“They are no gods at all…”

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Acts 19:23-29 (NIV)

“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.”

It wasn’t as if Paul didn’t have enough trouble from the Jews, people who taught false doctrines, and the Romans, just to name a few; now he had this mess!

As he went about teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ, Paul used some very convincing arguments to be sure. After all, he was schooled in church doctrine by revelation of Jesus Christ Himself, (Galatians 1:12), as He did not walk with the Savior while He was on earth.

He was very effective in bringing the Gentiles to the Lord, as well as several others, no matter the circumstances. He even converted a few as he was under arrest and in chains!

But there were no converts among these men in our reference passage today! In fact, the leader of this riot, a man named Demetrius, was ready to do anything to bring Paul and his message of Christ to a grinding halt!

And just what was this man’s motive for doing this? Greed! As Paul went about Ephesus and the province of Asia, he had convinced many people that Christ was Lord, and Artemis, a false god worshiped by many in the land, was really no god at all.

Armed with this new revelation, people had begun to stop buying the silver statues of the goddess, which was cutting deeply into the pocketbook of Demetrius. And, as we see in the text, it was not only Demetrius’ income that was impacted, but a number of the others who had a hand in making and distributing these statues as well.

This is evident by the comments he made in (V 24). He was not going to take this lightly. So in (VV 25-26), Demetrius called together several of his fellow heathen business associates in order to gain support for his cause to stop Paul and his preaching.

He closes his remarks in compelling fashion in (V 27) by warning that if Paul was allowed to continue his preaching, the “great goddess Artemis’ ” name would be “discredited” and she would be robbed of her “divine majesty.”

Of course this was not the true reason for Demetrius’ remarks at all. He could have probably cared less about the goddess. At the very least, if he did believe in her, he was pushing his desire to make money on her name ahead of everything else, and trying to rally his business associates behind this cause as well!

Soon, these men had stirred up quite a ruckus among themselves, and went to the marketplace to gather even more support for their case. They were all shouting things like “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (V 28) Yet, as the scriptures say in verse 32, some were shouting one thing, some another, and many of them had no idea why they were even there at all!

This rabble had even gone so far as to grab up Paul’s traveling partners, Gaius and Aristarchus and forced them to stand on the charges that these men were making, (that they were blaspheming the name of Artemis and robbing their temples), which was not at all true.

Paul was aware of this situation and wanted to go to the temple in defense of his friends, but neither the disciples nor officials of the province and friends of Paul, would allow it. (See verses 30-31.) The altercation was obviously far too risky for Paul’s well-being to become involved.

The whole matter was finally quieted and dismissed when the city clerk reasoned with the accusers that neither Paul nor his travel mates had committed any of the offenses with which they were being charged.

Finally, when Demetrius and his group were told they might suffer consequences for bringing false charges against innocent men, the riot was ended and the group disbanded…

So what does all of this tell us today, and how can we apply it to our lives? Well obviously greed will ultimately lead to no good whatsoever. We are all very aware of the scriptures which warn us that the love of money leads to all kinds of evil.

In this case, we saw this sinful lust for money lead to lies, civil disobedience, causing others to go astray, and all under the guise of a concern for the greatness of a false god. Sadly, unless Demetrius and his friends came to the Lord in repentance, they are probably already paying the worst price possible, that of eternal damnation.

Another lesson this teaches us is that the things of the world will always let us down and lead us into trouble. That is why God warns us so sternly against pursuing these things as the priority in our lives.

We are to lead our lives in a Godly way seeking to please our Lord. Let us walk the narrow path, no matter what the cost may be. As the words of the song we sing tell us, “…this world is not our home, we’re just a passin’ through. Our treasure is laid up somewhere beyond the blue…

For whatever we may lose in this life for the cause of Christ, He will make it up to us a hundredfold in our heavenly homes, (Matthew 19:29)! We who believe and practice this belief in our lives will be all the better off for it on that final day.

God bless all who love and follow His loving will all the days of our lives!



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