Book of Acts Chapter 19 - Christogenea Internet Radio 11-08-2013

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Book of Acts Chapter 19 - Christogenea Internet Radio 11-8-2013

XIX 1 And it came to pass, with Apollos being in Korinth, Paul had passed through the highlands to come down into Ephesos and finding certain students 2 then said to them “So believing have you received the Holy Spirit?”

The Codex Sinaiticus (א) has Apelles here rather than Apollos, as it alsoreads at 18:24. The phrase τὰ ἀνωτερικὰ μέρη is from ἀνωτερικός (510), “upper, inland” and μέρος (3313) “a part, share” (Liddell & Scott) and in the plural here it is “the highlands”, butliterally either “the upper parts” or “the inland parts”, since in the Greek view of geography to go inland from the sea was to go up. The Codex Vaticanus (B) and the Majority Text want the word for “down”.

The Codex Bezae (D) has many readings not only in Acts, but throughout the New Testament, which diverge sharply from the other ancient manuscripts even if the differences are usually not very significant in their actual meanings. However evidently it was not alone. The papyrus P38, found in Cairo Egypt where it was purchased by the University of Michigan in 1924, is esteemed to date from about 300 AD and in it is preserved only small portions of Acts chapters 18 and 19. This papyrus has readings very similar to the Codex Bezae, and it agrees with the Codex Bezae here where they read verse 1 thus: “And Paul wishing by his own will to go into Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit said to him ‘Return to Asia’, and passing through the highlands he came into Ephesos...” However this papyrus does not always agree with the Codex Bezae. They immediately diverge, where the Codex Bezae continues 2 with “and upon finding certain students” (as the Codex Laudianus and the Majority Text also have that clause) and then going into verse has “he said to them” (as the other manuscripts generally agree), after the word for Ephesos P38 has instead only “and” to finish verse 1, and then “he said to the students” to begin verse 2.

And they [said] to him “Rather we have not heard if there is a Holy Spirit.”

Both the papyrus P38 and the Codex Bezae (D) agree here also, having “Rather we have not heard that anyone receives the Holy Spirit.” In either case, these men were clearly ignorant of the events of the first Christian Pentecost, and evidently also of the ministry of Christ.

3 And he said “In what have you been immersed?” And they said “In the immersion of Iohannes.” 4 Then Paul said “Iohannes immersed with an immersion of repentance for the people saying in Him coming after him that they should believe, that is in Yahshua.”

The Majority Text adds “Christ” to the end of the verse, where the Codex Bezae has “Christ” rather than “Yahshua”.

5 And hearing they were immersed in the Name of Prince Yahshua,

Both the papyrus P38 and the Codex Bezae (D) add the word for “Christ” along with the phrase “for a remission of sins” to the end of verse 5.

6 and with Paul’s laying hands upon them came the Holy Spirit upon them, and they spoke in languages and prophesied.

Both the papyrus P38 and the Codex Bezae (D) have “immediately fell” rather than “came”. Here it is evident that the gifts of the Spirit dispensed upon the apostles at Pentecost were still being dispensed. Paul later wrote to the Corinthians that these gifts would one day come to pass, in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 where he said: “8 Love never fails. But whether interpretations of prophecy, they shall be abolished; or languages, they shall be brought to an end; or knowledge, it shall be left unemployed. 9 By destiny we know, and by destiny we interpret prophecy; 10 but when the fulfillment would come, that by destiny shall be abolished. 11 When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. When I had become a man, I laid aside the things of the infant.” Being matured in our faith, we no longer need these signs.

7 And they were in total [literally “all”] about twelve men.

This is the last time that immersion, or baptism, appears in the historical narrative of the New Testament. After this it is only referred to in retrospect. Here it is over twenty years after the Passion of Christ and the first Christian Pentecost, and men who were familiar with the ministry of John the Baptist were not yet familiar with the Way in Christ. Therefore these men were immersed in the Name of Yahshua, but that does not mean that they were baptized with water while the name of Christ was invoked as some sort of incantation. Many professional priests may want to uphold that view, but it is simply not true.

Here Paul is in Ephesos, and it is quite probable that these men helped to form a part of the assembly which Paul founded in that city a short time later. Much later than this, when Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesians from Rome, he told them that there was “5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [and] 6 One God and Father of all...”(Ephesians 4:5-6). If there is but one baptism, and Christ said that “John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence”, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 1, then the baptism in Christ cannot be added to or layered atop the baptism of John, lest Paul be a liar and there is more than one baptism.

Rather, Paul is no liar, and where Christ is recorded as having said in Luke chapter 12 that “I have a baptism to be baptized with” He was not talking about the already-past baptism of John, but He was rather referring to his own forthcoming death. Therefore Paul later said in Romans chapter 6 that “so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death”.

Therefore, to be baptized in Christ is to be immersed into the knowledge of His sacrifice on behalf of the children of Israel, and their salvation by that sacrifice. Once an Israelite receives this knowledge in the Gospel and repents, as Christ said in John chapter 15, “3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” This is why both Peter and Paul attest in their epistles that baptism is truly a cleansing with the Word of God so that the conscience is clean. The baptism which was with water was a ritual act of cleansing which has long been eclipsed.

There is only one baptism, and it is not in water. “When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. When I had become a man, I laid aside the things of the infant.” If one is still baptizing in water, one is still in the position that these twelve men of Ephesus were in before they met Paul, or that Apollos was in before Priscilla and Aquila “hearing him took him aside and more precisely exhibited the way of Yahweh to him” (Acts 18:26). The Book of Acts indeed records a religious transition, from rituals to faith, and unfortunately most Christians are still stuck on Acts Chapter 2, and they are still infants.

8 Then entering into the assembly hall he spoke openly for three months discussing and persuading concerning the Kingdom of Yahweh.

Wherever Paul taught, the Gospel of the Kingdom was preeminent, and it is mentioned often in Acts and throughout his epistles. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the “good news” of the restoration of the children of Israel to the Kingdom of God with Christ at its head. This is evident in Acts chapter 1 where the apostles asked the risen Christ “Prince, then at this time shall You restore the Kingdom to Israel?” This was the purpose of and the need for a Messiah. And He said to them: “It is not yours to know the times or the seasons which the Father has placed in His own authority. Rather you shall receive power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you and you shall be My witnesses in both Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samareia, and unto the end of the earth.” Christ did not tell them that the Kingdom would not be restored to Israel, rather He only told then that it was not yet time to do so. In the end, Revelation chapters 21 and 22 certainly describe the final and coming restoration of the kingdom to the twelve tribes of Israel. The Codices Sinaiticus (א) Alexandrinus (A), Laudianus and the Majority Text have “the things concerning the Kingdom”; the text follows the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D).

5th Century BC Athenian Red-Figure Lekythos Depiction of Artemis

The assembly hall is, of course, in Ephesus, a city in the Roman province of Asia which has a quite complex history. The location was the site of ancient cities dating into the earliest known occupations of the Lydians, and predating the Hittite empire under which it was at one time subject. Strabo says that it was inhabited by Carians and Leleges, people who elsewhere - by himself and others - were often associated with the ancient Phoenician settlers of Asia Minor, until they were driven out of the city by the Greeks (Geography, 14.1.21). This was apparently true of all of the cities of the western coast of Anatolia in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, and the Carians continued to occupy the countryside, or sometimes even the cities while they were under Greek rule. For example, Herodotus called the famous early philosopher Thales of Miletus, Miletus being another such city, a “Phoenician by race”.

1st Century Statue of Artemis of Ephesus from the Ephesus Archaeological Museum

Ephesus was apparently destroyed by the invading Kimmerians in the second half of the 7th century BC. Reoccupied by the Greeks, in his account of when the famous king Croessus consolidated a Lydian empire, Herodotus calls the people of Ephesus “the first Greeks whom he attacked” (Histories, 1:26). Strabo says that after the Lydians took the city from the Greeks the people, ostensibly referring to the Carians and Leleges, “came down from the mountainside and abode round the present temple until the time of Alexander” (ibidem).Ephesus fell under Persian dominion prior to the invasion of Greece by Xerxes, and it remained so until the Greek victory over Persia. Dominated by Ionians until the Peloponnesian War, they were again driven out and it fell once again to Persian rule, where it stayed until the time of Alexander. The famous temple of Artemis was destroyed in the mid-fourth century BC (apparently by a lunatic who torched it), and it was still in the process of being rebuilt in the time of Alexander. Eventually the city came under the rule of the Attalic Kingdom, whose last king died in 133 BC, leaving his dominion to Rome.

Evidently many Romans were already living in Ephesus when it was invaded in the war between the Romans and Mithridates the king of Pontus, who had all of the Romans in Asia put to death, which were reportedly as many as 80,000. Mithridates, of both Persian and Macedonian ancestry, waged war against Rome from 88 to 63 BC.

Mithradates, on a coin from the British Museum

However he was defeated by Rome in Asia soon after, about 86 BC, and Ephesus once again came under Roman rule. By the time of Augustus, Ephesus was a flourishing cosmopolitan city. Augustus had made the city the proconsular capital of Asia, and its population grew accordingly (estimates, however, range from 33,000 to 225,000 people). Partly due to the harbor it had where what is now called the Cayster River flows into the sea, Strabo called Ephesus the “largest emporium in Asia this side [of] the Taurus” (Geography, 14.1.24), which makes Ephesus the largest trading center of most of Anatolia.

9 And as some were hardened and unpersuaded [or “disobedient”, ἀπειθέω (544)] speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, withdrawing from them he separated the students, each day conversing in the school of Turannos.

The Codices Bezae (D) and Laudianus (E) both have “the multitude of people” here. By itself, this English reading is not of significant difference. However in both cases the phrase “of the people” is the Genitive plural of the Greek word ἔθνος(1484), which would usually be rendered as “of gentiles” in English translations. Noticing the interpolation serves to prove the veracity of our assertion which was made throughout the Book of Acts, that when a multitude consisting of individuals of diverse nations was referred to, the word ἔθνος was used in the plural, and in such cases it should therefore be rendered as people in English, and not as nations or gentiles.

While it is clearly a proper name in the context which it appears in here, the word τύραννος is a form of the same Greek word which we would usually translate as tyrant in English. The Codex Bezae (D), aside from other interpolations, and the Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text all have “a certain Turannos”.

Paul “separated the students”, meaning that those who were persuaded to Christianity would stop attending the Judaean assembly hall in order to be instructed by Paul alone. The Greek word σχολή (4981), from which is derived our English word school, meant leisure or freedom from labor. The Greeks spent much of their leisure time in learning, whether it was of philosophy or any of the other arts or sciences, and wealthy Greeks were able to set up buildings for this purpose. Individual philosophers who enjoyed the support of patrons also had their own schools. Whoever Turannos was, for he is only mentioned by name on this one occasion, Paul was able to use his school in order to teach Christianity for a very long time.

10 And this happened for two years, consequently for all those dwelling in Asia to hear the Word of the Prince, both Judaeans and Greeks.

Again, the “Jew versus Gentile” paradigm of the denominational sects crumbles, many from both sides, Judaean and Greek, accepting the Gospel of Christ. Historically, both populations were for the most part Israelite in their origins with elements of other Adamic Genesis 10 tribes such as Ionians and Lydians among them. One other aspect of these Judaean assembly halls which must be noted, is that being so well attended by Greeks throughout the οἰκουμένη, while the Greeks pursued all forms of philosophy it is nevertheless evident that the learning of the Judaeans could not have been as alien to Western values than modern Judaism is perceived to be today.

From Revelation chapter 2: “1 For the messenger of the assembly in Ephesos, write: Thus says He commanding the seven stars in His right hand, He walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your works and your toil and patience, and that you are not able to bear evils, and have tried those calling themselves ambassadors yet they are not, and you have found them liars, 3 and you have patience and have endured on account of My Name and have not grown weary. 4 But I hold against you that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen and repent and do these first works. But if not, I shall come to you and I shall remove your lampstand from its place, if you should not repent. 6 This other thing you have: that you hate the works of the people-conquerors, which I also hate. 7 He having an ear must hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies! To he who prevails I shall give to him to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of Yahweh.”

The Revelation of Yahshua Christ was penned by the apostle John about 40 years after Paul's sojourn in Ephesus. The fact that Paul of Tarsus founded this Christian assembly cannot be honestly debated. Therefore, the Christianity which Paul brought to Ephesus was true, and was the “first love” of the Ephesian Christians, which by the time the Revelation was written, the Ephesians were already departed from. Thus does Yahshua Christ give His approbation to the ministry of Paul of Tarsus. During Paul's last visit to Ephesus, recorded in Acts chapter 20, he warned them to be aware of some of the very things for which Yahshua later criticized them.

11 And Yahweh brought about extraordinary feats of power through the hands of Paul, 12 so that even for handkerchiefs or sashes to be brought from his flesh to those who were sick and to be relieved from their diseases, and the wicked spirits made to depart.

We have seen much the same testimony in reference to Peter, in Acts chapter 5 where Luke wrote: “14 And still more they added to those believing in the Prince, a multitude both of men and of women, 15 consequently even to bring out those with sicknesses into the streets and to set them upon cots and couches, that upon the coming of Petros even the shadow would overshadow some of them. 16 Then also came together a multitude from the cities around Jerusalem bearing the sick and those being troubled by unclean spirits, all of whom they healed.” The apostles likewise testified of Christ, from Matthew chapter 14: “34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.” The gifts of prophecy, tongues and healing were dispensed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles of the first century in order to facilitate the spread of Christianity in opposition to long-established paganism, the countless Greek and Eastern philosophies, and Judaism. Their efficacy and the countless martyrs who bore witness on account of them prove that Christ is true. Yet as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, those things would also come to pass, and indeed they did.

13 Then certain of the vagabond Judaean exorcists also attempted to call the Name of Prince Yahshua upon those having wicked spirits, saying “Iadjure [the papyrus P38 and the Majority Text have “we adjure”] you by Yahshua whom Paul proclaims!”

The word “vagabond” is from a Substantive form of the verb περιέρχομαι (4022), which is literally to go about or around. It was used in classical literature of beggars and other such people. It is of interest that Luke used such a word, as this is the first and only time that such a description appears in the New Testament, to which we may compare Genesis chapter 4, verses 12 and 14. While it is apparent that the Septuagint translators did not interpret these passages concerning Cain in the same manner as the English translators, the Hebrew behind the English versions of Genesis 4:16 sets the context to understand them in such a manner, where Cain is sent to the land of “Nod”, or wandering. The Septuagint translators only attempted to transliterate that word.

Yet it can be demonstrated that many of the so-called Judaeans were actually descendants of Cain, through Canaan, and consequently through Esau and Shelah. For Judah's son Shelah had a Canaanite mother, and Esau took Canaanite wives. The Canaanites had earlier mingled with the Kenites (descendants of Cain), Rephaim (giants) and related races, for which see Genesis chapter 15 (15:19-21). The words of Christ in both Luke chapter 11 and John chapter 8 demonstrate that addressing certain Judaeans, He was addressing descendants of Cain.

There are two related words which appear in this verse that should be discussed. These areexorcist, from the Greek word ἐξορκιστής (1845), and the verb rendered as adjure, from the Greek word ὁρκίζω (3726), where the papyrus P38 has ἐξορκίζω (1844). Precisely what the vagabond Judaeans wanted to adjure from the wicked spirits cannot be determined from the text, however it cannot be justly assumed that they would merely expel them from their human hosts. There is no indication in the text that this was their motive or that their motive was just. Note the account which was related at Acts 16:16-18, where certain men gained great profit by their ability to control a certain slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination.

Here it is evident that the Judaean vagabonds wished to control the spirits possessing people, by exhorting them to work for them. This is in spite of the interpolations offered by the papyrus P38 and the Codex Bezae (D),which have the Judaeans attempting to expel the spirits. These interpolations shall be summarized here, since with a few exceptions they are quite similar: “Among them also sons of a certain priest [P38 has “high priest”] Skeua desired to do the same. They had [P38 has “Having”] a custom such as those to adjure. And entering [P38 has “coming”] into him being possessed by demons they began to call upon the name saying ‘We command you by Yahshua whom Paul [P38 has “Paul the ambassador”] proclaims, to come out!’” For these interpolations and many others, one should be persuaded that these manuscripts of the so-called western tradition are based upon versions of the text which contain many embellishments that attempted to interpret rather than simply transmit the Scriptures.

The reading of the Christogenea New Testament at Acts 19:14 is based upon a Greek text which is generally consistent among all of the other codices and the Majority Text thusly:

14 And there were seven sons of a certain Judaean high priest Skeua doing this.

These are those men who were referred to by Luke as vagabonds, and we see that they are related to a Judaean high priest, as all of the extant ancient manuscripts except the Codex Bezae attest. At this time, which is in the reign of Claudius, the Romans delegated the authority to appoint high priests in Jerusalem to Herod Agrippa II. While there are many high priests appointed and removed from office by this Herod during this time, Josephus does not mention any man by this name. However this alone cannot discredit Luke's account, since it is evident that there were many former high priests living at any given time during this period, and that former high priests continued to be called by the title, and also that men of the period had multiple names, there may well have been such a man who was known to Luke by this name, but to Josephus by some other name.

15 But the wicked spirit answered: it said to them “Now I know Yahshua, and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?”

Throughout the Gospel accounts, the demons which Christ encountered both knew Him and attested to His authority. That this demon here did not at all respect these so-called “vagabond Jews” may well be an indication of their nature as broken cisterns, being “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit” and “twice dead, plucked up by the roots”, and therefore having not the Spirit of God they were not worthy of any recognition. The power of God would not assist them, and the demons had only God to fear.

16 Then the man in whom was the wicked spirit springing upon them overpowering both prevailing against them and so naked and having been wounded to flee from that house.

While Christians could indeed do wonderful things in the name of Christ, demons would not respect those who could not be Christians. It is not that the “vagabond Jews” did not “believe” in Jesus, for indeed they were “calling upon the name”. Rather, it is evident that since they were not of the “lost sheep” for whom Christ came they could not be Christians, so “calling upon the name” would not help them. Today's denominational sects follow the example of the “vagabond Jews”, by teaching those who are outside of the promises and covenants of God to invoke the name of Christ.

17 And this became known to all those dwelling in Ephesos, both Judaeans and Greeks, and fear fell upon them all and the Name of Prince Yahshua was magnified. 18 And many of those who believed came confessing and reporting their practices.

The Greek word πρᾶξις(4234) is, among other things, “a doing, transaction, action, act...practice... in plural public or political life” (Liddell & Scott), and the context being set in verse 19 the word is practices, and not merely deedsas many translations have the word.

19 And many of those practicing curiosities gathering their books burned them before all, and they totaled their value and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

The word περίεργος(4021) appears New Testament only here and at I Timothy 5:13. It is an adjective, “careful overmuch...2. busy about other folk’s affairs, meddling, a busybody...curious, superstitious” (Liddell & Scott). On both occasions times it appears, it is used as a Substantive, a noun. In I Timothy of people it is meddlers. Here in the neuter gender and being plural it is curiosities, where superstitions would also be appropriate. The King James Version has “curious arts”.

The ἀργύριον (694) may refer to something made of silver, or perhaps to a coin such as the drachma, which in Greece was the common silver coin of the time. At any rate, books were very expensive at the time since they were all made and inscribed by hand.

20 Thusly according to the power of the Prince the Word grew and prevailed.

The Codex Bezae (D) has this verse: “Thusly according to the power it was strengthened and the faith of Yahweh grew and was multiplied.” The Codex Laudianus (E) has “Thusly according to the power the Word of Yahweh grew and prevailed.” The Majority Text has “Thusly according to the power the Word of the Prince grew and prevailed.” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B).

21 And as he completed these things, (D wants the clause, having only “Then”) Paul was set in the Spirit passing through Makedonia and Achaia to go to Jerusalem, saying that after my being there it is necessary for me also to see Rome. 22 And sending into Makedonia two of those ministering with him, Timotheos and Erastos, he stayed for a time (D has “for a little time”) in Asia.

Paul had already been in Ephesus for three months prior to his time in the school of Turannos (Acts 19:8) and then for an additional two years while at that school. Here we see that he is in Asia even beyond that time, where it would be safe to say that he was in Ephesus for at least nearly two and a half years, and possibly longer

We have seen that the Edict of Claudius expelling the Judaeans from Rome, mentioned at the beginning of Acts chapter 18, can be dated to approximately 49 AD. Paul stayed in Corinth for at least a year and a half, and his trial before Gallio, the Roman proconsul of Achaea, was most likely about the middle of 51 AD. Paul then spent an extended but indeterminate amount of time traveling to and abiding at Caesareia and at Antioch in Syria, and then he once again traveled through Phrygia and Galatia before coming to Ephesos.

Now after about two-and-a-half years in Ephesus, it is probably safe to say that it is at least four years since he departed Corinth, and probably longer. So it is now at least 55 AD, and more likely 56 AD, as we shall establish at the end of this presentation where we discuss the writing of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, which indeed occurred here during his stay in Ephesus. By this time, Claudius is dead and Nero is in power in Rome. Paul's final trip to Jerusalem, as we hope to establish presenting the later chapters of Acts, was in 57 AD, so there are perhaps two years left to his ministry.

23 And there came about that time no little trouble concerning the Way. 24 For a certain silversmith named Demetrios making silver[B wants “silver”, but it is nevertheless implied] temples of Artemis, which provided the craftsmen not a little business, 25 whom gathering also the workmen concerning such things said “Men, you know that from this business there is wealth for us.

The Greek word εὐπορία(2142) is “an easy way of doing a thing, facility or faculty for doing...easy means of providing...2. plenty, store, abundance, wealth...” (Liddell & Scott) and it is merely wealth here at the end of verse 25, but it implies an easy way of making one's living. The souvenir business then was evidently quite lucrative, as it also is today. To these men Christianity was a threat, as it insists upon the putting away of such idolatry and the works of the hands of men.

Few now realize that the little statues and other mass-produced trinkets representing some object of veneration that people purchase at our modern tourist meccas is also this same sort of idolatry, merely packaged and marketed a little differently, and from that certain merchants today also have an easy living. To continue with Demetrius' address:

26 And you observe and you hear that not only of Ephesos but of nearly all of Asia this Paul persuading has changed [or rendered more fully, “changed the position of”, i.e. from paganism] a considerable crowd saying that they are not gods, which are being produced by hands.

In more recent times, rather than ceasing from the works of the hands of such men, people only deny that those works are gods. Yet they still spend their time and money in the pursuit and the care of such things. For that reason, the Revelation of Christ says: “And the rest of the men, those who had not been killed by these plagues, did not even repent from the works of their hands, that they do not worship demons and idols, things of gold and things of silver and things of copper and things of stone and things of wood, things which are able neither to see nor to hear nor to walk” (Revelation 9:20). Now Christians have not ceased from idolatry, they have only changed the name of it. Once more, to continue with Demetrius' address:

27 And not only does he endanger this share for us to come into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Artemis is to be accounted for nothing and is also going to destroy her majesty which the whole of Asia and the inhabited world worships!” 28 Then hearing and being filled with anger they cried out saying “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

Demetrius' speech played heavily on the fact that the temple of Artemis provided the city with great financial gain from the religious tourism that it provided, which was threatened by the spread of Christianity. In modern times that same sort of idolatry has taken many other forms. Artemis, an ancient Greek deity, was the goddess of the hunt, among other things, and portrayed as the sister of Apollo. She appears in Greek literature from the time of Homer, and she was later equated with the Roman idol Diana, and therefore most translations incorrectly use Diana in their versions of Acts chapter 19. Artemis was worshiped by Ionians as well as by Dorians, and from the diversity of accounts concerning her origins and supposed parentage, she appears to be a native Greek deity, unlike those which were brought from the Near East or from Egypt. She was portrayed as having certain attributes which Athena was also depicted as having had, such as prowess in battle and her association with virginity, yet Athena can clearly be shown to have been derived from the Anath of the Phoenicians. The temple of Artemis in Ephesus, along with the famous Library of Celsus which was built in the early decades of the 2nd century AD, were both destroyed in the invasion of Roman Asia by the Goths circa 268 AD.

29 And the city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, seizing Gaios and Aristarchos, Makedonians, fellow travelers of Paul’s. 30 And upon Paul’s wishing to enter into the people, the students did not allow him.

Remains of the ancient theater at Ephesus

The theater in Ephesus was first built in the Hellenistic period, and expanded in Roman times. It had a capacity of up to 25,000 people and is said to be the largest theater in Anatolia. Gaius and Aristarchus are mentioned again in Acts chapter 20.

The crowd in the theater must have been great, and seems to have been gathered hurriedly and upon some sort of signal, perhaps of a trumpet or other such device. The crowd seems to consist of the general democratic assembly of people which was accustomed to gathering in such a manner in order to hear some matter important to the city, however the statements of a certain clerk, or scribe, recorded in verse 39 indicate that this particular gathering was not conducted in the usual lawful manner.

31 And some of the Asiarchs, being friends with him, sending to him exhorted him not to give himself up into the theater.

Liddell & Scott say of the Asiarchs that they were “the highest religious official[s] under the Romans in the province of Asia”. Evidently they were wealthy men who were chosen to serve each by and on behalf of their various communities at their own expense, and they also officiated over both the religious ceremonies and the games which were customarily held in each city. It is an extraordinary testament to Paul, that he would be able to persuade such men to Christ, or at the very least even to have their sympathy.

32 So then others cried out something different, for the assembly was confused and the greater number knew not for what reason they had come together.

Evidently Demetrius' words were not very effective at persuading the crowd. Perhaps the charges which he made, so alien to their own religious paradigm, themselves caused confusion among the people. The logic of this argument is evidenced in the words of the scribe which are recorded in verse 35.

33 And from the crowd they brought up Alexandros, the Judaeans putting him forth, and Alexandros motioning with the hand wished to speak in defense to the people. 34 But recognizing that he is a Judaean, one voice arose from all, crying out for about two hours “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” [The Codex Vaticanus (B) repeats the cry a second time.]

Here perhaps the Greek word ὥρας, plural of ὥρα, or hour, was translated too literally. Yet whatever Luke may have had in mind, minutes would seem to be an understatement. The word does not necessarily denote a fixed period of time.

Alexandros speaking in defense, which is primarily what the word ἀπολογέομαι means, he was not necessarily attempting to speak in defense of Christians. It can only be wondered, whether this Alexandros is the man referenced by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:20, whom Paul called a blasphemer. The first epistle to Timothy was apparently written from Greece only a short time after this event in Ephesus (for which we may compare Acts 20:1 and 1 Timothy 1:3). In any case, it seems that the Judaeans here were not necessarily friendly to Christianity, and may have wanted to use this event as an occasion to accuse Christians, as they are recorded as having leveraged the pagans against Christians so many times throughout the Book of Acts.

35 And a scribe putting the crowd to order said [D and E have “And a scribe motioning to the crowd said”] “Men, Ephesians! Now who is there of men who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is custodian of the great Artemis, and that which is fallen from Zeus?

This man being a scribe, or probably a clerk, the word γραμματεύς (1122) is “scribe” throughout the New Testament. The King James Version has “town clerk” here,an inference which is not improper because the crowd evidently recognized this particular scribe as someone whose words had authority.

Strabo mentions the ξόανον(xoanon) in connection with Ephesus in the fourth book of his Geography(4.1.4) and elsewhere, and Horace Leonard Jones in his translation which is found in the Loeb Classical Library edition says in a note that “Strictly speaking, the ‘xoana’ [plural] were the primitive wooden images which were supposed originally to have fallen from heaven.” Here the word is not ξόανον but διοπετής(1356), which appears in the New Testament only this one time, and is literally “that which is fallen from Zeus”. In the Loeb Classical Library edition of Euripides, David Kovacs often translates the word ξόανον simply as statue, for an example of which one may see Iphigenia Among the Taurians at line 1359. In that same play and scene, at line 1384, the ξόανον at Tauros is referred to by Euripides as “the thing that fell from the sky, the statue of Zeus’s daughter”, which was a reference to Artemis. Kovacs says in his introduction to the play “There was a cult of Artemis Tauropolos in the Attic deme of Halai where a kind of mock human sacrifice took place at the yearly festival”, in fifth century B.C. Athens.

36 Therefore these things being undeniable, it is proper for you to be keeping order and not to do anything rash. 37 For you have brought these men [D interpolates “here”] who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our [E and the MT have “your”] goddess.

Because there had not been an actual crime against the people or the city itself, there was no legitimate reason to bring the Christians before the assembly of the people.

38 So then if Demetrios and those craftsmen with him have a matter against anyone [D has “any matter against them”], the markets are open and there are proconsuls, let them accuse each other.

“The markets are open”, or literally “the markets are going” in the sense of operating, the magistrates of the various cities sat in the markets and heard the cases which were brought to them each day. As we had seen when Paul was in in Philippi, which is recorded in Acts chapter 16, the men who owned the slave girl from whom he cast out the demon had a legal cause [not necessarily a lawful cause] to bring Paul before the magistrates of the city because, whether it was considered good or bad, they had suffered a loss of income on account of Paul's actions.

39 But if you seek after anything further [א, A, D, E, and the MT have “anything concerning others”; the text follows B], it shall be resolved in the lawful assembly. 40 For even we risk being accused of sedition concerning this day, there not being any reason in regard to which we are able to give account about this gathering.” And saying these things he discharged the assembly.

If the people of the city had acted rashly, without following procedures proper under Roman law, they themselves could have been accused before the Roman authorities and would be called to account for their actions. It seems that this scribe must have been a person of some authority, and was basically telling the instigators that they did not have the approval and support of the elders of the city for their actions, using the legal language of the day in order to do so. It may be conjectured that the scribe may well have been one of those Asiarchs who happened to be friendly to Paul, or at least one who was familiar with the friendship. With Paul not being present it was easier to defuse the situation since it did not appear that it was Paul whom he was defending.

While Paul was in Ephesus, he had written what we now know as his first epistle to the Corinthians, although there is evidence within that epistle that it was really his second, and that the letter which was actually his first is now lost (1 Corinthians 5:9).

From 1 Corinthians chapter 16: “5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. 7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. 8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” Paul certainly did go through Makedonia again after departing from Ephesus, as we see in Acts chapter 20: “1 And after the cessation of the tumult [in Ephesus] Paul sending after and encouraging the students, saluting them departed to go into Makedonia.”

With this agitation against Christians from Demetrius and others which happened in Ephesus, it is evident that by this time Paul already had written his epistle to Corinth now known as 1 Corinthians. Whether Paul was actually able to stay in Ephesus until the Pentecost as he had planned originally is not known. The Pentecost mentioned in Acts 20:16 must be at least a year later, and is very probably the Pentecost of 57 AD. Therefore the last Pentecost which he had planned to spend in Ephesus was probably 56 AD. We shall better establish the dates while presenting the later chapters of Acts.

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