Understanding Acts | Artemis | Acts 19.23-31 | movementministriesblog.com

by | Mar 30, 2023

“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.” Acts 19.23-31

“Artemis was the goddess of chastity, hunting, and the moon, often depicted with her trusty bow and arrow and a short tunic to aid in running through the woods. Her maidenly virtue—for she swore never to marry—was presented in counterpoint to the passionate and fiery Aphrodite.” (Jan 21, 2022 – https://www.folger.edu › blogs › art…).

Artemis was a big deal in Ephesus and I imagine Greece as well (although some suggest this is a different Artemis all together. (https://www.gotquestions.org/who-Artemis.html). This goddess had a great temple dedicated to her name where people from all over the province of Asia worshipped. This temple provided a large source of trade and business for the city and the region.

The argument arose because Paul said that “gods made by human hands were no gods at all.” A silversmith named Demetrius Who made the silver shrines of Artemis stirred up the crowd convincing them how Paul’s words would destroy their trade, their way of life and bring dishonor to Artemis. I think Demetrius cared less about the goddess and more about the prophets he made from his trade.

Two of Paul’s traveling companions were brought into the theater to be accused and Paul wanted to come to their defense but his friends begged him not to go there. To this day, that large Roman theater remains. I walked through it during my travels to Ephesus.

Today it’s not Artemis which consumes culture. We have built other false idols which society revolts when touched with the gospel. This could be anything from material possessions to the worship of sports, movie stars, social media influencers or music performers. These false idols could even be abortion clinics in which people make millions at the expense of the innocent. Or replacing our Sunday morning Sabbath with soccer games for children.

No culture wants to replace material gain or personal power with the Gospel. Christ’s message involves humility, death to self, putting others first, and following God’s will above one’s own. Just as Demetrius did not want to replace Jesus for Artemis because of material possessions, so our world does not want to follow the way of Christ when following the flesh provides instant gratification and financial rewards.

The early Christians battled against all kinds of cultural idols, not alike what we face. Sacrifices must be made if we are to follow Christ. We can no longer live according to the world. Although he has blessed us with success materially, we have no idols but one God in Jesus Christ. We must fix our eyes on him, as the writer of Hebrews says, the author and perfector of our faith, rather than what shines in shimmers in this world.

If the early Christians could remain faithful in the Lord then so can we. Our home on earth is temporary but our heavenly home is our eternal. Strive for that home, long for it, look to it. Seek the things of heaven and not the things of this earth. Place your hope and love in Jesus and you will never long for anything else.

“O Lord God you are good. I thank you for loving me like you do. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your pain upon the cross to erase all my sins. I praise you Lord and pray for strengthening of your church. I trust you to help me overcome evil with good. To call upon your Holy Spirit to guide your people. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen