What was the 'image of Artemis' that fell down from heaven in Acts 19?

The image of Artemis/Diana which fell from the sky or from Zeus/Jupiter.

Is this false image still worshiped today?

Acts 19:35

NKJV - 35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus?

Clarify Share Report Asked August 25 2015 Mini Murray Roulstone Supporter

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Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
The image in the temple of Artemis/Diana was created by a craftsman named Canetius, but beyond that little is known about it. When it was first brought to the temple is unknown, but Pliny the Elder records that Mucianus claimed it had survived seven restorations of the temple. It was repaired six or seven times over the course of its residence, and over time gained a reputation among the people as having 'fell from heaven'. The phrase 'fell from heaven' was often used of more sacred relics, such as the shield of Mars in Rome. It is likely that the craftsman selling copies of the idol spurred the rumor on, or even started it.

The image itself, as represented on ancient coins from Ephesus and Smyrna, was a rough figure of her body, rather like the form of a mummy, supported by a staff on either side. Later copies of the image were far more intricately carved.

The material is was made from is a matter of debate. The Ethiopic biblical version renders the verse "and of that molten image which was sent from Jupiter the great god". This would lend support to the the image being metal.

Pliny the Elder (23-79AD), an ancient historian and scientist, thought it might be made from ebony or from the vine tree. Ebony was a very common guess. Ptronius (27-66AD) claimed it was of cedar wood. Athenagorus, a Christian apologist of the late second century, claimed it was made of olive wood. 

Xenophon, early 5th century, thought the original Ephesian image made of gold. He built a small-scale reproduction of the temple of Artemis with a copy of the image made of cedar-wood placed inside it.

Whatever the image's origins or exact make-up, it had become a central piece in the widespread idolatry of the era. Diana was a fertility goddess; goddess of the hunt, the moon, and childbirth. Artemis is her Greek equivalent. She was considered the perpetual virgin goddess of childbirth and women.

Diana could also be seen as a 'false-trinity', for she was a triple-goddess. She was called by three different titles depending on her residence: Luna, the Queen of Heaven for her celestial form; Diana for her Earthly form; and Proserpina when in hell.

Idolatry, as far back as Eve noticing the apple was 'pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom' (Gen 3:6), has been a stumbling block for followers of God and a hurdle to the spread of the gospel. Turning from worship of the Creator to the created often goes in hand with sexual immorality as well, and even child sacrifice. (Jer 2:20, Ezek 16:18, Rom 1:18-32, Is 57:5)

Yet the Christian church in Ephesus planted by Paul grew (Acts 19:26), and apparently stood firm against the idolatry of the wicked city. The Ephesian church was one of the seven churches that received a letter in Revelation was Ephasus. One of the things the church is commended for is 'hating the practices of the Nicolaitans' (Rev 2:6). The Nicolaitains were a corrupt sect that practiced idolatry, sexual immorality, and other gross lawless acts in the name of 'Christian liberty'.

Even in the face of strong temptations or persecution, God gives us the strength to follow Him.

While Diana and the other Roman and Greek gods do not receive the widespread worship that they did in the past, it is concerning that many non-Christians believe that God is no more real than Greek and Roman myths. Idolatry is still widespread across the world, and is a barrier to witnessing in many regions. Even in first world countries where one does not usually see the worship of carved idols, idolatry is still present in the form of self-worship (II Tim 3:2-4) and greed (Col 3:5).

The best stand against idolatry is understanding the true character and sovereignty of God, so we can keep worldly things in perspective and be able to point out to those worshiping vain shadows that there is Someone far greater than any earthly created thing who wants a personal relationship with them, not just rote worship.

August 28 2015 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Headshot Cindy Jennings 1 Saved by Grace
According to the MacArthur Study Bible:

"image which fell...Zeus" probably refers to a meteorite since meteorites were part of the worship of Diana.

August 28 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Kenneth Heck
I believe this object was a demonic deception which fell from the sky like a meteorite, and which the Ephesians falsely believed came from one of their gods. 

Is this highly improbable? No. Today we have a sizable number of reports of crashed UFOs with their dead or barely alive occupants intended to convince everyone they come from highly advanced civilizations, but in reality are simply another demonic deception. 

We must remember that the "prince of the power of the air" mentioned in Ephesians (Eph. 2:2) would be equally able to deceive both us and the ancient peoples in the appropriate circumstances.

August 28 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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