Blogging the Bible 304 – Acts 18-20 – Prophet vs. Profit

I wonder whether Demetrius (19:24) actually believed that the goddess Artemis existed. Certainly his concern for her glory in v. 27 seems to be tacked on to more commercial concerns that if people believe Paul, then the market for silver shrines is not going to be a growth business.
Then when his fellow silversmiths take up the cry of “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” it’s hard not to think that they could have cried “Profitable” rather than “Great.” It sounds a lot better to defend a noble goddess than a source of income, though.
And perhaps their motives were genuinely mixed. After all, they may have got into the shrine – making business out of devotion in the first place, but now they had families to feed. And in the days when the cross was still a sign of Roman oppression rather than of the overcoming love of God, Paul wasn’t offering an alternative outlet for their skills in making jewellery and ornaments.
It’s easy to be scornful of the Ephesian silversmiths. But we all face the pressure to stay with what’s familiar, especially when our livelihood or pattern of life is tied up with belief. I’m committed to the life of a priest by many things – faith, calling and vows are the main ones. But I need to be aware that I’m also tied to that life by routine and a stipend. Unless I can be completely sure that the faith, calling and vows will always keep me going, I haven’t really got room to be too condescending about Demetrius.

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