Acts 19:24
For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
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(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 archæologists. 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.

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.A silversmith - The word used here denotes "one who works in silver" in any way, either in making money, in stamping silver, or in forming utensils from it. It is probable that the employment of this man was confined to the business here specified, that of making shrines, as his complaint Acts . Acts 19:26-27 implied that destroying this would be sufficient to throw them out of all employment. Silver shrines ναοὺς naous. Temples. The word "shrine" properly means "a case, small chest, or box"; particularly applied to a box in which sacred things are deposited. Hence, we hear of the shrines for relics (Webster). The word "shrines" here denotes "small portable temples, or edifices," made of silver, so as to represent the temple of Diana, and probably containing a silver image of the goddess. Such shrines would be purchased by devotees and by worshippers of the goddess, and by strangers, who would be desirous of possessing a representation of one of the seven wonders of the world. See the notes on Acts 19:27. The great number of persons that came to Ephesus for her worship would constitute an ample sale for productions of this kind, and make the manufacture a profitable employment. It is well known that pagans everywhere are accustomed to carry with them small images, or representations of their gods, as an amulet or charm. The Romans had such images in all their houses, called penates, or household gods. A similar thing is mentioned as early as the time of Laban Genesis 31:19, whose images Rachel had stolen and taken with her. Compare Judges 17:5, "The man Micah had an house of gods"; 1 Samuel 19:13; Hosea 3:4. These images were usually enclosed in a box, case, or chest, made of wood, iron, or silver; and probably, as here, usually made to resemble the temple where the idol was worshipped.

Diana - This was a celebrated goddess of the pagan, and one of the twelve superior deities. In the heavens she was Luna, or Meui (the moon); on earth, Diana; and in hell, Hecate. She was sometimes represented with a crescent on her head, a bow in her hand, and dressed in a hunting habit; at other times with a triple face, and with instruments of torture. She was commonly regarded as the goddess of hunting. She was also worshipped under the various names of Lucina, Proserpine, Trivia, etc. She was also represented with a great number of breasts, to denote her as being the fountain of blessings, or as distributing her benefits to each in their proper station. She was worshipped in Egypt, Athens, Cilicia, and among pagan nations generally; but the most celebrated place of her worship was Ephesus, a city especially dedicated to her.

Unto the craftsmen - To the laborers employed under Demetrius in the manufacture of shrines.

24-26. silver shrines for—"of"

Diana—small models of the Ephesian temple and of the shrine or chapel of the goddess, or of the shrine and statue alone, which were purchased by visitors as memorials of what they had seen, and were carried about and deposited in houses as a charm. (The models of the chapel of our Lady of Loretto, and such like, which the Church of Rome systematically encourages, are such a palpable imitation of this heathen practice that it is no wonder it should be regarded by impartial judges as Christianity paganized).

gain to the craftsmen—the master-artificers.

These shrines were only, either;

1. Portraits of the temple of Diana, in which was graven, or by any other art represented, that famous structure, which was afterwards burnt by Erostratus: or:

2. they were medals in which their idol Diana was expressed according to her image, spoken of, Acts 19:35. And they are called here, temples, or shrines, because they did resemble and represent that shrine or temple.

And these the superstitious people carried home to their houses and friends; not only to evidence what a pilgrimage they had performed, but to incite the more their devotions towards this idol.

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.

For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver {l} shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

(l) These were special counterfeit temples with Diana's picture in them, which those who worshipped her bought.

Acts 19:24. The silver-beater (ἀργυροκόπος) Demetrius had a manufactory, in which little silver temples (ἀφιδρύματα) representing the splendid (Callimach. Hymn. in Dian. 249) temple of Diana[98] with the statue of the goddess, ὡς κιβώρια μικρά (Chrysostom), were made. These miniature temples must have found great sale, partly among Ephesians, partly among strangers, as it was a general custom to carry such miniature shrines as amulets with them in journeys, and to place them in their houses (Dio Cass. xxxix. 20; Diod. Sic. i. 15; Amm. Marc. xxii. 13; Dougt. Anal. II. p. 91); and particularly as the Ἄρτεμις Ἐφεσία was such a universally venerated object of worship (Creuzer, Symbol. II. p. 176 ff.; Preller, Mythol. I. p. 196 ff.; Hermann, gottesd. Alterth. § lxvi. 4, lxviii. 39). We are not to think of coins with the impression of the temple (in opposition to Beza, Scaliger, Piscator, Valckenaer), as the naming of coins after the figure impressed on them (boves, puellae, pulli, testudines; see Beza in loc.) is only known in reference to living creatures; nor can the existence of such coins with the impress of the Ephesian temple be historically proved.

[98] See concerning this temple, burned by Herostratus on the night in which Alexander the Great was born, and afterwards built with greater magnificence, Hirt, d. Temp. d. Diana z. Ephes., Berlin 1809.

Acts 19:24. Δημ.: a sufficiently common name, as St. Luke’s words show (Blass). There is no ground for identifying him with the Demetrius in 3 John, Acts 19:12, except the fact that both came from the neighbourhood of Ephesus; see, however, “Demetrius,” Hastings’ B.D.—ἀργυροκόπος, LXX, Jdg 17:4 (A al.), Jeremiah 6:29; on the trade-guilds in Asia Minor cf. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, i., p. 105, and “Ephesus,” Hastings’ B. D.; Church in the Roman Empire, p. 128; Demetrius may have been master of the guild for the year.—ναοὺς ἀργ. Ἀρτέμιδος: “silver shrines of Diana,” R.V., i.e., representing the shrine of Diana (Artemis) with the statue of the goddess within (ὡς κιβώρια μικρά, Chrys.). These miniature temples were bought up by Ephesians and strangers alike, since the worship of the goddess was so widely spread, and since the “shrines” were made sufficiently small to be worn as amulets on journeys, as well as to be placed as ornaments in houses. There is no need to suppose that they were coins with a representation of the temple stamped upon them, and there is no evidence of the existence of such coins; Amm. Marc., xxii., 13, Dio Cass., xxxix., 20, cf. Blass and Wendt, in loco. They were first explained correctly by Curtius, Athenische Mittheilungen, ii., 49. Examples of these ναοί in terra-cotta or marble with dedicatory inscriptions abound in the neighbourhood of Ephesus. No examples in silver have been found, but they were naturally melted down owing to their intrinsic value, “Diana” (Ramsay), Hastings’ B.D., and Church in the Roman Empire, u. s. On the interesting but apparently groundless hypothesis (as Zöckler calls it, Apostelgeschichte, p. 277, second edition) that Demetrius should be identified with Demetrius, the νεοποιός of an inscription at Ephesus which probably dated from a considerably later time, the very close of the first century, νεοποιός being really a temple warden, the words νεοποιὸς Ἀρτέμιδος being mistaken by the author of Acts and rendered “making silver shrines of Diana,” see Zöckler, u. s.; and Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 112 ff.; and Wendt (1899), p. 317. As Ramsay puts it, there is no extant use of such a phrase as νεοπ. Ἀρτ. in any authority about A.D. 57, νεοποιοί simply being the term used in inscriptions found at Ephesus—as Hicks himself allows (Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 122, 123).—παρείχετο, see critical note or reading in Blass. Rendall distinguishes between active voice, Acts 16:16, where the slave girl finds work for her masters, whilst here, middle voice, Demetrius finds work for himself and his fellow-craftsmen in their joint employment.—ἐργασίαν “business,” R.V., in Acts 16:16; Acts 16:19, “gain”; here the two meanings run into each other, in Acts 19:25 “business,” R.V., is perhaps more in accordance with the context οὐκ ὀλίγην, Lucan, see on Acts 19:23.—τεχνίταιςἐργάταις: “alii erant τεχνῖται, artifices nobiliores; alii ἐργάται, operarii,” so Zöckler and Grimm-Thayer following Bengel. But Blass regards them as the same, cf. reading in , and Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 128, note. There were no doubt shrines of widely differing value, for the rich of silver made by the richer tradesmen, for the poorer classes of marble and terracotta, so that several trades were no doubt seriously affected, Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 278, and “Ephesus,” u. s., Church in the Roman Empire, p. 128, and to the same effect Wendt (1899), p. 317. The word ἐργάται occurs in one of the inscriptions at Ephesus, ἐργ. προπυλεῖται πρὸς τῷ Ποσειδῶνι, “Ephesus,” u. s., p. 723, note.

24. For a certain man … shrines for Diana] Better, shrines of Diana. These appear to have been little models in silver either of the temple or of the shrine in which the image was preserved. We may be quite sure that the ingenuity of Greek artists devised forms enough and sizes enough to suit all needs. Smaller specimens might be carried about and worn as ornaments and amulets at the same time; the larger could be kept in the houses of their possessors, and would be a sign of wealth as well as of devotion.

The Greek name rendered Diana is Artemis, but this Ephesian Artemis was totally distinct from Artemis the Greek goddess, the sister of Apollo. It is believed that the Ephesian worship was originally Asiatic, and that when the Greeks sent colonies to Asia Minor they found it already established there, and from some resemblance which they discovered in the worship they gave the Asian divinity the name of Artemis. The Ephesian Artemis was the personification of the fruitful and nurturing powers of nature, and so the image in the temple represented her with many breasts. Her whole figure is said to have been like a mummy, standing upright and tapering downwards to a point. Her crown and girdle and the pedestal on which the figure stood had engraved signs or letters, and the body was covered with figures of mystical animals. All these things would furnish abundant variety for the craft of the silversmiths.

brought no small gain unto the craftsmen] The Rev. Ver. renders “no little business.” The word no doubt means primarily “employment” by which a living is made. But we have it used twice in chap. Acts 16:16; Acts 16:19 of the “gain” made by the Philippian masters from the ravings of the girl who was possessed. And here too “gain” seems the better sense. It was because their gains were going that the uproar was made, and probably Demetrius himself, the most fierce of all the rioters, did none of the work, but through employing many workmen had a large share of the gains. He calls the gain a business or craft (the same word) in Acts 19:25, that being, as has been said, the first sense of the word, but there is no need to cast aside the other sense of the word here.

Acts 19:24. Ναοὺς ἀργυροῦς, silver shrines) silver models of the temple or ‘clinodia,’ which represented the form of the temple of Diana. Similar coins also were made. The margin of the map of Palestine has a copy of them in Hedinger’s Bible.

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). Acts 19:24Silversmith (ἀργυροκόπος)

Lit., a silver-beater.


Small models of the temple of Diana, containing an image of the goddess. They were purchased by pilgrims to the temple, just as rosaries and images of the Virgin are bought by pilgrims to Lourdes, or bronze models of Trajan's column or of the Colonne Vendme by tourists to Rome or Paris.

Craftsmen (τεχνίταις)

In the next verse he mentions the workmen (ἐργάτας), the two words denoting, respectively, the artisans, who performed the more delicate work, and the laborers, who did the rougher work.

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