Violent Demonstrations in the Book of Acts

Image prison Saint-Paul Lyon
A prison named after Saint Paul,
who seems to have been in prison frequently

By Philiphotos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
The book of Acts contains several accounts of violent or near-violent crowd episodes, which begin in response to the disciples’ preaching.

Here’s the list (I think):

7:57 ff – Stephen’s preaching incites a mob, which stones him to death

14:8-20 – first, crowds in Lystra want to sacrifice to Paul & Barnabas; later, they stone Paul after “outside agitation”

16:19-23 – Philippian crowd attacks Paul & Silas after they heal a slave girl with a “spirit of divination;” officials throw them in jail

17:1-9 – “Jews” and “ruffians” incite a riot in Thessalonica, attack the home of Jason

17:13 – Jews from Thessalonica “stir up and incite the crowds” in Beroea

18:12-17 – “the Jews” attack Paul, drag him before the tribunal, when charges are dismissed beat up Sosthenes “the official of the synagogue in front of the tribunal;” the tribunal pays no attention

19:21-41 – a long account of a confused riot or near-riot in Ephesus instigated by artisans threatened by the preaching against idols

21:27-36 – a riot begins in the Temple when Paul is rumored to have brought in Gentiles; more crowd violence arises in 22:23 after Paul’s preaching

23:6-10 – Paul instigates a violent argument between Sadducees and Pharisees

After this, the story turns to Paul’s testimony before various Roman officials, and the journey to Rome; no more riots. I can’t help being curious about how these episodes might have been described by other participants or observers.

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