Dive Deeper

Unstoppable (Part 31)

Tay Leng Seng


What do we do when we face spiritual battles, persecution and hardships? How many of us will stay true to Christ in the midst of it all? We look at the example of Paul in Acts 19:21-41 as he deals with the persecution in Ephesus. Our text reports the story of a riot in Ephesus instigated against Paul and the infant church there. Although Paul was not at the centre of the action, it must have been an unforgettably frightening ordeal. The opposition was not just against Paul personally, but against “the Way” (Acts 19:23). It points to Christianity as a way of life, and to the fact that Jesus is the only way to God (see John 14:6). 

Let us look at the text and unpack what staying true to Christ looks like.


  1. Read Acts 19:24-29. The Artemis cult in Ephesus was a powerful economic force in Asia Minor. Pilgrims streamed to the temple (a structure so grand that it was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) in hopes of receiving from Artemis enhanced fertility in the field or in the family. In this context, as with other tourism centres, many of the local industries were tied to the ongoing relevance of the attraction. As Demetrius recognizes, when people become followers of Jesus, they can be expected to change the way they use their money. Ceasing to buy items related to idol worship is merely the most obvious change. There is nothing prohibiting Christians from buying silver items in general. But Demetrius is right to see that patterns of consumption will change if many people start believing in Jesus. This will always be threatening to those profiting most from the way things were before.

    Which aspects of economic life in our own context might be incompatible with the Christian gospel? Does self-association with brands/material possessions function as a kind of idolatry? How has following Christ impacted your spending habits?

  2. Read Revelations 2:1-7. The church in Ephesus from all outward appearances was a very spiritual church, for it was certainly a church that was very active in the work of God. Nevertheless, something was wrong. They were guilty of a sin that is sometimes hard to detect – they have forsaken their first love. John called on the Ephesians to consider their actions and repent.

    a. What are some signs that indicate believers have wandered away from their ‘first love’

    b. How can we return to our ‘first love’ for the Lord? (refer Mark 3:14, 6:30-32, John 14:4-8, Ps 119)

  3. Read Acts 19:30-31 and Philippians 1:21. Paul knew that life on this earth was meant to live for Christ, but death would be even better because he would be in the presence of the Lord. With this deep conviction, Paul wanted to venture into the arena and address the unruly mob. He saw it as a choice opportunity to preach to thousands all at once! If not for his friends who stopped him, he would have been viewed as the ringleader and the mob would have killed him.

    We should look at our own lives and the trials that we go through. Then we should consider our own attitudes. Are we scared of making a stand for God? What would it take for you to say, with conviction, “to live is Christ, to die is gain”?

  4. Read Acts 19:35-41. God protected Gaius and Aristarchus through the wise words of the town clerk. He did not witness any wrongdoing by these men. Rather, they had proclaimed the gospel in Ephesus and the outlying area, and they had demonstrated the power of the gospel through their repentance.

    When presenting the gospel, how confrontational should we be? Where is the balance between grace and salt (Colossians 4:6)?


These disciples of Christ were completely fearless and constantly in trouble. I wonder, “Am I doing anything significant enough on behalf of God’s kingdom to stir up the enemy’s opposition?” Maybe we should ponder G. Campbell Morgan’s words: “The Church persecuted has always been the Church pure, and therefore the Church powerful. The Church patronized has always been the Church in peril, and very often the Church paralyzed” (The Acts of the Apostles [Revell], p. 465). 

Are we making a powerful impact on our culture? Will we stay true in the midst of suffering or persecution? 


“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,…” – 2 Tim 3:10-12 ESV