When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it--though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates--
Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." But they were scheming to harm me;
so I sent messengers to them with this reply: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?"
Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter
in which was written: "It is reported among the nations--and Geshem says it is true--that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king
and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: 'There is a king in Judah!' Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us confer together."
I sent him this reply: "Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head."
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed." [But I prayed,] "Now strengthen my hands."
One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, "Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you--by night they are coming to kill you."
But I said, "Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!"
I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me.
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
Also, in those days the nobles of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them.
For many in Judah were under oath to him, since he was son-in-law to Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah.
Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I said. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied.
Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
There were about twelve men in all.
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,
so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."
Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
[One day] the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"
Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.
A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. "After I have been there," he said, "I must visit Rome also."
He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.
About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.
A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen.
He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business.
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 man-made gods are no gods at all.
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 worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."
When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.
Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.
Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.
The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.
The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people.
But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: "Men of Ephesus, 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?
Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash.
You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.
If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges.
If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.
As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today's events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it."
After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.
Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from evildoers and save me from bloodthirsty men.
See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, O LORD.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight!
O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. "Selah"
They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city.
See what they spew from their mouths-- they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, "Who can hear us?"
But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations.
O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress,
my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
But do not kill them, O Lord our shield, or my people will forget. In your might make them wander about, and bring them down.
For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter,
consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. "Selah"
They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city.
They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied.
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.