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"About that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen; whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth. And ye see and hear, that not alone at 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; and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth."—Acts xix. 23-8.

St. Paul's labours at Ephesus covered, as he informs us himself, when addressing the elders of that city, a space of three years. The greater portion of that period had now expired, and had been spent in peaceful labours so far as the heathen world and the Roman authorities were concerned. The Jews, indeed, had been very troublesome at times. It is in all probability to them and their plots St. Paul refers when in 1 Cor. xv. 32 he says, "If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me?" as the unbelieving Gentiles do not seem to have raised any insurrection against his teaching till he felt his work was done, and he was, in fact, preparing to leave Ephesus. Before, however, we proceed to discuss358 the startling events which finally decided his immediate departure, we must consider a brief passage which connects the story of Sceva's sons and their impious temerity with that of the silversmith Demetrius and the Ephesian riot.

The incident connected with Sceva's sons led to the triumph over the workers in magic, when the secret professors of that art came and publicly acknowledged their hidden sins, proving their reality by burning the instruments of their wickedness. Here, then, St. Luke inserts a notice which has proved to be of the very greatest importance in the history of the Christian Church. Let us insert it in full that we may see its bearing: "Now after these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. And having sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while." This passage tells us that St. Paul, after his triumph over the practices of magic, and feeling too that the Church had been effectually cleansed, so far as human foresight and care could effect it, from the corroding effects of the prevalent Ephesian vice, now determined to transfer the scene of his labours to Macedonia and Achaia, wishing to visit those Churches which five years before he had founded. It was full five years, at least, since he had seen the Philippian, Thessalonian, and Berœan congregations. Better than three years had elapsed since he had left Corinth, the scene of more prolonged work than he had ever bestowed on any other city except Ephesus. He had heard again and again from all these places, and some of the reports, especially those from Corinth, had been very disquieting.359 The Apostle wished, therefore, to go and see for himself how the Churches of Christ in Macedonia and Achaia were faring. He next wished to pay a visit to Jerusalem to consult with his brethren, and then felt his destiny pushing him still westwards, desiring to see Rome, the world's capital, and the Church which had sprung up there, of which his friends Priscilla and Aquila must have told him much. Such seems to have been his intentions in the spring of the year 57, to which his three years' sojourn in Ephesus seems now to have brought him.

The interval of time covered by the two verses which I have quoted above is specially interesting, because it was just then that the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written. All the circumstances and all the indications of time which the Epistle itself offers conspire to fix the writing of it to this special date and place. The Epistle, for instance, refers to Timothy as having been already sent into Macedonia and Greece: "For this cause have I sent unto you Timothy, who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in Christ" (1 Cor. iv. 17). In Acts xix. 22 we have it stated, "Having sent into Macedonia Timothy and Erastus." The Epistle again plainly tells us the very season of the year in which it was written. The references to the Passover season—"For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ; wherefore let us keep the feast"—are words which naturally were suggested by the actual celebration of the Jewish feast, to a mind like St. Paul's, which readily grasped at every passing allusion or chance incident to illustrate his present teaching. Timothy and Erastus had been despatched in the early spring, as soon as the passes and roads were thoroughly open and navigation established.360 The Passover in A.D. 57 happened on April 7th, and the Apostle fixes the exact date of the First Epistle to Corinth, when in the sixteenth chapter and eighth verse he says to the Corinthians, "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." I merely refer now to this point to illustrate the vastness of the Apostle's labours, and to call attention to the necessity for comparing together the Acts and the Epistles in the minute manner exemplified by Paley in the Horæ Paulinæ, if we wish to gain a complete view of a life like St. Paul's, so completely consecrated to one great purpose.194194   This subject properly belongs to commentators on 1 Corinthians. Paley, in Horæ Paulinæ, ch. iii., and Dr. Marcus Dods, in his Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 104, 105, set forth the evidence in a convenient shape. I may remark that here, as elsewhere, I adopt in the main Mr. Lewin's chronology, as contained in his Fasti Sacri. Without pledging myself to agree in all his details, his scheme forms a good working hypothesis, on which a writer can work when composing an expositor's commentary, not one for professed critics or profound scholars.

Man may propose, but even an apostle cannot dispose of his fate as he will, or foretell under ordinary circumstances how the course of events will affect him. St. Paul intended to stay at Ephesus till Pentecost, which that year happened on May 28th. Circumstances however hastened his departure. We have been considering the story of St. Paul's residence in Ephesus, but hitherto we have not heard one word about the great Ephesian deity, Diana, as the Romans called her, or Artemis, as St. Luke, according to the ordinary local use, correctly calls her in the Greek text of the Acts, or Anaïtis, as her ancient name had been from early times at Ephesus and throughout Asia Minor.195195   The student may consult on the identification of Artemis and the Oriental or Persian deity Anaïtis, the Revue Archéologique for 1885, vol. ii., pp. 105-115, and Derenbourg and Saglio's Dict. des Antiq., s.v. Diana. If this riot had not happened, if our attention361 had not been thus called to Diana and her worship, there might have been a total blank in St. Luke's narrative concerning this famous deity, and her equally famous temple, which was at the time one of the wonders of the world. And then some scoffers reading in ancient history concerning the wonders of this temple, and finding the records of modern discoveries confirming the statements of antiquity might have triumphantly pointed to St. Luke's silence about Diana and the Ephesian temple as a proof of his ignorance. A mere passing riot alone has saved us from this difficulty. Now this case well illustrates the danger of arguing from silence. Silence concerning any special point is sometimes used as a proof that a particular writer knew nothing about it. But this is not the sound conclusion. Silence proves in itself nothing more than that the person who is silent either had no occasion to speak upon that point or else thought it wiser or more expedient to hold his tongue. Josephus, for instance, is silent about Christianity; but that is no proof that Christianity did not exist in his time, or that he knew nothing about it. His silence may simply have arisen because he found Christianity an awkward fact, and not knowing how to deal with it he left it alone. It is well to bear this simple law of historical evidence in mind, for a great many of the popular objections to the sacred narratives, both of the Old and New Testaments, are based upon the very dangerous ground of silence alone.196196   This argument may be pressed further. The silence which we observe in much of second-century literature about the New Testament Canon and Episcopacy is of the same character. The best known and most notorious facts are those about which authors are most apt to be silent when writing for contemporaries, simply because every person acknowledges them and takes them for granted. Let us, however, return to362 Diana of the Ephesians. The worship of the goddess Artemis dominated the whole city of Ephesus,197197   This is manifest at once if the reader will consult Mr. Wood's Ephesus or Guhl's Ephesiaca, a work which, though published (in 1843) before modern discoveries had taught all we now know, is a most elaborate account of ancient Ephesus gleaned out of ancient writers. and helped to shape the destinies of St. Paul at this season, for while intending to stay at Ephesus till Pentecost at the end of May, the annual celebration of Artemisia, the feast of the patron deity of the city, happened, of which celebration Demetrius took advantage to raise a disturbance which hastened St. Paul's departure into Macedonia.

We have now cleared the way for the consideration of the narrative of the riot, which is full of the most interesting information concerning the progress of the gospel, and offers us the most wonderful instances of the minute accuracy of St. Luke, which again have been illustrated and confirmed in the fullest manner by the researches so abundantly bestowed upon Ephesus within the lifetime of the present generation. Let us take the narrative in the exact order given us by St. Luke: "About that time there arose no small stir about the Way." But why about that special time? We have already said that here we find an indication of the date of the riot. It must have happened during the latter part of April, A.D. 57, and we know that at Ephesus almost the whole month of April, or Artemisius, was dedicated to the honour and worship of Artemis.198198   See on the exact time of the Macedonian and Ephesian month of Artemisius, Ussher's treatise on the Macedonian and Asiatic solar year, in the seventh volume of his works Ed. Elrington, p. 425, with which may be compared Bishop Lightfoot's Ignatius, i. 660-700. Mr. Lewin, in his Fasti Sacri, p. 309, makes it the month of May. The Macedonian month Artemisius extended from March 25th to April 24th. This point is further discussed in Lewin's St. Paul, vol. i., p. 405. If St. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians at or shortly before April 7th, the date of the Passover, the riot which hastened his departure must have happened within the succeeding fortnight. Bœckh, in the Corpus of Greek Inscriptions, No. 2954, inserts a long Greek inscription, found one hundred and seventy years ago at Ephesus, laying down the ceremonial to be observed in honour of the deity throughout the whole month, which Mr. Lewin translates, vol. i., p. 405. See, however, more upon this below. But here it may be asked, How did it come363 to pass that Artemis or Diana occupied such a large share in the public worship of Ephesus and the province of Asia? Has modern research confirmed the impression which this chapter leaves upon the mind, that the Ephesian people were above all else devoted to the worship of the deity? The answers to both these queries are not hard to give, and serve to confirm our belief in the honesty and accuracy of the sacred penman. The worship of Artemis, or of Anaïtis rather, prevailed in the peninsula of Asia Minor from the time of Cyrus, who introduced it six or seven centuries before.199199   The Persian language was still used in the worship of Diana at Hierocæsarea and Hypæpa, two well-known towns of the province of Asia in the second century of our era. See Pausanias, v. 27; cf. Tacitus, Annals, iii. 62, and Ramsay's Hist. Geog., p. 128. Anaïtis was the Asiatic deity of fruitfulness, the same as Ashtoreth of the Bible, whom the Greeks soon identified with their own goddess Artemis. Her worship quickly spread, specially through that portion of the country which afterwards became the province of Asia, and through the adjacent districts; showing how rapidly an evil taint introduced into a nation's spiritual life-blood spreads throughout its whole organisation, and when once introduced how persistently it holds its ground; a lesson taught here in New Testament364 times, as in Old Testament days it was proclaimed in Israel's case by the oft-repeated statement concerning her kings, "Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam [king after king] departed not." The spiritual life and tone of a nation is a very precious thing, and because it is so the Church of England does well to bestow so much of her public supplication upon those who have power, like Cyrus and Jeroboam, to taint it at the very foundation and origin thereof. When, for instance, St. Paul landed at Perga in Pamphylia, on the first occasion when he visited Asia Minor as a Christian missionary, his eye was saluted with the splendid temple of Diana on the side of the hill beneath which the city was built, and all over the country at every important town similar temples were erected in her honour, where their ruins have been traced by modern travellers.200200   Voluntary associations were formed all over Asia Minor to cultivate the worship of Artemis. Modern research, for instance, has found inscriptions raised by the Xenoi Tekmoreioi indicating their peculiar devotion to Diana and her worship. They specially flourished at a place called Saghir, near Antioch in Pisidia. It is a curious fact that the cult of the B.V.M. has been substituted for that of Artemis by the Greeks of the neighbourhood, and a feast in her honour is celebrated at the same time as the ancient feast. See Revue Archéologique, 1887, vol. i., p. 96; Ramsay, in his Geography of Asia Minor, p. 409, and in Jour. Hell. Studies for 1883. The cult or worship introduced by Cyrus exactly suited the morals and disposition of these Oriental Greeks, and flourished accordingly.

Artemis was esteemed the protectress of the cities where her temples were built, which, as in the case of Ephesus and of Perga, were placed outside the gates like the temple of Jupiter at Lystra, in order that their presence might cast a halo of protection over the adjacent communities. The temple of Diana at Ephesus365 was a splendid building. It had been several times destroyed by fire notwithstanding its revered character and the presence of the sacred image,201201   The original sacred image, which was preserved inside a screen or curtain in the inmost temple, was a shapeless mass of wood something like the prehistoric blocks of wood or stone which were esteemed at Athens and elsewhere the most venerable images of their favourite deities: see Pausanias, Description of Greece, i. 26. The legend at Ephesus was just the same as at Athens and elsewhere, that these prehistoric images had fallen down from heaven. Some of them may have been aerolites. and had been as often rebuilt with greater splendour than before, till the temple was erected existing in St. Paul's day, which justly excited the wonder of mankind, as its splendid ruins have shown, which Mr. Wood has excavated in our own time at the expense of the English Government.202202   The temple of Ephesus is depicted in Conybeare and Howson's and Lewin's St. Paul, as well as it could have been restored from a study of books. At the time of their publication neither Mr. Wood's discoveries had been made nor his work on Ephesus published. The plans and engravings in Mr. Wood's work of course supersede all others. The plans, etc., in the other works are sufficiently accurate to enable the reader to realise the language of the Acts. The devotion of the Ephesians to this ancient Asiatic deity had even been increasing of late years when St. Paul visited Ephesus, as a decree still exists in its original shape graven in stone exactly as St. Paul must have seen it enacting extended honours to the deity. As this decree bears directly upon the famous riot which Demetrius raised, we insert it here in full, as an interesting confirmation and illustration of the sacred narrative: "To the Ephesian Diana. Forasmuch as it is notorious that not only among the Ephesians, but also everywhere among the Greek nations, temples are consecrated to her, and sacred precincts, and that she hath images and altars dedicated366 to her on account of her plain manifestations of herself, and that, besides, the greatest token of veneration paid to her, a month is called after her name, by us Artemision, by the Macedonians and other Greek nations and their cities, Artemisius, in which month general gatherings and festivals are celebrated, and more especially in our own city, the nurse of its own, the Ephesian goddess. Now the people of Ephesus deeming it proper that the whole month called by her name should be sacred and set apart to the goddess, have resolved by this decree, that the observation of it by them be altered. Therefore it is enacted, that the whole month Artemision in all the days of it shall be holy, and that throughout the month there shall be a continued celebration of feasts and the Artemisian festivals and the holy days, seeing that the entire month is sacred to the goddess; for from this improvement in her worship our city shall receive additional lustre and enjoy perpetual prosperity."203203   The original of this decree will be found in Bœckh's Corp. Inscriptt. Græc., No. 2954, and the translation in Lewin's St. Paul, 405. Now this decree, which preceded St. Paul's labours perhaps by twenty years or more, has an important bearing on our subject. St. Luke tells us that "about this time there arose no small stir about the Way"; and it was only quite natural and quite in accord with what we know of other pagan persecutions, and of human nature in general, that the precise time at which the Apostle had then arrived should have been marked by this riot. The whole city of Ephesus was then given up to the celebration of the festival held in honour of what we may call the national religion and the national deity. That festival lasted the whole month, and was accompanied, as all human festivals are apt to be accompanied, with a367 vast deal of drunkenness and vice, as we are expressly told in an ancient Greek romance, written by a Greek of whom little is known, named Achilles Tatius.204204   There is a long account of Achilles Tatius in the Bibliotheca Græca of Fabricius. He was a pagan first, and then became a Christian. His age is uncertain, but he certainly seems to have lived when pagan feasts were still observed in their ancient splendour. The book in which he describes them is called De Amoribus Clitophontis et Leucippes, where in Book VI., ch. iii. there is an account of the drunkenness and idleness at the feast of Diana. The words of Achilles Tatius bring the scene vividly before us as St. Paul must have seen it: "It was the festival of Artemis, and every place was full of drunken men, and all the market-place was full of a multitude of men through the whole night." In Mason's Diocletian Persecution, p. 361, there will be found an account of a festival celebrated in honour of Artemis in the same spring season at Ancyra in Galatia. This latter account is useful as giving us an authentic account of a Celtic festival of Diana about the year 306 A.D. It would seem as if an annual public washing of the image of Diana constituted an important part of the ceremonial. Both at Ancyra as told in the Acts of St. Theodotus and at Ephesus the image of Diana was annually carried about in a waggon drawn by mules: see Guhl's Ephesiaca, p. 114. At Ancyra, during the Diocletian persecution, seven Christian virgins were dressed as priestesses of Diana and condemned to publicly wash the idol. Upon their refusal they were all drowned in the lake where the image was washed. The Seven Virgins of Ancyra are celebrated in the annals of Christian martyrdom for their heroic resistance on this occasion. See Mason, l.c., and the Dict. Christ. Biog., s.v. Seven Virgins of Ancyra and Theodotus. The people of Ephesus were, in fact, mad with excitement, and it did not require any great skill to stir them up to excesses in defence of the endangered deity whose worship was the glory of their city. We know from one or two similar cases that the attack made upon St. Paul at this pagan festival had exact parallels in these early ages.

This festival in honour of Diana was generally utilised as the meeting-time of the local diet or parliament of the province of Asia, where deputies from368 all the cities of the province met together to consult on their common wants and transmit their decisions to the proconsul, a point to which we shall later on have occasion to refer. Just ninety years later one of the most celebrated of the primitive martyrs suffered upon the same occasion at Smyrna. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, lived to a very advanced period, and helped to hand down the tradition of apostolic life and doctrine to another generation. Polycarp, is, in fact, through Irenæus, one of the chief historic links uniting the Church of later times with the apostles. Polycarp suffered martyrdom amid the excitement raised during the meeting of the same diet of Asia held, not at Ephesus, but at Smyrna, and attended by the same religious ceremonies and observances. Or let us again turn towards the West, and we shall find it the same. The martyrdoms of Vienne and Lyons described by Eusebius in the fifth book of his history are among the most celebrated in the whole history of the Church, and as such have been already referred to and used in this commentary.205205   See vol. i., pp. 8, 9. These martyrdoms are an illustration of the same fact that the Christians were always exposed to peculiar danger at the annual pagan celebrations. The Gallic tribes, the seven nations of the Gauls, as they were called, were holding their annual diet or assembly, and celebrating the worship of the national deities when their zeal was excited to red-hot pitch against the Christians of Vienne and Lyons, resulting in the terrible outbreak of which Eusebius in his fifth book tells us.206206   See the articles on Polycarp in the Dict. Christ. Biog., iv. 426, and on Martyrs of Lyons, iii. 764. As regards Polycarp, see also Lightfoot's Ignatius, vol. i., p. 436; and as regards the Martyrs of Lyons, see Rénan's Marc-Aurèle, pp. 329, 331. It is interesting to notice, in the writings of St. Paulinus of Nola written about the year 400 A.D., his complaints about the abuses, drunkenness and idleness, connected with the feasts and holy days observed in honour of his great patron and hero St. Felix the Martyr. A similar feeling of the moral dangers connected with religious holy days led to the abbreviation of the week's holiday following Easter and Whitsunday to Monday and Tuesday as at present. As it was in Gaul about 177 A.D. and in Smyrna369 about 155 A.D., so was it in Ephesus in the year 57; the month's festival, celebrated in honour of Diana, accompanied with eating and drinking and idleness in abundance, told upon the populace, and made them ready for any excess, so that it is no wonder we should read, "About that time there arose no small stir about the Way." Then too there is another circumstance which may have stirred up Demetrius to special violence. His trade was probably falling off owing to St. Paul's labours, and this may have been brought home to him with special force by the results of the festival which was then in process of celebration or perhaps almost finished. All the circumstances fit this hypothesis. The shrine-makers were, we know, a very important element in the population of Ephesus, and the trade of shrine-making and the manufacture of other silver ornaments conduced in no small degree to the commercial prosperity of the city of Ephesus. This is plainly stated upon the face of our narrative: "Ye know that by this business we have our wealth, and ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath turned away much people," facts which could not have been more forcibly brought home to them than by the decreasing call they were experiencing for the particular articles which they produced.

Now the question may be proposed, Was this the fact? Was Ephesus celebrated for its shrine-makers,370 and were shrines and silver ornaments a favourite manufacture in that city? Here modern research comes in to testify to the marked truthfulness, the minute accuracy of St. Luke. We do not now need to appeal to ancient authors, as Lives of St. Paul like those written by Mr. Lewin or by Messrs. Conybeare and Howson do. The excavations which have taken place at Ephesus since the publication of these valuable works have amply vindicated the historic character of our narrative on this point. Mr. Wood in the course of his excavations at Ephesus discovered a vast number of inscriptions and sculptures which had once adorned the temple of Ephesus, but upon its destruction had been removed to the theatre, which continued in full operation long after the pagan temple had disappeared.207207   The pagan temples were almost universally destroyed about the year 400. The edicts dealing with this matter and an ample commentary upon them will be found in the Theodosian Code, edited by that eminent scholar Godefroy. Among these inscriptions there was one enormous one brought to light. It was erected some forty years or so after St. Paul's time, but it serves in the minuteness of its details to illustrate the story of Demetrius, the speech he made, and the riot he raised. This inscription was raised in honour of a wealthy Roman named Gaius Vibius Salutarius, who had dedicated to Artemis a large number of silver images weighing from three to seven pounds each, and had even provided a competent endowment for keeping up a public festival in her honour, which was to be celebrated on the birthday of the goddess, which happened in the month of April or May. The inscription, which contains the particulars of the offering made by this Roman, would take up quite too much space if we desired to insert it. We can only now371 refer our readers to Mr. Wood's book on Ephesus, where they will find it given at full length. A few lines may, however, be quoted to illustrate the extent to which the manufacture of silver shrines and silver ornaments in honour of Artemis must have flourished in Ephesus. This inscription enumerates the images dedicated to the goddess which Salutarius had provided by his endowments, entering into the most minute details as to their treatment and care. The following passage gives a vivid picture of Ephesian idolatry as the Apostle saw it: "Let two statues of Artemis of the weight of three pounds three ounces be religiously kept in the custody of Salutarius, who himself consecrated them, and after the death of Salutarius, let the aforesaid statues be restored to the town-clerk of the Ephesians, and let it be made a rule that they be placed at the public meetings above the seat of the council in the theatre before the golden statue of Artemis and the other statues. And a golden Artemis weighing three pounds and two silver deer attending her, and the rest of the images of the weight of two pounds ten ounces and five grammes, and a silver statue of the Sacred Senate of the weight of four pounds two ounces, and a silver statue of the council of the Ephesians. Likewise a silver Artemis bearing a torch of the weight of six pounds, and a silver statue of the Roman people." And so the inscription proceeds to name and devote silver and golden statues literally by dozens, which Salutarius intended to be borne in solemn procession on the feast-day of Diana. It is quite evident that did we possess but this inscription alone, we have here amply sufficient evidence showing us that one of the staple trades of Ephesus, one upon which the prosperity and welfare of a large section of372 its inhabitants depended, was this manufacture of silver and gold ornaments directly connected with the worship of the goddess.208208   An interesting confirmation of this fact came to light in modern times. In the year 1830 there was found in Southern France a piece of such Ephesian silver work wrought in honour of Artemis, and carried into Gaul by one of her worshippers. It is now deposited in the Bibliothèque Nationale, and has been fully described in an interesting article in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. iii., pp. 104-106, written by that eminent antiquary C. Waldstein. For it must be remembered that the guild of shrine-makers did not depend alone upon the chance liberality of a stray wealthy Roman or Greek like Salutarius, who might feel moved to create a special endowment or bestow special gifts upon the temple. The guild of shrine-makers depended upon the large and regular demand of a vast population who required a supply of cheap and handy shrines to satisfy their religious cravings. The population of the surrounding districts and towns poured into Ephesus at this annual festival of Diana and paid their devotions in her temple. But even the pagans required some kind of social and family religion. They could not live as too many nominal Christians are contented to live, without any family or personal acknowledgment of their dependence upon a higher power. There was no provision for public worship in the rural districts answering to our parochial system, and so they supplied the want by purchasing on occasions like this feast of Diana, shrines, little silver images, or likenesses of the central cell of the great temple where the sacred image rested, and which served as central points to fix their thoughts and excite the gratitude due to the goddess whom they adored. Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen depended upon the demand created by a vast population of devout believers in Artemis, and when373 this demand began to fall off Demetrius traced the bad trade which he and his fellows were experiencing to the true source. He recognised the Christian teaching imparted by St. Paul as the deadly enemy of his unrighteous gains, and naturally directed the rage of the mob against the preacher of truth and righteousness. The actual words of Demetrius are deserving of the most careful study, for they too have been illustrated by modern discovery in the most striking manner. Having spoken of the results of St. Paul's teaching in Asia of which they all had had personal experience, he then proceeds to expatiate on its dangerous character, not only as regards their own personal interests, but as regards the goddess and her sacred dignity as well: "And not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should be deposed from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth." Demetrius cleverly but lightly touches upon the self-interest of the workmen. He does not dwell on that topic too long, because it is never well for an orator who wishes to rouse his hearers to enthusiasm to dwell too long or too openly upon merely selfish consideration. Man is indeed intensely selfish by nature, but then he does not like to be told so too openly, or to have his own selfishness paraded too frequently before his face. He likes to be flattered as if he cherished a belief in higher things, and to have his low ends and baser motives clothed in a similitude of noble enthusiasm. Demetrius hints therefore at their own impoverishment as the results of Paul's teaching, but expatiates on the certain destruction which awaits the glory of their time-honoured and world-renowned deity if free course be any longer374 permitted to such doctrine. This speech is a skilful composition all through. It shows that the ancient rhetorical skill of the Greeks still flourished in Ephesus, and not the least skilful, and at the same time not the least true touch in the speech was that wherein Demetrius reminded his hearers that the world were onlookers and watchers of their conduct, noting whether or not they would vindicate Diana's assailed dignity. It was a true touch, I say, for modern research has shown that the worship of the Ephesian Artemis was world-wide in its extent; it had come from the distant east, and had travelled to the farthest west. We have already noted the testimony of modern travellers showing that her worship extended over Asia Minor in every direction. This fact Demetrius long ago told the Ephesians, and ancient authors have repeated his testimony, and modern travellers have merely corroborated them. But we were not aware how accurate was Demetrius about the whole world worshipping Artemis, till in our own time the statues and temples of the Ephesian goddess were found existing so far west as Southern Gaul, Marseilles, and the coast of Spain, proving that wherever Asiatic sailors and Asiatic merchants came thither they brought with them the worship of their favourite deity.209209   See the Revue Archéologique for 1886, vol. ii., p. 257, about the worship of the Ephesian Artemis in Marseilles and Southern Gaul, and an article in the Journal of Hellenic Studies for 1889, vol. x., p. 216, by Professor Ramsay, on the vast extent of Artemis worship in Asia. In the same journal, for 1890, vol. xi., p. 235, we have an account of the discovery of one of the original seats of Artemis worship in Eastern Cilicia by Mr. J. T. Bent; while again, in vol. iv., p. 40-43, Ramsay gives us a subscription list raised in Pisidia for the purpose of building a temple of Artemis in a country district.

Let us pass on, however, and see whether the375 remainder of this narrative will not afford us subject-matter for abundant illustrations. The mob drank in the speech of Demetrius, and responded with the national shout, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," a cry which has been found inscribed on altars and tablets all over the province of Asia, showing that it was a kind of watchword among the inhabitants of that district. The crowd of workmen whom Demetrius had been addressing then rushed into the theatre, the usual place of assembly for the people of Ephesus, dragging with them "Gaius and Aristarchus,210210   Aristarchus is described in the Martyrologies as the first bishop of Thessalonica, and is said to have suffered martyrdom under Nero. He is commemorated on August 4th. men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel." The Jews too followed the mob, eager to make the unexpected tumult serve their own hostile purposes against St. Paul. News of the riot was soon carried to the Apostle, who learning of the danger to which his friends were exposed desired to enter that theatre the magnificent proportions and ornamentation of which have been for the first time displayed to modern eyes by the labours of Mr. Wood. But the local Christians knew the Ephesian mob and their state of excitement better than St. Paul did, and so they would not allow him to risk his life amid the infuriated crowd. The Apostle's teaching too had reached the very highest ranks of Ephesian and Asiatic society. The very Asiarchs, being his friends, sent unto him and requested him not to enter the theatre. Here again we come across one of those incidental references which display St. Luke's acquaintance with the local peculiarities of the Ephesian constitution, and which have been only really appreciated in the light of modern discoveries. In the time of376 King James I., when the Authorised Version was made, the translators knew nothing of the proof of the sacred writer's accuracy which lay under their hands in the words, "Certain of the Asiarchs or chief officers of Asia," and so they translated them very literally but very incorrectly, "Certain of the chief of Asia," ignoring completely the official rank and title which these men possessed. A few words must suffice to give a brief explanation of the office these men held. The province of Asia from ancient times had celebrated this feast of Artemis at an assembly of all the cities of Asia. This we have already explained. The Romans united with the worship of Artemis the worship of the Emperor and of the City of Rome; so that loyalty to the Emperor and loyalty to the national religion went hand in hand. They appointed certain officials to preside at these games, they made them presidents of the local diets or parliaments which assembled to discuss local matters at these national assemblies, they gave them the highest positions in the province next to the proconsul, they surrounded them with great pomp, and endued them with considerable power so long as the festival lasted, and then, being intent on uniting economy with their generosity, they made these Asiarchs, as they were called, responsible for all the expenses incurred in the celebration of the games and diets. It was a clever policy, as it secured the maximum of contentment on the people's part with the minimum of expense to the imperial government. This arrangement clearly limited the position of the Asiarchate to rich men, as they alone could afford the enormous expenses involved. The Greeks, specially those of Asia, as we have already pointed out, were very flashy in their disposition. They loved titles and decorations;377 so much so that one of their own orators of St. Paul's day, Dion Chrysostom, tells us that, provided they got a title, they would suffer any indignity. There were therefore crowds of rich men always ready to take the office of Asiarch, which by degrees was turned into a kind of life peerage, a man once an Asiarch always retaining the title, while his wife was called the Asiarchess, as we find from the inscriptions. The Asiarchs were, in fact, the official aristocracy of the province of Asia. They had assembled on this occasion for the purpose of sitting in the local parliament and presiding over the annual games in honour of Diana.211211   These local parliaments under the Roman Empire have been the subject of much modern investigation at the hands of French and German scholars. See for references to the authorities on the point an article which I wrote in Macmillan's Magazine for 1882. Their interests and their honour were all bound up with the worship of the goddess, and yet the preaching of St. Paul had told so powerfully upon the whole province, that even among the very officials of the State religion St. Paul had friends and supporters anxious to preserve his life, and therefore sent him a message not to adventure himself into the theatre. It is no wonder that Demetrius the silversmith roused his fellow-craftsmen into activity and fanned the flame of their wrath, for the worship of Diana of the Ephesians was indeed in danger when the very men whose office bound them to its support were in league with such an uncompromising opponent as this Paul of Tarsus. St. Luke thus gives a glimpse of the constitution of Ephesus and of the province of Asia in his time. He shows us the peculiar institution of the Asiarchate, and then when we turn to the inscriptions which Mr. Wood and other modern discoverers have378 unearthed, we find that the Asiarchs occupy a most prominent position in them, vindicating in the amplest manner the introduction of them by St. Luke as assembled at Ephesus at this special season, and there interesting themselves in the welfare of the great Apostle.212212   See the index to Lightfoot's Ignatius and Polycarp for extended references to the Asiarchate, and also Mommsen's Roman Provinces (Dickson's translation), vol. i., pp. 345-7.

But now there comes on the scene another official, whose title and office have been the subject of many an illustration furnished by modern research. The Jews who followed the mob into the theatre, when they did not see St. Paul there, put forward one Alexander as their spokesman.213213   The Ephesian mob four hundred years later displayed at the third General Council held at Ephesus in 431 an extraordinary power of keeping up the same cry for hours. See the story of the Council as told by Hefele in the third volume of his General Councils (Clark's translation). Nothing will give such a vigorous idea of the confusion which then prevailed at Ephesus as a glance at Mansi's Acts of that Council. The cry "Anathema to Nestorius," the heretic against whom the Council declared, was maintained so long and so continuously that one would imagine that orthodoxy depended on strength of lungs. This man has been by some identified with Alexander the coppersmith, to whom St. Paul refers (2 Tim. iv. 14) when writing to Timothy, then resident at Ephesus, as a man who had done much injury to the Christian cause. He may have been well known as a brother-tradesman by the Ephesian silversmiths, and he seems to have been regarded by the Jews as a kind of leader who might be useful in directing the rage of the mob against the Christians whom they hated. The rioters, however, did not distinguish as clearly as the Jews would have wished between the Christians and the Jews. They made the same mistake as the Romans did for more than a century later, and confounded Jews and Christians together. They were all, in any case, opponents of idol worship and chiefly of their favourite goddess, and therefore the sight of Alexander merely intensified their rage, so much that for the space of two hours they continued to vociferate their favourite cry, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."


Now, however, there appeared another official, whose title and character have become famous through his action on this occasion: "When the town-clerk had quieted the multitude, he saith, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there who knoweth not that the city of the Ephesians is temple-keeper (or Neocoros) of the great Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?" Here we have several terms which have been illustrated and confirmed by the excavations of Mr. Wood. The town-clerk or recorder is introduced, because he was the chief executive officer of the city of Ephesus, and, as such, responsible to the Roman authorities for the peace and order of the city. The city of Ephesus was a free city, retaining its ancient laws and customs like Athens and Thessalonica, but only on the condition that these laws were effective and peace duly kept. Otherwise the Roman authorities and their police would step in. These town-clerks or recorders of Ephesus are known from this one passage in the Acts of the Apostles, but they are still better known from the inscriptions which have been brought to light at Ephesus. I have mentioned, for instance, the immense inscription which Mr. Wood discovered in the theatre commemorating the gift to the temple of Diana of a vast number of gold and silver images made by one Vibius Salutarius. This inscription lays down that the images should be kept in the custody of the town-clerk or recorder when not required for use in the380 solemn religious processions made through the city. The names of a great many town-clerks have been recovered from the ruins of Ephesus, some of them coming from the reign of Nero, the very period when this riot took place. It is not impossible that we may yet recover the very name of the town-clerk who gave the riotous mob this very prudent advice, "Ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash," which has made him immortal. Then, again, a title for the city of Ephesus is used in this pacific oration which is strictly historical, and such as would naturally have been used by a man in the town-clerk's position. He calls Ephesus the "temple-keeper," or "Neocoros," as the word literally is, of the goddess Diana, and this is one of the most usual and common titles in the lately discovered inscriptions. Ephesus and the Ephesians were indeed so devoted to the worship of that deity and so affected by the honour she conferred upon them that they delighted to call themselves the temple-sweepers, or sextons, of the great Diana's temple. In fact, their devotion to the worship of the goddess so far surpassed that of ordinary cities that the Ephesians were accustomed to subordinate their reverence for the Emperors to their reverence for their religion, and thus in the decree passed by them honouring Vibius Salutarius who endowed their temple with many splendid gifts, to which we have already referred, they begin by describing themselves thus: "In the presidency of Tiberius Claudius Antipater Julianus, on the sixth day of the first decade of the month Poseideon, it was resolved by the Council and the Public Assembly of the Necori (of Artemis) and Lovers of Augustus." The Ephesians must have been profoundly devoted to Diana's worship when in that age of gross materialism381 they would dare to place any deity higher than that of the reigning emperor, the only god in whom a true Roman really believed; for unregenerate human nature at that time looked at the things alone which are seen and believed in nothing else.

The rest of the town-clerk's speech is equally deserving of study from every point of view. He gives us a glimpse of the Apostle's method of controversy: it was wise, courteous, conciliatory. It did not hurt the feelings or outrage the sentiments of natural reverence, which ought ever to be treated with the greatest respect, for natural reverence is a delicate plant, and even when directed towards a wrong object ought to be most gently handled. "Ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess.214214   St. Paul's zeal never outran his discretion. He never blasphemed or spoke lightly of ideas and names held sacred by his hearers. I remember in our local ecclesiastical history an example of the opposite course which has often found imitators. When Charles Wesley first visited Dublin about the year 1747, he left behind a zealous but very unwise preacher to continue his work. His language was so violent that the mob were roused to burn his meeting-house, which stood in Marlborough Street near the spot where the Roman Catholic Cathedral now stands. He then took his stand on Oxmantown Green in the northern suburbs, where he preached in the open air. On Christmas Day he took the Incarnation as his subject, and began, as St. Paul never would have done, by crying aloud, "I curse and blaspheme all gods and goddesses in heaven and earth, save the Babe that was born in Bethlehem and was wrapped in swaddling clothes," whereupon the Dublin mob with their ready wit in the matter of nick-names called the Methodists swaddlers, a title which has ever since stuck to them in Ireland, and is to this day commonly used by the Roman Catholics. This seems an interesting illustration of the typical character of the Acts. If therefore Demetrius, and the craftsmen that are with him, have a matter against any man, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls: let them accuse one another." Modern382 research has thrown additional light upon these words. The Roman system of provincial government anticipated the English system of assize courts, moving from place to place, introduced by Henry II. for the purpose of bringing justice home to every man's door.215215   See Preface by Bishop Stubbs to Benedict of Peterborough, Gesta Regis Hen. II., t. ii., pp. lxv.-lxxi. (Rolls Series); Madox, Hist. of Exchequer, pp. 84-96, for an account of the rise of the English Assize System; see Le Blant, Les Actes des Martyrs, pp. 50-121, and Marquardt's Röm. Staatsverwalt, p. 365 about Roman assizes. There were eleven circuits in Asia. It was quite natural for the proconsul of Asia to hold his court at the same time as the annual assembly of the province of Asia and the great festival of Diana. The great concourse of people rendered such a course specially convenient, while the presence of the proconsul helped to keep the peace, as, to take a well-known instance, the presence of Pontius Pilate at the great annual Paschal feast at Jerusalem secured the Romans against any sudden rebellion, and also enabled him to dispense justice after the manner of an assize judge, to which fact we would find an allusion in the words of St. Mark (xv. 6), "Now at the feast he used to release unto them one prisoner, whom they asked of him."

It has been said, indeed, that St. Luke here puts into the town-clerk's mouth words he could never have used, representing him as saying "there are proconsuls" when, in fact, there was never more than one proconsul in the province of Asia. Such criticism is of the weakest character. Surely every man that ever speaks in public knows that one of the commonest usages is to say there are judges or magistrates, using the plural when one judge or magistrate may alone be exercising jurisdiction! But there is another explanation, which completely solves the difficulty383 and vindicates St. Luke's minute accuracy. Three hundred years ago John Calvin, in his commentary, noted the difficulty, and explained it by the supposition that the proconsul had appointed deputies or assessors who held the courts in his name. There is, however, a more satisfactory explanation. It was the reign of Nero, and his brutal example had begun to debauch the officials through the provinces. Silanus, the proconsul of Asia, was disliked by Nero and by his mother as a possible candidate for the imperial crown, being of the family of Augustus. Two of his subordinates, Celer and Ælius, the collectors of the imperial revenue in Asia, poisoned him, and as a reward were permitted to govern the province, enjoying perhaps in common the title of proconsul and exercising the jurisdiction of the office.216216   See Lewin's St. Paul, i. 337, 338. Finally, the tone of the town-clerk's words as he ends his address is thoroughly that of a Roman official. He feels himself responsible for the riot, and knows that he may be called upon to account for it. Peace was what the Roman authorities sought and desired at all hazards, and every measure which threatened the peace, or every organisation, no matter how desirable, a fire brigade even, which might conceivably be turned to purposes of political agitation, was strictly discouraged.

The correspondence of Pliny with the Emperor Trajan some fifty years or so later than this riot is the best commentary upon the town-clerk's speech. We find, for instance, in Pliny's Letters, Book X., No. 42, a letter telling about a fire which broke out in Nicomedia, the capital of Bithynia, of which province Pliny was proconsul. He wrote to the Emperor384 describing the damage done, and suggesting that a fire brigade numbering one hundred and fifty men might be instituted. The Emperor would not hear of it, however. Such clubs or societies he considered dangerous, and so he wrote back a letter which proves how continuous was Roman policy, how abhorrent to the imperial authorities were all voluntary organisations which might be used for the purposes of public agitation: "You are of opinion that it would be proper to establish a company of fire-men in Nicomedia, agreeably to what has been practised in several other cities. But it is to be remembered that societies of this sort have greatly disturbed the peace of the province in general and of those cities in particular. Whatever name we give them, and for whatever purposes they may be founded, they will not fail to form themselves into factious assemblies, however short their meetings will be"; and so Pliny was obliged to devise other measures for the security and welfare of the cities committed to his charge.217217   A similar jealousy of voluntary organisations is still perpetuated in France under the code Napoleon, which largely embodies Roman methods and ideas. The accidental burning of a city would not be attributed to him as a fault, while the occurrence of a street riot might be the beginning of a social war which would bring down ruin upon the Empire at large.

When the recorder of Ephesus had ended his speech he dismissed the assembly, leaving to us a precious record illustrative of the methods of Roman government, of the interior life of Ephesus in days long gone by, and, above all else, of the thorough honesty of the writer whom the Holy Spirit impelled to trace the earliest triumphs of the Cross amid the teeming fields of Gentile paganism.

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