Acts 19:27

27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought;[a] 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.

Acts 19:27 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 19:27

So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at
Or "to come into reproof", as the words may be literally rendered, and as they are in the Vulgate Latin version; that is, if this notion prevails, that they are not gods, which are made with hands, this art and business of making shrines and images for Diana will be brought into contempt, and come to nothing; who will buy them, when once they believe there is no divinity in them? they will despise them, and the makers of them; yea, the latter will be in danger of being taken up, and charged, convicted, reproved and punished as idolaters, and blasphemers of deity; to which sense the Ethiopic version inclines, which renders it, "and not only for this thing we shall be in danger"; of being called to an account for making these shrines; our business will be put down, and we shall be treated with disgrace, if not with severity:

but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be
here religion is pretended, and a concern shown for that; partly on purpose to cover, as much as could be, the selfish and avaricious principles from which Demetrius acted; and partly the more to stir up the meaner and more ignorant sort of people, and irritate and provoke them, and set them against Paul and his doctrine, who generally speaking are the most bigoted. Diana is said to be the daughter of Jupiter, by Latona; she is often called the goddess of hunting, and is said to preside at births; the moon was worshipped by the Heathens under her name; she is here called the "great" goddess, for the Gentiles had their greater and their lesser gods, and she is reckoned among the former, which were in number twelve; Juno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Neptune, Vulcan, and Apollo: the temple of Diana at Ephesus is reckoned among the seven wonders of the world; it was about seven furlongs distant from the city F12, and was 425 feet long, and 220 feet broad, and had in it 127 pillars, 60 feet high; it was built on marshy ground, that it might not be affected with earthquakes; and yet that such a pile of building might not stand upon a slippery and unstable foundation, coals and fleeces of wool were laid in the foundation and trodden in it, according to Pliny {m}, from whom this account is taken; who says it was two hundred and twenty years in building, and elsewhere he says it was four hundred years; the architect who first began it, he makes to be one Chersiphron; but it is commonly ascribed to the Amazons, and particularly to the Amazon Otrira, the wife of Mars; though Pausanias F14, as he observes that the temple of Diana of the Ephesians was built before the Ionians came into these parts, so he denies that it was built by the Amazons, but affirms that the builders of it were Cresus, and Ephesus, the son of Caystrus. Solinus F15, who calls it a fabric of the Amazons, says it was

``so magnificent, that Xerxes, when he burnt all the temples in Asia, spared this only; but (adds he) this clemency of Xerxes did not preserve the sacred temple from evil; for Herostratus set fire to this noble fabric with his own hands, for no other reason, as he confessed, than to get himself a name.''

At which the Ephesians were so enraged, that they got an order published by the common council of Asia, throughout all the neighbouring kingdoms and nations, that his name should not be once mentioned F16; which however, though it might be regarded for a while, was not always; for his name has since been both spoken of, and transmitted in writing to posterity. The above historian observes, that the temple at Ephesus was burnt, the same day in which Alexander was born at Pella; which occasioned Timaeus facetiously to say, as is related by Cicero F17

``it is no wonder that the temple of Diana of the Ephesians should be burnt the same night that Alexander was born, seeing Diana, being desirous to be present at the delivery of Olympias, (the mother of Alexander,) was absent from her own house.''

However, the inhabitants of Ephesus being very rich, and also willing to communicate to the charge of rebuilding this edifice, the women even bringing their gold, silver, and other precious ornaments, the work was set about, and a fabric was raised much more beautiful than the former; the name of the architect by whom it was rebuilt was Dinocrates; and so it continued, to this time the apostle was at Ephesus, a very fine and grand building, and commanded great attention, veneration, and respect from men; and which Demetrius suggests would fall into contempt, through the doctrine of the apostle, should he be suffered to go on:

and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the
world worshippeth;
by "her magnificence" is meant, her deity; which must be denied her, as well as her temple despised, if Paul's doctrine was true, and should obtain; so the Syriac version renders it, "the goddess herself"; and the Ethiopic version, "her divinity": what Demetrius says of her, that she was worshipped by all Asia, and the world, was fact; not only all Asia was concerned in building her temple at Ephesus, as many writers affirm F18; but she was one of the highest class of deities, and received as such by the whole Gentile world; yea, Diana of the Ephesians, as distinguished from all other Dianas, was revered by all nations. There were temples of Diana of the Ephesians in other places, particularly at Corinth, as Pausanias relates; and who also affirms, that all the cities celebrate Diana of the Ephesians, and men in private honour her above other deities; the reasons are, the glory of the Amazons, from whom according to fame her image was, and because of the antiquity of the temple: three other things besides these, adds he, contribute to the glory of it; the magnificence of the temple, which exceeds whatever was done by man, and the splendour of the city of the Ephesians, and the renown of the deity in it F19: here the silversmith suggests the catholicism and universality of their religion, in favour of it.


F12 Herodot. l. 1. c. 26.
F13 Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 40. & l. 36. c. 14.
F14 Achaica sive, 1. 7. p. 399.
F15 Polyhistor. c. 53.
F16 A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 2. c. 6.
F17 De natura Deorum, l. 2. p. 1918.
F18 Plin. l. 16. c. 40. & l. 36. c. 14. Alex. ab Alex. l. 6. c. 2. Ganz Chronolog. par. 2. fol. 9. 2.
F19 Corinthiaca sive, l. 2. p. 88. & Messenica, sive, l. 4. p. 275.

Acts 19:27 In-Context

25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
26 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:
27 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.
28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
29 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.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. set at nought: or, brought into disrepute, or, contempt
The King James Version is in the public domain.