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Demetrius The Idol Merchant

Demetrius was a silversmith at Ephesus (not to be confused with another Demetrius, a righteous Christian mentioned in 3 John 1:12) whose business was to produce "silver shrines for Diana" (KJV) which were either idols of the pagan goddess Diana of the Ephesians (the Romans called her Diana, the Greeks called her Artemis) or, as more specifically described, models of her pagan temple, perhaps with a little idol of her inside. Demetrius' devotion to Diana seems to have been more financial than religious; he had a very large market for his pagan merchandise among the many thousands of idol worshippers/tourists who came to Ephesus each year.

The Riot In Ephesus

Ephesus When the apostle Paul successfully brought the Gospel to the region (see Paul's Ministry), Demetrius and his associates panicked:

"For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth." (Acts 19:24-27 KJV)

A near riot ensued:

"And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre."

"Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians." (Acts 19:28-34 KJV)

A clue as to the origin of the Diana idol, or at least the one at Ephesus, is that it is described as "the image which fell down from Jupiter," meaning that it fell from out of the sky. What large stone or iron objects often fall from the sky onto earth? Meteorites, of all sizes (from less than a pound to many tons) and shapes (an example of an iron/nickel meteorite is shown in the photo).

Meteorite Fortunately for Paul (fortunately for the raving mob, actually - Paul's service to God was not yet complete, and he was still under God's protection - see God's Marines) the riotous crowd settled down when Paul was recognized as having broken none of their laws, but that they were committing a crime by rioting:

"And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper 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, 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 any thing 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." (Acts 19:35-41 KJV)

Fact Finder: Does the Word of God plainly prohibit not only the use of idols for the worship of false gods, but also the use of idols for the worship of the True God?
See The Second Commandment

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