When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” – Acts 19:28-34
The presenter – supposedly a Christian pastor or leader – was making a point about the power of words. He invited me to come forward and hold out my arm, and say out loud, “I am weak. I cannot hold my arm out against your downward pull.” I went along with his demonstration and managed to keep my arm outstretched even though he was pulling my arm downward. He was trying to say that negative speak can undercut our performance. Sounded like snake oil to me, and I wasn’t buying it.
On this occasion the people of Ephesus were incited to riot against Paul. True to form, many people didn’t even know why they were there. The only thing they had in common was the cry, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” My question: If Artemis is so great, why doesn’t she speak for herself? Why doesn’t she put a stop to Jesus’ disciples?
That’s not the real question, however. The real question has to do with God’s true power and being. When God speaks things happen. He speaks the world into existence. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. When we speak things that are not true, we are playing God, trying to create a world that does not exist. In those cases it doesn’t matter what we say, or how earnestly we speak. Saying it doesn’t make it so.
Artemis is not great. Jesus is Lord. Those who rail against Jesus and his rule and reign will on day confess, “‘Jesus Christ is Lord.” Artemis will have no help for them then; she’s not so great after all.