Ephesus

If you want to know how God’s salvation impacts the individual and the church, you need to read the book of Ephesians.  It’s another amazing epistle, written to believers to help them understand this wonderful thing called salvation.

Acts 19-20 and Revelation 2:1-7 are excellent preparation for studying the book of Ephesians.

Ephesus was a big, prosperous harbor city in Asia Minor. The harbor has long been filled up and unusable. The famous Silk Road from Asia ended at this point. The church in Ephesus existed in a community that worshipped its prize idol, the goddess Diana.

One of the seven wonders of the world was in Ephesus. It was the huge temple dedicated to Diana (Artemis). People from all around flocked to that great temple. The legend was that Diana had fallen from the sky, and she was thought to have great powers. 

The temple and streets were full of  goddess prostitutes. People could experience more of the goddess’ power by sexually intimacies with her priests and priestesses. It was a wicked city. Immorality flourished and flooded over into the society and families. The disciples of Jesus, however, were not set apart to this temple or Diana, but instead set apart for God. They would belong to God and serve Him. They would be a new and disturbing influence in a city and surrounding area that was wholly controlled by Satan.

The Holy Spirit led Paul to use the concepts of holiness, service and temple to reveal the power of the Gospel in how it creates a new people born of God dedicated to His holy purposes, and not to the fleshly lusts adn desires born in the heart of mankind.

Image result for map showing Ephesus and surrounding area

In 50-52 AD Paul wrote his first epistles. They were to the Thessalonians and chiefly centered on Jesus’ return. During his third missionary journey in 55-56 AD, he wrote Corinthians, Galatians and Romans which all  defined the meaning and purpose of the cross. It was in 60-62 AD during Paul’s Roman imprisonment that he wrote what we call the prison epistles: Colossians, Philemon, Philippians and Ephesians.  He was on house arrest, free to talk but not free to go. During this imprisonment, Paul wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus and the surrounding areas.

During the prison stage (first of two) of his ministry, the attack on the church was primarily over what it believed about Christ.Remember, this was a time of great idolatry throughout the known world, and the worship of many of these idols included great immorality. Christianity was new in its adherence to one God, and in its moral purity and holy living.

Paul wonderfully presented the glory of Christ in these epistles. It was a new way to believe, a new way to live, and there was great resistance as well as great acceptance to the new teachings of Paul and the other apostles and missionaries who carried the gospel to an idolatrous world.

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