Page images
PDF
EPUB

The tumult in the theater was continually increasing. “Some . . . cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.” The fact that Paul and some of his companions were of Hebrew extraction, made the Jews anxious to show plainly that they were not sympathizers with him and his work. They therefore brought forward one of their own number to set the matter before the people. The speaker chosen was Alexander, one of the craftsmen, a coppersmith, to whom Paul afterward referred as having done him much evil. Alexander was a man of considerable ability, and he bent all his energies to direct the wrath of the people exclusively against Paul and his companions. But the crowd, seeing that Alexander was a Jew, thrust him aside; and “all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.'

At last, from sheer exhaustion, they ceased, and there was a momentary silence. Then the recorder of the city arrested the attention of the crowd, and by virtue of his office obtained a hearing. He met the people on their own ground, and showed that there was

no cause for the present tumult. He appealed to their reason. “Ye men of Ephesus,” he said, “what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshiper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches,

12 Tim. 4:14.

nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. But if ye inquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.”

In his speech Demetrius had said, “This our craft is in danger." These words reveal the real cause of the tumult at Ephesus, and also the cause of much of the persecution which followed the apostles in their work. Demetrius and his fellowcraftsmen saw that by the teaching and spread of the gospel the business of image-making was endangered. The income of pagan priests and artisans was at stake; and for this reason they aroused against Paul the most bitter opposition.

The decision of the recorder and of others holding honorable offices in the city, had set Paul before the people as one innocent of any unlawful act. This was another triumph of Christianity over error and superstition. God had raised up a great magistrate to vindicate His apostle and hold the tumultuous mob in check. Paul's heart was filled with gratitude to God that his life had been preserved, and that Christianity had not been brought into disrepute by the tumult at Ephesus.

After the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.” On this journey he was accompanied by two faithful Ephesian brethren, Tychicus and Trophimus.

· Paul's labors in Ephesus were concluded. His ministry there had been a season of incessant labor, of many trials, and of deep anguish. He had taught the people in public and from house to house, with many tears instructing and warning them. Continually he had been opposed by the Jews, who lost no opportunity to stir up the popular feeling against him.

And while thus battling against opposition, pushing forward with untiring zeal the gospel work, and guarding the interests of a church yet young in the faith, Paul was bearing upon his soul a heavy burden for all the churches.

News of apostasy in some of the churches of his planting caused him deep sorrow. He feared that his efforts in their behalf might prove to be in vain. Many a sleepless night was spent in prayer and earnest thought, as he learned of the methods employed to counteract his work.

As he had opportunity and as their condition demanded, he wrote to the churches, giving reproof, counsel, admonition, and encouragement.

In these letters the apostle does not dwell on his own trials, yet there are occasional glimpses of his labors and sufferings in the cause of Christ. Stripes and imprisonment, cold and hunger and thirst, perils by land and by sea, in the city and in the wilderness, from his own countrymen, from the heathen, and from false brethren,- all this he endured for the sake of the gospel. Ile was "defamed,” “reviled," made “the offscouring of all things," "perplexed,” “persecuted,” “troubled on every side," "in jeopardy every hour," "alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake.”

Amidst the constant storm of opposition, the clamor of enemies, and the desertion of friends, the intrepid apostle almost lost heart. But he looked back to Calvary, and with new ardor pressed on to spread the knowledge of the Crucified. He was but treading the blood-stained path that Christ had trodden before him. He sought no discharge from the warfare till he should lay off his armor at the feet of his Redeemer.

T

CHAPTER XXIX

A Message of Warning and Entreaty

THE first epistle to the Corinthian church was written by the apostle Paul during the latter part of his stay at Ephesus. For no others had he felt a deeper interest or put forth more untiring effort than for the believers in Corinth. For a year and a half he had labored among them, pointing them to a crucified and risen Saviour as the only means of salvation, and urging them to rely implicitly on the transforming power of His grace. Before accepting into church fellowship those who made a profession of Christianity, he had been careful to give them special instruction as to the privileges and duties of the Christian believer; and he had earnestly endeavored to help them to be faithful to their baptismal vows.

Paul had a keen sense of the conflict which every soul must wage with the agencies of evil that are continually seeking to deceive and ensnare; and he had worked untiringly to strengthen and confirm

This chapter is based on the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

« PreviousContinue »