Think for Yourself

“…and the more part knew not wherefore they had come together.”

(Acts 19:32)

When I read this verse, I almost want to laugh. Without even checking any of the original Greek meanings of the words, I think it’s obvious that we are reading about mob psychology in action. I get the impression of enraged crowds of puppets. And as I am getting this impression, my thoughts automatically turn to so many of today’s civil & political brouhahas. Or, for that matter, any brouhaha!

 

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The issue at hand here, in this section of Scripture, was essentially greed. A secondary concern was the destruction of a pagan goddess’ temple & reputation.

The apostle Paul was travelling through Asia, preaching that “they be no gods, which are made with hands” (v.26) And he was having an impact! ‘Much people’ had decided that they no longer believed in certain idolatrous practices, and as a result, no longer had a reason to keep the accompanying paraphernalia on hand. Stocks in ‘silver shrines’ began to plummet. Panic on Wall Street, Ephesus!

Silversmith Demetrius called a meeting of the Silversmith Workers Union, updating them on the impending danger of their craft being ‘set at naught’. Those shrines brought ‘no small gain’ to these artisans! They could NOT have this Paul fellow muddying up their financial waters! As if that were not bad enough, he was posing a serious threat to the very existence of Idol Worship: Ground Zero, (the temple of Diana) wherein was provided a place for, and a means to ensure the continuance of, worship of Diana and the purchase of her ‘shrines’.

Demetrius must’ve done a good job of inciting the craftsmen, because Scripture tells us that they were ‘full of wrath’ (v. 28)   Chanting began. People got caught up in the commotion. Next thing you know, ‘the whole city was filled with confusion’, and the mob rushed towards the public theater, dragging two of Paul’s companions with them. (In thattheater-at-ephesus day, such a theater could house up to 25,000, according to Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible, p.565 – so, this was conceivably an out-of-control scenario.) By this point in the action, Paul’s brethren & friends wouldn’t let him near the chaos. People were shouting out this & shouting out that, “…and the more part knew not wherefore they had come together.”

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I am very big on not jumping on bandwagons. Even a cause that you espouse & support might not actually be, what appears to be being expressed. Investigate. If you don’t have the time or inclination, then remain cautious, even skeptical. Beware of Groupthink. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

And “…judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

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