Days of Toil and Trial
over three years Ephesus was the center of Paul's work. A flourishing
church was raised up here, and from this city the gospel spread throughout
the province of Asia, among both Jews and Gentiles.
had now for some time had been contemplating another missionary journey.
He "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." In harmony with this plan "he sent into Macedonia two
of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus;" but feeling
that the cause in Ephesus still demanded his presence, he decided to
remain until after Pentecost. An event soon occurred, however, which
hastened his departure.
Once a year,
special ceremonies were held at Ephesus in honor of the goddess Diana.
These attracted great numbers of people from all parts of the province.
this period, festivities were conducted with the utmost pomp
season was a trying time for those who had newly come to the faith. The
company of believers who met in the school of Tyrannus were an
inharmonious note in the festive chorus, and ridicule, reproach, and
insult were freely heaped upon them. Paul's labors had given the heathen
worship a telling blow, in consequence of which there was a perceptible
falling off in the attendance at the national festival and in the
enthusiasm of the worshipers. The influence of his teachings extended far
beyond the actual converts to the faith. Many who had not openly accepted
the new doctrines became so far enlightened as to lose all confidence in
their heathen gods.
also another cause of dissatisfaction. An extensive and profitable
business had grown up at Ephesus from the manufacture and sale of small
shrines and images, modeled after the temple and the image of Diana. Those
interested in this industry found their gains diminishing, and all united
in attributing the unwelcome change to Paul's labors.
manufacturer of silver shrines, calling together the workmen of his craft,
said: "Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover
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: so that not only this our
craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the
Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be
destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshipeth." These words
roused the excitable passions of the people. "They were full of
wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians."
A report of
this speech was rapidly circulated. "The whole city was filled with
confusion." Search was made for Paul, but the apostle was not to be
found. His brethren, receiving an intimation of the danger, had hurried
him from the place. Angels of God had been sent to guard the apostle; his
time to die a martyr's death had not yet come.
find the object of their wrath, the mob seized "Gaius and Aristarchus,
men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel," and with these
"they rushed with one accord into the theater."
of concealment was not far distant, and he soon learned of the peril of
his beloved brethren. Forgetful of his own safety, he desired to go at
once to the theater to address the rioters. But "the disciples
suffered him not." Gaius and Aristarchus were not the prey the people
sought; no serious harm to them was apprehended. But should the apostle's
pale, care-worn face be seen, it would arouse at once the worst passions
of the mob and there would not be the least human possibility of saving
still eager to defend the truth before the multitude, but he was at last
deterred by a message of warning from the theater. "Certain of the
chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he
would not adventure himself into the theater."
The tumult in
the theater was continually increasing. "Some . . . cried one thing,
and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew
not wherefore they were come together." The fact that Paul and some
of his companions were of Hebrew extraction made the Jews anxious to show
plainly that they were not sympathizers with him and his work. They
therefore brought forward one of their own number to set the matter before
the people. The speaker chosen was Alexander, one of the craftsmen, a
coppersmith, to whom Paul afterward referred as having done him much evil.
2 Timothy 4:14. Alexander was a man of considerable ability, and he bent
all his energies to direct the wrath of the people exclusively against
Paul and his companions. But the crowd, seeing that Alexander was a Jew,
thrust him aside, and "all with one voice about the space of two
hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians."
At last, from
sheer exhaustion, they ceased, and there was a momentary silence. Then the
recorder of the city arrested the attention of the crowd, and by virtue of
his office obtained a hearing. He met the people on their own ground and
showed that there was no cause for the present tumult. He appealed to
their reason. "Ye men of Ephesus," he said, "what man is
there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshiper
of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be
quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men,
neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your
goddess. Wherefore 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. But if ye inquire anything concerning other
matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For 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. And when he had thus
spoken, he dismissed the assembly."
In his speech
Demetrius had said, "This our craft is in danger." These words
reveal the real cause of the tumult at Ephesus, and also the cause of much
of the persecution which followed the apostles in their work. Demetrius
and his fellow craftsmen saw that by the teaching and spread of the gospel
the business of image making was endangered. The income of pagan priests
and artisans was at stake, and for this reason they aroused against Paul
the most bitter opposition.
of the recorder and of others holding honorable offices in the city had
set Paul before the people as one innocent of any unlawful act. This was
another triumph of Christianity over error and superstition. God had
raised up a great magistrate to vindicate His apostle and hold the
tumultuous mob in check. Paul's heart was filled with gratitude to God
that his life had been preserved and that Christianity had not been
brought into disrepute by the tumult at Ephesus.
the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced
them, and departed for to go into
Macedonia." On this journey he was
accompanied by two faithful Ephesian brethren, Tychicus and Trophimus.
in Ephesus were concluded. His ministry there had been a season of
incessant labor, of many trials, and of deep anguish. He had taught the
people in public and from house to house, with many tears instructing and
warning them. Continually he had been opposed by the Jews, who lost no
opportunity to stir up the popular feeling against him.
thus battling against opposition, pushing forward with untiring zeal the
gospel work, and guarding the interests of a church yet young in the
faith, Paul was bearing upon his soul a heavy burden for all the churches.
apostasy in some of the churches of his planting caused him deep sorrow.
He feared that his efforts in their behalf might prove to be in vain. Many
a sleepless night was spent in prayer and earnest thought as he learned of
the methods employed to counteract his work. As he had opportunity and as
their condition demanded, he wrote to the churches, giving reproof,
counsel, admonition, and encouragement. In these letters the apostle does
not dwell on his own trials, yet there are occasional glimpses of his
labors and sufferings in the cause of Christ. Stripes and imprisonment,
cold and hunger and thirst, perils by land and by sea, in the city and in
the wilderness, from his own countrymen, from the heathen, and from false
brethren-- all this he endured for the sake of the gospel. He was
"defamed," "reviled," made "the offscouring of
"troubled on every side," "in jeopardy every hour,"
"alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake."
constant storm of opposition, the clamor of enemies, and the desertion of
friends the intrepid apostle almost lost heart. But he looked back to
Calvary and with new ardor pressed on to spread the knowledge of the
Crucified. He was but treading the blood-stained path that Christ had
trodden before him. He sought no discharge from the warfare till he should
lay off his armor at the feet of his Redeemer.
Preparing For Eternity ©1999-2020 All Rights Reserved