HE WAS JUST one man…
Okay, you could successfully argue that there was more than just one man (vv. 29-30), but he obviously was the voice of the group (cf. Acts 14:12). More than that, he was the voice of the group at large—the church.
ONE man spoke up. ONE man spoke out. ONE man preached an incredibly simple message.
And what did he say…? His words compose seven in Greek and nine in English: “They are not gods which are made with hands…” (v. 26b; cf. Jonah 3:4).
From Demetrius’ perspective, this ONE man’s message was—(are you ready for this?), “hate” speech. From the silversmith’s point of view, this ONE man’s sermon was a negative, heretical, adversarial homily.
Well, what exactly was this ONE man saying? What was so dangerous and inflammatory that Demetrius, as president of the local silversmith guild (v. 38), just had to exact his own verbal revenge? What was it that frightened and angered him so that he found it necessary to muster up his peers and oppose this ONE man?
This ONE man said, “They are not gods which are made with hands…” In other words—a man can’t make a god, ever. A mortal can’t fashion a deity, ever. Oh sure, humanity can compose and worship something material that it wants to be as a god (cf. Rom. 1:18-23), but wanting, and manufacturing and idolizing doesn’t miraculously make stuff into a god (cf. 1 Sam. 12:21; Jon. 2:8; Isa. 44:10; Jer. 10:15; 51:18; Hos. 12:11; Hab. 2:18; 1 Cor. 8:4). A rock is just a rock, a piece of wood is just a piece of wood, and a piece of metal is just a piece of metal.
Demetrius wasn’t going to buy into this ONE man’s theology though. You see, god-making had been his livelihood (v. 24). More so, he and his fellow-guild members actually prospered in their business, and this ONE man’s sermon threatened not only their bank accounts, but it jeopardized Diana’s (i.e., Artemis’) honor (vv. 26-27).1
So Demetris started a local chapter of DLM (i.e., Diana’s Life Matters). He whipped up his peers into a frenzy and mounted a violent protest. Suddenly the city was filled with confusion and many were shouting, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (vv. 28-29, 34).
So what can we learn from this brief snapshot from sacred history? What are some mustard seeds that we can glean from the soil of God’s mind and heart?
1. That ONE man in Acts 19 was a simple itinerant tentmaker named Paul (cf. Acts 18:1-3; 20:33-35; Phil. 4:14-16). And if ONE man, without a printing press, without the internet, and without social media could preach and share a simple message about God and change the lives and livelihoods of countless individuals (NOTE: “This Paul has persuaded and turn away many people…” v. 26), what can/could God do with you?
2. That ONE man’s power wasn’t in himself, but in God and His Word. Paul, on his own, was a poor communicator (2 Cor. 10:10); he wasn’t an eloquent Apollos (Acts 18:24). He wasn’t some fiery, dynamic pulpiteer. He didn’t have some multi-million dollar pastoral ministry.2 Folks scoffed at his speaking inability and they scorned his delivery. But this ONE man—Paul—knew that the power of his message wasn’t about smooth and flattering speech (Rom. 16:17-19), but in the Word of the true and living God (Rom. 1:16; Jer. 10:10; 1 Thes. 1:9).
So think about it for a second. If ONE man—with less than a half-dozen Greek words—from the mouth of the Almighty—could turn an entire city upside down (cf. Acts 17:6), what can/could God do with you??
“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike