Acts 19:32

ESV Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.
NIV The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.
NASB So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together.
CSB Some were shouting one thing and some another, because the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.
NLT Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.
KJV Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

What does Acts 19:32 mean?

It is universally acknowledged that people tend to oppose other's freedoms when it costs them money or power. Paul has been in Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31). The city is saturated with demons and witchcraft and defined by worship to Artemis. The Holy Spirit has given Paul power over sickness and demons, and people from all over the province of Asia have come to hear how to find the kingdom of God. Many have burned their magical spells and abandoned Artemis (Acts 19:8–12, 17–20).

The craftsmen of the city watch as their financial prospects dissolve. With fewer people worshiping the Greek gods, fewer people will buy their idols and shrines. They start a campaign to reaffirm Artemis's place in Ephesian culture. What starts as a chant, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" (Acts 19:28), becomes a protest march and then a mob that fills the theater. They can't find Paul—and Paul's friends hold him back from entering the fray—so they grab two of Paul's companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and yell for two hours (Acts 19:23–31, 34).

It's worth noting that most of the people don't know what's going on. The theater is also used as a forum where people meet three times a month to work out issues that threaten the peace of the city. This is not a forum, it's a mob that has been worked into a frenzy.

This is a very applicable warning for the church. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). We cannot let our guards down when people start yelling that some force or another is threatening our rights and our identity. We need to be like the Bereans and carefully investigate what is really at stake and how instigators profit by causing disturbances and fear. The craftsmen in Ephesus know that fearmongering only leads us farther from the truth of the kingdom of God.
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