The people in Ephesus worship the goddess Artemis. Though history tells us much about her, the Bible doesn’t. Looking only at the biblical text, we see her as a character of mythological stature, either a complete work of fiction or a blatant distortion of someone who once was.
The people have elevated her to the status of a god, and the tradespeople have built businesses around her.
The silversmith Demetrius is one such person. He crafts silver shrines, which he sells to people who worship her. Demetrius cares nothing about Artemis, only the profits he can earn by exploiting her notoriety. He even acknowledges she is a made-up god, void of divinity.
Yet he seeks to uphold her legend for personal gain, opposing Paul—and ultimately Jesus—in the process. Demetrius doesn’t want to see her discredited in any way, for his financial future depends on her.
He resorts to rhetoric. His zealous speech stirs up a mob. The agitated crowd yells for a couple of hours. The situation threatens to turn into a riot. At last, the city clerk quiets the crowd and restores civil obedience.
They misuse the memory of Artemis to mislead people and generate income, exploiting her for personal gain.
How have we ever exploited a person, or their memory, to maintain power or earn a profit?
[Discover more about Artemis in Acts 19:23–41.]
Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.