Courage in the Face of Opposition
A FANATIC mob had forced Gaius and Aristarchus, two companions of the apostle Paul, to enter the theater of Ephesus. There, the enraged crowd shouted for two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28, 29, 34) Did Paul’s companions stand firm in the face of this opposition? And what had caused this situation in the first place?
Paul had successfully preached in the city of Ephesus for about three years. As a result, many Ephesians had stopped worshiping idols. (Acts 19:26; 20:31) The typical idol of Ephesus was a small silver shrine of Artemis, the goddess of fertility, whose magnificent temple overlooked the city. These small representations of the temple were worn as amulets or were set up in homes. Christians, of course, would not buy these idols.—1 John 5:21.
Demetrius, one of the silversmiths, believed that Paul’s ministry threatened their lucrative business. By means of half-truths and exaggerations, he convinced fellow craftsmen that people throughout Asia Minor would stop worshiping Artemis. Once the angry silversmiths began shouting the praises of Artemis, a veritable riot broke out and the whole city was thrown into confusion.—Acts 19:24-29.
Thousands of people converged on the theater, which could seat 25,000 spectators. Paul offered to address the unruly mob, but friendly officials convinced him otherwise. Finally, the city recorder succeeded in calming the crowd, and Gaius and Aristarchus escaped unharmed.—Acts 19:35-41.
Today, God’s people may also face opposers and even riots as they carry on their ministry. They often preach the good news in cities where an atmosphere of idolatry, immorality, and delinquency prevails. Nevertheless, they courageously imitate the apostle Paul, who ‘did not hold back from teaching publicly and from house to house’ in the city of Ephesus. (Acts 20:20) And they likewise rejoice when they see that ‘the word of Jehovah keeps growing and prevailing.’—Acts 19:20.
[Picture on page 30]
Ruins of the theater at Ephesus