Read Acts 19.
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Followers of Jesus who faithfully share that message of "the way" with others will experience the joy of seeing other lives changed for eternity. It is also true that not everyone will appreciate the narrow scope of what Jesus said. Each one who rejects committing themselves to Christ does so with their own self-protective motives to their peril.
After some eighteen months in Corinth, Paul journeyed to Ephesus. There, for the next two years, he taught the word of God and presented Jesus as the Messiah. This chapter sites three incidents of rejection and reveals the core motives of each.
1. Some resist change. (vv.1-10)
Acts records a number of transitional events as the Gospel entered new territories. These twelve men were Old Testament believers and had even experienced the baptism of John. John's message of repentance from sin was in preparation for the revealing of the Messiah and the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). But without the advantage of modern communications, they knew nothing else. Paul taught them what they did not know and they responded positively.
For the next three months, Paul endeavored to convince the rest of the synagogue that Jesus was the Christ. However, the unbelievers not only rejected the message but began saying evil things about it. At the root was their own stubbornness. They dug in their heels like an immovable mule. In doing so, they sealed their fate of never being forgiven and suffering for eternity.
However, "all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks" (v.10).
2. Some try to copy. (vv.11-20)
Christianity, with its message of forgiveness, life principles, and spiritual disciplines, become attractive to some who have no intentions of committing their lives to Jesus. They go through the motions, living in pretense. Many are merely drawn to a group of believers because of the music, the architecture, the traditions, etc.
The sons of this so-called Jewish high priest were enamored with the power of the Holy Spirit as displayed in this unique season of Paul's ministry. Seeing how the people responded, they wanted in on it. In truth, they were phonies to begin with and now sought to increase their business by trying to copy Paul. These seven men entered into a spiritual war unarmed. They barely escaped with their lives. The power was not in holding a meeting. It was not in repeating certain words. Without Jesus, people are on the losing side of the war. With Jesus, believers have been issued "the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 610-18) and can stand firm in the battle that constantly rages.
"So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily." (v.20)
3. Some fear the cost. (vv.21-41)
When some in Ephesus turned to Jesus, they left the false worship of idols. This struck fear in the heart of Demetrius. He envisioned that he would lose future business. He rallied the local business community against this "Way". In turn, the city fell into a turmoil and near riot against Christians.
This tactic of Satan has not changed in over 2000 years. Churches are almost never given any credit for the innumerable good they provide to their city in free services and ministries to people of all ages. No government agency can match the effectiveness or the efficiency of a healthy local church that is on mission. Yet, any Biblical truth of morality or decency is met with spiritual opposition. That is to be expected. The rejectors are Satanically motivated, loud, and speak ill of what they do not know. And, verse 32 also remains true. "Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together."
"...in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods." (v.26b)
No one worships Artemis any longer. The myth died. Jesus is alive! Against all human and demonic opposition, the good news of the Way prevails and continues to spread throughout the world today.