Prosperity by this Trade
The religious impact Paul had on the city of Ephesus cannot be overstated. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, “The Temple of Diana,” was located in the center of the city. Paul’s preaching began turning many of the pagans in Ephesus toward Christ. His preaching also began to have an economic impact on the merchants of that city.
As the Ephesians learned the truth, they brought their costly pagan books of magical sorcery and burned them publicly (Acts 19:19). An even greater result of Paul’s preaching was on those silversmiths who made small icons of Diana. The leader of this guild of silversmiths was Demetrius. He told all the silversmiths, “We have our prosperity by this trade…Not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
How tragic it was that these tradesmen did not listen to Paul, but their love of money caused them to elevate it because “…we have our prosperity by this trade.” This attitude was not just found among silversmiths in ancient Ephesus but permeates our world today. Truth matters little. What does matter to many is their prosperity by their trade.
Many of the decisions made in Washington are greatly impacted by the monies given (sometimes secretly) by lobbyists to those who have taken oaths to represent the districts from which they come. You might be amazed to Google and find how many who arrived in Washington with ordinary income now are millionaires. “We have our prosperity by this trade.”
This concept of “prosperity by this trade” is readily seen when one looks at the wealth accumulated by televangelists. A search of the internet will show that the “poorest” of the top five televangelists is worth $27,000,000, and the richest is worth over $750,000,000. Is there any wonder that unbelievers are negatively impacted by these obvious truths? Demetrius of Ephesus is not the only one who could say, “We have our prosperity by this trade.”
One does not have to be in the “top five” to be guilty of having this attitude. However, how can we fail to see the parallel between this and Jesus’ words in the temple? “Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise” (John 2:16). Jesus taught against judging the motives of others, but He also said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” He did not make us judges, but he made us fruit inspectors.”
Truth matters above everything else. We must never put our “prosperity by any trade” above truth.