Acts chapter 19

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28When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began shouting, saying, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!' 29The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s Macedonian traveling companions. 30And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him. 31Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent word to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater. 32So 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. 33Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly. 34But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!' 35After quieting the crowd, the town clerk *said, 'Men of Ephesus, what person is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from the sky? 36So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash. 37For you have brought these men here who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; have them bring charges against one another. 39But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly. 40For 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.' 41After saying this he dismissed the assembly.
Christian Standard Bible

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King James Version

21After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. 23And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 29And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 30And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. 32Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 40For 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. 41And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

What does Acts chapter 19 mean?

Acts 19 is the story of Paul's three-year stay in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. Paul had visited Ephesus for a very short time at the end of his second missionary journey. He entered the synagogue, as usual, and explained how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah as given in the Jewish Scriptures. The synagogue members wanted him to stay longer and explain more fully, but he wanted to get to Jerusalem, possibly for the Passover. He told them he would return if he could. He sailed from Ephesus to Caesarea Maritima on the coast of Judea, then visited the church in Jerusalem before heading north. After an extended stay in Syrian Antioch, Paul—and presumably unnamed companions—traveled northwest again, into the provinces of Galatia and Phrygia in central modern-day Turkey (Acts 18:19–23). While there, he strengthened the churches he and Barnabas had planted in his first missionary journey (Acts 13:3—14:28) and that he and Silas had visited on his second (Acts 16:1–5).

In Acts 19:1–7, Paul meets twelve men in Ephesus who, like Apollos (Acts 18:24–28), are ardent followers of John the Baptist's teaching of repentance but don't know about the baptism of Jesus. Paul explains that John was the herald of the Messiah—Jesus of Nazareth—and if they are baptized in Jesus' name it means publicly declaring their allegiance to Jesus. Faith brings the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They agree and become the first brought to Christ in Ephesus by Paul.

Acts 19:8–10 is a very short synopsis of Paul's three years (Acts 20:31) in Ephesus. The fact that it can be summarized so quickly suggests Paul's time there is much like his stays in other cities. He first goes to the synagogue where he expounds on his initial message that Jesus is the Messiah. After a while, this time three months, many agree with him, but those who don't harass him and his followers so much they leave. He finds another place to teach the new believers and welcome new-comers, and usually stays until either the Jews drive him out of town, or the Gentiles realize his ministry is costing them money. After the summary, Luke elaborates on two specific consequences of Paul's ministry in Ephesus.

Acts 19:11–20 records the first of these outcomes. Paul's strong witness that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures is validated by the work of the Holy Spirit in him, particularly in his ability to heal physical conditions and exorcise demons. Itinerant Jewish magicians, not unlike Elymas in Cyprus (Acts 13:4–12), notice how powerful Paul is when he invokes the name of Jesus. They attempt to emulate him when faced by a demon-possessed man. The demon is not cowed by the mere mention of Jesus' name without the authority of Jesus. It attacks the magicians, so they run naked and wounded from the house. When the people of Ephesus realize Paul has real power over demons, they burn their books of magic and follow Jesus.

Acts 19:21–27 begins the second situation. Like in Philippi (Acts 16:16–24), Paul faces Gentiles whose livelihoods are threatened by his message. In Ephesus, the silversmiths realize the more people turn away from their worship of Artemis to follow Jesus, the fewer idols they will be able to sell. Demetrius, one such silversmith, points this out to the other artisans in the city, adding—almost as an afterthought—that Ephesus' pre-eminence as the home of the worship of Artemis is at risk.

In Acts 19:28–34, Demetrius's fellow craftsmen respond. They capture two of Paul's companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and drag them to the local theater. A mob forms, most of them ignorant of what started the confusion. The church members hold Paul back, keeping him from entering the theater, while the mob shouts "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" for two hours.

In Acts 19:35–41, the town clerk takes control. He manages to quiet the crowd enough that he can speak reason to the mob. He reminds them that Ephesus will always be known for Artemis worship and that starting a riot is not the proper solution for sophisticated people. If Demetrius has a complaint, he should formally charge the men before the proconsuls at court. The crowd disperses with no further injury.

After the riot, however, Paul decides he needs to leave. He returns to Macedonia, likely visiting the churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea that he planted during his second trip (Acts 16:11—17:15), and then spends three months in Corinth. When he discovers he cannot safely sail from Corinth to Syrian Antioch, Paul retraces his steps through Macedonia and Troas and briefly meets with the Ephesian elders in Miletus. During their few hours together, he tells them he is going to Jerusalem where he suspects something tragic will happen; they will not see him again (Acts 20). Indeed, when he arrives in Jerusalem, he is arrested, sent to house-arrest in Caesarea Maritima, and taken to Rome in a harrowing sea voyage. Jesus will later have a message for the Ephesian church. He will say the Ephesians do well at detecting false teachers but have lost their love of Him. The one-time idol worshipers readily turn away from pagan worship but forget the joy of worshiping Christ (Revelation 2:1–7).
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