Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 19:27-41
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 19:27-29
vs27-29: Then Demetrius moved the focus of his speech off of their income and onto civic pride which, as a theme, appears to be much less selfish and therefore it is easier to be outraged about. Basically, he asked the craftsmen, “Are we going to let this guy disrespect our goddess?” and, of course they weren’t, so they all began to chant, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” until the whole city was drawn to the clamor and joined in. When the crowd swelled into the thousands, there was only one place large enough for everyone to gather: the city amphitheater, which seated 24,000 people (F.F. Bruce, In the Steps of the Apostle Paul, Kregel, 1995, p.48). Somehow, in the midst of all this confusion, they were able to locate two of Paul’s traveling companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, who were both from Macedonia. They led them into the amphitheater, undoubtedly with the intention of forcing them to reveal Paul’s location.

Monday: Acts 19:30
v30: During the riot, Paul had been securely hidden, but he was not out of communication. It’s very possible Aquila and Priscilla hid him in their home or some other site, and that this is the occasion to which Paul later referred (Ro 16:3, 4) when he said they “risked their necks” to save his life. Someone came and reported what was taking place in the amphitheater, and when Paul learned that Gaius and Aristarchus had been seized, he was determined to go in after them, but the “disciples” who were with him would not permit him to do so. It’s possible, based on Luke’s choice of words here, that the way they stopped him was by refusing to leave his side. In other words, they may have said, “If you go in, we’re going with you. You can’t stop us!” It was one thing for him to go alone, it was another for him to put all of them at risk.

Tuesday: Acts 19:31
v31: Luke’s statement in this verse is remarkable. He says, “Also, some of the asiarchs, being his friends, sent (a messenger) to him pleading with him not to give himself to the theater” (literal). Obviously, they knew Paul would want to go there when he realized that his friends had been captured. The term “asiarch” was a very distinguished title given to certain wealthy and highly respected people who had been elected by their entire city to represent them in matters concerning the whole province (Asia). Each year one of them was selected to be the honorary high priest who would lead their province in worshiping the Roman emperor (F.F. Bruce, The New Bible Dictionary, J. D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans, 1971, p.98). Amazingly, some of these had become Paul’s “friends.” We’re not told they had become “believers,” but, of course, Paul must have preached to them, and clearly they had not ended their relationship with him so we can, at least, say they were considering Christ. Luke says more than one of them took the initiative to send a messenger to plead with Paul for his safety, so the poor and oppressed weren’t the only ones in Asia interested in eternal life. There were also powerful people in that community who had grown to love this man.

Wednesday: Acts 19:32, 33
vs32-33: Most of the people in the amphitheater were shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians,” but some were shouting other things because they had merely been swept into the crowd by the excitement, and there was so much confusion most of them didn’t even know why they were there. Yet sooner or later, they would find out that it was about Paul, and because Paul was a Jew, this rising religious fervor could easily be turned against the entire Jewish community, so the Jews who were present quickly picked a representative, named Alexander, to speak on their behalf. Undoubtedly, as he stood to speak, he hoped to convince the crowd that though Paul was obviously Jewish, he was not truly one of them. They, too, had rejected him, so the Jewish community should not be blamed for the declining sales of the statues of Artemis. That was Paul’s doing.

Thursday: Acts 19:33, 34
vs33-34: Alexander moved forward toward the stage, and then began waving his hand up and down trying to motion to the crowd to be quiet. Luke says, “he wished to defend himself to the people,” but as soon as they recognized he was a Jew, and knowing that Jews did not worship their goddess, they assumed that he had caused the problem, so they reacted by shouting at him with, “one voice from all, crying out for about two hours, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’” Luke does not mention any violence, but this event must have endangered the entire Jewish community by stirring up anti-Semitism.

Friday: Acts 19:35-37
vs35-36: The man who finally brought order to this confusion was the city clerk. The duties associated with his office included presiding over public gatherings, overseeing the city’s funds, and representing the city to the Roman governor (proconsul for the province of Asia) (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman, 1930, vol. 3, p.330). The speech he gave skillfully calmed the fervor of the crowd in two ways. First, he reminded them that they were loudly making a point no one disagreed with. He said, “Men, Ephesians, who indeed does not know that the city of Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, and of that which fell down from Zeus (heaven)?” And second, he warned them to calm down and not allow their emotions to cause them to do something reckless. v37: It’s evident from what he said about Gaius and Aristarchus that he was already familiar with the facts of the situation. He seems to have known what Paul and his team had been doing long before this. Good leaders usually know what’s going on in their community, and it’s quite possible the asiarchs (v31) had also talked with him before he arrived. If not, he must have taken the time to interview Gaius and Aristarchus before standing to address the crowd, because it’s obvious, from his words, he had already decided they were not guilty of a crime. He said, “For you (forcibly) led these men (here) who are neither temple-robbers nor blasphemers of your goddess.”

Saturday: Acts 19:38-41
vs38-41: Not only did he know about Paul and his team, he also knew who had started the riot, and he named him in front of the entire assembly. He said, “If indeed Demetrius and the artisans who are with him have a formal charge to make against anyone, the courts (in the marketplace) are being led (by judges), and there are even proconsuls (available, if necessary). Let them call one another (into court). If you seek anything further (a resolution or official decision) it will be settled in a lawful assembly (not by an unruly mob like this)” (paraphrase). Then he gave them a chilling warning. He said the Romans could easily misinterpret what had just happened. They might view this chanting crowd as an act of political defiance against Rome. After all, everyone in Ephesus was supposed to be worshiping the Roman emperor and this event might be seen by them as a rally declaring Artemis to be greater than Caesar. As the city clerk, he was the one who would have to go and explain all of this to the Romans, but it would be difficult because there was no reasonable cause for such outrage. Hopefully they would believe him that this was merely a harmless disturbance. Then he announced that the meeting was over.

Return to Daily Bible Studies