Last Sunday we were reminded all over again about the incredible power of our God. As we read through the beginning parts of Acts chapter 19, we saw God do some amazing things through Paul and in the city of Ephesus in general!
- We saw people being healed simply by touching Paul’s handkerchiefs & work aprons.
- We saw evil spirits being cast out in the same manner.
- We saw both Jews & Greeks throughout the province of Asia being taught the Word of the Lord through Paul’s teaching.
- And we saw many people believe in Christ, confess and repent of their sins, and choose to live whole-heartedly for Christ!
As we read in our concluding verse last week:
20 So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect. Acts 19:20
God was clearly at work in Ephesus – just like He is today – even in our town of Penhold! God is always at work, carrying out His good will through His people – people like you, me, and Paul.
And of course, Paul was willing to carry out God’s work where ever God would lead him. And at this particular time, God was preparing to move him on to Macedonia, Achaia, to Jerusalem, and eventually on to Rome.
In verse 21, we see the Holy Spirit beginning to nudge Paul in those directions. It says…
21 Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” 22 He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia.
In just a short while, Paul would leave Ephesus and as he had hoped, would indeed go on to Rome to preach the Gospel – but it probably wouldn’t be in the manner that he expected. Little did he know, he would be arriving in Rome in chains – preparing to stand trail before Ceasar!
But of course, that’s all quite a bit down the road yet. For now, he stayed a little longer in Asia – long enough to find himself in the centre of a great uproar in Ephesus!
And that’s what we’re going to look at today. So if you have your Bibles, you can turn to Acts chapter 19.
Now just before we read, keep in mind that there has been a great revival in Ephesus during Paul’s time in the city. Last week we read about how people were being dramatically transformed by God. For example: many people who had been practicing sorcery had burned all their incantation books at a public bonfire – burning up millions of dollars worth of books! So the Gospel has clearly been impacting this city in some majors ways! And we’re going to see that even more clearly today: So we pick up the story now in verse 23.
23 About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. 24 It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. 25 He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows:
“Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. 26 But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! 27 Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!”
28 At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
And we’ll stop here for now. So here we have this fellow Demetrius – a man who’s business was directly connected with idol worship. And in Ephesus, business was booming – or at least it had been! Demetrius had employed many people and grown quite wealthy by manufacturing silver shines of the Greek goddess Artemis. But as the Gospel spread throughout the whole province of Asia, the business of making idols had taken quite a hit!
And so Demetrius gathers up all the craftsmen and all the folks in similar trades, and gives a rousing speech designed to stir up the people against Paul. And he makes two main arguments against Paul – points that he knows will certainly stir up people’s emotions.