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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 14: Trials and Victories of Paul.

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Part:  A  B  C

Failing to find the object of their wrath, the mob seized two of his companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and with them hurried on to the theater. Paul's place of concealment was not far distant, and he soon learned of the peril of his beloved brethren. His courage was in keeping with the occasion. He was ever ready to press to the front in the battle for his Master. Forgetful of his own safety, he desired to go at once to the theater, to address the rioters. But his friends refused to permit him thus to sacrifice himself. Gaius and Aristarchus were not the [p. 144] prey that the people sought; no serious harm to them was apprehended. But should the apostle's pale, care-worn face be seen, it would arouse at once the worst passions of the mob, and there would not be the least human possibility of saving his life.

Paul was still eager to defend the truth before the multitude; but he was at last deterred by a message of warning from the theater. Several of the most honorable and influential among the magistrates sent him an earnest request not to venture into a situation of so great peril. This proof of the regard in which Paul was held by the leading men of Asia was no mean tribute to the sterling integrity of his character.

The tumult at the theater was continually increasing. "Some cried one thing, and some another; and the more part knew not wherefore they had come together." From the fact that Paul and some of his companions were of Hebrew extraction, the Jews felt that odium was cast upon them, and that their own safety might be endangered. Wishing it to be understood that they had no sympathy with the Christians, they thrust forward one of their own number to set the matter before the people. The speaker chosen was Alexander, one of the craftsmen, a coppersmith, to whom Paul afterward referred as having done him much evil. Alexander was a man of considerable ability, and he bent all his energies to direct the wrath of the people exclusively against Paul and his companions. But the crowd were in no mood to make nice distinctions. Seeing that Alexander was a Jew, they thrust him aside, the uproar continually increasing as all with one voice cried out, "Great is [p. 145] Diana of the Ephesians!" This cry continued for two hours.

At last there came a momentary silence, from sheer exhaustion. Then the recorder of the city arrested the attention of the crowd, and by virtue of his office obtained a hearing. By his prudence and good judgment he soon succeeded in quieting the excitement.

He met the people on their own ground, and showed that there was no cause for the present tumult. He appealed to their reason to decide whether the strangers who had come among them could change the opinions of the whole world regarding their ruling goddess. Said he: "Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of Ephesus is a worshiper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly." He bade them consider that Paul and his companions had not profaned the temple of Diana, nor outraged the feelings of any by reviling the goddess.

He then skillfully turned the subject, and reproved the course of Demetrius: "Wherefore if Demetrius and the craftsmen which are with him have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies; let them implead one another. But if ye inquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly." He closed by warning them that such an uproar, raised without apparent cause, might subject the city of Ephesus to the censure of the Romans, thus causing a restriction of her present liberty, and intimating that there must not be a repetition of the scene. Having by this [p. 146] speech completely tranquilized the disturbed elements, the recorder dismissed the assembly.

The words of Demetrius reveal the real cause of the tumult at Ephesus, and also the cause of much of the persecution which followed the apostles in their work of promulgating the truth. "This, our craft, is in danger." With Demetrius and his fellows, the profitable business of image-making was endangered by the teaching and spread of the gospel. The income of pagan priests and artisans was at stake; and for this reason they instituted the most bitter opposition to the apostle, and refused to receive or investigate the new religion, which would have made them wise unto salvation.

Part:  A  B  C

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