HELLO, EPHESIAN BELIEVERS!
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1: 1-2).
I wonder if we will even appreciate the significance of these words of greeting or even the letter Paul wrote to this church in Asia Minor.
A Roman writer once called Ephesus Lumen Asiae, The Light of Asia. Ephesus, with a population of 300,000, was the chief commercial city of the province and the centre of the mother goddess worship of western Asia. In the New Testament era, it was the fourth greatest city in the world, after Rome, Alexandria in Egypt and Antioch of Syria . . .
The apostle Paul first visited Ephesus on the return from his missionary journey where he “entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews” (Acts 18:19-21).
On his second journey, Paul came to Ephesus and taught the twelve disciples who knew only the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-7) and “went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). He later taught in the school of Tryannus for two years, and as a result, “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:9-10).
Ephesus was full of wizards, sorcerers, witches, astrologers, diviners of the entrails of animals and people who could read one’s fortune by the palm of the hand. And yet, after the preaching of Paul, the magicians publicly burned their books, “so the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (Acts 19:19-20). Timothy and Erastus were with Paul, but he sent them to Macedonia, while “he himself stayed in Asia for a time” (Acts 19:22) . . .
The disturbance over Diana of the Ephesians is one of the most prominent stories in the book of Acts (Acts 19:23-41). There were 33 temples in the Greco-Roman world where Diana was worshiped. After Paul’s preaching in Ephesus had harmed the local silversmiths who made statues of Diana, Paul’s companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, were dragged into the theatre. The disciples would not allow Paul to go into the assembly . . .
“The goddess who had largely given Ephesus its wealth and importance — so that it was a kind of Lourdes of the ancient world — was at the core of so much human thinking. She derived from those early manifestations of religious belief, the mother-goddess figures to be found from Asia Minor to the Cyclades, and westward to Sicily. The embodiment of the female principle, she represented not only fertility but resurrection in the shape of new birth, the eternal return of life to the earth and, as found in a number of early carvings, the ‘Tree of Life’. As Isis she bore the divine son, Horus; and as Artemis, she was the Mother of Wild Things, the goddess of all animals. The Isis-Artemis conception embraced everything. It could be taken at any level; from the simple peasant’s conception of the divinity who would ensure that his beasts and land were fruitful, to the intellectual idea of an all-creating mother who sustained the whole universe.” (Ernle Bradford, Paul The Traveler, pp. 194-195).
http://www.biblelandhistory.com/turkey/ephesus.html – retrieved December 2015
Paul challenged Diana worship, not by doing “spiritual warfare” or preaching against her in the city but by declaring the truth about Jesus, despite opposition and personal danger. The outcome was startling. The worship of Diana was in tatters. When the many people who were involved in witchcraft, received Jesus as Lord, they burned their occult paraphernalia. The silversmiths, let by Demetrius, rioted because they had lost their business selling Diana images.
The power of the gospel had broken the evil deception of Diana, just as Jesus had told His disciples it would during their visit to Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16: 13-19).
How marvellous that Paul could write words like “to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus,” to a group of people who were once pagan idolaters! They had worshipped the image of a goddess whose history goes back to the time of Nimrod, the rebel king who, together with his wicked wife, Semiramis, led a revolt against Yahweh and set up the first organised false religious system of sun-worship, symbolised by the tower of Babel.
How tragic that the church today, in the name of Jesus, has unwittingly reincorporated so much of the pagan mythology of Diana-worship into the worship of Jesus, especially in the so-called “Christian” festivals of Christmas and Easter. We have swallowed the lies of the Roman Catholic Church by following their deceptive “Christianising” of the worship of the sun-god, Baal, through the incorporation of the many symbols of Baal-worship into our celebrations in the name of the one who expressly forbade the practice.
God has entrusted to His people the rich treasure of His Word. He asked us to preserve it intact and teach it as the truth, not to add or subtract anything. He will hold us accountable for what we do with it because His Word is the embodiment of Himself.
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once of all entrusted to the saints (Jude 1: 3).
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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