Lesson 55 - Chapter 19:23-41

Lesson 55 - Chapter 19:23-41

Lesson for May 21, 2017

The Book of Acts

Chapter 19:23-41

Verses 23-34

About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, ‘Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.’ When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him. Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater.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. Some 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.But 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!’”

Paul was still in Ephesus and had a very successful ministry there, but it was time to move on. The Holy Spirit had led him to make the decision to leave, but Paul (not God) made the decision to return to Jerusalem instead of going to Rome. It was not God’s will for the apostle Paul to go backward to Jerusalem but to go forward to Spain by way of Rome. We will see the results of his failure in Acts 21 and following.

There was also trouble brewing from some local merchants and Roman law would have to step in and calm things down so that the Ephesian church could continue to function in freedom. If Paul had not been there, the crisis would not have developed into such an intense problem because he was the center of the merchants’ anger.

Demetrius was the head of the silversmith’s union which had been doing a great business for a long time, having a monopoly on silver figurines of Artemis. Paul had not denounced the activities of the worship of Artemis in Ephesus; he had simply continued to preach the Gospel and teach doctrine. The response to the Gospel and application of the doctrine being taught was what caused the great decline in the sale of statues of Artemis and other similar products in Ephesus.

“You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.’” By this time everyone knew Paul as a preacher of the Gospel and a teacher of Bible doctrine. So this was a direct attack on Paul. The Greek word for persuaded is “peitho,” which means to win over by clear presentation, by logical arguments, by communicating in a manner that people can understand bringing about a change of mind. The persuasion had to do with accepting Christ as Savior. After they accepted Christ, Paul taught them Bible doctrine. After they had learned doctrine and become spiritually self-sustaining, by their own decision they cut themselves off from the activities of Artemis.

“When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.”Demetrius was going to try to do something about this loss of business and their whole system of religion. So he gathered an emotional mob in order to stop Paul. Demetrius knew the effectiveness of Paul’s preaching and there was no argument to meet the power of the Gospel. Since he could not argue down with words, Demetrius had to resort to mob violence and shouting. The weapons used against Paul and the Gospel at Ephesus were the silversmith’s union, emotion from the speech of Demetrius, the religious worship of Artemis, the action of the mob after the speech and emotional shouting. When the mob could not apprehend Paul, they seized his two traveling companions. We aren’t told what happened to them that day.

“And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him.” Paul indicated that he wanted to go and face the mob in the amphitheater to reason with them. The Greek word for the phrase wanted to go in this verse is“boulomai,” which means a desire that comes from the mentality of the soul. (“thelo,” is the other Greek word for this phrase, which means a desire that comes from the emotion of the soul) So Paul was not emotional; he thought that he could reason with the crowd. But even though he had come to this conclusion, he was wrong. It was not God’s will for him to face that mob. This mob required law enforcement not reason.

“Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater.” This event was during the festival to Artemis. Artemis was the Greek word for the goddess Diana, Diana being the Latin word. Ephesus was the center of this month-long festival in which they partied and celebrated their pagan god. They always had ten people of great wealth elected from the entire Roman province of Asia as the leaders of this festival. Each man donated a large sum of money for the production of dramas, athletic events, musicals and oratory competitions. The interesting thing is that these Asiarchs were actually friends of the apostle Paul and they encouraged him to stay away from the theater for fear that he would be killed.

“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.” This was a typical mob reaction based entirely on emotion. The fact that the majority of them didn’t even know why they were there indicated there was virtually no rational thinking involved. The people in a mob are always pawns of some person or organization trying to seize power, to get rid of someone or something.

“Some 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.But 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!’” The crowd finally concluded wrongly that the reason they were there was because of a Jew named Alexander who had become a believer under Paul’s ministry. Alexander was a coppersmith in Ephesus and apparently he thought he could quiet the crowd. This was not the case however as we see in this verse. Alexander later abandoned his faith and actually opposed Paul’s teaching. Paul said he had caused much harm and had shipwrecked his own Christian life. (I Timothy 1:18-20: II Timothy 4:14-15)

Verses 35-41

“After quieting the crowd, the town clerk said, ‘Men of Ephesus, what man 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 heaven?So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; let them bring charges against one another.But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly. For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today’s events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering.’ After saying this he dismissed the assembly.”

Under the Roman Empire, Ephesus was a free city, which meant they could elect their own city leaders. The Greek word for town clerk is “grammateus,” which means he was a state official approved by Rome.The decrees that came down from Rome were his responsibility to record and present to the local assembly of leaders. He would have been much like our city major today. He along with the assembly could be held responsible by Rome for any disturbance like that of the mob. Rome wasn’t going to tolerate mobs. Everything had to be done through law and order.

And when everybody saw that the town clerk was right, and that Paul and his fellow workers were not in violation of the law, he dismissed the assembly. After this Christianity grew under the freedom that Rome provided though occasionally certain Roman emperors led persecutions against the Christians. The Roman Empire stands as a monument for law and order as few nations or empires in history. Rome would have taken over Ephesus had the mob not been stopped. So God’s timing is always perfect. Christianity actually thrived under the rule of the Roman Empire, which was all a part of the sovereign plan of God.

The Sovereignty of God

The sovereignty of God is His eternal, infinite, and perfect divine volition. The sovereignty of God is His eternal and infinite will expressed in the divine decrees, manifest in the divine interpretation of history called dispensations, and the unique plan regarding the Church Age. It is revealed to us in The Protocol Plan of God. In human history, the sovereignty of God and the free will of man coexist by divine decree. The sovereignty of God made a decision to create a counterpart to His sovereignty, a free will in every person for function during human history as a part of the resolution of the Angelic conflict. Perfection, self-determination and virtue characterize His purpose, design and execution of His plan.

The sovereignty of God must be related to the personality of God. The decisions you make on a daily basis mold your personality. All of God’s decisions were made in eternity past, therefore His personality is immutable. God made decisions for us in eternity past, and if we follow them, it is the road to fantastic greatness, blessing and the ability to handle your own life in a magnificent way. Personality connotes self-consciousness and self-determination. There never was a time when God was not conscious of Himself and when He didn’t make decisions. God recognizes Himself as a person. As such He functions with perfect integrity and perfect rationality; i.e., no nonsense! Since God is immutable, He cannot change His personality, virtue, integrity, or rationality. God, therefore, is infinite personality. God, in His infinite personality, has perfect holiness and virtue. This, combined with His sovereign self-determination, defines His purpose, His provision, His plan, and its execution in both the portfolio of invisible assets provided for us in eternity past, as well as the protocol plan of God for us in time. Realizing all this about our Source, we should have motivation in our self-determination to learn doctrine, apply doctrine to every circumstance of life and advance to spiritual maturity.

Not only is the sovereignty of God related to His personality, but it is related to His infinity. Infinity means that God is without boundary or limitation, uniting in Himself those perfections which belong to His person and to His character. God, therefore, cannot be complicated by ignorance or absurdities. God cannot in any way be identified with our silliness. Being infinite, God can never choose to sin from His sovereignty. God cannot use His sovereignty to sin, to tempt, to sponsor sin, human good, or evil. Infinity characterizes all that God does, His sovereign decisions, His policies, the function of His perfect virtue, the function of His omniscience, and His integrity or holiness which characterizes His policy of grace. He has infinite energy. Under the lifestyle of spiritual wisdom, God has provided a way for us to have spiritual energy, which starts when we reach spiritual self-esteem. Spiritual self-esteem is self-confidence for the effective function of the Ten Problem Solving Devices of the Protocol Plan of God for the Church. Since divine infinity is unlimited energy and power, eternal wisdom and virtue, it is impossible for God to ever be wrong, do wrong, or sponsor wrong.

The infinity of God is related to three factors beside His sovereignty: a) His self-existence which is eternal b) His immutability which is unchangeable c) His integrity which is His perfect righteousness and justice combined with His eternal love. The infinity of God related to His self-existence means there never was a time when God did not have perfect self-esteem. He is aware of His self-existence, and He sees it in its true, eternal, infinite perspective. Immutability is described by “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are also immutable and unchangeable. Integrity (holiness) refers to God’s virtue and His virtue love as a problem solving device.

God’s eternal glory existed in eternity past before creation. Therefore the sovereignty of God recognizes His own glory and claims it in the interest of absolute truth, i.e., Bible doctrine. Divine motivation is the function of His sovereignty and is for His glory. Divine motivation in the function of the sovereignty of God in human history is for His glory, to which He has an eternal and perfect right.

The sovereignty of God is directly related to us. He has a plan for us in time: the protocol plan of God. He provided magnificent assets for us in eternity past: our Portfolio of Invisible Assets. The sovereignty of God provided your escrow blessings, and election and predestination. Equal privilege under election is your very own priesthood; equal opportunity is your logistical grace support. Equal privilege under predestination is union with Christ, becoming Royal Family of God. This is one of the most fantastic, all-time greatest manifestations of the grace of God.