A Brief Critique of Ephesians

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A Brief Critique of EphesiansThe city of Ephesus was the capital and gateway to the province of Asia. It was located on the Western coast of today’s Asia Minor. Ephesus was strategically located at the mouth of the Cayster River where shipping from all Western ports had its entrance. It also formed a point of departure for caravans between the Ionian Coast and the East Roman highways that led from Ephesus through Central Asia Minor to Antioch in Syria through the Cilician Gates. This was a rather convenient way of travel for Paul and his followers during the First Century.

Ephesus was founded in the Eleventh Century B.C. by a group of colonists from Athens, although there were inhabitants there prior. In 560 B.C. Croesus conquered Ephesus and some of its future artistic glories are owed to him. In 557 B.C. it was conquered by the Persians. Alexander the Great received homage from the rulers in Ephesus. The Romans and Antiochus the Great struggled for possession of Ephesus in 188 B.C. It was given to the King of Pergamum, Eumenes. When his son died in 133 B.C. Ephesus was given back to Rome. It became the most important city in Asia, although the capital was later moved to Pergamum.

The city of Ephesus occupied a large area of land and its population was calculated at one-third of a million people. The main part of the city consisted of a theater, built into Mt. Pion with an estimated capacity of between 25,000 and 50,000, baths, libraries, and its marketplace, which were all located between the River Cayster and a mountain ridge.

The Temple of Artemis or Diana, for which it was most famous, was 1½ miles to the Northeast of the city. The Temple was the most ancient of all deities in all the Eastern Mediterranean. It was one of the seven wonders of the world. It was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 356 B.C. Its colossal size was 360 feet in length and 180 feet in breadth. This did not include its platform, its ornate carvings, or varied paintings. The image of Artemis, which supposedly fell from heaven, is considered by some a meteorite.

The worship of Artemis was not Greek in its origin. The object which fell from the sky represented the figure of a woman with many breasts. This signified to the native settlers that she was a goddess of fertility. The Temple was destroyed in A.D. 260, and was not uncovered until 1870 by J. T. Wood. In addition to the cult of Artemis, there was a considerable amount of occult worship within Ephesus produced in the “Ephesian Letters” (not to be confused with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians), on the formation of magical charms was also famous and celebrated. [ref]George Ripley and Charles A Dana. The American Cyclopædia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, Volume 6. 678 (D. Appleton and Company. London. 1874.[/ref]

The leaders of the community were called “Asiarchs.” Elected from the upper class because of their wealth, they were elevated to public office, according to Strabo. They supervised the religious festivals and carried a lot of influence within the province. These are the same people who confronted Paul about his safety in Ephesus. They were somewhat sympathetic to him and his cause (Acts 19.31).

Asia, with Ephesus at its heart, with its cult worship, its commercialization, was a logical place for a church to be cultivated. Paul believed this also. It was there at the end of his Second Church Planting Trip and during his Third Church Planting Trip that it all came together. In that great center of paganism, a church was born. The following is the story of the emergence of the ecclesiae at Ephesus.

The Unfolding Story of the Ephesian Church

In the unfolding story shared by Luke in Acts, there is a list of those present on the Day of Pentecost. They were from every nation under heaven (Acts 2.5). The province of Asia is mentioned in Acts 2.9. Asia was the great province of which Ephesus was the capital. It is a fact that the first gospel message recorded for us in Acts had hearers from Asia. There may have been people from Ephesus there on that day, however, it is an assumption that Scripture does not state specifically. Even though it is not stated, something or someone knew about the gospel. This is why Paul received a rather warm welcome and invitation to stay for a longer period (Acts 18.20). This occurred while on his way through Ephesus at the close of his Second Church Planting Trip.

Paul felt it necessary to go to Asia, even though he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go there at the beginning of his Second Church Planting Trip. The dates of Paul’s trips are broad as defined by different New Testament scholars. Dr. F.F. Bruce suggested Paul’s ministry was as early as A.D. 49 50, and that he did not settle in Ephesus until the Autumn of A.D. 52 where he stayed until the summer of A.D. 55. It would have been early summer in A.D. 52 that he experienced such a warm welcome and invitation from the synagogue at Ephesus.

After the Spirit forbid him to go to Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16.6,7), Paul had a vision that is often dubbed “the Macedonian call.” In this vision, a man from Macedonia asked Paul for help (Acts 16.9). At this point, it may be well to insert that Paul was probably very happy to receive this positive word from God for the ministry to which he had committed himself. In retracing his steps, he had not had what one might consider in this century a successful ministry. His conversion on the road to Damascus was a sudden jolt to Paul’s spiritual system and also to his friends in Judaism. After three years of instruction from the Lord and some teaching in the synagogue in Damascus, he made his first post-conversion trip to Jerusalem, but not till after a close escape from Damascus (Acts 9.23; 2 Cor. 11.32). He had a brief stay in Jerusalem with the Jerusalem disciples showing some continued fear even after three years. Some of his old friends wanted to kill him, so he left Jerusalem and returned to Tarsus his home (Acts 9.26 30). It was almost ten years before Paul was heard from again.

Barnabas, who continually lives up to his name (Acts 4.36), found Paul in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch to help him teach (Acts 11.25ff.). Barnabas and Paul make a famine relief trip from Antioch to Jerusalem and pick up John Mark (Acts 12.25). Acts 13 and 14 shares with us the First Church Planting Trip in which Paul lost John Mark and is stoned and left for dead. Upon return from his First Church Planting Trip, he wrote a hot fiery letter to the churches in Galatia (Galatians). He had warned against false brothers who had followed Paul to the cities in Galatia and shared another kind of gospel (Gal. 1.6ff.). In Paul’s mind, these “Judaizers” were trying to tear apart what he had planted. From Antioch in Syria, he went to Jerusalem to defend his position on “Faith” over against the Judaizers’ concepts that a person had to become a Jew, accepting the Law and the Jewish practices, before he or she could become a believer. After a meeting of the minds in the church in Jerusalem, he and Barnabas were torn apart over John Mark. Paul took Silas and began his Second Church Planting Trip, picked up Timothy, and revisited the Galatian cites.

Here, as we mentioned earlier, he is forbidden to go to Asia. Finally, back to the Macedonian call, something good must be going to happen. What could it be?

To Philippi and Points Beyond

After his first converts in Philippi and his run-in with the local soothsayer, Paul was put in prison. After the jailer was converted, he was released and went to Thessalonica. He stayed for three weeks and moved to Berea. There he was examined by the “noble” Jews on everything he said and taught. Jews from Thessalonica came to Berea to oppose Paul, so he left and went to Athens. There he was laughed out of town. He arrived at Corinth in a rather depressed condition. In seventeen years of ministry he had been stoned, lost companionship of friends, been put in prison, challenged at every turn and laughed out of town. I wonder if he might not have thought back to the vision of the man from Macedonia and wondered to himself if he had really had time enough in each place to really “help” people.

Whatever his thoughts may have been, he was still to face more hostility in Corinth. The Lord had to speak to him again and encourage him (Acts 18.9). Finally, he was allowed to stay for about eighteen months while he planted a church in Corinth. One might conclude at this point: all that Paul faced during the seventeen years and especially during the last three years before Ephesus sharpened his vision on planting churches and helped him to withstand the hostility he was to receive at the hands of the Ephesians.

The first account that we have of Paul stepping on Ephesian soil is given to us by Luke in Acts 18.19. After leaving Corinth with Priscilla and Aquila, “they” went to Ephesus. Paul left them there for further ministry in Ephesus. “I will return to you… God willing…” were his parting words to Priscilla and Aquila. This was not a mere phrase from the mouth of Paul, but a strong suggestion that his goings and comings were subject to God’s will. God initiated his goings and comings, not Paul (Acts 16.6ff.).

Women In Ministry

Let’s pause and note the ministry of Priscilla in the passages which conclude Acts 18. There are many women mentioned in the New Testament. Luke has a special place in his heart for the ministry of women. He shares stories in Luke and Acts which no other New Testament author shares. From the beginning of the birthing of the church (Acts 5.14), there were multitudes, both men and women. Acts 6.1ff. demonstrates a willing desire to love men and women equally. In Philippi, women formed the core of the new church (Acts 16.11 15). Women played a considerable roll in the formation of the new ecclesiae at Thessalonica (Acts 17.4), and Berea (Acts 17.12). Women are often mentioned as having churches in their homes (Acts 12.12; 16.15; 1 Cor. 16.19; Col. 4.15). Women are pictured for us as having an open ministry within the church. Here are some illustrations:

  • Evangelism: Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4.3); Lydia
    (Acts 16.15).
  • Teaching: Priscilla (Acts 18.26) Lois and Eunice
    (2 Tim. 1.5; cf. 3.14 lS);. Older women teaching younger women (Titus 2.3 5).
  • Prayer: Both men and women in the upper room
    (Acts 1.14); Mary (Acts 12.12).
  • Good Deeds and Hospitality: Dorcas (or Tabitha)
    (Acts 9.36).
  • Pastoral Care: One should take note that Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned six times in Scripture (Acts 18.2, 18, 26; Rom. 16.3 5; 1 Cor. 16.19; 2 Tim. 4.19). Priscilla is often mentioned first, noting her role in pastoral care.

Back to Antioch

Paul left Ephesus to visit Caesarea, Jerusalem, and Antioch. This trip ended his Second Church Planting Trip. The ministry of Paul to the Ephesians lasted for three years (Autumn A.D. 52 to Summer 55). This was a very important part of Paul’s ministry and it Christianized the province of Asia (Acts 19.10). The ministry of Paul is summarized by Luke in four segments:

  1. Paul’s encounter with the “twelve” disciples
  2. Paul left the synagogue and teaching in the hall of Tyrannus
  3. The conflict with magic
  4. The assembly riot

We will use these four segments to view Paul’s ministry to the Ephesians.

Paul’s Encounter with the Twelve Disciples (Acts 19.1 7)

There is a considerable amount of disagreement about the “disciples” at Ephesus…

There is a considerable amount of disagreement about the “disciples” at Ephesus which are mentioned in Acts 19.1. The late James D.G. Dunn (d.2020) suggests that this is a unique use of the Greek word mathetai. He believes that because the definite article is not used before the word “Christian” can not be its meaning in this passage. Christian is the normal meaning of the word when the definite article is used. For Dunn, these “disciples” were not believers. These disciples had no relationship with the church at Ephesus.[ref](Dunn. Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in Relation to Pentecostalism Today [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970], 83-84)[/ref]

One may ask at this point if there was already an ecclesia at Ephesus since the traditional view is that Paul planted the church with the “twelve” disciples mentioned in 19.1. I believe that Scripture clearly states that Priscilla and Aquila planted the ecclesia in Ephesians when they were left behind in Ephesus by Paul. In Acts 18.24 28 we have a clear demonstration of this. The words (hoi adelphoi) the brothers give a strong indication that there was a Christian congregation already at Ephesus when Paul arrived.

The question which Paul asked these disciples is somewhat unusual. From his question arises the following questions: Where did these disciples receive their teaching concerning Christ? If they received their teaching from Apollos, why didn’t he, Priscilla, or Aquila straighten them out as Priscilla and Aquila had straightened Apollos out? Why were they baptized and Apollos not baptized? There is no mention of the baptism of Apollos in Acts. Dunn believes that Apollos was not rebaptized because he already possessed the Spirit (18.25) whereas, the “twelve” did not.

What may be suggested by this information is that in the Mediterranean world, there were several versions of the gospel being proclaimed. These other versions did not bear the approval of the Jerusalem Church. We discover that when Paul, or one of his disciples, came in contact with one of these perversions of the Gospel, they quickly brought the ones who held them into conformity which Paul and the Jerusalem church held in common (1 Cor. 15.11).

What About The Holy Spirit?

There are four questions concerning baptism which will help us unravel the confusion about the Spirit at this point in Scripture.

  1. How is baptism performed?
  2. Who is to be baptized?
  3. What does baptism mean?
  4. Why are we to be baptized?

Let’s try and answer these in turn. First, How is baptism performed? The words which read “baptize” and “baptism” are transliterations of the Greek word baptizo and baptisma. These words may be defined as “to dip or to immerse.” In the Septuagint, (LXX), the word baptize only occurs twice in the Canonical books. In 2 Kings 5.14, it refers to Naaman dipping himself seven times in the Jordan. In Isaiah 21.4, it is used with a metaphor. The Apocryphal books use it twice (Judith 12.7; Sirach 34.25). Immersion seems to be the basic meaning of baptize.

In secular literature, baptizo does not always mean complete immersion. But, the Greeks had a clear word for sprinkle (rantizo) and pouring (epicheo, procchusis). They are, however, never used in the baptism context. Calvin once said, “The very word baptize, however, signified to immerse; and it is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church.”

…an unbaptized believer is scarcely contemplated in the New Testament.

Second, Who is to be baptized? “Believers” appears to be the answer indicated by the Second Testament (Matt. 28.19; Acts 2.41; 8.12, 35 39; 9.18; 10.47; 16.14 15, 33 39; 18.18; 19.4 5). It may be said that everyone in the early church who believed was baptized. F. F. Bruce said that “an unbaptized believer is scarcely contemplated in the New Testament.” [ref]F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts. New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), Kindle Loc. 2935, Book location: 363.364).[/ref]

Third, What does baptism mean? Water baptism is the visible and outward symbol of Spirit baptism. Paul tells us that it is a sharing of the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6.3ff; Col. 2.12). These passages indicate that in the case of conversion and baptism, one is not without the other. If one is converted, he or she will be baptized. Paul wanted his readers to understand that in conversion and baptism they were no longer subject to the power of sin. This does not mean that as believers they will not choose to sin in the future. It means that they are not destined to sin, because the power of sin was broken in their lives through the mediating sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Fourth, Why are we to be baptized? Jesus commanded it (Matt. 28.16 20). Baptism is commanded by the Apostles (Acts 10.48). We should follow in the steps of Jesus (1 John 2.6).

Paul Teaching in the Hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19.8 10)

Luke now shares about Paul the teacher. The custom of Paul was to first go to the synagogue and preach his message about Jesus. In each community, he found a ready-made congregation of hearers who were looking for the Messiah (Acts 13.5, 15; 14.1; 17.1; 18.4, 19). He did not stay long because his message was too radical for the Jewish hearers (Acts 17.5; 18.6).

The message which Paul delivered at each place he stopped is summarized by Luke in Acts 13. Paul divided his discourses to the synagogues into two parts.

  1. A historical review: Acts 13.16b 35
  2. An exhortation: Acts: 13.36 41

When he arrived at Ephesus, he received a warm welcome.

Paul spent three months debating with the Jews about the Kingdom of God.

There were at least fourteen persons within the church at Ephesus (Acts 18.19; 19.7), although there could have been more (Acts 18.27). Paul spent three months debating with the Jews about the Kingdom of God (19.8). When his efforts failed to reach his kinsman, he withdrew to the Hall of Tyrannus.

This hall was available to him for instruction. This was not something new for Paul. He had used other buildings for meetings—the most notable was in Corinth where he moved next door to the synagogue and set up the local ecclesia. One must realize that “next door” was only a wall away. The Hall of Tyrannus is only mentioned here in Scripture. There are four possibilities as to the usage of the hall.

  1. A school of the law conducted by Tyrannus.
  2. A private synagogue maintained by Tyrannus.
  3. A regular Greek school for boys.
  4. A lecture hall for teaching rhetoric and philosophy or even medicine.

The last of the four options is usually favored. The Western text indicates that Paul had use of the building between 11 A.M. and 4 P.M. daily. The custom of the area was to work in the cooler part of the day—from dawn to 11 A.M. and then take a respite during the afternoon during the hotter part of the day. There is disagreement among scholars at this point.

Luke instructs us that Paul taught for two years (Acts 19.10). The result: all of the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. It was during this time that the churches which we read about in Revelation 2 3 came into existence. Paul was contacted by some of his followers from the Corinthian church during this stay in Ephesus and the result was the writing of First Corinthians.

The Conflict with Magic (Acts 19.1-20)

Luke now shows another side of the ministry of Paul. In the previous section, we saw Paul as a teacher—now we see him as God used him to heal and provide freedom from demons. The original text of the first sentence tells us that God did the miracles, which leaves us with the understanding that Paul was the instrument that God used. Luke makes this point to his readers so that they can come to no other conclusion. The hands of Paul, the handkerchiefs, or the aprons had within themselves no magical powers.
What Luke pictures here is somewhat reminiscent of the healing of those who touched the garments of Jesus (cf. Mark 5.27ff.). Luke is also showing a parallel between the ministry of Paul and the ministry of Peter.

Both

  • Heal lame men (Acts 3.2f.; 14.8f.)
  • Exorcise demons (Acts 5.16; 16.18)
  • Have encounters with sorcerers Acts (8.18f.; 13.6f.)
  • Raise the dead (Acts 9.36f.; 20.9f.)
  • Have miraculous escapes from prison (12.7f; 16.25f)
  • Have healing ministries by other than touch (5.15 19.12)

The use of the name of Jesus to exorcise the demons in this story was potent (Acts 16.18). Luke certainly uses this story to demonstrate the right use versus the wrong use of the name of Jesus.

The Jews were respected during ancient times for being practitioners of magic. They were thought to have had effective spells at their command. There are other parallels to the Sons of Sceva story presented by Luke. One such appears in the Paris magical papyrus, No. 574, line 3018, “I adjure them by Jesus the God of the Hebrews.” The Sons of Sceva used somewhat the same formula (19.13f). To their utter amazement, this demonized man literally cleaned their clock—sending them running “naked” and “wounded” (19.6). That must have been quite a sight! The news of this incident spread throughout Ephesus with a positive result. The name of Jesus was not a name to be toyed with.
In our Christian society, I think we sometimes use the name of Jesus too lightly. The results of this demonic incident were fourfold:

  1. Those who were non-Jesus followers, all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, magnified the name of Jesus.
  2. Jesus followers confessed their practices of the magic arts. It was believed in the ancient days that the potency of a spell was bound up in its secrecy. When it was divulged, the spell lost its power.
  3. Some of the confessors, who were actually practicing magic, burned their bridges behind them. They brought their books and burned them in the sight of all (19.19). The value of these books today has been estimated to be about $10,000.
  4. The word of God grew (Acts 19.20). How much, no one knows. But one can say that it was at least the size that could accumulate $ l0,000 worth of books by today’s value to be destroyed.

The Assembly Riot (Acts 19.23 41)

This segment of the story can be divided into three sections:

  1. The appeal for Artemis (Acts 19.24 28)
  2. The agitation in the arena (Acts 19.29 34)
  3. The arbitration of the administrator (Acts 19.35 41)

First, the appeal for Artemis. There was a considerable uproar going on in Ephesus because of “the Way.” The reason is very apparent when one is hit in the pocketbook, one tends to take action. This was the action of Demetrius in this passage. Demetrius and the silversmiths of Ephesus had a thriving business making images of Artemis for the many tourists who traveled to Ephesus. The spread of Christianity was causing a decline in their business. Demetrius accused Paul as the culprit and credits him with saying that “gods made with hands are not gods” (19.26). The intent of Paul in his statement was to cause people to think about what they were buying and worshipping. Demetrius whacked his listeners on the side of the head as he told them that there would be a complete downfall of the worship of Artemis in Ephesus and the whole world. He dug at the emotion of his listeners with the assertion that the silversmiths should not stand by idle and watch their livelihood disappear. Demetrius did not call for any specific action. He simply made statements. As with many riots, emotional statements usually cause people to feel that they will lose something. The result is a movement to some kind of action to avoid the loss.

Second, the agitation in the Arena. Demetrius got the necessary result from his speech. The people were enraged and cried out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19.28). This small mob became a larger mob which held a demonstration in the theater. Remember, the theater could hold from 25,000 to 50,000 people. As the mob was rushing into the theater, they saw and drug two of Paul’s companions with them. Gaius and Aristarchus were extremely surprised, to say the least, to find themselves in the middle of something they did not know about.

Paul was unavailable to the crowd. When he found out what was happening he wanted to go and address them. This kind of meeting often happened and would end up taking some kind of formal action. In Paul’s mind, he may have seen a chance to speak the gospel to a great number of people at once. His disciples, perceiving that this was not a reasonable decision, prevented him from going. At the same time, some of the Asiarchs, who were friendly to Paul, begged him to go. Leadership needs to have men who are not “yes” men. Leadership needs to be told “no” on occasion by fellow leaders and friends. Paul heeded the counsel of his friends.

Luke has a sense of humor as Acts 19.34 exhibits. The Jews saw in this incident an opportunity to speak their mind about Paul, hoping that the Ephesians would indeed attack Paul and his party. The mob chanted for two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” What a sight that must have been.

Third, The arbitration of the administrator. It was the job of the administrator in the free cities in the Roman empire to transact city affairs and report to the proconsul who governed the province. He was certainly the most troubled by this mob action. His job could have been in jeopardy. He knew the Roman protocol about riots. When he stood to quiet the people, he carried mega authority. He spoke about the same issues that Demetrius did. The result was different. When Demetrius spoke, the riot began. When the city administrator spoke, the riot ended. He told the crowd that they should use the proper channels to make their complaint.

After this incident concluded, Paul called the disciples of the church in Ephesus together, exhorted them, and left to travel to Macedonia.

He only spent a short time in Macedonia and Corinth. His eyes were fixed on going back to Jerusalem once again. On his return trip, he stopped at Miletus and called the elders of the church at Ephesus to give them some final instructions.

Paul’s final exhortation to these leaders falls into two segments:

  1. The priorities of a pastor-teacher
  2. The priorities of the eldership

Pastor-Teacher

Paul used himself as a model for the pastor-teaching function. He tells the leaders that a pastor-teacher should have great humility (Acts 20.19a). Second, he tells them that they should have an appropriate concern for the ecclesia in their teaching (Acts 20.20). He reminds them that in his teaching ministry among them he had held nothing from them and that he had taught them in public (synagogue and the hall of Tyrannus) and from house to house. The context of this saying is teaching, not a proof-text for door-to-door evangelism. Third, they must have an appropriate concern for those who have not yet come to faith (Acts 20.21). Fourth, they must have an appropriate concern for themselves (Acts 20.22-24). The goal of the teaching pastor is to extend himself for Jesus, not for the local ecclesia.

Eldership

Paul prepares the elders for their future with charges to spiritual watchfulness over the flock (Acts 20.28-31) and physical aid to the weak (Acts 20.33-35), with a blessing in between, the word committing them to God and to the word of his grace (Acts 20.32). (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Acts 20.1-21) from biblegateway.com)

First, they are to keep right with God (Acts 20.28a). Second, they are to feed and lead the flock as shepherds feed sheep (Acts.20.28b). Third, they are to warn and watch for false teachers and their teaching (Acts 20.29 30). Fourth, they are to pray and study (Acts 20.32). Finally, they are to be free from self-interest (Acts 20.33).

After Paul’s exhortation, they knelt to pray. The leaders were weeping, embracing, and kissing Paul. They were saddened that they would see his face no more.

To The Ephesians

A word about the title the Letter To The Ephesians is in order. The book was written as a circular letter to those churches geographically related to Ephesus. Ephesus was the beginning and the end of the mail route. Thus, it was written to all the cities around Ephesus with the church at Ephesus as the hub.

Paul’s Last Encounter With The Ephesian Church

Paul last encountered the church at Ephesus through his friend and colleague Timothy (1 Tim. 1.3). Paul wanted Timothy as the young pastor of this church (Tim was about thirty-eight years old at this point) to guide the problems that he faced in administering the church. Paul also wanted him to be sure that he withstood the false teaching and the teachers themselves.

To help us get a full view of the church at Ephesus, we must understand John’s words in Revelation given to the church at Ephesus (Rev. 2.1 7). The Ephesians had taken the words about false teachers and their teaching to heart. They had developed the ability to distinguish between true and false teachers. The church was outstanding in its purity of doctrine. They even hated what Jesus hated, the works of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2.6). But in all their rigor for healthy doctrine, they had lost their first love. This first love must be understood in light of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus when all of Asia heard the word of the Lord. They were strong in pure doctrine but weak in their first love— evangelism.

There are eight segments to the emergence of the church at Ephesus:

  1. The Church Begins with Priscilla and Aquila with Paul: 18.18 19.7
  2. The Church Was Taught by Paul: 19.8-10
  3. The Church Had Miracles through Paul: 19.11 20
  4. The Church Had Conflict with the City: 19.21 41
  5. The Church Received Final Instructions from Paul: 20.17 36
  6. The Church Learned Who She Is And How to Live: Ephesians
  7. The Church Learned How to Organize and Fight False Teachers: 1 & 2 Timothy
  8. The Church Was Confronted By Jesus: Revelation 2.1 7

End of Session
 
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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)