And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. . . . And the same time there arose no small stir about that way (Acts 19:8,23).
The ancient city of Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor. The temple to the goddess Diana (or Artemis in Greek) was one of the seven wonders of the world. The remains of the large Ephesian amphitheater can still be seen today. It was to this prosperous city that Paul had brought the message of salvation (Acts 18:19). After his brief visit, the eloquent evangelist Apollos came to Ephesus and preached.
When Paul returned to Ephesus (Acts 19), he vigorously presented the evidence for Christianity. (Note above the words dispute and persuade.) Two things began to happen. First, many heard the word and so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed (v.20). Secondly, great opposition came against the church. This took various forms: religious antagonism from the synagogue (v.9) such that Paul had to find another forum in which to evangelize, Satanic opposition from false practitioners (vv.1316), and finally political opposition from the pagan religious/business community (vv.2441). This last confrontation started because the silversmiths felt the Christian message was jeopardizing their idol marketing. They created a great stir that grew into a city-wide riot. Seizing some of Pauls companions, the mob assembled around the amphitheater, shouting for two hours, Great is Diana of the Ephesians! (v.34). Despite this intimidating opposition, the next chapter finds Paul returning to encourage the Ephesian church.
Christian pilgrims ought never to grow weary in presenting and defending their faith. We should remember Pauls closing words to the Ephesians: Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). DW