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St Paul is driven out by the Ephesian silversmiths

Posted in Ancient History, Bible, Religion on Wednesday, 30 January 2013

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This edited article about St Paul originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 113 published on 14 March 1964.

Temple of Diana, picture, image, illustration

The Temple of Diana at Ephesus

One of the great sights of Ephesus was a magnificent temple, in which stood a statue of the pagan goddess, Diana. This shrine was recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and people travelled far to see it. This enabled the local merchants to enjoy a profitable trade, for among the most popular souvenirs to be bought in Ephesus were little silver images of the Goddess which were made by local craftsmen.

It was a silversmith called Demetrius who first drew attention to the way in which this trade was beginning to decrease. First he talked to his neighbours, then with their support he called a meeting of all the silversmiths in the city, and made a speech which caused more trouble than even he expected.

“Our difficulties all began when this man Paul arrived,” he shouted. “Before that we were doing well. Nobody said a thing to spoil our trade. But he persuades people not to worship Diana and not to buy images of her. Far too much attention is being paid to him. He is a visitor here while he does nothing but insult our city and ruin our business.”

It was not long before the whole meeting got out of hand. Men were arguing violently, shouting and shaking their fists, and getting into a very ugly mood. Soon they began a demonstration. A party of them marched through the city chanting “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

Before long the whole place was in an uproar, and people began flocking to the huge open-air theatre for a mass meeting. Most of them did not know what all the disturbance was about, but were quite happy to join the marchers and to shout, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

Paul and his converts watched these events with dismay. When two of their fellow Christians were dragged along too, Paul wanted to go along and speak to the crowd, but his friends warned him not to. Another speaker, who was anxious to defend the Christians, could not even get a hearing. The crowd just went on shouting, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” for two hours.

At last the Town Clerk managed to make himself heard. He warned the crowd that such demonstrations were liable to severe punishment by the Roman rulers, and that if they had a genuine complaint against Paul the proper place to hear it was in the law courts.

The crowd dispersed, and the threat to Paul and his followers was over. The silversmiths went back to their workshops, but Paul left Ephesus until the feeling against his teachings subsided.

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