23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” 28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. 32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 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.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.
In this passage, we see that Demetrius was a very successful business man, a silversmith making shrines for his god Artemis and he is worried that Paul will change all of this. Demetrius was focused on making money and protecting his livelihood – “let’s protect the reputation of our god and our industry” (v27). It seems good and spiritual but it’s misguided. It reminds me of another verse: having a form of godliness but lacking power (2 Tim 3:5).
Paul is also a man who has a lot of success and is influential – he persuades many people throughout the whole region to turn to Christ. Yet, he lives very differently to Demetrius. He doesn’t worry about God being discredited or robbed of His majesty. He is not focused on protecting his own livelihood but making sure people hear the truth.
How can Paul live this way? Paul’s confidence comes from knowing who God is – unchanging in nature and ruler over all. This confidence and reliance on God enables him to live a life of influence and authority. And we see the impact of this.
This passage causes me to reflect on my own life – do I live like Demetrius, have elements of spirituality yet lacking confidence and power? Or do I live like Paul, resting solely on God’s unchanging nature and sovereignty?
Lord, God, help me to know You more, as You truly are, so that I too may be at peace and live with confidence in changing circumstances.
Written by Gab Martin