Why did Demetrius, the silversmith in Ephesus, complain about Paul’s preaching?
[Demetrius, Ephesian silversmith]: "There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."
- Acts 19:27
At the time of Paul, Ephesus was a major city in Asia Minor (in present-day Turkey). Not only was it the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was also a major centre of trade, communication and Roman government. The temple also served as a bank.
There had already been a ‘Lady of Ephesus’ worshipped as a goddess of fertility and childbirth there since ancient times. The Greeks had a habit of assimilating foreign gods under one of their familiar gods, and the ‘Lady of Ephesus’ was obviously conflated with Artemis (even though Artemis was a virgin huntress!)
The Ephesian Artemis was not only worshipped by the Ephesians but also by the many visitors who came to the city. If people stopped worshipping her, those who made their livings by producing shrines and images to her would lose their incomes. The city would also lose one of its major claims to fame. It was no wonder that the silversmiths and other artisans opposed Paul’s preaching against idolatry.