Acts Devotionals


Think of our Trade Unions being spoken to at a stadium. Consider the rhetoric used … those words, phrases, slogans … all about mobilization and power. The same is true when it comes to certain political parties, be it in South Africa or in other countries. In bygone years, it was people like Hitler, Verwoerd and Terblanche. Today it’s Malema, Putin and Trump! They have the ability to use stirring language to mobilize crowds to do, at times the unthinkable. We continue to read in Acts:

Ac 19:28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.

1) Once Demetrius had delivered his stirring speech, the people were mobilized … but also empowered … that is psyched up! His words fired them up like a boxer’s manager in the dressing room. The word “furious”, also translated rage does not capture the Greek sufficiently, which means the people were “filled up, thoroughly permeated or covered (saturated) in their hearts and reasoning with what Demetrius has to say. It started slowly, boiling up to a glowing frenzy that burst forth, before subsiding. This resulted in the followers of Artemis shouting (same word source as verse 34). This shouting seems to bring forth two things.

(a) Praying to Artemis for vengeance against Paul.

(b) In boiling anger, crying out against Paul and His Gospel.

The word “great” used in verses 27, 28 and 34 all mean the same thing … “virtue, power, authority and sacredness”. Perhaps we might grasp the meaning by looking at three words often used in South Africa. Please don’t think I am into politics. I am only trying to explain the phrase … “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

(i) Viva … although from Latin it also comes from Spanish and means “long live”. It is a greeting, exclamation or salute, used at left wing political rallies. Loosely in any context it means “celebration” or “triumph”.

(ii) Amandla … is a Xhosa word meaning “power”.

(iii) Awethu is also a Xhosa word for “it’s ours”.  When the chorus leader shouted “Viva Mandela” (long live Mandela), the refrain would be “Viva” (long live … Viva long live). When the chorus leader shouted “Amandla” (power which came to mean ‘all power’), the refrain would be “Awethu” (it’s ours or is ours). Nazi Germany would have the chorus leader shouting “Heil Hitler” with the refrain being “Heil Hitler”. This was an acclamation as to the so called greatness of Hitler. In other countries, religions and movements similar choruses might be heard. For these followers of Artemis shouting out … Great is Artemis of the Ephesians … repeatedly … it worked them up and as you know, when someone is worked up with the adrenalin rushing, such a person is “loaded” with supposed power. This is what Demetrius intended and happened:

Ac 19:29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar.

The word “uproar” means “confusion, disturbance and riotous”. It was like a wild fire, quickly spreading because of a strong wind. The whole city was stirred … meaning all those engaged in the worship of Artemis. The Apartheid regime’s slogan (motto) was “unity is strength”. With all the followers of this so called goddess mobilized, they certain held all the power to accomplish whatever they desired.

Ac 19:29 The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.

(1) The theater. The Greek theatre was different to the “amphitheaters” used by gladiators and wild beasts. In place of seating all around, the “theater” was semicircular, unroofed and having tiered stone seats, accommodating some 25,000 people. It was used for dramatic exhibitions and public meetings, especially for meetings of all the citizens.

(2) Gaius and Aristarchus. It is difficult to trace “Gaius” in the Bible as other times the name is used do not refer to him. Aristarchus seems to be a traveling companion of Paul’s elsewhere. Both were his helpers at this stage of his missionary ministry. What happened in the theater must have been provided to Luke by either of these men.

(3) Seized. The word implies force. Couple this to the word “rush” gives the impression that the fervor was at such a high pitch that these men were literally dragged in haste into the theater. One can start to understand the frenzy worked into these people. They literally had “all the power” to do as they pleased.

Let us pause here for a bit. I personally don’t have an interest in politics, though I do try and follow some of the political news in South Africa and America. Where I don’t pray as much as I ought for these two countries governments, I used information gathered for prayer purposes. That is the limit of my political involvement. My focus is on another government where Jesus Christ is Lord and King. Having said that, Christian ought never to engage in the fanatical support of a government, such as the Roman Empire’s Caesar is Lord, the Nazi’s Heil Hitler or the “all power … is ours” by political powers or trade unions. For followers of Jesus, our anthem is Jesus is Lord! We declared Him King and our praise is directed to Him who has saved us from the miry pit that leads to destruction and placed us into His Eternal Kingdom, with membership starting here on earth and carrying on in heaven forever. It is vitally important that we believers understand our diminishing standing and alliance with the things of this world and our growing commitment to Jesus’ Kingdom through our involvement in it … as Paul and his colleagues were. Radical? Yes. May we, His people engage in His business here on earth as our prime interest because it is our Lord’s main interest here on earth. I am sure some people might feel uneasy and even a little angry at such a suggestion but consider the urgency of the day. I am not the apostle Paul but I have the same Spirit that inspired him to pen …

2Co 6:1 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

You might be a believer saying this urgency about salvation does not apply to you. This is where you would be wrong. If you are the Lord’s and His instruction is to make disciples, then the Day of Salvation applies to you … to get this Gospel out to those perishing in the day in which you live. Time is running out in your life time. Souls are dying without Jesus. Your most important business, and mine too, needs to be His Kingdom business.

O Lord, grant us Gospel passion and urgency to lessen our hold on this earth and with greater effort serve Your eternal cause. Amen.

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