The trek takes Paul and his companions to Ephasus where he is a very successful crastman.
Paul began his third missionary trip with a trek through Asia Minor. I’m sure he stopped at many of the churches he established on earlier trips. Eventually, as he promised, Paul arrived at Ephesus. Ephesus was a major city in Paul’s day. It was a center of commerce and a center for worshiping many different gods. Here was the Temple of Diana (Artemis in the Greek), which has been deemed one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Paul spoke daily at the lecture halls of Tyrannus. (Acts. 19: 9) Tyrannus was an educational center. It would be shut down during the afternoons due to the heat and Paul took full advantage of this time.
Paul and his companions had great success in Ephesus, but it must have been exhausting for him. Remember, in addition to his daily teachings, Paul continued to work to support himself.
Paul was so successful that he angered some of the local craftsmen. These craftsmen made silver idols and sold them to the many visitors coming to Ephesus. Paul’s teaching of the Good News was hurting their business!! (Terra cotta statuettes have been found in the region by archeologists, but no silver idols. This should not be a surprise as any silver found by future inhabitants would be melted down and refurbished. An inscription has been discovered referring to a wealthy Roman giving a silver image, and there are other local inscriptions that refer to silver statues of Artemis.) These craftsmen stirred up an angry mob and dragged two of Paul’s companions into the theater. Paul wanted to go to the temple and speak to the crowd, but his friends warned him to stay away because of the obvious danger. Notice some of these friends were officials of the province. These high ranking officials are indicative of how Paul’s message had reached all levels of Ephesian society.
Also, it is interesting that the Jews pushed one of their own forward to speak on their behalf. (Acts 19: 33-34) The Jews did not believe in idol worship any more than the Christians did, so fearing the mob might turn on Jews, they tried to disassociate themselves with the Christians. Tensions ran high for quite some time, but because of fear of the Roman response to rioting, things began to calm down. The city clerk told the crowd, “As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case, we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” (Acts 19: 40) (NOTE: The term ‘city clerk’ or ‘people’s clerk’ is known outside the Bible. One of his duties is to preside over the citizen’s assembly. The clerks fear that they could be accused of rioting is all too real. Ephesus was a ‘free city’ and rioting could cause the Romans to revoke that status.
Paul will spend two years in Ephesus. Leaving Ephesus, Paul will revisit Philippi, Berea, Thessalonica, Athens and Corinth. He will then begin the long trip back to Jerusalem. (part 7, next blog)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.