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The Riot in Ephesus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 16, 2020 8:00 am

The Riot in Ephesus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 16, 2020 8:00 am

Judging by the movies we watch, were drawn to big cities. More than a thousand movies have been filmed in New York alone. In Pauls day, Ephesus was a big city, with a third of a million people. And it drew himnot only to visit but to linger. It was one of the cities where he honed his strategy for reaching people with the gospel.

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Very few people have literally caused a riot. But the apostle Paul did just that as he preached and lectured in Ephesus, the locals who made their living making idols of the goddess Artemis didn't like what they were hearing about a different kind of God. Keep listening as Dr. James Boyce tells what happened when Paul faced as shouting, furious mob, welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Religion and money were bound up together in Ephesus, where worshiping idols was not only big religion but also big business. What happens when Paul comes to town and threatens them both.

Let's look at acts 19, together with Dr. Boyce at the end of our last study of the first half lacks 19. I summed up by showing a remarkable success of Paul's preaching had an emphasis stayed there for a considerable period of time. As we saw for two years he taught regularly every day as the text indicates and is the margin of the Western text indicates perhaps from 11 in the morning till four in the afternoon a great deal of teaching it was teaching by an apostle and God certainly blessed because many became Christians in his were told in that passage, the word of God spread from there throughout all the Roman province of Asia all yes. But we also saw that it was bought without opposition. Second half of this chapter and the verses were going to look at.

We see how very great and strong movement of opposition developed there in this city because what was taking place what was being accomplished by the preaching of the gospel was very disruptive as the preaching of the gospel always is. Now this is a marvelous section.

William Ramsey, whom I referred to on other occasions, because it was very perceptive study of the time and conditions in which the apostle Paul operated said of this section of the chapter that it is the most instructive picture of the society of the ancient world that has come down to us is particularly striking in Ramsey's work, because in his study of the first half of the chapter is not at all impressed just doesn't understand some of those things and he says so as I just frankly don't understand what this is about doesn't seem to be at the same level of Luke's other historical writing when he comes in the second half. He says this is most instructive because we see the attitudes and the concerns of the people of an ancient city in a dramatic way some people been so impressed with this that they said well Luke must've been there must've been an eyewitness of these things actually. Luke probably wasn't. We saw earlier that indicates his presence in the narrative by using the word wheat whenever he is present so he'll say for example we traveled here and we did that and then when he is not present.

He says here that and this is one of those sections where speaking in the third person not in the first person is here that matter-of-fact in the next chapter comes into it again so probably he wasn't there yet.

He must've had some kind of first-hand information, because this is certainly a dramatic picture of what life was in the ancient world. The kind of society in the which these early preachers, Paul and the others went with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ our emergence here. Aside from the incidental details are of such interest to historians is a great idolatry all the time.

The intensity with which the ancients worshiped idols. We just hardly have a sense of that today we know that that was true. We go to museums, and we see the sculpture there represents the ancient gods of the Roman and Greek worlds, but we just don't have any real personal or emotional understanding for how intense or how pervasive this worship of idols was everywhere he went.

In the Roman world were temples and shrines, even in the home's little gods and goddesses just everywhere and was a big, big business, and in a city like Ephesus. It was an extremely big business in the saw last time we were talking about emphasis that it was the center of the cult of Artemis or Diana as the Romans called her Roman Lord Diana was the goddess of the hunt symbolize virginity, but here in this ancient Eastern Metropolis articles, which is what she was called there actually symbolized fertility little idols that represent art of medicine which have been found today not the silver ones.

Of course they were too valuable, but ones made on terra-cotta other materials show rather grotesque multi-breasted female figure because that symbolize the fertility and naturally here, as in the other Greek and Roman temples a great deal of the work that went on was public prostitution here was a great business and a great center for this idol worship of Artemis that had such a hold on the people of the day.

This was the condition of the world at the time of the advent of Jesus Christ and yet remarkably within 300 years, that is, as Christianity went forward this great idolatry of the ancient world virtually disappeared.

I thought the same thing of course is saying that the world became Christian and a truer spiritual sense, of course, it did not. The idols were abolished. This just ended and the sole reason for no other reasons as was Nonna. In which philosophy, advanced medicine, advanced or any of the things that we look to as evidences of our great civilization today. None of those things were happening. The sole factor.

The change this in the ancient world was the advance of Christianity which of course is what we should expect because the Bible itself says the entrance of byword you both light where Christians went forward with the message of the gospel and with the Scriptures light of God shining from those pages just burst into the darkness. Even though people were not in every case, perhaps not even in the majority of cases really regenerated or born-again light of the gospel penetrated so forcefully that many of these dark practices simply disappeared. What happened here in emphasis in this riot described in acts 19 verses 23 and following is obviously a proof of Paul's success. Paul had come to the city had simply made tiny little beginning of the few people meeting perhaps somewhere in the home. None of this would've happened because it would've had no impact upon society of emphasis all the fact that there was a riot. All these people got stirred up in defense of Artemis rate Artemis the Ephesians that itself is proof of how successful Paul in the early preaching of the gospel had been there had been a reform in the Christian community. First of all, that is, not only of the gospel scraps of the many had become Christians but the Christians had gotten serious about being Christians, maybe that is where we got a start.

When we begin to think in terms of social reform today at Reformation that is with the transformation of Christian seer were Christians that had come so much under the power of the spirit of God through the preaching of the word that they were convicted of sin confessed it and then actually brought out and destroyed those things which were antithetical to Christianity.

Very superstitious city. They had these magic scrolls were incantations in such things were written they were very valuable and figure given there is 50,000 drachmas. I pointed out last time that it's hard to put a dollar figure on that if we do, it comes out to be something like $5 million, which seems unbelievably high. It probably is, but nevertheless it was a lot of money, which is why Luke records. It there were people who, as we would say actually laid their religion on the line in this case they laid it in the fire and allow these things to be destroyed because they were serious about following hard after Jesus Christ, then what followed you say after the Christians got serious was an impact in the society so strong that this riot was the inevitable reaction on the part of those who resented the impact on life as they knew it how it was an impact on the business is where people hurt were told their pocketbooks and that's what happened when the Christian got serious. Other people got serious to the word of God spread widely and grew in power.

Verse 20 and many people Christian, certainly, and perhaps other people as well simply lost interest in the pagan temple. Now, Ephesus was what we would call the guilt gilded silversmiths and this man Demetrius was obviously a leader in the guilt or guilds in the Middle Ages were organizations of artist's and would be guilds of leather workers would make shoes guilds of people who work with cloth would make close people who work with wood by metals and so forth. That's what we have here only were told by those who study this in the ancient world is guilds are far more important than merely what we would call a trade union. This group obviously had the power of the union was more than the seas were social things as well. I think when I read about them.

But probably the closest example of anything like that we have today are the members in Philadelphia where you have those who get together not only for a common purpose would do so for social reasons I have I'm told almost as much fun throughout the year as they do on New Year's Day when they paraded abroad strict well this is the sort of thing.

Once this was a group that had great camaraderie and certainly not a great concern in their own well-being, which is largely financial here was this great movement of Christianity because people lose interest in the temple and therefore naturally lose interest in buying the kind of things that were sold at the temple and were often used in worship. Sometimes when they would buy these little cult objects. These little statues of Artemis or the temple were told that they take them up to the temple and they would offer them there as part of their worship might be one reason why the silver objects having been filed because the priest obviously would take them and melt them down was hard currency for them.

Sometimes they take them home as souvenirs. Just as today when you visit a foreign country, you might my little silver spoon has on it little emblem representing country that you visited. Well, they would lighting things and take them home.

Suddenly Demetrius the others in the trade guild notice that their profits were something wide.

Last year I had made so much money they were down 18% this year and it looked like the way things were going, may be got even more than that next year so being interested in their own well-being. They started as riots to see if they couldn't get the apostle Paul leaves Demetrius was very clever way went about it. I'm sure you recognize that as you read the passage he talked to the silversmiths about the money because that's what concerned. But when he began to talk to the population at large. Not all of whom are silversmiths and all of whom naturally would be harmed by the decline in the silversmiths business. He talked so much about financial matters is about what we would call sick product. Everybody knows how important emphasis is because of this great temple of Artemis.

Here are these people who have come to diminish her glory and take away from her Majesty so that means he began to stir things up is worth pointing out. I think that the same thing was happening and would continue to happen throughout the Roman Empire and was happening to give one example that is come down to us in the province of Bithynia. 70 years later that time there was a Roman governor Bithynia's name was Pliny Emperor at the time was Trajan.

Pliny wrote a number letters to Trajan to ask him in correspondence how he was to handle particular problems that came up in his province number. These letters deal with the Christians when he said as far as he could tell he had examined a number of them. They didn't do anything wrong. They certainly weren't subversive of the Empire. They were not immoral.

I didn't have any secret plots to overthrow Caesar except he said they do have some queer ideas about religion and he said I just don't know how to handle it.

It's created a problem for me, said Pliny. In this respect because of the impact of Christianity. People of stop going to the shrine's value might say, well, why would Pliny care about that. For this reason, it became a great social problem.

See the temples and the shrines were big business priests were employed courtesans were employed and when people stopped going.

Suddenly you have all these people's main block of the population of an ancient town that suddenly were not receiving the means whereby they could support themselves and so you had a social problem. The priests and the harlots were unemployed and Pliny really did know what to do about this. Should he drive out the Christians in order the people would start coming back to the temple start getting money and take a social problem & moreover, as he talks about it.

Butchers seem to have been having problems because the word got around that what the butchers sold was means that had first of all, been offered to the idols. And of course I was stroke sacrifices were offered to the idols. You didn't just throw the meat away sold later in the stalls in the market and the Christians who were becoming careful about that sort of thing. At this time weren't buying it.

I guess they were beginning to eat fish which wasn't sacrificed. Or perhaps they were becoming vegetarians. Pliny said one of my to do about this is hurting the economy say that's exactly what was happening here in Ephesus. As a result of Paul's business. What I want to say I am going to talk about a little more as we go on is that if Christianity is not affecting the economy of our world. We don't have much Christianity I know we don't like that because we tend to think that our economy is the product of our Christianity.

We tend to think of the Western world, at least as being Christian men capitalistic. All of that, all at same time. And yet, but I want to point out is that when Christians live as Christians will have an impact on the economy of a world in which they live and inevitably it will produce hostility as it did here.

Now let me say something about the defense of Artemis because I is what was involved. Demetrius was the first one to do it.

You have his speech in the first paragraph is verses 23 to 27 and then beginning in verse 35 city clerk and clerk is much the same thing. This time he was quieting down the uproar, but as he spoke he gave many of the same arguments in slightly different language, but many of the same arguments that Demetrius had given Holliday to Fenton's Artemis. This goddess was worshiped so intently there in Ephesus. While there were two ways they did. First of all, they made an appeal to numbers. Say what Demetrius said find it there in verse 27 he said look, Artemis is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world other words, his first offense was to say everyone is doing it and that's exactly the same thing, city clerk says later in Ephesus, verse 35 doesn't all the world no that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image which fell from heaven.

That's the first argument, and there's a second, except it isn't really an argument.

It's just a means of defense, it is a defense by sheer emotion. This is what the crowd crowd stirred up by Demetrius and the others stormed into the amphitheater place understand it seated about 25,000 people and for the space of two hours.

That is almost as if they were in a football around baseball game shouted out with one voice again and again great Artemis of the Ephesians grade Artemis of the Ephesians gray Artemis of the Ephesians and make up for two hours. That was an emotional moment was only the end of that.

I suppose as their energies were beginning to be drained away slightly, city clerk very wise man would probably waited for that moment, stood forward and called them down and then dismissed the assembly reason I point out those two means of defense because I want to say that that is the way wrong doing or errors defended in our day to we all know the appeal to numbers.

It's the classic defense of our time. They argument by statistics if you can prove that enough people believe something well and obviously it must be true. I'm always astounded by this on television, especially in the newscasts. For example, used to be that on the newscasts, especially the newscasts by the networks at what you got was notes that as things were happening. They reported what was happening and you think the television would specialize in that because at least one thing television can do is go there and take a picture of it and show you show it on the site is what's happening up may be distorted may be selective and all that but at least it's hard news and I'm sure you've noticed on television.

How much lately. The opinion polls have been reported as if they were hard news. My response right here that is always worse. I mean, the point is not how many people think a government figure is lighting but rather is he lying that's the issue, but what do you think people who think as they think only think as they think because of what they see on television anyway. I don't know the people they have investigated the details. It's an opinion full of sound and fury signifying nothing. You say we are so caught up in this idea statistics that we think that numbers alone carry the day.

Now let me put it in terms that you understand the way that it's harmful you go away from high school to college and get on the campuses and want to live as a Christian and what you're told is this nobody thinks that way anymore.

Of course it isn't true because you think that way and unless you are nobody which you are not thing that doesn't apply to you got to be able to cite well I don't know about everybody else. But there is at least one who thinks that way, but the answer is nobody thinks that way anymore.

Or if you press the point most people don't think that way anymore.

Only a small little core of bigoted narrow uninstructed fundamentalists think that way anymore. All the rest of us, especially those of us were here on the college campus or enlightens you want to get ahead. Well then you better band that particular way of thinking and come along with the crowd. Now that is exactly the arguments that was given here in Ephesus horses RMS. The point I'm making is the fact that everybody worships Artemis didn't make worship of Artemis rights just because you're told on the campus.

Nobody believes that anymore, or the reverse side of that everybody's doing it doesn't mean you want to do it or how the argument goes, I know you want to have standards but after all, you have to recognize that everything is relative. No such thing as truth today just your truth. Your truth by truth. She has her truth.

Everybody has their true so don't appeal to any standards. That means rhino standards do as you please. Or there is the argument we know today. Science has proved it to us. Everybody knows that the men and women. After all, just slightly advanced animals. That's the argument of evolution as they were nothing more than the animals we don't have souls just like them. So what they do, we do what we do. They do and it's all all right were all evolving upward anyway or business argument right now is all there is only about tomorrow, but all don't think about a life to come. Nobody knows anything about a life to come. Haven't you heard that nobody has any evidence whatsoever about alike as if the Lord Jesus Christ and rise from the dead, and there were many Christians around the maintain that that's the argument. Nothing like up all there is is right now don't be a fool and live for some far-off day some pie-in-the-sky buy-in box live right now. Enjoy yourself.

Now get them started life right now and forget about a day of reckoning. Everybody thinks that way.

Or how about this one.

If it feels right, it can't be wrong.

After all, it feels good.

Everybody recognizes it feels good. So do it. Iran feels good to Be wrong course can be wrong.

Many things that are defended in that way are on and numbers alone don't make the right is the other argument… Defense of Artemis by emotion. Sadie couldn't carry the day by argument, at least you get all the people together and you could start them up and you can say again and again for the space of two hours rage Artemis of the Ephesians but we have the kind of argument in defense of the world and its ways.

In our day.

Of course we do. That is what modern advertising is all about you are not given reasons is very difficult I know but if you can watch television and still think at the same time you're watching it and begin to ask questions about the ads sinning his skirt start. I think a little example for the past I remember it because my physics professor in high school taught me about when they used to sell ivory soap they used to sell it this way 99 and 44, 100% pure floats. You know that Max admitted floats because it's 99 and 44, 100% pure. None of the other soaps are pure because they don't float folks but ivory guys and of course it is what it said medicine true ivory so didn't floats because was pure floated because it was filled with air bubbles so it was lighter than the water it displays. That's why it floated it look big but you got less so when they said 99 and 44, 100% pure floats was a period between in the first part had nothing to do with the second part. How many of the commercials are that way today, except that they carry emotive content as well. Sex a bubble used the cell as if that isn't enough, so prestige stature. The fact that people look well and simply do certain things are only certain things without thinking. You see what they're really saying to us is this gray is Artemis of the Ephesians. You must worship rate is the American economy. Ray is the way of materialism must bow down that shrine you know it takes a lot of courage and thinking as well to stand up against that when as may actually be the case.

The majority of the people are going the other way takes a great deal of courage and thoughts, and strength.

You know the final analysis is only the people who stand up against it that ever make a difference world is in change by the majority world was changed by the minority who have well we say of heard a different drummer and as Christians we would say, or listening to a different spirit and so determined to go in that way. Well, there's the outcome. What was the outcome here in the context of this riot first outcome is that the Christians were vindicated.

Paul is not attacked and he eventually was able without any trouble. It would seem to leave Ephesus.

I guess that's important, though, seems to me probably to be somewhat incidental wasn't incidental to look.

I think Luke has recorded in some detail that Corinth when Dalia was in charge. She wouldn't listen to the accusations brought against Paul here in Ephesus and the story of this riot records at some length.

Significantly, perhaps we would say out of proportion to the importance of the event. The fact that Paul and the Christians were vindicated those who were in charge said. These people have done nothing wrong. I said I think that was important to look for this reason, you go to the very end of the book of acts you find there the apostle Paul is not dead.

You might expect that that would be the way the book would end, but rather you find it in prison in Rome, undoubtedly awaiting trial may be one of the purposes and cat as he wrote this book was to write an apologetic for his friend so any records here very carefully though subtly, somewhat, as we would say by use of legal precedent examples that showed in the world leading up to the event of Paul's arrest and incarceration at Rome different officials in the Roman Empire had declared that Christianity was no threat, probably Luke is recorded in the link for that reason, yet I say in a long flow of history is undoubtedly incidental because, as you well know, the apostle Paul was acquitted on this occasion he did. Nevertheless lose his life for the sake of his testimony to Jesus Christ. Even though the Christians on this occasion were vindicated.

There have been many other times in history when they have been oppressed and even killed.

That's the short end of the story of the long end of the story is this. Christians have died for their profession.

They been willing to do it precisely for this reason that they look beyond this life to the light, that is, they consider what's going to happen to them and that life is far more important than anything that happens to them. Here so they're willing to suffer here for the glory there that's Christians motivation because they did that juicy Christianity, triumphant, and this well it's not an exaggeration to say I would challenge anybody to prove the saying wrong. There is not an individual soul in the world today that worships Artemis and yet everywhere. There are thousands upon thousands who worship God. I asked the final question is this one of brought about this great change see the world's means or to say everybody's doing it and play upon emotions. That's how they tried to defend the false religion. What did the Christians use the Christians did not appeal the numbers I did not circulate a petition to see if they couldn't get 51% of the population of Ephesus to sign it, saying Artemis is no goddess in the God of the Old Testament is the true God.

They didn't do that Christians did not have a mass rally and get everybody there into the amphitheater to do their thing. Just the way Demetrius and his crew had gotten people there to do their thing. They didn't sing emotional songs. He didn't try to carry the day by some gray attack upon the emotional thinking of the population really did exactly what Jesus Christ did send them out into the world. They preach the gospel so the men and women got converted and then once they were converted. They topped them all the things of Jesus Christ to talk them as they taught them a full orbit gospel which included within it. The doctrine of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

They obeyed Jesus Christ and turned from wickedness, all of which we have seen here in the story and then undoubtedly also in obedience to Jesus Christ. They prayed make an impact in the world I want to turn this economy upside down one a re-channel human efforts is a worthy thing to do is not done by an appeal to numbers is not done by emotional experience alone, though sometimes that follows by teaching the word and spreading it, testifying to it and then obeying its following after Jesus Christ, praying the same God sent Jesus Christ will through the power of his Holy Spirit, open blind eyes. That's what changes things doesn't always take numbers small group conduits and the power of God.

We needed today with spray father. We look at the world around us and we see that often we are popular and that frightens us, because all it tells us is that we are much like the world.

Father hopeless so he gospel and so obey the teachings of Jesus Christ that we live differently and living differently.

By that very fact become a challenge to this whole world thoughts on the economy in which we live blesses to that in response the sake of our own personal happiness or well-being here for the sake of those who are perishing without the gospel that they might find it by the work of your Holy Spirit, be brought in the kingdom of your son kingdom of lights. Jesus, you are listening to the Bible study hour with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103, you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Ruse Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C2Y9 asking a free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian your continued support and for listening to the Bible study you

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