Acts 19:40

ESV 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.”
NIV As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.'
NASB For indeed, we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today’s events, since there is no real reason for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering.'
CSB In fact, we run a risk of being charged with rioting for what happened today, since there is no justification that we can give as a reason for this disturbance."
NLT I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.'
KJV For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.

What does Acts 19:40 mean?

The city clerk of Ephesus is very good at his job. He is aware that Demetrius the silversmith has, possibly unintentionally, created a mob that could turn violent in a moment. He knows that Demetrius' goal is to restore the passion the Ephesians have for Artemis. And he knows Demetrius is doing this because Paul has been converting so many people to an invisible God that Demetrius and the other craftsmen are afraid their shops filled with idols and shrines will go out of business (Acts 19:23–27).

The clerk lets the crowd rally in the great theater for a good two hours before he steps in (Acts 19:34). He then reminds the mob of what they already know:
  • The great temple of Artemis—now one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—is well established in Ephesus and nothing is going to threaten the Ephesians' devotion to the goddess. Their worry is baseless (Acts 19:35–36).
  • The men before them, two of Paul's companions, have neither blasphemed against Artemis nor shown sacrilege against her temple. They have not committed a crime (Acts 19:37).
  • While the theater is, indeed, the assembly place where people meet to discuss insults against the city and its deities, the forum only happens three times a month, and this is not that time. In addition, there is no insult (Acts 19:39).
  • If Demetrius and the other craftsmen have a legal complaint against Paul, they should bring him before the proconsuls at the courts—not cause this great disturbance that has the city in an uproar (Acts 19:38).
  • The Roman Empire did not have the right of freedom of assembly. Every meeting had to be licensed and overseen by a magistrate. That makes this group a riot: an unlawful assembly that causes factions in society that may lead to sedition.
  • The Roman government doesn't like riots.
Because of the city clerk's cool head, the mob disperses, and Paul and his companions are able to leave peacefully (Acts 19:41—20:1).
What is the Gospel?
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