Bible Passage: Acts 19:23-41

 23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.

 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there.

 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: 'You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business.

 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all.

 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshipped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.'

 28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'

 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's travelling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theatre together.

 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.

 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theatre.

 32 The assembly was in confusion: some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.

 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defence before the people.

 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'

 35 The city clerk quietened the crowd and said: 'Fellow Ephesians, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?

 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash.

 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.

 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges.

 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.

 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.'

 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

 (Acts 19:22-20:1 NIB)


Key OT/NT passages on how this passage fits within the Bible story as a whole

The word for ‘church’ essentially means a gathering or assembly – in Acts 19 (above) the word ‘ekklesia’ (underlined above in translation) refers equally well to a riot or a courtcase. In Bible terms, though, it means people gathered to God. In that regard, Adam and Eve represent a proto-church as they walk with God in the garden. Following the Fall, Adam and Eve are scattered East of Eden. Beginning with Abraham in Genesis 12, God promises to regather a people to himself (Gen 12, 15). This finds expression as God’s people are assembled at Sinai. It is here that the people are gathered as Moses goes up the mountain to meet with God (Exodus 19:1-6 – described by Stephen as an assembly, or ‘church’, in Acts 7:38). This gathering of God’s people was marked by God’s presence, his words of promise and direction, and the establishment of God’s people as his own possession.


Jesus, in choosing 12 disciples, is re-establishing the people of God. By faith, they become God’s new kingdom people, having come to him (Heb 12:18-24), and being seated with him (Eph 2:6). This New Testament assembly or church is centred on Jesus as its head (Eph 4:15), indwelt by the Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), serving one another (Gal 5:13), united by him (Phil 1:27), and awaiting the day of Christ’s return (Rev 22:17).


Brief note on key themes of series

The series aims to build our understanding of the church, and our commitment to it, by exploring the doctrine of the church from four angles. The church centred on Christ, belonging to and loved by him. The church focussed on the future, awaiting the final day when we will be the bride of Christ. The church working as one, united in Christ and showing mutual grace. And the church gathered around God’s word, informed by and addressed by the true God through his living word.


Structure of this week’s sermon

As God’s church we are…

1) …gathered around Jesus Christ.

We are gathered with the universal church to Jesus Christ (Heb 12:22-24), and so each local church is an expression of that universal truth (Matt 18:20). As we gather together, we are to ask – primarily, am I in relationship with God’s Son?

2) …built by Jesus Christ

It is Jesus who creates the church by his death (Acts 20:28). And it is Jesus who promises to build his universal church (Matt 18:20). Is our desire to see Jesus’ church built characterised by prayer, and when it grows, do we show a lack of pride?

3) …created to be the bride of Christ

Our ultimate aim as Christ’s church is his glory, by becoming his bride (Rev 21:1-2). Do we delight in the church the way that Christ does?


Suggestions for any tricky bits?

How can we be ‘seated with Christ in the heavenly realms’ when it doesn’t seem like it to us?

It’s true – we’re not (yet) physically seated with Jesus in heaven, nor is it true in our experience as we live in this fallen world. But we are united with Jesus by faith - so spiritually, we’re with him in heaven, even while we’re also on earth. Spiritual things, of course, are not less real than physical things – so while our experience has yet to catch up with our status, we are still genuinely with Jesus in heaven right now. Which is an amazing thing.


Summary of author’s main point

The church is a universal gathering of people joined to and loved by Jesus: he will build his church.


Aim/purpose for original audience

The church is a gathered people joined to and loved by Jesus: pray to and trust him to build his church.


Aim/purpose for us today

The church is a gathered people joined to and loved by Jesus: pray to and trust him to build his church.


Key area of application

Our tendency is always to look down, and consider the church a human shared-interest group we love because we enjoy it, and maintain by human effort. Once we understand Christ right at the centre of his church, we will love it as he loves it, and trust him to grow it for his glory.