Serious Trouble in Ephesus
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 about 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.Acts 19:23-41
I have omitted the preliminary part of this incident to conserve words. Primarily our attention is on the reactions of the crowd. It is a very curious situation which sparks lots of questions in my mind. I have highlighted each element in the text above which provokes questions. Now wonder Luke writes “everything was in confusion”, “most didn’t know why they were there”. I am sure you can understand the Mayor’s dilemma and who are the ones who have been caught up in the midst of the chaos – namely Gaius, Aristarchus and Alexander? Why were these three picked up from the crowd and dragged forward?
Much like the officials who were present at the time what we need to do is work out who is doing what and who the major provocateurs are. There are a number of pronouns or words used which cloud who the speaker or major players were. No wonder Luke wrote in verse 32 :- 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.
Let’s see if we can do a background check on some of the major players:
- A Macedonian, who accompanied Paul in his travels, and whose life was in danger, from the mob at Ephesus. Act 19:29. (A.D. 54).
- Of Derbe. He went with Paul, from Corinth, in his last journey to Jerusalem. Act 20:4. (A.D. 54).
- Of Corinth, whom Paul baptized and who was his host, in his second journey in that city. 1Co 1:14; Rom 16:23. (These are supposed by some to be only one person).
- John’s third Epistle is addressed to a Christian of this name. We may possibly identify him with this Gaius.
(1) The Gaius to whom 3 Jn is addressed. He is spoken of as “the beloved” (3 Jn 1:1, 3 Jn 1:2, 3 Jn 1:5, 3 Jn 1:11), “walking in the truth” (3 Jn 1:3, 3 Jn 1:4), and doing “a faithful work” “toward them that are brethren and strangers withal” (3 Jn 1:5, 3 Jn 1:6). He has been identified by some with the Gaius mentioned in the Apostolical Constitutions (VII, 46), as having been appointed bishop of Pergamum by John.
(2) Gaius of Macedonia, a “companion in travel” of Paul (Acts 19:29). He was one of those who were seized by Demetrius and the other silversmiths in the riot at Ephesus, during Paul’s third missionary journey.
(3) Gaius of Derbe, who was among those who accompanied Paul from Greece “as far as Asia,” during his third missionary journey (Act 20:4). In the corresponding list given in the “Contendings of Paul” (compare Budge, Contendings of the Twelve Apostles, II, 592), the name of this Gaius is given as “Gallius.”
(4) Gaius, the host of Paul when he wrote the Epistle to the Roman, and who joined in sending his salutations (Rom 16:23). As Paul wrote this epistle from Corinth, it is probable that this Gaius is identical with (5).
(5) Gaius, whom Paul baptized at Corinth (1Co 1:14).
Best ruler, native of Thessalonica (Act 20:4), a companion of Paul (Act 19:29; Act 27:2). He was Paul’s “fellow-prisoner” at Rome (Col 4:10; Phm 1:24).
Aristarchus: of Thessalonica. Paul’s companion on his third missionary tour, and dragged into the theater with Gains by the mob at Ephesus; he accompanied Paul to Asia, afterward to Rome (Act 19:29; Act 20:4; Act 27:2). Paul calls him “my fellow prisoner” (lit. fellow captive, namely, in the Christian warfare), “my fellow laborer,” in his epistles from Rome (Col 4:10; Phm 1:24). Epaphras similarly (Phm 1:23; Col 1:7) is called “my fellow prisoner,” “our fellow servant.” Paul’s two friends possibly shared his imprisonment by turns, Aristarchus being his fellow prisoner when he wrote to the Colossians, Epaphras when he wrote to Philemon. Bishop of Apamaea, according to tradition.
He was one of those faithful companions of the apostle Paul who shared with him his labors and sufferings. He is suddenly mentioned along with Gaius as having been seized by the excited Ephesians during the riot stirred up by the silversmiths (Act 19:29). They are designated “men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel.” We learn later that he was a native of Thessalonica (Act 20:4; Act 27:2). They were probably seized to extract from them information about their leader Paul, but when they could tell nothing, and since they were Greeks, nothing further was done to them.
When Aristarchus attached himself to Paul we do not know, but he seems ever after the Ephesian uproar to have remained in Paul’s company. He was one of those who accompanied Paul from Greece via Macedonia (Act 20:4). Having preceded Paul to Troas, where they waited for him, they traveled with him to Palestine. He is next mentioned as accompanying Paul to Rome (Act 27:2). There he attended Paul and shared his imprisonment. He is mentioned in two of the letters of the Roman captivity, in the Epistle to the church at Col (Eph 4:10), and in the Epistle to Philem (Phm 1:24), in both of which he sends greetings. In the former Paul calls him “my fellow-prisoner.” According to tradition he was martyred during the persecution of Nero.
This word occurs five times in the New Testament, Mar 15:21; Act 4:6; Act 19:33; 1Ti 1:19, 1Ti 1:20; 2Ti 4:14): It is not certain whether the third, fourth and fifth of these passages refer to the same man.
1. A Son of Simon of Cyrene
The first of these Alexanders is referred to in the passage in Mk, where he is said to have been one of the sons of Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried the cross of Christ. Alexander therefore may have been a North African by birth. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the fact, with varying detail, that Simon happened to be passing at the time when Christ was being led out of the city, to be crucified on Calvary. Mark alone tells that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. From this statement of the evangelist, it is apparent that at the time the Second Gospel was written, Alexander and Rufus were Christians, and that they were well known in the Christian community. Mark takes it for granted that the first readers of his Gospel will at once understand whom he means.
There is no other mention of Alexander in the New Testament, but it is usually thought that his brother Rufus is the person mentioned by Paul in Rom 16:13, “Salute Rufus the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” If this identification is correct, then it follows, not only that the sons of Simon were Christians, but that his wife also was a Christian, and that they had all continued faithful to Christ for many years. It would also follow that the households were among the intimate friends of Paul, so much so that the mother of the family is affectionately addressed by him as “Rufus’ mother and mine.” The meaning of this is, that in time past this lady had treated Paul with the tender care which a mother feels and shows to her own son.
This mention of Rufus and his mother is in the list of names of Christians resident in Rome. Lightfoot (Comm. on Phil, 176) writes: “There seems no reason to doubt the tradition that Mk wrote especially for the Romans; and if so, it is worth remarking that he alone of the evangelists describes Simon of Cyrene, as ‘the father of Alexander and Rufus.’ A person of this name therefore (Rufus) seems to have held a prominent place among the Roman Christians; and thus there is at least fair ground for identifying the Rufus of Paul with the Rufus of Mark. The inscriptions exhibit several members of the household (of the emperor) bearing the names Rufus and Alexander, but this fact is of no value where both names are so common.”
To sum up, Alexander was probably by birth a North African Jew; he became a Christian, and was a well-known member of the church, probably the church in Rome. His chief claim to recollection is that he was a son of the man who carried the cross of the Saviour of the world.
2. A Relative of Annas
The second Alexander, referred to in Act 4:6, was a relative of Annas the Jewish high priest. He is mentioned by Lk, as having been present as a member of the Sanhedrin, before which Peter and John were brought to be examined, for what they had done in the cure of the lame man at the gate of the temple. Nothing more is known of this Alexander than is here given by Luke. It has been conjectured that he may have been the Alexander who was a brother of Philo, and who was also the alabarch or magistrate of the city of Alexandria. But this conjecture is unsupported by any evidence at all.
3. Alexander and the Riot at Ephesus
The third Alexander is mentioned in Act 19:33: “And some of the multitude instructed Alexander, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made defense unto the people. But when they perceived that he was a Jew, all with one voice,” etc., the Revised Version, margin. In the matter of the riot in Ephesus the whole responsibility rested with Demetrius the silversmith. In his anger against the Christians generally, but specially against Paul, because of his successful preaching of the gospel, he called together a meeting of the craftsmen; the trade of the manufacture of idols was in jeopardy. From this meeting there arose the riot, in which the whole city was in commotion. The Jews were wholly innocent in the matter: they had done nothing to cause any disturbance. But the riot had taken place, and no one could tell what would happen. Modern anti-Semitism, in Russia and other European countries, gives an idea of an excited mob stirred on by hatred of the Jews. Instantly recognizing that the fury of the Ephesian people might expend itself in violence and bloodshed, and that in that fury they would be the sufferers, the Jews “put forward” Alexander, so that by his skill as a speaker he might clear them, either of having instigated the riot, or of being in complicity with Paul. “A certain Alexander was put forward by the Jews to address the mob; but this merely increased the clamor and confusion. There was no clear idea among the rioters what they wanted: an anti-Jewish and an anti-Christian demonstration were mixed up, and probably Alexander’s retention was to turn the general feeling away from the Jews. It is possible that he was the worker in bronze, who afterward did Paul much harm”.
4. Alexander an Ephesian Heretic
The fourth of the New Testament Alexanders is one of two heretical teachers at Ephesus – the other being Hymeneus: see article under the word – against whom Paul warns Timothy in 1Ti 1:19, 1Ti 1:20. The teaching of Hymeneus and Alexander was to the effect that Christian morality was not required – antinomianism. They put away – “thrust from them,” the Revised Version (British and American) – faith and a good conscience; they willfully abandoned the great central facts regarding Christ, and so they “made shipwreck concerning the faith.”
He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, while he who has one enemy shall meet him everywhere.Ralph Emerson
As we grow older we don’t lose friends, we just learn who our real friends are!Ian Vail
Friends are like lifts; some take you up and some take you down.Ian Vail
You have three types of friends in life: Friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime.Anon
A friend needs you the most, when you feel like it the least.Anon