Acts 19:29

29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and 1Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's 2companions in travel.

Acts 19:29 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 19:29

And the whole city was filled with confusion
For the workmen that made the silver shrines very likely ran up and down in the city, crying out, great is Diana of the Ephesians, which brought the people out of their houses to inquire what was the matter; and the mob gathering and increasing, as they went along, threw the whole city into confusion and disorder:

and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia;
the latter of these was of Thessalonica in Macedonia, as appears from ( Acts 20:4 ) but of what place the former was, is not certain; however, being a Macedonian, he could not be the Gaius of Derbe, mentioned in the same place, nor the Gaius of Corinth, ( 1 Corinthians 1:14 ) but some third person. They are both Greek names; Aristarchus signifies the chief of princes, or the prince of chiefs; and Gaius is a name taken from the joy of parents, and is the same with the Roman name, Caius; they are both reckoned among the seventy disciples; the former is said to be bishop of Apamea in Phrygia, and the latter Bishop of Ephesus; (See Gill on Luke 10:1)

Paul's companions in travel;
whom he brought with him out of Macedonia, and who had been with him to Jerusalem and Antioch, and were now returned with him to Ephesus, where they had been with him for the space of two years, or more: it is very much that this mob had not seized on Paul himself: it may be Paul was within doors, and these were without in the streets, and so were laid hold upon and carried away in a most forcible and violent manner by them: who having got them,

they rushed with one accord into the theatre;
where the public plays were acted in honour of the goddess Diana, and where, among other things, men were set to fight with wild beasts; and very likely the intention of the mob, in hurrying Paul's companions thither, was to throw them to the wild beasts. A theatre is a spectacle or show, so called, because in them fights were shown, plays were acted, games exercised, and battles fought between men and men, and between men and beasts, and between beasts and beasts; concerning which, take the following account F24:

``Theatre, among the ancients, is a public edifice for the exhibiting of scenic spectacles, or shows to the people--under the word theatre was comprehended not only the eminence, whereon the actors appeared, and the action passed, but also the whole area, or extent of the place common to the actors and spectators: in this sense the theatre was a building encompassed with porticos, and furnished with seats of stone, disposed in semicircles, and ascending gradually over one another, which encompassed a space called the "orchestra"; in the front whereof was the "proscenium" or "pulpitum", whereon the actors performed the "scena", a large front adorned with orders of architecture; behind which was "postscenium", or the place where the actors made themselves ready, retired so that the "scena", in its full extent, comprehended all the part belonging to the actors. In the Greek theatres, the "orchestra" made a part of the "scena"; but in the Roman theatres, none of the actors ever descended into the "orchestra", which was taken up by the seats of the senators.''

For the better understanding the terms used, and the several parts of the theatre, let it be observed, that the "scena", according to others

F25 was the place from whence the actors first went out; and it reached from one corner of the theatre to the other, and was threefold; "tragical", which was adorned in a royal manner with pillars and signs; "comical", which represented private buildings; and "satirical", which exhibited trees, caves, mountains Likewise, the "scena" was either "versile", when on a sudden the whole scene was turned by some machines; or "ductile", when by drawing away the boards the inward face of the scene appeared, or by drawing curtains. The "proscenium" was a place lower than the scene, in which the actors chiefly spoke and acted: the "postscenium" was a place in which these things were done, which could not be done fitly, and with decorum in the scenes: the "pulpitum" was a higher place in the "proscenium", in which those that recited stood: the "orchestra" was the last place, in which they danced, and near which the senators sat. Tarquinius Priscus was the first who introduced plays among the Romans; and the temple of Bacchus at Athens was the first theatre in the world, the remains of which are still to be seen. Of this theatre at Ephesus I have not met with any account; whether it was in the temple, or without, is not certain; very likely it might be a part of it, or adjoin unto it.

F24 Chamber's Cyclopaedia in the word "Theatre".
F25 Nieupoort. Compend. Antiqu. Roman. p. 285, 286. Yid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Diet. l. 5. c. 16.

Acts 19:29 In-Context

27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship."
28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel.
30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him.
31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24
  • 2. 2 Corinthians 8:19; [ver. 22; Acts 20:34]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.