We’re studying a story in the Bible where the Christian movement began to threaten the bottom line for some silversmiths, who made a lucrative business making idols, objects of worship.
One of them, Demetrius, incited a riot that got out of control, filling a theatre with people yelling how great their city’s goddess was, and not listening. Here’s what happened next:
 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?  Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash.  For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.  If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.  But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly.  For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.”  And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.
A local official stepped in, and did some smart things. He agreed with them. He wasn’t here to promote Christianity, but he was here to promote peace and public order. So he pumps them up – our town’s god really is great, and I believe all the things you believe.
And so, he says, they should all just be quiet about it. If their local goddess is so great, they don’t need to prove it with shouting and violence.
And as a local authority he wants to point out that Paul and his companions haven’t broken any Roman law, they haven’t even spoken directly against the Ephesians’ local goddess Artemis. From the perspective of a pagan worshipper of many gods like this town clerk, Paul and his companions are simply promoting yet another god, and there’s room for lots of gods in his worldview. A few more gods shouldn’t hurt the bottom line for these silversmiths, especially since they are in Ephesus, the city with the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Of course Paul is promoting that there is one God, and the others are not worth worshipping, but that’s not how the clerk sees it.
If they keep rioting, instead of using the Roman and Roman-sanctioned courts, they’ll be charged with rioting without a cause.
So Paul’s been rescued from a riotous mob yet again!
We’ll explore the consequences for people like us tomorrow.
Question: Why was this course of action effective? Would it have been effective if this was really a religious dispute, and not financially motivated?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]
Two Dates to Remember:
- Our Outdoor Movie Night Returns – September 19th at 7:30pm in Ajax – More Info