The letter to the Ephesians is a letter of encouragement to a struggling but courageous group of Christians .
Ephesus was the largest city in what is now Turkey. It could well be called the Vancouver or New Orleans of the 1st Century.
Through this seaport city of 250,000 goods from China & Asia Minor passed on their way to Italy. The city was designed to impress tourists with a theater that held 25,000 spectators & dozens of temples to attract the eye . One temple was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
It was a city with a myriad of ethnic groups & many social classes:
- political power was in the hands of aristocrats.
- economic strength in the hands of merchants
- urban poor were managed with government handouts
- it was a disciplined welfare state.
Religion was a ‘hodge-podge’ of gods from many cultures
- people had lost any deep attachment to their faith
- they kept only an enthusiasm for elaborate festivals, parades & games.
- think Santa Claus parades & Mardi Gras!
- cults vied for the attention of the Ephesians
Ephesus was home to the temple of the goddess Diana (Artemis) . Crowds from all over the Mediterranean came to worship there. One of the main industries was the production of silver shrines to the Goddess Diana.
Paul’s confrontation of the idolatry & his teaching that the handmade gods weren’t gods at all caused a riot that nearly resulted in Paul’s death.
It was in Ephesus that after the Sons of Sceva incident a solemn fear descended on the city & the name of Jesus was greatly honored.
Many believers confessed their sinful practices. A number who had been practicing magic brought their incantation books & burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars.
The message about Jesus spread widely & had a powerful effect.
Religious factions ran rampant. The values & beliefs of the Christians were challenged daily & strongly.
All of the practices we see in New Orleans were common in Ephesus nearly 2000 years ago. There really is nothing new under the sun.
The Church at Ephesus
Paul taught the Ephesian church how to live between salvation & destination.
He taught them how to live in the presence & power of Holy Spirit. He taught & demonstrated how to have a real relationship with Jesus by the infilling of His Spirit.
Jesus told the church at Ephesus that He knew their deeds. He saw their hard work & their patient endurance. He knew they didn’t tolerate evil people. They had examined the claims of those who said they were apostles but were not. They discovered they were liars & confronted the lies. They suffered patiently & didn’t quit.
They were good, faithful , hard working men & women. They did their best in trying circumstances. They were gatekeepers of truth. They didn’t compromise with evil doers. They patiently endured hardship.
There Was A Problem
They forgot their first love . They didn’t do what they did at first.
They stopped living in relationship with Jesus day by day.
They went back to living out of religious principle.
Paul gently & lovingly called them back to the fulness of living in relationship rather then religion.
We face the same circumstances today.
These 31 Days are designed to encourage us & equip us in fresh ways with real relationship with Jesus. Designed to refresh us & empower us to live the fulness of Grace & Peace.
What About You?
Do you live out of :
- Principle or Promises
- Religion or Relationship
- Fatigue or First Love
- Your Weakness or His Strength
If Jesus Wrote You A Letter
What Would He Write?