Summary: the power of the gospel causes opposition
The Power Of And The Opposition To The Gospel
Our text records the story of a riot in Ephesus instigated against Paul and the new church there. Although Paul was not at the center of the action, it must have been an unforgettably frightening ordeal.
Most of us have never had to face that kind of severe opposition because of our faith. Hopefully, we never will, but we should not be taken by surprise if it does come. Christians in other countries have suffered terribly for their faith, and America is not exempt. We need to be ready in case it comes.
I. The Rebellion at Ephesus (vs. 21-28)
The gospel had been proclaimed in Ephesus, and its power had transformed lives, and this was threatening the business of idol-makers.
A. The concern of the business community
Up to this point, most of the persecution and opposition the church had faced had been from religious leaders, particularly the Jewish leaders. Now, opposition came from a new source-the makers of idols in Ephesus.
The gospel was effecting their pocketbooks. Paul’s message of the gospel was cutting into their profit margin (19:25). That was the bottom line!
Listen to this letter from a father to his daughter’s ex-fiancé:
I have been unable to sleep since I broke off your engagement to my daughter. Will you forgive and forget? I was much too sensitive about your Mohawk, tattoos, and pierced nose. I now realize that motorcycles aren’t that dangerous, and I really shouldn’t have reacted the way I did to the fact that you have no job. I’m sure that there are many very nice people who also live under a bridge in the park. Sure, she’s only 18, and she could go to Harvard on a full ride scholarship, but she wants to marry you! But you can’t learn everything about life just from books. I sometimes forget how backward I can be. I was wrong, I was a fool…but I have come to my senses, and you can have my full blessing to marry my daughter.
Your future father-in-law.
P.S.: Congratulations on winning this week’s lottery!”
This world revolves around the almighty dollar. What would you sell your convictions for?
The economy is so important that people today will vote for the worst kind of politicians in elections because these politician promise a better economy.
1. The trade would lose its reputation (v. 25, 27)
It would no longer be needed.
2. The temple would lose its respect (v. 26-27)
If people stopped flocking to the temple, it would disrupt their whole society. The entire economy would be affected.
People who become temples of the Holy Spirit don’t need temples of Diana. There was no demonstration against idolatry, there was just salvation, and the new forced out the old.
B. The cry of the business community
Demetrius found a number of people who were willing to join his protest by appealing to their pocketbook and their piety.
Thirdly he appeals to their patriotism. Verse 27, “So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.”
He whipped the craftsmen into an irrational rage. They began to chant, “Great is the Diana of the Ephesians.” He whips everybody into a frenzy.
1. The primary cause of their rebellion - The gospel had changed lives!
The preaching of the gospel had caused a serious decline in business.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
2. The preferred cause of their rebellion - “this Paul”
We have here the noble testimony of a heathen to the zeal and success of the ministry of Paul. It is an acknowledgment that his labours had been most strikingly successful in turning the people from idolatry.
3. The pretended cause of their problem
The worship of Diana was nothing but a pretended cause for the stirring up of the craftsman. If they would have profited by the destruction of the temple, they would have offered no protest as they did.
How often men like to disguise their evil under the guise of some good cause such as religion. Today gambling is being pushed under the guise of aiding the economy and of giving financial help to our city governments, to our schools, and to various other works.
All this talk about gambling sounds so nice and charitable, but gambling is still sticking the two-edged knife of destruction of character and destruction of financial stability. Gambling destroys souls, wrecks havoc on the financial stability of multitudes, and leaves countless homes and families destitute of daily needs. But the disguise has beguiled much of society today, just as Demetrius was successful in making it look like the craftsmen were most concerned about the honor and worship of Diana and the temple.