The Apostle Paul: The Riotous Crowd is Quelled.

35 “And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.” (Acts 19:35–41)

The Ephesian town clerk was a non-Roman city official. He would be most likened to a city manager or mayor. This unnamed individual possessed real authority. The crowd recognized him and became quiet.

The clerk said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?” Like most politicians, the official sought to ingratiate himself to the crowd by affirming what he knew they wanted to hear.

He then said, “Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash.” The clerk says that the so-called un-deniability of the legend of Artemis should cause no alarm among the citizens of the city. They have nothing to worry about and therefore should not act hastily.

While the facts concerning Artemis are disputable as fact, the seizing of Paul’s two companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, are not. The clerk states, “For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.” With well-chosen rhetoric, the city official warned the crowd that they have wronged two innocent men. The crowd, in fact, are the real lawbreakers.

The official then said, “If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly.” He stressed to the citizens the importance of following the rule of law. There is a correct way of handling legal disputes and rioting is not the correct way.

Finally, the clerk warned them when he said, “For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.” Demetrius said that the Apostle Paul would cost the city its prestige among the ancient world. Ironically, it would be the behavior of the Ephesian citizens which would bring about that result. The official dismissed the crowd and apparently they complied.

Is it ever appropriate for Christians to riotously protest against society’s ills and injustice? 1 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV) says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  

Believers are to pray, intercede, and gives thanks on behalf of all kinds of people including those who serve in government. The purpose of this is so that believers in Christ may conduct their lives in a tranquil and well-ordered life which is devoted to God and respectful.

May each believer in Christ take this truth from I Timothy to heart, regardless of who serves in government positions on the federal, state, or local level.

Soli deo Gloria!  

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