Whenever I begin to study something new, I pray for God's guidance. Because I am not making my own plans, I honestly cannot predict how long it will take for me to study. So, with that said, I had no idea that before I would open the book of Ephesians I was going to spend two weeks reading through 1 1/2 chapters in Acts. Today, I want to just review what I have learned about the church in Ephesus before I begin digging into Ephesians on Monday. Here are my thoughts:
- Paul had an intimate relationship with the Ephesian church because he lived with them for three years. As I read yesterday, he made sure that before going back to Jerusalem (and then off to jail) he met with the elders one more time. When his ship docked he called for the elders for one more word of encouragement and warned them of false prophets.
- The church in Ephesus was eager to learn and grow. They were familiar with the baptism of John but unfamiliar with the baptism of Christ which allows for the Holy Spirit to His powerful work. They personally witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit in their own lives once they fully understood and believed in the salvation they received in Christ.
- The Ephesians understood that there is power in the Name of Jesus. They witnessed how His Name wasn't just another incantation - they had respect for His Name.
- Sorcery was prevalent in the city of Ephesus and the surrounding region. The people in the church threw away their need to practice sorcery in exchange for life and freedom in Christ.
- The church faced opposition from both the Jews and the citizens of Ephesus - even to the point of causing a short-lived riot.
- Ephesus was the patron city of Artemis. This means that Artemis was the primary goddess they worshiped and was a part of their every day life.
- It is believed that Ephesus was an educational hub and had an extensive library.
- Ephesus was a port city, which meant that there were a lot of visitors coming and going.
- Ephesus was controlled by the Roman government - just like Jerusalem. This meant that they lost certain freedoms; however, they were still able to keep much of their culture.
There is one more reference to the church of Ephesus outside of the book of Ephesians and it is in Revelation. Please turn to Revelation 2:1-7. The church is commended for testing and not following false prophets; however, God is calling them back to their first love in Him and for each other. He tells them that they need to return to the works they originally did that was fueled by their love for Christ. It is a good warning for us to heed as well - are we serving out of our love for Christ or out of duty? Do we still have the passion for Christ that we had when we first came to Him? Are we serving others because we love them?
I look forward to digging in to the book of Ephesians next week!