Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®
A certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover 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: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion.
A major commercial port on the Aegean Sea, Ephesus was a thriving economic and cultural hub originally populated by Greeks. In the second century bc , it became part of the Roman Empire. By Paul’s time, it had a population of 250,000, ranking with Rome, Alexandria, and Syrian Antioch in prosperity and sophistication. Its Temple of Artemis—an unmistakable indicator of its pagan traditions—was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Paul’s introduction of Christianity to the city rocks both its religious and commercial centers. Some who have prayed to Artemis (the Greek counterpart of the Roman goddess Diana) leave her temple, and the demand for sacred artifacts falls accordingly. These include miniature silver shrines and figurines sold to pilgrims and local devotees as worship offerings or souvenirs. Demetrius, representing the guild of silversmiths, protests this threat to their livelihood and incites a riot (see v. 23). Once it is put down by a town officer, Paul closes his final visit to Ephesus to travel into Macedonia (see vv. 35–41; 20:1).
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Resources quoted in this issue
RR: Barnes, Albert. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. New York, 1834–85. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.
Cit. 1: ESV Global Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.
Cit. 10: Mays, James L., Joseph Blenkinsopp, et al., eds. The HarperCollins Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.
Cit. 12: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 1, Introduction to the Pentateuch, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.
Cit. 14: Laymon, Charles M. The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1971.
Scriptural quotations marked Contemporary English Version are taken from the Contemporary English Version, copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.
Scriptural quotations marked New Living Translation are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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