From the First Century to Now: The Idolatry and Evil God Hates Still Flourish

God hates idolatry! He clearly told us this in the 10 Commandments, that He is a jealous God and not to have any graven image of any person or creature before Him. Paul returned to Ephesus as it was God’s Will for Him. Remember, in yesterday’s passage, the people of Ephesus begged Paul to stay, but he told them he’d return if God wills it. And He did.

Ephesus was where the great temple of Artemis was. It was considered one of the great wonders of the ancient world. Who was Artemis?

Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, the Moon and chastity. The goddess Diana is her Roman equivalent (The Romans borrowed all the Greek gods and changed their names). (According to Greek mythology,) Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, the twin sister of Apollo. She was the patron and protector of young girls, and was believed to bring disease upon women and relieve them of it. (Right, make women sick so she can heal them. That’s sick.)

Wikipedia

Part of the worship at the temple of Artemis was temple prostitutes. So much for chastity. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Furthermore, there was a huge side business there in making and selling of statues of Artemis. Paul was disrupting the ability of these craftsmen to make money. Let’s just say many people weren’t happy. Let’s dig in…

Acts 19: Paul’s Third Missionary Journey

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them.

“No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

“Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked.

And they replied, “The baptism of John.”

Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.”

As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Paul Ministers in Ephesus

Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.

11 God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. 12 When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.

13 A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. 15 But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.

17 The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. 18 Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. 19 A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars.20 So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.

21 Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” 22 He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia.

The Riot in Ephesus

Roman Catholic shrine to Mary. Notice how Mary is more venerated than Jesus. Pretty, but useless. And it’s a sin!

23 About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. 24 It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. 25 He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows:

“Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. 26 But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! 27 Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!”

28 At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. 30 Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.

32 Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. 34 But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

35 At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. 36 Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess.

38 “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. 39 And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. 40 I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” 41 Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.

Acts 19 NLT

Points to Ponder

  1. First, Paul clarifies that the Baptism of John is totally different from the Baptism of Jesus with the Holy Spirit. That goes also for baby baptism in the Roman Catholic Church as well as in many Mainline Protestant denominations. Baby baptism doesn’t save you. Salvation is only through Jesus.
  2. Then, there were these Jewish brothers who were trying to do an exorcism, but the evil spirit probably laughed at them saying, “Who do you thing you are? I know Paul and Jesus, but who are you?” They were using Jesus’ name as an incantation (kind of like it’s used today as a curse word). However, since they were not born again and didn’t have the Holy Spirit in their hearts, it didn’t work.
  3. News spread quickly. It was at the forum or the agora, which was the central square in the middle of the city where everyone shopped. There was no refrigeration back then so people had to shop daily for food and supplies. Paul, and Jesus, became the talk of the town!
  4. People who practiced sorcery burned their incantation books. Once they became born again, they knew that all occult practices were forbidden by God. They were convicted by the Holy Spirit.
  5. Paul disrupted the lucrative business of the craftsmen who manufactured statues of the goddess Artemis. One big corporate guy called all the other sellers and craftsmen to oppose Paul and this started a riot.
  6. It’s amazing that even today, people get caught up in a riot and they don’t even know why. Whether bad or good, enthusiasm is contagious. Too bad enthusiasm for the salvation of Jesus can’t be as viral as enthusiasm for socialism.
  7. The mayor of Ephesus steps up and quiets the crowd. He says, “Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven.” Then he says it’s an “an undeniable fact”! Amazing how the pagans bought the lies of these useless gods and goddesses. Have you bought into the lies of a church?

What are YOUR Most Prevalent False gods?

What do you value in your life before God?

  • a fancy car?
  • a big house?
  • a cooler phone?
  • a celebrity?
  • prestige?
  • success?

Are you more concerned with how many followers you have on social media or that your friends don’t comment or like your posts? Do you value material possessions more than God?

If you’re Roman Catholic, all those statues of Mary and the saints that you pray and light candles to are as false as Artemis and Zeus. Yes, they were real people, but they were human. They died and are in heaven (presumably). I know Mary is, but if those “saints” were not born again, sorry, folks, but your heroes are in hell. No amount of “good works” will save you. Salvation is only THROUGH JESUS! Only Jesus was God incarnate. He was God wrapped in flesh.

If you are Catholic, if you bought the lie that pagan rituals, good works, sacraments and going to mass can save you, that someone can buy or pray you out of purgatory (which doesn’t exist, by the way), you’re headed for hell.

Likewise, if you are “pro” anything that God considers a sin or evil, if you follow today’s culture before following Jesus, you may be headed for the same place!

The GOOD NEWS it that it’s not too late for you!

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

“You are God Alone”



Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

67 thoughts on “From the First Century to Now: The Idolatry and Evil God Hates Still Flourish”

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