Summary: Paul’s Teaching turns Ephesus Upside Down
a. I recently read an article by a man who compared a baby monitor to the Holy Spirit. You see, one day while trying out the new baby monitor in his infant’s room, he whispered into it “Can you hear me?”
b. His house was like most others with a mother and a newborn, in that the baby monitor was turned up so much that you could literally hear a pin drop in the baby’s room.
c. So, when he whispered “Can you hear me?” Into the monitor, his teenage son was scared out of his wits and dove behind the couch, not knowing where the voice was coming from. He thought that this was a great thing, and told his teenager to clean up his room. But then, his teenager decided to turn the receiver off.
d. The idea is that we are the receivers to the Holy Spirit. He is constantly directing us. Sometimes, the volume is turned way up, and the slightest whisper is amplified into a booming voice.
e. Other times, the volume is lower, and it takes a time of prayer and devotion to listen to Him. And if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes, we turn the receiver off.
f. If we all had our receivers turned on, then maybe the world would be a better place to live. It would be pleasant to drive on the freeways, divorce lawyers would have to find other jobs, and we would no longer have a jail overcrowding issue.
g. The Apostle Paul was a man that was being constantly guided by the Holy Spirit. We have seen this as we have seen him on his journeys throughout the book of Acts, and we will look at him being guided by the Holy Spirit again today, as we continue our weekly study through the Book of Acts.
a. Last week we were looking at the Apostle Paul as he was ministering in the city of Ephesus. This period of Paul’s ministry was one that was marked by God’s power. It was really the high point of Paul’s ministry in terms of fruit. The seven churches of Asia we see in Revelation were all birthed out of this church at Ephesus.
b. The miracles that had taken place in the two short years that Paul was in Ephesus were nothing less than extraordinary. People were healed and set free from demon possession by simply them touching the sweatbands and aprons that Paul wore as he made tents during the day.
c. We aren’t told that Paul endorsed this, and I would even suspect that Paul didn’t know this was going on. The people of Ephesus were into objects, and they believed that power resided in certain objects, and God’s grace extended out to the people of Ephesus through these objects.
d. Now, remember that Ephesus was the religious center of the Roman Empire. There were three temples there for the worship of Caesar. But, these three temples weren’t the focus of the people of Ephesus.
e. No, the focus of the people of Ephesus centered on the temple of Artemis, or as the Romans called her, Diana. Diana was the Roman goddess of hunting and fertility. The temple of Diana in Ephesus was a huge structure.
f. It had been torn down and rebuilt several time down through the years, due to various wars and natural disasters that struck Ephesus. The main temple area had 127 pillars, each sixty feet high, and was adorned with great sculptures.
g. One of the great finds of modern archaeology was the unearthing of this temple in 1869. The main altar area was discovered in 1965. This temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
h. 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)
i. So, this is the setting of our story as it unfolds today, and I hope that this kind of gives us a background, and a little more insight into the events as they unfold, as we close out chapter 19 in our continuous study through the book of Acts. We pick up in Acts chapter 19, starting at verse 21. Acts is just before Romans and right after John in the New Testament.
i. 21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed 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." 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time. 23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: "Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship." 28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" 35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering." 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.