Welcome to Lesson 18 in your Bible Study of Acts.
In this lesson we want to take a closer look at Acts 19 and Paul’s ministry in the city of Ephesus.
Paul had actually visited Ephesus once before, on his way home from his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18-21). We know he did not stay long, but he did promise to return (18:21).
In the first narrative, Paul encounters a group of disciples and questions them about their conversion and faith.
Read Acts 19:2-7
We note in Acts 19 that there are many episodes where the Christian faith confronts the spirituality of the Greco-Roman world. This includes the episode where the evil spirit recognizes Paul and Jesus (19:13-16), the magicians burn their books (19:18-19 and Paul is brought before the civic magistrates (19:23-41).
In the case of Paul’s conflict with the silversmiths of Ephesus it is important to note just how important the goddess Diana was to the city of Ephesus.
Basically, she was considered a protector of the city. The temple of Diana was the envy of the ancient world. Indeed, it was known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was something that Ephesus held up as brining honor, prestige and respect to their city. It was something to be proud of.
Diana was known as the goddess of fertility and she was often associated with magic and astrology. (This is why it is not surprising that magicians were living in Ephesus.)
In addition, the commercial enterprise of selling items related to the temple and to the goddess generated a great deal of prosperity for its merchants. When that income dried up, the silversmiths were understandably angry.