Rioting at the Gospel

Peter Barnes: Acts 19:21-41

(31 March 2019)


Charles Spurgeon: ‘I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also.’

1. We are prone to rationalize our sins.

– 19:23-27. Demetrius appeals to a number of motives: the good name of the silversmith trade, the standing of the temple of Artemis (or Diana in Latin), and even the worship of Artemis.

– if the truth does not sound too appealing, we dress it up a little, or even a lot – Acts 16:16-21.

2. Sin makes us irrational.

– 19:26. It is hard to beat that sort of comment. If we made our own gods, how can they be gods? Sin affects our thinking.

– Demetrius works on the crowd – 19:28-34. It is ugly, confusing, and threatening. The Arcadian Way through Ephesus was eleven metres wide so there may have been quite a crowd.

– Ex.23:2a. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, after the assassination of Caesar, the Roman crowd is swayed first by the murderer, Brutus, and then by Mark Antony. It was similar with the crowd at the crucifixion – it does not take much for it to swing from ‘Hosanna’ to ‘Crucify’.

3. God uses worldly people for His purposes.

– 19:35-41. This unnamed town clerk argues four things: the cult of Artemis is in no danger; there are no charges of sacrilege or blasphemy; there are legal procedures available; the crowd was in danger of antagonizing the Roman authorities. See too 18:12-17.