csibiblestudy


Revival and Riot at Ephesus
April 11, 2016, 1:05 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , , ,

Ephesians cover from Cameron Duncan
Their time at Corinth had been difficult for Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. Aquila and Priscilla had been forced to leave Rome when Claudius issued a decree that the Jews had to leave. The difficulty of leaving what they knew as home was hard but because of following Jesus Christ, the couple saw this as a great opportunity to share His story of amazing love and grace as well as their story of transformation from legalistic Jews bound by the traditions of the Pharisees to liberated Christ-like ones. Arriving in Corinth, they met Paul, who shared a similar story and who shared a passion for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with his people the Jews. They worked making tents by day as they took every opportunity to share their new faith with the Jews and Greeks who gathered in the synagogue. But even after being joined by Silas and Timothy, their message was met by unreceptive ears and hearts of those who refused to see Jesus as the Messiah. Their opposition grew as Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and trusted God to save him. Bringing Paul up on charges before the political leader of the region didn’t end with Paul’s arrest, so the Jews grabbed Sosthenes and beat him near the court area. The church at Corinth had its beginnings but would experience growing pains.
So Paul decided to return to Jerusalem to give a report of the success his missionary trip had experienced. To do so, he would journey by sea, so he traveled to the coastal area to catch a ship. He would first travel across to Ephesus, then transfer to a ship that would travel to the coast at Israel, so he would end up walking up to Jerusalem. Ephesus was the capital of the region of Asia and one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. A conservative estimate would be that Ephesus contained three hundred thousand people, but the number may have been closer to a half-million. Original the city was a great seaport, but by the time of Paul had become unusable because of the accumulation of mud and sand. While it had a huge library, the chief draw of the city was the temple of Artemis, or Diana. Visitors from all over the Roman Empire would come to worship at the temple of Artemis, known as the greatest of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The economy of Ephesus was based on this temple and the worship of this false goddess.
While at Ephesus, Paul went into the synagogue and presented the logical reasons for Jesus to be the Messiah. These Jewish people wanted to know more and begged Paul to stay. Although he was impressed by God to continue to Jerusalem, he left Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus to water the seeds of the gospel as they helped plant the church and nurture its growth. They found a great speaker by the name of Apollos, who knew the Old Testament scriptures and the message of John the Baptist. Taking time to share the gospel of Jesus, which was the story of Jesus, they led Apollos to a relationship based on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He took the teaching to heart and helped in establishing the church before traveling to Corinth. After his time in Jerusalem, Paul began his third missionary trip and eventually ended back in Ephesus, where he would hear of the church’s growth. Upon arriving back at Ephesus, the Holy Spirit began using Paul in remarkable ways, explaining the gospel to men who had a love for God by not the knowledge of Jesus. This led to Paul preaching the great news of the kingdom of God to both Jews and Greeks. His preaching was supported by the miracles that God did through him to show His approval of his ministry. His popularity grew and pretenders, seeking to cash in on his fame, attempted to duplicate some of his miracles. Their failure highlighted that God was working in and through Paul. The Gospel was clearly presented and lives were so radically transformed that many in the city who practiced magic arts turned to God from the demonically-inspired practices and the economy of the city took a real hit, with 50,000 pieces of silver worth of books and objects used by those involved in magic turned into a huge bonfire. Paul saw his work finished and made plans to go to Macedonia to continue spreading the Gospel. He stayed to finish his commitments in Ephesus and faced a mob that resented his faithful presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those involved in the magic arts saw a decline in business and joined to rid Ephesus of Paul and his message. They incited the people with fear of a loss of money and the loss of their tourist attraction, the Temple of Diana (or Artemis) as they stampeded the theatre or stadium. The riot was stopped by the calming and reasoning of local political leaders but the battle lines were drawn. The church of Ephesus had become reality, but the gathering of those who were believers and followers of Jesus Christ would face battles and would struggle at times with their own sinful natures, but Paul would keep up with their growth and maturity. Soon he would write a letter to encourage them.

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