28 “When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 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. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 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. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28–34)
Upon hearing the inflammatory statements against the Apostle Paul and the Gospel by Demetrius the Ephesian silversmith, his fellow tradesmen and craftsmen became totally furious with wrathful indignation and began to continually shout and scream ““Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
Consequently, the city became filled with an emotional and uproarious tumult. Crowds of people converged upon the city’s open-air theater. In the process, the mob seized Gaius and Aristarchus, who Luke described as Paul’s traveling companions.
Paul, perhaps wishing to prevent any harm to his two companions and also to address the crowd, is prevented in doing so by the disciples of Jesus living in Ephesus. There were other Asians who were Paul friends who also earnestly and continually implored and begged him not to go into the theater.
The atmosphere within the theater was total chaos. Luke records that, “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.”
Some of the crowd prompted a Jew named Alexander to address the people. In his commentary on Acts, Dr. Simon Kistemaker writes, “The Jews wanted to clear themselves of any charge of opposing the worship of Artemis. At the same time they want to place Paul and his followers in a bad light.” Whatever the reason to have Alexander speak, upon hearing that he was a Jew, the mob began to shout and scream all the more “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” They di this for two solid hours.
As we have seen in our own day, riotous people do not conduct themselves with any rhyme or reason. Their intention is to destroy, to be heard and to shout down any opposition. Rational thought is seldom seen in such instances.
How was this situation resolved? We will see when next we meet.
Soli deo Gloria!