Acts 19:24
(24) Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana.--The worship of Artemis (to give the Greek name of the goddess whom the Romans identified with their Diana) had from a very early period been connected with the city of Ephesus. The first temple owed much of its magnificence to Croesus. This was burnt down, in B.C. 335, by Herostratus, who was impelled by an insane desire thus to secure an immortality of renown. Under Alexander the Great, it was rebuilt with more stateliness than ever, and was looked upon as one of the seven wonders of the world. Its porticos were adorned with paintings and sculptures by the great masters of Greek art, Phidias and Polycletus, Calliphron and Apelles. It had an establishment of priests, attendants, and boys, which reminds us of the organisation of a great cathedral or abbey in Mediaeval Europe. Provision was made for the education of the children employed in the temple services, and retiring pensions given to priests and priestesses (reminding us, in the latter instance, of the rule of 1Timothy 5:9, which it may indeed have suggested) after the age of sixty. Among the former were one class known as Theologi, interpreters of the mysteries of the goddess; a name which apparently suggested the application of that title (the Divine, the Theologus) to St. John in his character as an apocalyptic seer, as seen in the superscription of the Revelation. Large gifts and bequests were made for the maintenance of its fabric and ritual, and the city conferred its highest honours upon those who thus enrolled themselves among its illustrious benefactors. Pilgrims came from all parts of the world to worship or to gaze, and carried away with them memorials in silver or bronze, generally models of the sacellum, or sanctuary, in which the image of the goddess stood, and of the image itself. That image, however, was very unlike the sculptured beauty with which Greek and Roman art loved to represent the form of Artemis, and would seem to have been the survival of an older cultus of the powers of nature, like the Phrygian worship of Cybele, modified and renamed by the Greek settlers who took the place of the original inhabitants. A four-fold many-breasted female figure, ending, below the breasts, in a square column, with mysterious symbolic ornamentation, in which bees, and ears of corn, and flowers were strangely mingled, carved in wood, black with age, and with no form or beauty, this was the centre of the adoration of that never-ceasing stream of worshippers. As we look to the more elaborate reproductions of that type in marble, of which one may be seen in the Vatican Museum, we seem to be gazing on a Hindoo idol rather than on a Greek statue. Its ugliness was, perhaps, the secret of its power. When art clothes idolatry with beauty, man feels at liberty to criticise the artist and his work, and the feeling of reverence becomes gradually weaker. The savage bows before his fetiche with a blinder homage than that which Pericles gave to the Jupiter of Phidias. The first real blow to the worship which had lasted for so many ages was given by the two years of St. Paul's work of which we read here. As by the strange irony of history, the next stroke aimed at its magnificence came from the hand of Nero, who robbed it, as he robbed the temples of Delphi, and Pergamus, and Athens, not sparing even villages, of many of its art-treasures for the adornment of his Golden House at Rome (Tacit. Ann. xv. 45). Trajan sent its richly sculptured gates as an offering to a temple at Byzantium. As the Church of Christ advanced, its worship, of course, declined. Priests and priestesses ministered in deserted shrines. When the empire became Christian, the temple of Ephesus, in common with that of Delphi, supplied materials for the church, erected by Justinian, in honour of the Divine Wisdom, which is now the Mosque of St. Sophia. When the Goths devastated Asia Minor, in the reign of Gallienus (A.D. 263), they plundered it with a reckless hand, and the work which they began was completed centuries later by the Turks. The whole city, bearing the name of Aioslouk--in which some have traced the words Hagios Theologos, as applied to St. John as the patron saint--has fallen into such decay that the very site of the temple was till within the last few years a matter of dispute among archaeologists. Mr. George Wood, however, in 1869, commenced a series of excavations which have led to the discoveries of strata corresponding to the foundations of the three temples which had been erected on the same site, enabled him to trace out the ground-plan, and brought to light many inscriptions connected with the temple, one in particular, the trust-deed, so to speak, of a large sum given for its support, from which we learn more than was known before as to its priesthood and their organisation. (See Wood's Ephesus, pp. 4-45.)

The word for "shrine" is that which, though translated "temple" in John 2:19 (where see Note) and elsewhere, is always applied to the inner sanctuary, in which the Divine Presence was supposed to dwell, and therefore, here, to the chapel or shrine in which the statue of the goddess stood. It was to the rest of the building what the Confession and the Tribune are in Italian churches.

Verse 24. - Of for for, A.V.; little business for small gain, A.V. Shrines of Diana, or Artemis. They were silver models of the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus, and were carried as charms on journeys and placed in people's houses to ensure to them the protection of the goddess (Meyer). These gold or silver shrines contained within them an image of Artemis (Lewin, vol. 1. p. 408), as similar ones, which have been found made of terracotta, do of Cybele (Lewin, p. 414). Repeated mention is made in Diodorus Siculus, Ammianus Marcellinus, and elsewhere, of gold or silver shrines (ναόι), which were offered to different gods as propitiatory gifts, or carried about by the owners as charms, Business; ἐργασία, here and ver. 25 (see Acts 16:16, note).

19:21-31 Persons who came from afar to pay their devotions at the temple of Ephesus, bought little silver shrines, or models of the temple, to carry home with them. See how craftsmen make advantage to themselves of people's superstition, and serve their worldly ends by it. Men are jealous for that by which they get their wealth; and many set themselves against the gospel of Christ, because it calls men from all unlawful crafts, however much wealth is to be gotten by them. There are persons who will stickle for what is most grossly absurd, unreasonable, and false; as this, that those are gods which are made with hands, if it has but worldly interest on its side. The whole city was full of confusion, the common and natural effect of zeal for false religion. Zeal for the honour of Christ, and love to the brethren, encourage zealous believers to venture into danger. Friends will often be raised up among those who are strangers to true religion, but have observed the honest and consistent behaviour of Christians.For a certain man, named Demetrius, a silversmith,.... Who worked in silver, not in coining silver money, but in making silver vessels, in melting silver, and casting it into moulds, and forming it into different shapes; and particularly,

which made silver shrines for Diana; who Diana was; see Gill on Acts 19:27, these were not coins or medals of silver, struck by Demetrius, with the figure of the temple of Diana on them, nor images of Diana, as the Ethiopic version reads; but they were chaplets, or little temples made of silver, in imitation of the temple of Diana at Ephesus, with her image included in it; the words may be rendered, "silver temples": in some manuscripts it is added, "like little chests": which being sold to the people,

brought no small gain to the craftsmen: who were of the same trade with him; masters of the same business, who employed others under them, as appears by what follows.

Acts 19:23
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