Sketches From The Life of Paul
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 14: Trials and Victories of Paul.
< Prev Contents
... Next >
For upwards of three years, Ephesus was the
center of Paul's work. A flourishing church
was raised up here, and from this city the gospel
spread throughout the province of Asia, among
both Jews and Gentiles.
The apostle had for some time contemplated
another missionary journey. He desired again
to visit the churches in Macedonia and
and after spending some time at Corinth, to go to
Jerusalem, after which he hoped to preach the
gospel at Rome. In pursuance of his plan, he
sent Timothy and Erastus before him into
Macedonia; but feeling that the cause in Ephesus still [p. 141] demanded his presence, he decided to remain till
after Pentecost. An event soon occurred,
however, which hastened his departure.
The month of May was specially devoted to
the worship of the goddess of Ephesus. The
universal honor in which this deity was held, the
magnificence of her temple and her worship,
attracted an immense concourse of people from
all parts of the province of Asia. Throughout
the entire month the festivities were
conducted with the utmost pomp and splendor. The
gods were represented by persons chosen for the
purpose, who were regarded as objects of worship,
and were honored by processions, sacrifices, and
libations. Musical contests, the feats of athletes,
and the fierce combats of men and beasts, drew
admiring crowds to the vast theaters. The
officers chosen to conduct this grand celebration
were the men of highest distinction in the chief
cities of Asia. They were also persons of vast
wealth, for in return for the honor of their
position, they were expected to defray the entire
expense of the occasion. The whole city was a
scene of brilliant display and wild revelry.
Imposing processions swept to the grand temple.
The air rung with sounds of joy. The people
gave themselves up to feasting, drunkenness, and
the vilest debauchery.
This gala season was a trying occasion to the
disciples who had newly come to the faith. The
company of believers who met in the school of
Tyrannus were an inharmonious note in the
festive chorus. Ridicule, reproach, and insult
were freely heaped upon them. By the labors of
Paul at Ephesus, the heathen worship had
received a telling blow. There was a perceptible [p. 142] falling-off in attendance at the national festival,
and in the enthusiasm of the worshipers. The
influence of his teachings extended far beyond the
actual converts to the faith. Many who had not
openly accepted the new doctrines, became so far
enlightened as to lose all confidence in heathen
gods. The presence of Paul in the city called
special attention to this fact, and curses loud and
deep were uttered against him.
Another cause of dissatisfaction existed. It
had long been customary among heathen nations
to make use of small images or shrines to represent
their favorite objects of worship. Portable
statues were modeled after the great image of
Diana, and were widely circulated in the
countries along the shores of the Mediterranean.
Models of the temple which enshrined the idol
were also eagerly sought. Both were regarded
as objects of worship, and were carried at the
head of processions, and on journeys and
military expeditions. An extensive and profitable
business had grown up at Ephesus from the
manufacture and sale of these shrines and images.
Those who were interested in this branch of
industry found their gains diminishing. All
united in attributing the unwelcome change to
Paul's labors. Demetrius, a manufacturer of
silver shrines, called together the workmen of his
craft, and by a violent appeal endeavored to stir
up their indignation against Paul. He
represented that their traffic was endangered, and
pointed out the great loss which they would
sustain if the apostle were allowed to turn the
people away from their ancient worship. He
then appealed to their ruling superstition, saying:
"Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at [p. 143] Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this
Paul hath persuaded and turned away much
people, saying that they be no gods which are
made with hands; so that not only this our craft
is in danger to be set at naught, but also that the
temple of the great goddess Diana should be
despised, and her magnificence should be
destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth."
This speech acted as fire to the stubble.
The excited passions of the people were roused,
and burst forth in the cry, "Great is Diana of
A report of the speech of Demetrius was
rapidly circulated. The uproar was terrific.
The whole city seemed in commotion. An
immense crowd soon collected, and a rush was made
to the workshop of Aquila, in the Jewish quarters,
with the object of securing Paul. In their
insane rage they were ready to tear him in pieces.
But the apostle was not to be found. His
brethren, receiving an intimation of the danger,
had hurried him from the place. Angels of God
were sent to guard the faithful apostle. His
time to die a martyr's death had not yet come.
< Prev Contents
... Next >