wanted to go in and reason with them, but he was held back because they didn’t want him to be ripped to shreds. Even some leaders of the provinces encouraged him not to go in.

Paul had friends in high places.

Meanwhile, the Jews send their own rep – Alexander – to the temple to make their own case. In all appearances, it looks like he wanted to disassociate from the Christians. They both believed in one God.

When the people saw he was a Jew, they basically ignored him.

Paul was restrained and basically had to just sit around and watch – but things worked out in the favor of the gospel.

The clerk reassured them that the “great” goddess was not being threatened, and he basically condemned the men for bringing the charges against the men “You brought them here, they haven’t done anything wrong, what’s the deal?”

The people may not have liked this whole deal, but the government were not opposed. Yet even these high level people belonged to an “Emperor” cult – believing the leaders were picked by God. But this city official, the most important local official, realized the potential consequences of the riot, he implored the crowd to take their charges to the proper authorities – the courts – in a legal manner.

“As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting…” (Rome would come down with an iron fist – to put down any riot).
The chief urged the crowd to disband, and they did so.

Luke gives an account, but misses out on some details that Paul shows us in his letters. He wasn’t involved in this riot, but he did undergo a lot of suffering in Ephesus – the cost of success was high.

1 Cor – he had “fought with beasts (persecution)”

2 Cor – “under great pressure, so that we despaired of life itself”

The great apostle Paul? Despairing of life? Yes, he is still a man.

Priscila and Aquila risked their lives for Paul – undergone persecution.

Paul told the elders he’d endured “severe testing” by the Jewish elders.

He also maintained a great concern for the churches in Corinth – because they were basically a mess.

We realize again the things that Paul endured:

  1. Suffering – Paul and his helpers endured much for preaching of Jesus as the Messiah – to the Jews – Jesus, God as the Creator – to the Gentiles. By trusting in Jesus, they received pardon for their sins, the Spirit of God, and eternal life – it’s a big deal!
  2. Sacrifice – Paul speaks of the offering that was taken up by poor churches for other poor people (wealthy people need to step up).
  3. Salvation – Even though there was a great threat, they were always saved. God told the people in the OT, “Stand still and witness the salvation of the Lord.” Paul could witness this kind of salvation.
  4. Sovereignty – God is sovereign and “holds the whole world in his hands.”

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can carry this same faith and hope – what he’s done before, he will do again, how he’s worked before, he will carry through again.

Paul says, “I count all my suffering as nothing compared to the future glory I will receive.”

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

God is a sovereign God, he will bring us through, if we are for him.

If we are for God, he will be for us, if he for us, who can stand against us?
So the question is, are you for God?

Have you accepted him?

Are we TOO religious? So that we cannot communicate with others?

Let’s ask God to make us wise to salvation.

Let’s pray.