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​Acts 19


After deciding on his itinerary Paul sent two men to Macedonia to prepare for his arrival.

Acts 19:22
So, he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

Before Paul leaves for Macedonia, he sends Timothy and Erastus ahead to make sure all is ready. Then from Macedonia Timothy travels to Corinth.

1 Corinthians 4:15-17
For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

While Paul is preparing for his trip to Macedonia, trouble is stirring in Ephesus.

Acts 19:23-24
And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen.

The last time we saw business leaders’ revolt against the believers it was in Philippi. 

Acts 16:19
And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,

What was their issue? “…hope of their gains was gone…” But what did they say to the magistrates and the people?

Acts 16:21
And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

They lied and forgot to tell everyone it was really about the money they were no longer making.

In Ephesus we are about to get a union meeting, workers of like occupation.

Acts 19:25
Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

Once again, the issue is their profit margin. They are going to mask their real issue because the real issue will not get the people of the city to stand with them. By mask I mean they are going to lie and say something else is the real issue. They are not going to tell the people they are losing money and that they are angry because of it.

Acts 19:26-27
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 great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

Diana is the Roman goddess, but the text reads Artemis, who is the Greek version of the Roman Diana. The reason many translators probably went with Diana is because her name means sky. Combine this with the words of the town clerk, “the image which fell down from Jupiter” and you probably have why they went with Diana.

Notice how Demetrius has switched the emphasis from the profit margin to the insult to this great goddess. Notice also Demetrius disagrees with what God said. God said in verse 10, “…all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus…” But Demetrius, walking with and for the Adversary, said, “…almost throughout all of Asia...” The Adversary and those who represent him, will always water down, or misquote, or twist the words of God.

Believers always need to remain vigilant! Do you have the righteousness of God or are you going to have the righteousness of God? Are you justified? Are you sanctified? Vigilance!

Acts 19:28
And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath [thumos = passion, emotion], and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 

The subject changes while they are still in the union meeting. The profit margin is now completely hidden behind a wall of righteous indignation over poor ole Diana. It is no longer about the loss of revenue, it is about insulting Diana, their precious goddess.

Acts 19:29
And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

As with all the riots we have seen from one city to the next there is an individual or small group, think synagogue leadership, that is upset. This individual has a main purpose, as in money lost from business owners, or loss of followers if it is a group. But since they want as many to riot as possible, they lie about their motivation. 

 In Antioch of Pisidia the leaders of the synagogue became angry and started to make trouble. Do you remember why they were angry?

Acts 13:44-45
And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

Why were the leaders of the synagogue upset?

They were filled with envy! The Greek word translated “filled” is pimplemiPimplemi is an earlier version of the Greek word pletho. Both mean to be filled to overflowing. The leaders of the synagogue were not just jealous of Paul, they were jealous to the point of action, which is filled to overflowing. What action did they take?

Acts 13:50
But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

When these religious leaders went to the honorable women and the chief men, do you think they said, “We need your help because we are jealous of Paul, he draws a bigger crowd than us.” I very much doubt that was their logic when they asked for help. They covered their motive with self-serving indignation.

Lies and deceit, which is how the Adversary and those who are walking with him, operate (See John 8). The union meeting declares it is about Diana. The businessmen using the damsel in Philippi, they were only concerned about upholding the integrity of Roman law. Yet they grabbed a Roman citizen, against his will, and wanted him beaten, all of which was against Roman law.

They pretend to be holy, and righteous, and altruistic when the truth of the matter is, it is only a cover, a false face to hide the lie they do not want you to see. “It’s for the children.” “It’s racism and we want to stop it.” “We are only interested in equality.” What lie are they hiding?

Back in Acts 19:29 we are told they “caught” Gaius and Aristarchus. The Greek word that is translated “caught” is synarpazo. Look at the definition of synarpazo from Blue Letter Bible.

Synarpazo: “to seize by force, to catch or lay hold of (one so that he is no longer his own master), to seize by force and carry away.”1  

Who is breaking the law while endeavoring to look pious and righteous?

Acts 19:32
Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

The two elements necessary for a good riot are wrath (unbridled emotion) and a lot of confusion. It worked in the first century and it still works in the twenty-first century. Most of the people caught up in the riot had no idea why they were there. Almost no one knew why they were having a riot because almost no one knew it was about the profits of the makers of little statues.

While the leaders of the riot were hiding behind masks to cover their real intentions the Apostle Paul was willing to get out there in the middle of the confusion and chaos to answer any charges or questions.

Acts 19:30-31
And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

This is the response of a believer who is unafraid of the gospel he has preached. Did they have questions, Paul had answers. Did they have charges, Paul was willing to face them. You confront lies with Truth.

Ephesians 6:10-11
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The Word Pictures of the New Testament says of these chiefs of Asia, “Certain also of the chief officers of Asia. These Asiarchs were ten officers elected by cities in the province who celebrated at their own cost public games and festivals. Each province had such a group of men chosen, as we now know from inscriptions, to supervise the funds connected with the worship of the emperor, to preside at games and festivals even when the temple services were to gods like Artemis. Only rich men could act, but the position was eagerly sought. Being his friends, evidently the Asiarchs had a high opinion of Paul and were unwilling for him to expose his life to a wild mob during the festival of Artemis.”2  

Acts 19:33
And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand and would have made his defence unto the people.

Even the Judean leaders from the synagogue got involved. These synagogue leaders grabbed another man, a Judean, to put him on the spot. But when the crowd heard that he was of the Jewish religion, the crowd let loose. Remember, this is during the festival of Diana or Artemis.

But also take note that Alexander, at a moment’s notice, was ready to give his testimony. The word “defence” is the Greek word apologeomai. A compound word from apo meaning out from and logos, meaning the word. You answer out of God’s Word!

Acts 19:34
But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

That is something that will give you an instant headache, even if you were a follower of the goddess Diana. By this time Demetrius must have thought he had the entire situation completely under his control.

Were the leaders of the synagogue also yelling “Great is Diana of the Ephesians?” I do not know. But I remember the High Priest at the trial of Jesus was saying we have no king but Caesar. (John 19:15)

Acts 19:35a
And when the townclerk had appeased the people…

The Greek word translated “townclerk” is grammateus. You will recognize the beginning of this word gramma, which means an object of study. This town clerk was a scribe, a learned person, one who has studied.

A.T. Robertson, in his book, Word Pictures of the New Testament, said this about the town clerk; “The town-clerk. Ephesus was a free city and elected its own officers and the recorder or secretary was the chief magistrate of the city, though the proconsul of the province of Asia resided there. This officer is not a mere secretary of another officer or like the copyists and students of the law among the Jews, but the most influential person in Ephesus who drafted decrees with the aid of the στρατηγο, had charge of the city's money, was the power in control of the assembly, and communicated directly with the proconsul. Inscriptions at Ephesus give frequently this very title for their chief officer and the papyri have it also.”

The people of Ephesus elected a good official when they elected this man.

Acts 19:35
And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?

The word “appease” is only used twice in God’s Word, here and in verse 36, the word quiet. It means to calm, to settle down. The Greek words used in verse 34 indicate the crowd screamed with a sense of urgency, and they did this for two hours. This speaks to the passion; the unbridled emotion Demetrius had whipped up. But the town clerk calmed the people, got them to quiet down so he could speak.

The people of Ephesus demonstrated the amount of respect they had for their civic leader.

Acts 19:36-37
 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, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 

He tells the people you do not want to act rashly, acting without thinking. Then he logically points out that no crimes have been charged here. Notice also he does not claim the goddess as his own, he says of Diana, “your goddess.

Then the town clerk jumps right into the heart of the matter, the instigator of the riot.

Acts 19:38
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. 

This man is sharp. Here is a politician with whom you could stand. 

Basically, do not hide behind a crowd Demetrius, come out in the open, if you have a complaint, the law is open to you. The word implead means to come forward and press charges, make an accusation.

It is a bully being called out publicly. Demetrius failed to realize that his riot is a reflection on the town clerk’s leadership. 

Acts 19:39-40
But if ye enquire 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. 

We are in danger to be called in question…” Not you, but we. Who would question the town clerk? The proconsul of Asia.

Then he reminds everyone involved in the riot and the taking free men by force, if you were held to the law, you would be in trouble. This leader is walking in mercy for the mistakes made that day.

Acts 19:41
And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

Knowledgeable concerning the laws, applied evenly across the board, with mercy and wisdom. This is an elected official we would all be proud to claim. He saw through the mask of Demetrius and the other craftsman that Demetrius had riled up. He directed people in the right application of the law and then he sent everyone home for a nice chicken and dumplings meal.

Acts 20:1
And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

Paul has given us his itinerary of Macedonia, then Achaia, then Jerusalem, then Rome. The strangest part of this itinerary to me is the absence of Antioch in Syria, his home base. He has not been in Antioch in Syria for over three years, probably four years by the time he arrives in Jerusalem. It seems strange to me that there is no mention of seeing these believers.

The road to Rome begins.


​1. G4884 - synarpazō - Strong's Greek Lexicon (kjv) (
2. Acts 19 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament - Bible Commentaries -
3. Acts 19 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament - Bible Commentaries -

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A Journey through the Book of Acts