Context: The Acts of the Apostles is the only contemporary account of the early Christian Church and its beginnings which remains to us. Although Acts and the third Gospel were evidently written by the same person, there is some doubt that he was actually Luke the physician; in any case, Luke probably provided much of the material. Acts is an epic recital of the apostles' lives, and forms a stirring record of the faith and moral courage that were required to build a new and independent religion. Luke begins with the Resurrection and the commission which Jesus laid upon His apostles, then proceeds with the history of their missionary work in Asia Minor, Syria, Jerusalem, and other portions of the Roman Empire. Chapters 15 through 28 follow the career of Paul, who moves from one place to another and preaches the gospel to people who are often deeply hostile to it. Crossing Syria, he wanders through Greece; he gathers a few converts along the way and is occasionally the excuse for riots. One of these occurs at Thessalonica, where ruffians are persuaded or hired to create scenes of disorder. The Christians are blamed for the uproar, and Paul's congregation takes him to Berea. Here he gains some converts; but the hecklers follow from Thessalonica, and he moves on to Athens. In the latter city he preaches his new doctrine to curious philosophers and wins additional converts, though not many. From Athens he goes to Corinth, where he works as a tentmaker and on the Sabbath argues Scripture in the synagogue. Here he is brought to judgement and released. Later wanderings take him to Ephesus. After more than two years in the city his work makes itself felt: the converts multiply, and the worship of Diana in her great temple enters upon a decline. A riot follows, and Luke's account of it gives us an excellent case study of agitation and the genesis of civil disorder. The confusion and uproar are rendered vividly.
And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.