the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Contending for the Faith Contending for the Faith
CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH
A Commentary On
THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
By GLEN OSBURN
Publisher Charles Allen Bailey
Executive Editor - Joe L. Norton, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1997
Contending for the Faith Publications
4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099
All Rights Reserved
All scripture quotations,
unless otherwise indicated, are taken from
The King James Version, KJV
The spiritual atmosphere in the city of Ephesus was thick.
The Ephesus of Paul’s time was filled with a vast assortment of religious zealots practicing various forms of idolatry, spiritualism, and the mystical magical arts (Acts 19:19). Because of the Ephesian curiosity and interest in the supernatural, there was an abundance of lectures, debates, and religious discussions.
Ephesus was also the location of the great temple to the goddess "Artemis," or as the Romans called her "Diana" (Acts 19:27). She is also known as "Astarte" in Phrygia, and "Ashtoreth" (Judges 2:13; Judges 10:6; 1 Samuel 7:3-4; 1 Samuel 12:10; 1 Samuel 31:10; 1 Kings 11:5; 1 Kings 11:33; 2 Kings 23:13; 1 Chronicles 6:71) in Canaan (Reese 687). This temple was of such magnificence that it is cataloged as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The temple of Artemis was 220 feet (67m) by 425 feet (129.5m) by 60 feet (18.3m) high. The roof was supported by 107 pillars.
According to history, the temple of Artemis was burned and rebuilt seven times (Fields 12). In 356 B.C., the night Alexander the Great was born, the temple burned. The project to rebuild the temple took 220 years and was magnificent upon completion. It was this temple that Paul saw.
After the introduction of Christianity to the Ephesians, the church flourished. In 262 A.D., when the temple of "Diana" burned again, the influence of those who followed "Diana" had so weakened that it was never rebuilt. Some years later a church was built upon the sight, and in 431 A.D. a council was held there that declared Mary as the "Mother of God." The city continued to decline in influence. In 1308 A.D. the Turks captured the city, killed its inhabitants, and destroyed its buildings. The temple site was discovered and excavated in 1870 A.D. by J.T. Wood (Field 12-16).
The church in Ephesus began in about A.D. 54 with a nucleus of twelve men:
And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples, and he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John’s baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. And there were in all about twelve men. And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God (Acts 19:1-8 NASB).
Paul continued teaching in the school (or "hall") of Tyrannus for two years resulting in the gospel’s being spread to all of Asia (Acts 19:9-10).
Paul’s impact on the area was profound:
And God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches." And seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing." (Acts 19:11-20 NASB).
Since a piece of silver was equivalent to a day’s wage (Reese 683), to burn fifty thousand "day’s wages" worth of books evidenced a great commitment and loyalty to Christ.
The letter to the Ephesians (and the companion letter of Colossians) was written during Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome, about A.D. 61-63.
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