Chapter 19:21 Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
Chapter 19:22 And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
Chapter 19:23 About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.
Chapter 19:24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen;
Chapter 19:25 these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said; “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business.
Chapter 19:26 “You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.
Chapter 19:27 Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will be dethroned from her magnificence.”
Paul was led by the Holy Spirit and decided to travel through Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem and then on to Rome. Paul feels led to visit and minister to the Christian community that was in Rome. This was mentioned in Romans 1:8-15. Timothy and Erastus’s jobs were simply to assist Paul in spreading the Gospel in whatever way the Spirit led them. As Paul was thinking of leaving Ephesus, and the spreading of the Word was going well, we see another disturbance. For the third time in this book and the second time in this chapter the Christians are referred and called the Way.
The temple of Artemis (also known as Diana) was one of the seven wonders of the world at the time. It had 127 columns 60 feet high standing in an area 425 feet long and 220 feet wide. For you history buffs, the structure was lost and was discovered in 1869, but its main altar was not unearthed until 1965. Some quotes of interest about the worship of Artemis:
“The epicenter of Artemis worship was a black meteorite that either resembled or had been fashioned into a grotesque image of a woman. The lower part was wrapped like a mummy…the idol was covered with breasts, symbolizing fertility.” (Hughes)
“The Temple of Artemis was also a major treasury and bank of the ancient world, where merchants, kings, and even cities made deposits, and where their money could be kept safe under the protection of deity.” (Longenecker)
Thanks to David Guzik at www.enduringword.com for these quotes.
Demetrius is losing considerable business due to Paul’s effective work in spreading the Gospel in all of Asia Minor, but is appealing to the workmen through their finances and through hurting the reputation of Ephesus by degrading the temple of Artemis. We will see next time what this commotion led to and how God intervened.