During the stay of Apollos in Corinth, Paul, after passing through the inland districts, came to Ephesus, where he found a few disciples.
“Did you receive the holy Spirit when you first believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we did not even hear that there is a Holy Spirit.”
“Into what then were you baptized?” he asked. “Into John’s baptism,” they replied.
“John,” he said, “administered a baptism of repentance, bidding the people believe on One who was to come after him; namely, on Jesus.”
On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus;
and when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy spirit came on them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy.
They numbered in all about twelve men.
Afterwards he went into the synagogue. There for three months he continued to preach fearlessly, explaining in words which carried conviction the truths which concern the Kingdom of God.
But some grew obstinate in unbelief and spoke evil of the new faith before all the congregation. So Paul left them, and, taking with him those who were disciples, held discussions daily in Tyrannus’s lecture-hall.
This went on for two years, so that all the inhabitants of the province of Asia, Jews as well as Greeks, heard the Lord’s Message.
God also brought about extraordinary miracles through Paul’s instrumentality.
Towels or aprons, for instance, which Paul had handled used to be carried to the sick, and they recovered from their ailments, or the evil spirits left them.
But there were also some wandering Jewish exorcists who undertook to invoke the name of Jesus over those who had the evil spirits, saying, “I command you by that Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
There were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew of high-priestly family, who were doing this.
“Jesus I know,” the evil spirit answered, “and Paul I have heard of, but who are you?”
And the man in whom the evil spirit was sprang on two of them, over-mastered them both, and treated them with such violence, that they fled from the house stripped of their clothes and wounded.
All the people of Ephesus, Jews as well as Greeks, came to know of this. There was widespread terror, and they began to hold the name of the Lord Jesus in high honour.
Many also of those who believed came confessing without reserve what their conduct had been,
and not a few of those who had practised magical arts brought their books together and burnt them in the presence of all. The total value was reckoned and found to be 50,000 silver coins.
Thus mightily did the Lord’s Message spread and triumph!
When matters had reached this point, Paul decided in his own mind to travel through Macedonia and Greece, and go to Jerusalem. “After that,” he said, “I must also see Rome.”
But he sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he himself remained for a while in Roman Asia.
Now just at that time there arose no small commotion about the new faith.
There was a certain Demetrius, a silversmith, who made miniature silver sanctuaries of Diana, a business which brought great gain to the mechanics in his employ.
He called his workmen together, and others who were engaged in similar trades, and said to them, “You men well know that our prosperity depends on this business of ours;
and you see and hear that, not in Ephesus only but throughout almost the whole province of Asia, this fellow Paul has led away a vast number of people by inducing them to believe that they are not gods at all that are made by men’s hands.
There is danger, therefore, not only that this our trade will become of no account, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana will fall into utter disrepute, and that before long she will be actually deposed from her majestic rank–she who is now worshipped by the whole province of Asia; nay, by the whole world.”
After listening to this harangue, they became furiously angry and kept calling out, “Great is the Ephesian Diana!”
The riot and uproar spread through the whole city, till at last with one accord they rushed into the Theatre, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, two Macedonians who were fellow travellers with Paul.
Then Paul would have liked to go in and address the people, but the disciples would not let him do so.
A few of the public officials, too, who were friendly to him, sent repeated messages entreating him not to venture into the Theatre.
The people, meanwhile, kept shouting, some one thing and some another; for the assembly was all uproar and confusion, and the greater part had no idea why they had come together.
Then some of the people crowded round Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward; and Alexander, motioning with his hand to get silence, was prepared to make a defence to the people.
No sooner, however, did they see that he was a Jew, than there arose from them all one roar of shouting, lasting about two hours. “Great is the Ephesian Diana,” they said.
At length the Recorder quieted them down. “Men of Ephesus,” he said, “who is there of all mankind that needs to be told that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Diana and of the image which fell down from Zeus?
These facts, then, being unquestioned, it becomes you to maintain your self-control and not act recklessly.
For you have brought these men here, who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess.
If, however, Demetrius and the mechanics who support his contention have a grievance against any one, there are Assize-days and there are Proconsuls: let the persons interested accuse one another.
But if you desire anything further, it will have to be settled in the regular assembly.
For in connexion with to-day’s proceedings there is danger of our being charged with attempted insurrection, there having been no real reason for this riot; nor shall we be able to justify the behaviour of this disorderly mob.”
With these words he dismissed the assembly.