29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions.
30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him.
31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater.
32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.
33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people.
34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus?
36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly.
37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess.
38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.
39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly.
40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.”
41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.
theater (v.29) — a circular arena, 495 feet in diameter, cut out of the side of a hill. It say about 25,000 people.
Gaius (v.29) — the only place he is mentioned
Aristarchus (v.29) — A native of Thessalonica. Our first notice of him occurs here. He was a converted Jew (Colossians 4:10-11). He is found in Paul’s company on the return journey from his third missionary tour (Acts 20:4), and seems to have accompanied him to Jerusalem, since we find him going with the apostle to Caesarea to Rome (Acts 27:2). He remained with him during part or the whole of his first Roman imprisonment, possibly sharing his bonds (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24). — Walker, page 423.
chief of Asia (v.31) — Each province had an association for promoting the worship of Rome and the emperors, and the chief officers of such associations were styled after the name of their province, “Syriarch,” “Galatarch,” “Asiarch,” (here) etc. They probably acted as high priests of the temples erected for emperor worship, and they certainly presided over the public games which were held in connection with provincial festivals. — Walker, page 424.
friends (v.31) — these men had no quarrel with Paul, especially as he was a Roman citizen
venture (v.31) = lit. “give himself (up)”
Alexander (v.33) — He was probably sent forward to protest that the Jews had nothing to do with Paul and his teaching. He may have been the Alexander Paul warned Timothy about in 2 Timothy 4:14. If so, he may have been chosen on this occasion because, as a coppersmith, he was known to the silversmiths who began the commotion.
town clerk (v.35) — Ephesus under the Romans, was allowed the rights of a “free city,” i.e. to retain its own democratic municipal constitution, with its popular assembly (ecclesia), which had a senate of leading citizens for ordinary executive purposes. While the Asiarchs were provincial officials, with special functions, these senators, acting for the people, dealt with municipal affairs. The town clerk or recorder was secretary of the ecclesia (and its senate), and was responsible for drafting its decrees and for sealing them with the public seal. He was the most important local official in Ephesus, and was in constant contact, on the behalf of the municipal government, with the court of the proconsul, the Roman governor who represented the suzerain power. He would be held responsible by the governor for the peace of the city. — Walker, page 426.
worshiper (v35) = lit. “temple-sweeper” — an unofficial title that personalized the city as the keeper of the temple
robbers/blasphemers (v.37) — referring to deeds and words insulting to the pagan religion
The clerk told the crowd (vs.38-39) that, if they had a legal issue, to present it to the deputies (proconsuls) in the court; if they had an issue relating to city procedures, to bring it to the assembly (of Ephesian citizens) that met on certain days. But whatever the case, they needed to stop their disorderly mob action.
called in question (v.40) — The Romans were suspicious of unauthorized assemblies that might be political in nature because they might be the beginnings of insurrections.
concourse (v.40) — conspiracy
assembly (v.41) — ecclesia (lit. “called-out ones”) — the same word translated “church” throughout the New Testament. This is evidence that “church” (as in Acts 2:47) does not always refer to the Body of Christ.