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Acts of the Apostles: 37 - Acts 19:17-24

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Acts of the Apostles

37 - Acts 19:17-24



Acts of the Apostles: 37 - Acts 19:17-24


In this class, we will discuss Acts 19:17-24 and examine the following: The incident involving the seven sons of Sceva, who attempt to cast out evil spirits in the name of Jesus, becomes well-known. The evil spirit acknowledges Jesus and overpowers the sons, causing them to flee in fear. News of this event spreads, and fear of the Lord increases among the people in Ephesus. Many believers confess their sinful practices and burn their valuable occult books. As a result, the word of God spreads widely and gains influence. Meanwhile, Demetrius, a silversmith, becomes concerned about the impact of Paul's teachings on his trade of making silver idols, leading to a potential conflict.


[Darris McNeely] When we were finishing up the last class, we were talking about the exorcism that Paul did and the copycats who tried to do the same, the sons of Sceva, and they were not as effective. So, I think my concluding point was this is not anything that you want to dabble with. And if there's one thing we can get across to our young people, to our children, is the occult is very real. The demons are very real, and they are very desirous at times to be involved in the lives of people who know the truth. And if we make an opening by paying too much attention, inviting them in by certain games or activities, then we're playing with something that is beyond this world.

And I never recommend it. I've had to deal with it when I was a camp director. I've had to deal with it there. People bring certain things in, and we have no place for that in our activities and in our programs, and certainly shouldn't have in any part of our lives, because, and like I said earlier, I don't get involved, I don't read that kind of stuff. Even what might seem to be harmless and interesting or whatever, I don't dabble with it and don't recommend it. And there's far more interesting stuff that's real to spend our time with here.

The net effect of what is happening in Ephesus here by Paul's work, and here are some, you know, miraculous matters, and keep in mind he's driving back the powers of darkness by what he's doing, and that is by the power of God. That is through the Spirit of God. Ephesus had as part of its life and its culture, it was a center for the black arts. Really, any major city in the Greco-Roman world was, and as we've seen these things follow along even the Church. But Ephesus had a unique place in the ancient world for this. And in the next scene here that Luke talks about, he gets into it and he shows again what's taking place. Look at verse 17, “This became known…” the works of...these miraculous works, exorcisms, healings. And to that, we would also include what is mentioned back in verse 10, where people are hearing the Word of God. So, it's more than just the fantastic, let's say, the titillating aspects of demons and exorcism that's grabbing attention. The gospel is grabbing attention as well. The truth is grabbing attention. And this cumulative impact of all of this together is beginning to have a remarkable impact.

Acts 19:17 “This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus.” So, word spread. “Fear fell on them all.”

A fear that, whoa, they paid attention. What's going on here? And many wanted to know more. No doubt Paul's attendance in his classes after 11:00 or midday, and however long they went, and probably continued on into the evenings and maybe even at all hours, either in the school room that he was renting from Tyrannus, or in his shop in the Agora as people would come there. I can imagine Paul continuing to work as a tent maker in his shop, and people flowing through there throughout, you know, the days wanting information, talking to him. And so, he was probably bivocational at that time, working at tent making and teaching. And so, this builds, and a lot is going on.

Acts 19:17-18 “Fear fell on them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” People became more familiar with the story of the Gospel and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.”

And in the telling of their deeds and confessing, they're changing, as they are learning that their life whether they actively dabbled with the black arts or they were certainly, keep in mind this was a thoroughly pagan culture, and they were involved in the temple worship services of Artemis, Apollo, Dionysus, and all the other temples that were up and down the street in Ephesus. And they were actively a part of that. They confessed, told their deeds.

Acts 19:19 Tells us, “Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all.”

You ever seen a book burning? The Nazis did that in Nazi Germany in the run up to World War II. If they didn't like certain books that were against their regime and their ideology, they would burn them. They would be religious books and philosophies and Jewish works, etc. And they were quite well known for having book burnings to purge from Germany anything that defiled or kept the pure Nazi story and propaganda from just seeping throughout society. And, you know, people have done that. I mean, cultures will do that when there's a purge that is taking place, and, you know, new ideology is becoming dominant, and it happens. You know, I won't go into it, but I've been involved in some of this to a degree as well.

And you want to be careful about that. And you certainly don't want to, you know, you could say at this time, what kind of books do you have on your shelf? And I have purged certain books or, you know, I don't even buy them to begin with. But, you know, I wouldn't want any books of black arts and black magic on my shelf, and I didn't even want any of that in my home. This is the focus here.

Acts 19:19 Is telling us that “those who practiced magic brought their books and burned them in the sight of all. They counted the value of them, and it totaled 50,000 pieces of silver.”

Now, that's a lot of money. One piece of silver in this day... Now, this is silver, and they feel that that would've been essentially a year's wage. And 50,000 pieces of silver is the value of this. You're talking about well over a cumulative period of over 100 years of salaries that are being burned here by these books. This is a lot of money in terms of the value, the comparative value going up in smoke.

Part of this as well should be understood that by the actual burning of these books of magic containing occult teaching, incantations, it was felt then that the spell, the hold that that particular chant, incantation, or saying would have is broken by the burning of the book. And so, this is in a sense, as they would look at it more than just symbolic. They are breaking that spell, that hold, either on them or its ability to influence. And that is why, again, even today, I mean, you get into this world, which I'm saying you shouldn't, but to the degree I've had to deal with it, I think I told you earlier in this story or in Acts, I had an individual at one time that I was counseling that had been a witch, a practicing witch. We did a “Beyond Today” television program with her. We kept her face covered, so nobody could tell who she was.

But part of her story was that you did not openly talk about or tell, reveal your practices, your secret chants, the things that you did, because that's part of the hold. That would break that spell, break that power. And so, I mean, those that are very into it and rigorous about it, they're supposed to keep all that secret. And so, the burning of these books is to just, not only be a symbolic parting from that, but to seek to break that. But it was quite costly in this whole practice. But think about this, many of those who did this, brought their books together. This would've been a public spectacle, and everyone watching this would not have been agreeable to it.

People would've been drawn to watch this. And, you know, it was entertainment number one for some. You know, not much going on after dark in Ephesus. The lights didn't just automatically come on in the ancient world. When sundown went, when that big sun went behind and went below the earth, it got dark, and it was really dark. And so, things just kind of stopped. And so, if somebody built a bonfire that maybe went on into the night, that would've drawn some people in, and that would've just been, “Well, hey, what's going on? Let's go down and watch this.” But also, people would've been there that would not be necessarily agreeable to it, and watching and wondering, “Who is this Paul? What is happening here?”

Now, keep in mind that the people who are turning from and confessing verse 18, “telling their deeds,” as I mentioned, they're turning from paganism as well. We do not understand the hold and the depth of paganism in the ancient world. We have to really kind of get into it to understand it, study it, to realize it impacted everything. There was no Christianity. There was no idea of Christianity and the moral, ethical teaching of Christianity. It was the cult of Artemis. It was the cult of Dionysus. It was the cult of Apollo, and every other god and goddess who had a temple. And sometimes it was a god man, like Augustus, Caesar. And it was rough, and it was hard, and it was unforgiving. It was capricious, the worship of these gods and goddesses. And you conformed. To hold a job, to get a contract if you were a carpenter, you conformed or you didn't work. You talked about the mark of the beast. You can't buy or sell. This is what people lived with. This was the reality of life. If you didn't go down every year and pay that tax to the Caesar, to the emperor at his temple, you were noted.

You know, the closest equivalent is we don't pay our property taxes. We don't go down to the county clerk's office and do that. And if that goes on too long, somebody takes notice and they come and take your property, because counties and cities today run on that tax money. And if that's not enforced, revenues dry up if everybody would just not do it. And potholes get bigger, city services get fewer, the order of the community breaks down because you don't want to pay your tax. Well, and the equivalent of that in this ancient pagan world was if you don't go down and pay your temple tax, and it doesn't rain for two months, or the crops go bad, well, the god or the goddess must be upset. Who's not doing their job? And they go looking for you. And they happen to know that you're a follower of this Jesus group, and you haven't been going down there and paying your temple tax. You haven't been going to the annual cult of Artemis and in the parades that go through twice a year where they would carry her image out of the temple and parade it through the streets. And she's mad, and they would go looking for you, or you would begin to feel the pressure from your community, your neighbors, and maybe even the city fathers, “What's wrong with you?” These were the things that members, Church members, disciples had to then contend with.

And so, but it speaks to the pervasive influence of your everyday life and how you talked and how you walked. When you read the book of Ephesians, you talk about the walk. Paul talks about how we walk in Ephesians 2. He says, “You once walked according to the course of this world.” Our walk is our way of life, and we've already encountered that this growing Church, the followers of Jesus have been identified by those who are followers of the way. All right? There's a way we walk, there's a way by which we live. And Paul uses this idea of our walk as to how we live. And he tells the Ephesians in chapter 2, I'm going to just turn and read that here, because this is very applicable.

Ephesians 2:1-2 “You He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” You walked according to the pagan gods. “In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience.”

We know what that tells us about the power of Satan. But he says, "You once walked that way." We'll turn over to verse...chapter 4 and verse 1.

Ephesians 4:1 Paul says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

Walk worthy of the calling. From Ephesians 2:2 to Ephesians 4:1, you have two different walks. One is the walking according to the course of this world, Satan. I say Satan's way. That's Ephesians 2:2. And then he uses the word walk again, and that is to walk the way of God. Let's just put God up there in Ephesians 4:1. There's a contrast. There's two different ways. Which way are we walking today? We're walking in the way of God. You're baptized, you begin to follow God. We walk a different way. We turn from this walk, turn around and go according to God's way. You see what Paul's doing here, here in Ephesians? He's talking about people who've turned, and this is what Luke is bringing out here in the account.

Let me show you something else. I'm going to go back into the picture here. I showed you this, the street that goes down through the ruins of Ephesus today starts at the top. You walk all the way down to the Library of Celsus at the end. It's a pleasant walk. It's all downhill that's why it's nice. This is called the Curetes Street. I'm going to put it on the board here. Curetes. The Curetes Street. This is a pagan name. The Curetes, according to the myth, were demigods, semigods, semi-human, part human, part god. And the Curetes saved Artemis and Apollo at their birth. They were twins according to the myth. They were born of a woman named Leto, L-E-T-O. And she had been impregnated by Zeus. You know, Zeus was kind of, you know, not a nice guy, but he got around, and he had a wife named Hera. And Hera didn't like these two twins being born by another woman, Apollo and Artemis, and she was going to kill 'em, right, when they were born. The Curetes saved the newborn twins, according to the myth. They named a street in Ephesus, the Curetes Street. When you walked down the street here in Ephesus, you walked up and down a street named after a pagan. And along the way were statues to all the different gods and temples along the way.

This was the life. When they walked according to the course of that world, Paul says, this is how you walked. And you walked, and you were surrounded by all of these temples and imagery and stories, and you walked on a street that was named after a pagan story. This was everyday life. And what do we put, we put streets named after Washington, Martin Luther King, you know, notables of our cities, but, you know, a little bit different than let's say, a pagan imagery. And so, when Paul writes to them in Ephesians 2, and he says, “You walked according to this way.” You're an Ephesian and you're hearing this letter, right? You're hearing this letter, and you're thinking, “Yeah, when I walk to my business, when I walk to the school, when I walk down the street, this is everything. It's pagan. It's the gods that are not. And now I'm living a different way of life. I'm walking a different way. I'm walking according to God, according to a different way.” Paul says, “With lowliness and gentleness, long suffering, bearing with one another.” Ephesians 4:2.

You see, Paul didn't just set when he wrote this letter to the Ephesians, and, you know, he was thinking about his time in the city and what he encountered and what he saw. And he's incorporating that even into a letter to the Church here at Ephesus. And as we look at this, this is how we understand, you know, the cultural context and go a little deeper to understand what is happening here. Now, let's go back to Acts 19 and look at verse 20.

Acts 19:20 “So, the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”

Paul's work was a work where power was being done. It grew mightily, and it prevailed. I want you to focus on that word prevail. What happens when you prevail over something? What happens when you prevail? Anybody know? What does the term bring up to you? This is the interactive part of today, okay? Yes.

[Man] To succeed or triumph.

[Darris McNeely] You triumph, you succeed, you overcome. All right? You guys prevailed in your charity auction. You overcame all the odds, all the hard work, all the moments that you didn't want to do it or didn't think you could do it, and it wasn't going to come together. You prevailed. You had a success. All right? That's what the word prevail means. You are active, you are aggressive in whatever you do, and you get it done. The Word of the Lord prevailed, and it grew mighty. That word prevail is an interesting word. It is a word that we find back in the book of Matthew 18. And this is where you connect the dots. Actually, Matthew 16, I believe.This is where Jesus confronts, or, you know, kind of grabs Peter up short.

Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

I think at the beginning of our study in Acts, I showed you a picture of where Christ said this, right in the upper Galilee, in front of a pagan temple to the god Pan, in what is today called Banias in Israel. And he was making a point. He said, “I'm going to build my Church, and the gates of Hades or the gates of the grave or the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The word prevail here, Matthew 16:18 is the same word in Acts 19:20, where, “The Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”

What Jesus is saying about the Church in Matthew 16:18 is that the Church would prevail. That is an aggressive offensive posture. It's not defensive, it's not hunkering down, it's not retreating, it's going forward. It's overcoming, it's being successful. Just like you did in your charity auction. You overcame all of the oppositions, and, you know, problems that you encountered, and you prevailed. You produced it, it happened. You successfully raised money, and you prevailed in that sense, to use something that's close to us right now. Christ said that the Church is going to prevail against the gates of hell. The Church has to go against it. There's no retreat.

When Paul came to Ephesus, and he does what he does here, works as a tent maker, teaches the rest of the day at the school of Tyrannus, makes disciples, casts out demons, you know, God performs miracles through him. He works hard day and night for two years. The Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. It succeeded. The Church went against the gates of hell. For people to come out and bring their book of black magic, that to them is the equivalent of a year's salary... Would you burn your tools that help you make a year's salary if you were let's say a carpenter, electrician, plumber? Think about it in that way. Would you just do that knowing that your means of livelihood are going up in smoke? What are you going to do? How are you going to buy your bread? How are you going to pay your mortgage?

For Paul to persuade people to do that, think about it, what was he teaching them? What were his methods? How many lectures? How many sermons? How many counselings? How many staying after and explaining did that take? Did he get a three-day weekend? Did he quit at 5? Did he wonder what his benefits were going to be as they piled up for retirement? How did he get to where all these Churches that we read about, remember in Pergamum, Thyatira, Colossae, Miletus, how would they have ever started if Paul quit at 4:30 and only worked four days a week? How would they do that? And if he hadn't trained people to then carry out the word in these areas. He could have done all of that himself. He didn't have the internet to webcast to them. He didn't have means to travel to expedite and get out there. Those were days that it would've taken to go out to Smyrna or to up to Pergamum. He didn't have that kind of time. He had to train people to do it.

And God blessed that. And the Churches were established, and the word grew mightily and prevailed for this moment of time. That's why I say that what Paul did here in Ephesus was remarkable, and it bears our thought, and it bears our study as a Church today. That's why I think Christ, who is the head of the Church, Ephesians talks about Christ being the head of the Church, Ephesians 1, I think why we've been led to focus on that in our planning and to focus on the scriptures that talk about the things that must be done in order to be effective to prevail and for the Word to grow mightily.

We've done a bold thing by anchor ourselves in something like this. And it's going to take the whole Church, all of us, according to our vision statement, by what every joint supplies for this to happen, which is why when I said to you folks here the other day, what you're here doing at ABC and how it connects to all of our education efforts and our programs within the Church has got to be seen against the larger vision and mission of the Church. And those who take it seriously and apply it, God can use in ways beyond your wildest imagination. Some think that they come to ABC just to have a good time. It's graduate camp as I'd like to describe it. “Oh, great. Camp Cotubic was so much fun. Camp Buckeye, and camp whatever, Wamatochick, and so much. Oh, loved it, loved those proms.” And my granddaughter was at her first prom this past weekend, so I'm all for the proms, so don't worry about that.

And so, sometimes ABC is seeing, “Wow, all of my friends are going to head up. I'm going to be there with my friends. Already got, you know, going to room with so-and-so. Yeah, whatever.” And it becomes graduate camp. If that's all you see, then that's all it will be. But I think it's more than graduate camp if you take it seriously, if you really apply yourself, if you really understand that it is a Bible college, even though really, Bible college, one room, one building, no accredited diploma? But, you know, this is accredited by God. I don't care what any other institution says about accrediting and frankly don't want to know. About 90% of the existing higher education institutions today probably ought to close shop for what they teach, and the value and the worth that they provide are worthless with what has infected higher education today. But that's another topic, isn't it?

So, why are we here? Why are you here? Lift your vision. All of us, whether we're in this room or listening to these lectures and thinking about our place within the Body of Christ and within the Church, we can be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and God can use us far beyond our imagination. And we have to adopt that mentality if verse 20 of Acts 19 is going to be something that applies to the legacy of the United Church of God. It is a part of the legacy of what God did through Paul in the city of Ephesus during his time there. And that is extremely important.

And so, Luke covers a lot with some interesting stories, but they're stories that really point us to this matter of the power of God working through Paul and the disciples that he trained who went out and prevailed by being those who established these Churches in these other cities in Asia such as Thyatira and Hierapolis, and Laodicea, and so on in that way. Well, let's go back into the text here in verse 21.

Acts 19:21 “When these things were accomplished,” after a period of time, “Paul purposed in the spirit.” God's spirit working on him is how to understand that. God's spirit being strong, and he, you know, probably prayed about it, thought maybe it's time to move on. “He was going to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem saying, ‘After I've seen there, I must also see Rome.’”

Now, this is an interesting statement. He's getting out his Tripadvisor. He's looking it up on Expedia how he's going to do this, and he's thinking, “Well, I'm going to go through Macedonia.” Now, Macedonia keep in mind is where the Churches of Philippi and Thessalonica and Berea. This is Macedonia up here. Achaia is where Corinth is located. Oh, and he said, “I'm going to go to Rome. We've got, you know, members there and there's disciples.” And so, he's got an ambitious plan, and he sat down and he's kind of thought it out. And then, “I want to see Rome.”

Acts 19:22 “He sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.”

And so, he sends them up to Thessalonica, to Philippi, to check on the Churches. In a sense, to make, you know, some arrangements perhaps, and say, you know, “Paul's going to be coming here now.” You know, Paul's thinking, “I got run out of Philippi too quick, Thessalonica and Berea too quick. I need to go up there and spend some time with those congregations.” So, he sent his two assistants to kind of make some preparations perhaps. But God has other plans. And Paul's going to go to Rome, but he's not going to go in the timing or in the way that he thinks. He's going to go as a prisoner. And he's not going to go up to Macedonia or over to Achaia quite the way he thinks as well.

Keep in mind, while Paul has been here at Ephesus he writes 1 Corinthians, the letter of 1 Corinthians. And also, while Paul is here, he begins to hear about some of the problems in Corinth. And it's understood that Paul probably made a quick trip during this period of time from Ephesus across the Aegean to Corinth that didn't go well. He was withstood. They didn't accept him. There were some problems. He talks about this in 2 Corinthians. You've been through all of that. I think that was explained at that time. So, you know, connect the dots here. All of that happened while he was in Ephesus. And so, this is why he's wanting to go over there.

And he's going to go back, but it's not going to be on his timetable. Sometimes we have to accept that about our life and how we might make plans, and then it doesn't happen. Don't get overly discouraged about it. If it doesn't happen one year or the second year, maybe it'll happen the third, maybe the fifth. Just life is like that. And just, you know, keep moving forward. Keep praying, keep putting your life in God's hands. Don't get too self-willed and try to make it happen when it's not God's will. Okay? I've learned that the hard way myself. You make plans, it's not going to happen. You may have to wait several years before it's going to happen. And then all along the way you're thinking, “God, you know, your will be done.” And, you know, you walk gingerly sometimes through an open door. There's something else that's going to happen here. So, let's go into it.

Acts 19:23 “About that time there arose a great commotion about The Way.”

This is the way of life. And sometimes it's called that. Sometimes, you know, I know the name of the Church in New Testament is the Church of God, but I like sometimes this, you know, the way. The way. There is a Protestant group called The Way, used to be up here, north of us here, a few miles on the Indiana, Ohio border. I don't know if they're still in operation or not. They had their own translation of the New Testament they used to distribute, and it was just called The Way. They took it out of the Book of Acts. But break it down and just look at it. This is a way of life. It is a way that we walk, and we talked about that here in Ephesians 4, how we are to walk according to this way of life. But there's a great now commotion. Paul's cut into the economy of Ephesus. Not only have they burned their books on magic, but they've stopped going to the temples and they've also stopped buying little temple icons. Let's read on.

Acts 19:24 “A certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small prophet to the craftsman.”

Ah, follow the money. You want to know the solution or to figure out certain issues, certain problems, follow the money. Who's funding it? What's behind this insurrection, this demonstration on the street, this particular political deal or whatever, follow the money. It's an age-old maxim about politics and business and life, follow the money. The corollary to that is show me the money, but that's another line there. And so, show me the money works too, that can bring action. But follow the money. In this case, the money's draining out of the coffers, the accounts of the silversmith who made silver shrines of Diana. These were little silver statues of the goddess Diana, who's also known as Artemis. Diana's the Roman name. Artemis is the Greek name. You might want to know that. Word to the wise. Diana is often pictured as a hunter with a bow, and she's got a dog. And there'll be some grains. She might be holding some grain or whatever to symbolize fertility. Artemis is portrayed a little bit differently. We'll look at that here in a minute. But it's the same person. It's a fertility goddess. And the major temple to Artemis was in the city of Ephesus.

This is a shrine. I believe this is in Ankara, Turkey, the capital of present-day Turkey. This is a replica of this temple to Artemis that stood in Ephesus. Now, there were many temples to Artemis in Asia during this time, and I've seen remains of the sites of three of them. On our trip that we're going on, we'll see where this one stood, and in Smyrna, they had a huge temple to Artemis as well. But it looked, the one in Ephesus looked like this, and it was one of the wonders of the ancient world. There were seven, designated seven wonders of the ancient world. The Temple of Artemis that stood during the time of Paul was one of them. And this is what the site looks like today. You see, there's not much there. There's one lone column. There's one lone column, and that's kind of cobbled together from some of the columns of this ancient temple.

So, what happened to them? Well, they wound up in other Churches. When you go to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul today, they have columns from the Temple of Diana in the ancient world. But this is kind of what it looked like. And when I go to this next one, this is a replica in the Ephesian museum that I took this picture when I was there a couple years ago, and it's what it looked like. And they say that with all those columns, it looked like a forest of columns. And deep within that shrine was the cult statue to Artemis. And we'll go into that here in just a minute. This is where I'm channeling my inner Jamie Scriber on this. There at the back of the temple enclosure is the statue of Artemis, and standing back there. I'll show you close up pictures in a moment. I forgot how many, well over a hundred different columns like that. The Goths broke this up in the third century AD and destroyed the temple, and they were used to rebuild Christian Churches throughout, and this is where we go.

But that's the ancient temple to Artemis. And here's what that cult statue looked like inside there, okay? This is in the Ephesian museum taken from the ancient city of Ephesus. These are two others that were there as well. And this was what they made so little small statues and sold to the people who came as pilgrims to this temple. Artemis was a fertility goddess who had made her way to this far western part of Asia Minor. And the temple that she was housed in had a fascinating history. There's one story that's connected to the story of Alexander the Great. When Alexander the Great was born, the night he was born, the original temple burned to the ground. Some deranged person came in and set it on fire. And, you know, that was the very night, and true story, the very night Alexander the Great was born in Macedonia. Demons work in interesting ways in the spirit world to make certain connections and what they're going to do in working through individuals.

And so, when Alexander the Great came through Ephesus on his conquest, later on, he wanted to rebuild and donate money to rebuild the temple, which was still being rebuilt some 30 years later. Took a long time to get the job done. The city fathers of Ephesus would not take Alexander's money because they said one god should not help pay for the temple to another god. And so, they did it themselves, but they wouldn't take Alexander the Great's money. And just, you know, an interesting story there. And, you know, they felt that she had left her temple the night he was born to assist in his birth. That's the story that they spun around that. Stories of Alexander the Great are fascinating. But this fertility goddess when you look at this, what do you immediately think? Okay, hanging off the front of her. What do you think? Anybody want to say? Yes.

[Man 2] Water balloons.

[Darris McNeely] Water balloons. No, not water balloons. But it's not what you think, probably. People look at this. Scholars and researchers look at this, though she was a fertility goddess, they tend to think in the predominant feeling these days, from what I've heard, is that these are bull testicles. Another symbol of fertility from a different angle kind of pinned to her body. Bull testicles, okay? And as one scholar told me, he said, “Look, the Greeks knew how to make a statue of a female body.” They knew how to do that. And if they wanted to present her as, you know, a ravishing, good-looking babe, they could have easily done that. But these are not breasts hanging off of her, probably. Many feel that it's something else. But it still testifies to the cult of her as a fertility goddess. And in the cult of Artemis, she was prayed to for a good birth. If a child was born alive and in good health, they praised Artemis, they thanked Artemis for giving that. So, that's how they looked at her in the ancient world.

Now, this is how she looked at the time of Paul. This is what all the commotion is about. Now, I want to show you something here. This is a grouping of figures of those that led up to this. The idea of a fertility goddess in Asia Minor and that part of the world went back thousands of years before Paul, and it began with a figure on the left, that fat woman in the chair. This is a closeup of her, okay? Now, that doesn't look like the Artemis of Ephesus to get too excited about, right? This goddess, her name is Cybele, C-Y-B-E-L-E. Cybele, she's a fertility goddess throughout Asia Minor and all the points further east. And that's, you know, pretty dramatically, and you can pretty well see as she's posed there and everything wide open and for everybody to see and to worship. That's Cybele.

You go back to this, this is Cybele, this second image to your right as you're looking at it is Cybele in another form. And this is Cybele in another form. And it shows the progression of how she's personified and looked at, and made up to be through the ages, till we come down to something like this, which is closer to where we find this. And so, when you look at this, you have to realize Cybele changes. She transforms through the years as how man looks at her and makes all these shrines. But the gal goes on a diet, it's the keto diet back in the ancient day. I mean, she slims down to where she begins to look like, more like this, more attractive. And but it's the same idea. And frankly, this is the same idea of Ishtar. Remember in Babylon we talked about the Ishtar Gate going in and being the chief female deity of Babylon? And goes all the way back to Isis in Egypt, the idea of this female fertility cult is as old as man, and it just transforms.

Artemis eventually left Ephesus and went to Rome and became Mary. They would take the shrine of Artemis out of its temple twice a year and parade her through the streets. All right? We don't do that so much in America today at Lent and these things, but they do in Latin America countries, in the heavily Catholic countries of Mexico and Latin America, and they will parade the Madonna through the streets. It's a page right out of what they did with Artemis in the streets of Ephesus every year. This particular woman, Cybele, she had her temples, she had her priests. You know what the priests did? You know what you had to do to be a priest in the cult of Cybele? You would have to castrate yourself and then you would present as a woman for the rest of your life, as a priest of Cybele. They were called Galli, G-A-L-L-I.

The Galli were the trans of the day. The mutilation of yourself to change your sex was going on then as part of this cult of worship, of this goddess, Artemis. And this is what the members in Ephesus dealt with and lived within. Do you think we're seeing the same thing happen today in the transgender movement that is ripping through our culture where people don't like their body, an 18-year-old, a 12-year-old, 15-year-old, and they want to mutilate themselves and trans? Irreversible. It's the same thing that was being done back in the ancient world as part of the religious worship of these deities, and particularly this one right here, and this is what Paul is prevailing against.

How do we prevail against that today with the message of the Gospel? I'll leave you with that thought. We'll pick this up and talk about the riot here in Ephesus next time, and continue moving through. We're not done with Paul in Ephesus at this point.