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from his mouth, "so that all they who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Gentiles.” Besides this place of daily public preaching, St. Paul was constantly occupied in private houses, * exhorting and instructing all willing to hear him. The number of Christians grew apace, though with much opposition, for we find him writing to the Corinthians, "I will tarry at Ephesus till Pentecost, for a great door and evident is open to me; and many adversaries." + That these adversaries caused him great trouble and suffering, and that they were Jews and not heathens, we can gather from the same Epistle, for St. Paul writes: “I die daily . . . if (according to man) I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me, if the dead rise not again?"! He compares his conflicts with the enemies of the gospel to those mortal combats with wild beasts which were one of the favourite amusements in the great theatre of Ephesus, a gigantic building with seats for fifty thousand spectators.
Also in his pathetic address to "the ancients of the Church of Ephesus” at Miletus, St. Paul reminds them how "he had served the Lord with all humility, and with tears, and temptations which befell him by the conspiracies of the Jews.”S
To assist his Apostle in his difficult task of planting the Christian faith in this rich and voluptuous city completely devoted to the worship of Diana, and peculiarly full of diabolical influence, “God wrought by the hand of Paul, more than common miracles.” Even St. Paul's personal presence was not needed, for things that had touched him were endowed with supernatural power," so that even there * Acts xx. 20.
+ i Cor. xvi. 8. I 1 Cor. xv. 31.
Ś Acts xx. 19.
were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the wicked spirits went out of them.”*
Magical arts were much practised in Ephesus, as was natural under the shadow of the temple of Diana. Seeing, therefore, the undeniable miracles worked by St. Paul, he was esteemed by many to be merely a cleverer sorcerer than others, and as having the knowledge of more potent spells. Some of the Jews, seeing what wonders St. Paul was able to effect by the invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus, conceived the idea of using it themselves as a magical spell, with the startling result related by St. Luke. It appears that one of the chief priests of the Jews, named Sceva, had seven sons who were rash enough to try this. Two of them attempted to exorcise a man possessed by an evil spirit, saying, “I conjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” “But the wicked spirit, answering, said to them: Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? And the man in whom the wicked spirit was, leaping upon them and mastering them both, prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."
By this they learnt that the most Holy Name must not be used in vain, as a mere charm or spell, and the fact becoming "known to all the Jews and Gentiles that dwelt at Ephesus, fear fell on them all, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”
This judgment on the sons of Sceva not only terrified Jews and Gentiles, but awakened the conscience of many who had embraced the Christian faith, but were still practising magical arts and indulging in vain superstitions. Thoroughly alarmed by what had happened, they "came * Acts xix. II, 12.
+ Acts xix, 13.
confessing and declaring their deeds. And many of them who had followed curious arts brought together their books, and burnt them before all, and counting the price of them, they found the money to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the Word of God and was confirmed." *
“These pieces of silver," writes Mr. Lewin, "were either Attic drachmæ of 9 d. each, or (which is more probable) Roman denarii of 8fd. each. If the former, the amount would be £2,031; and if the latter £1,770; in either case, more particularly if we take into account the value of bullion at that period, an enormous sum to be sacrificed by Christian converts, not perhaps the most wealthy part of the Ephesian community.” †
The last incident in Ephesus before St. Paul left the city, in the early part of 57 B.C., shows how widely spread Christianity had become, not only in the city, but throughout the province, since St. Paul had abode there. This was the riot caused by Demetrius the silversmith, at the time of the public games, when immense crowds visited Ephesus for a whole month, a riot so graphically described by St. Luke.
Demetrius made his money by the manufacture of little silver shrines representing the temple of Diana. At the time of the games he generally reaped an abundant harvest, but such was the influence of St. Paul, that his profits had much diminished. He called together a meeting of the men who worked at this trade and excited them against the Apostle by an appeal, first to their pockets and then to their religious feelings. His crafty speech is thus shortly summarised by St. Luke. "Sirs, you know that our gain is by this trade, and you see and hear that this Paul * Acts xix. 13-21.
+ Vol. i. chap. xiii.
by persuasion has drawn away a great multitude, not only of Ephesus, but almost of all Asia, saying, 'They are not gods that are made by hands.' So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought, but also the temple of great Diana shall be reputed for nothing; yea, and her majesty shall begin to be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth."
This speech produced all the effect that Demetrius wished. The audience were worked up to great excitement. They were full of anger, and began to raise the cry, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians," a cry which before long roused the whole city. The mob laid hands on two of St. Paul's companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, and with them as prisoners they all rushed headlong to the great theatre, which, with its semicircular benches, tier above tier, could accommodate fifty thousand people.
Here there was an indescribable state of confusion. “Some cried one thing, some another. For the assembly was confused, and the greater part knew not for what cause they had come together.” St. Paul, having discovered the real reason of the tumult, desired to present himself in the theatre and boldly to address the people; but the rulers or Asiarchs, who were in authority during the public games, fearing that the excited rabble might tear him to pieces, “sent unto him, desiring that he would not venture himself into the theatre."
In the midst of the confusion the Jews put forward a great enemy of St. Paul to stir up the minds of the people against the Apostle and the religion which he had preached. This was Alexander, of whom afterwards St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy: “Alexander the coppersmith hath done me much evil : the Lord will reward him according to his works; whom do thou also avoid, for he hath greatly withstood our words.”* This only made the confusion more intense, for “as soon as they perceived him to be a Jew, all with one voice for the space of about two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians."
At last, when they had begun to tire, one of the authorities of the city, the town clerk, or as Mr. Lewin calls him, the recorder of the city, managed to obtain a hearing, and persuaded the people to return to their homes after giving his speech.t St. Luke tells us that he “dismissed the assembly.”
This riot is an evident proof of the wonderful effect of St. Paul's preaching, and shows the influence he had gained over a considerable number of the population. In fact, not only had he established a church in Ephesus itself, but had been the means of spreading the faith into other parts of Asia, as, for example, Colossæ, Hierapolis, and Laodicea.
After this St. Paul, having now remained at Ephesus for three years, from the summer of 54 to Pentecost 57, determined to go into Europe and visit Macedonia. Therefore, "calling to him the disciples, and exhorting them, he took his leave, and set forward to go into Macedonia." +
On his return to Asia, after visiting various places in Europe, he did not enter Ephesus. Sailing from Mitylene he touched at the island of Chios, some forty miles north of Ephesus, and the next day he arrived at the island of Samos, opposite the port of Ephesus. His apostolic heart
* 2 Tim. iv. 14. It is disputed whether these are two Alexanders or the same man. + Acts xix. 35-40.
# Acts xx. 1.