When The Apostle Paul took down the temple of Diana!

In Acts chapter 19, Demetrius the silversmith opposed the Apostle Paul and caused an uproar over the worship of Diana. It was the beginning of the end of the most magnificent religious edifice in the world.

Let me explain.

The city of Ephesus where the great apostle spent several years on his third missionary journey was the scene of this monumental collapse of Phrygian worship. Sometimes in a brief reading of this chapter packed full of information and events, it is overlooked how important this moment was.

Ephesus was one of the early Greek colonies, later the capital of Ionia, and in Paul’s day it was the largest and busiest city of proconsular Asia.

All the roads in Asia minor centered in Ephesus and from it’s central location it was a meeting place of eastern and western thought. In fact it rivaled Alexandria as the most important city of ideas and logic.

The religion of Ephesus was oriental. It’s goddess was Artemis, also called Diana. This goddess represented the old Phrygian nature worship. She was a many-breasted figure, carved with animals, flowers and fruit.

The temple built to this goddess was built by Alexander the Great and was the most magnificent religious edifice in the world It was kept by priests and priestesses who rented out vast estates of land.

For literally hundreds of years Ephesus was a center of pilgrimage, and people came from all of Asia to visit this shrine! Paul was about to put an end to this forever!

The blow that brought it down was administered by a small, stoop shouldered, bald man in his early fifties. His name was Paul the Apostle!

Acts chapter 19 relates the incident. Paul had made Ephesus his headquarters for the third missionary journey. During this time the story is told of the beginning of a decline that brought the temple down. The temple never recovered. Christianity triumphed!

Sometimes your adversary can speak your exploits most nobly. Such was Demetrius’ speech of Paul’s work. He relates how Paul has affected all of Asia Minor and has done so for years. Demetrius saw the fall of his personal empire for he made silver shrines for the temple.

He gathers the like minded workers and inflames them into riot mode telling them Diana will be despised and “Her magnificence should be destroyed”! This temple was the worship of all Asia and the world (Demetrius words).

He called it right for that is exactly what happened.

The riot erupts and for two hours they scream “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”. The whole city is filled with confusion. Paul’s friends are drug into the theatre. Finally the town clerk calms the crowd and reason prevails.

So what was the result? Fifty years later, the most magnificent religious edifice in the world was deserted, the worship neglected, and the sacrificial victims were unsold. (Writings of Pliny). Paul’s religion, Christianity, would go on to convert ten percent of the Roman Empire!

Paul did more than start churches. He tore down centuries old false religions! He changed Asia minor forever by taking down it’s religious stronghold!

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