Acts 19.21-41 Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia. About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows: “Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!” At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater. Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess. “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.
Good Day. So the Word of God was spreading in Ephesus, and folks were turning to 'the Way,' as the young church was called. It was the spring of the year, about A.D. 55., and folks from east and west were making their way into town for "Artemesia", a month of athletic contests, partying and prostitutes. . . A Greek writer of the day who witnessed it said, "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." 'The epicenter of Artemis worship was a black meteorite that either resembled or had been fashioned into a grotesque image of a woman. The lower part was wrapped like a mummy, and the image was covered with round objects that were said to be the ova of bees. The idol was covered with breasts, symbolizing fertility.' (W.A. Criswell) Artemis' temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world--six stories tall with 127 pillars--nearly four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens, and the largest Greek temple ever built. One astute silver craftsman, Demetrius, noticed that the more God talk there was, the fewer silver shrines were purchased to offer the goddess at her temple. (In recent years, archaeologists have unearthed these little statues in Ephesus.) This festival was to these silversmiths what our Christmas season is to retailers today; the economy of Ephesus was dependent upon the industry of making idols. Demetrius gathers many of his fellow craftsmen together and posits that not only are their pocketbooks being affected, but more than that, the goddess Artemis would soon lose her influence, and how wrong that would be! Note to self: people aren't too concerned about your religious beliefs, unless they deem them a personal threat in some way.
The crowd starts chanting, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" More people join them, and they begin to make the walk down the Arcadian Way, which connects the harbor with a huge amphitheater, which seats 24,000 people. Have you ever been in a throng like this? It has its own energy, and grows in people and intensity as it moves along. . . and oft the mob gets downright unruly. Just a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Lakers won another National Basketball title. When they had their victory rally near the downtown arena where they play their home games, people went crazy--there was drunkenness, fights, windows broken out of retail stores, looting, injured party-goers and policemen. What mania overtakes the crowd? As noted above, sometimes people are swept along by the crowd, and aren't even sure why they are there! Why do people do senseless things when they are in a mob? Ask Paul's assistants--they were grabbed by the angry mob and dragged to the amphitheater. . . presumably to answer for the teaching of 'the Way.' Paul was inclined to address the crowd, but was warned to stay away--otherwise, he would likely be killed. Eventually, the crowd is quieted by a local official, who lets them know they can take the Christians to court, but it would be foolish to continue to riot because the Roman government would only take more of their freedom. His thought prevails, and this time, the Roman law protects the Christians.
As for mob mentality--I believe that people can get caught up in the mood of the crowd, and be so driven by the fevered emotions, they cease thinking rationally. 'Remember when Pilate offered to release Barabbas, a known murderer and felon, or Jesus Christ of Nazareth? The crowd chose Barabbas because they had been whipped up to the frenzied, "crucify Him, crucify Him" and no longer considered the innocence of the Lamb of God. What is the evil psychosis that latches onto and lurks within the mob? It seems that. being part of a mob anesthetizes us to our moral instincts. . . things can go terribly awry, and fast. We must know WHO we are and WHOSE we are. . . and let no one else call our cadence. Christine