Riots and Rome by Paul Pickren

(Acts 19:38-41) If therefore Demetrius-and the craftemen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, sl it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

The inappropriateness of the present ad hoc assembly is made evident in v. 39 when the clerk says that if there is anything further the crowd wants to know, it must be settled in the legal assembly. [Riots and Roman Law, Acts 19:21-41, Underground Network, Apr.14,2016] 

Rome was not likely to pass a blind eye over an unlawful assembly, and so now the clerk turns the tables on the crowd. If there was an unlawful assembly the City could be charged with “stasis,” that is, with acting seditiously, creating factions in the Empire, rioting. The terminology the clerk uses here at the end of his speech is legal and correct. His point is that if questioned, the Ephesians could give no legal justification for this particular meeting, and so would be suspected of, and, as v. 40 puts it, in danger of being charged with, subversive activities. (ibid)

The providence of God? Certainly. A leader with the ability to diffuse an ugly situation? Looks like it. 

Whichever, either or both, may God help us today. Burton Coffman opines. “One has to admire the intelligence, tact, and ability by which the town-clerk achieved a dispersal of such a mob. First, he pointed out that the whole city might be “in danger” for tolerating such an illegal uproar; but then he softened his reference to the riot by calling it a “concourse.” This indicated that he was willing to convey some semblance of legality to the mob by naming it a concourse instead of a riot; then, moving still further to legalize the outrageous gathering, he “dismissed THE ASSEMBLY”! In context, that town-clerk’s actions bore the stamp of genius. Once more, the providence of God had preserved the life of the dauntless apostle, saving him and protecting him, without his so much as opening his mouth. How wonderful are the ways of the Lord”. (Commentary on Acts)

Rioting is ugly. Turns illegal, Needs to be stopped. May God give us leaders today who can and will lead as the town clerk did in Acts 19.