Paul is in Ephesus and a group of craftsmen has determined that he presents a threat to their business by preaching that idols are not real gods. “When they heard this, they were enraged and were crying out, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel”(Acts 19:28-29). Just as in Thessalonica, the angry mob wants Paul but seems to be unable to find him, seizing two of his companions instead. The Ephesian theater (which is still standing) is massive and capable of holding most of the city.
Paul, of course, wants to go in and speak to the people in his defense. He sees this as a golden gospel opportunity. “But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater”(Acts 19:30-31). They seem to grasp what Paul is missing: the crowd is in a frenzy. “Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together”(Acts 19:32). Luke confirms that this is not a time for reason and argument, since the crowd is unwilling even to listen to a Jew (Acts 19:33-34).
This text raises some interesting questions about faith and wisdom. Paul wants to address the crowd as an act of faith. God can protect him and may use this situation to spread the gospel. Yet the disciples and his friends believe wisdom is more important than faith in this instance. It is not wise to cast pearls before swine because they will turn and tear us (Matt 7:6). The important lesson I see here is that we must be willing to reach out in faith, while also carefully listening to the wisdom of our brothers. Sometimes—as Paul must surely conclude later—others can see what we cannot at the moment.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Do I take advice?
One Thing to Pray For: Discernment to know the wise way to proceed in difficult situations
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