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Thursday, January 5 2012

The Letters To Ephesus

Ephesus was a prominent city in what is today western Turkey (see the map below). In the time of the apostle Paul (who was also born in what is today Turkey, at Tarsus, near the Mediterranean coast in eastern Turkey), it was engulfed by the Roman Empire (see Pax Romana: The Birth Of The Roman Empire, The Politics Of Rome and What And Where Is Babylon Today?). The Romans called Ephesus "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia."

Ephesus was most well-known in the time of Paul for its great pagan Temple of Diana and its massive open-air theater (shown in the photograph below). Although by then ruled by the Roman military (see also Legions Of Men And Angels), the city was populated by Greeks and Jews, both of which had much to learn from Paul, a Jew, who was sent by the LORD to be the apostle to all of the world. In that regard, the LORD gave Paul the means to do "special miracles" to liberate the minds of some of the Jews and Greeks of the city to the Truth of the Gospel (see The True Gospel Of Christ and What Language Is Pure?).

Ephesus

"19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul [see also Straight Street]: 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

19:13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 19:14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 19:16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

19:17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 19:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds. 19:19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." (Acts 19:11-20 KJV)

In explaining the resurrection, Paul spoke of "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?" - an apparent reference to the "sports" events held in the theater there.

"15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming [see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin]. 15:24 Then cometh the end [see The Last Days Before The Everlasting Days and The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean?], when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 15:30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die." (1 Corinthians 15:20-32 KJV)

"This was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified"

Paul's epistle (i.e. letter) to the Ephesians is found in the New Testament. As with all of the letters, to all of the "churches" (local congregations of the one and only true Church of God), it expounds the principles of Christianity that have always existed ("He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world"; see The Rock Of The Church).

The Ancient Theater at Ephesus

"1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:1-4 KJV)

"Church" means people. "Church of God" means people who have truly repented, as accomplished by living according to God's Word, not their own religious inventions (see Religious Parties and Is Your Church A Cult?).

"2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience [see Who's Hiding On Your Wall?]: 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 2:7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:1-7 KJV)

Paul was "the apostle to the gentiles" in the sense that he was the apostle to the world (see also The Joppa Lessons Of Jonah And Peter), including his fellow Jews.

"3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory." (Ephesians 3:1-13 KJV)

About thirty years later, another Biblical letter was written, by an apostle (see Who Was The First Apostle?), to another apostle, John, to be delivered to the Christians at Ephesus - a letter also to be shared by all of the "seven churches" (see the Fact Finder question below).

The Seven Churches

"1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass [see Could Christ Return Tonight?]; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." (Revelation 1:1-2 KJV)

"1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." (Revelation 1:12-20 KJV)

The letter reveals how the congregation at Ephesus had progressed, and regressed, since the time of Paul about three decades earlier.

"2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;

These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars [see The Way To Salvation: Step 1]: 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." (Rvelation 2:1-7 KJV)

Fact Finder: Were the letters to the seven churches (i.e. seven congregations of the one true Church of God) warning and encouragements just to those ancient Christians?
See Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?


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This Day In History, January 5

1066: King Edward ("Edward the Confessor") of England died.

1477: During the Swiss-Burgundian Wars, Charles the Bold was defeated and killed by Swiss forces at the Battle of Nancy.

1527: Swiss Anabaptist reformer Felix Manz, 29, was drowned as a "suitable punishment" for teaching adult baptism (see Anabaptists and Why Isn't Infant Baptism Valid?).

1757: Assassination of Louis XV of France was attempted as he was entering his carriage at Versailles. The attacker, Jean-Francois Damiens was later executed.

1762: Peter III became Czar of Russia upon the death of Elizabeth.

1809: Britain and the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) signed the Treaty of Dardanelles, also called the Treaty of Canak. Its main provision was that no warship of any power should enter the Dardanelles or Bosphorus.

1834: In an apparent description of a great meteor shower, Kiowa Indians recorded this date as "the night the stars fell."

1895: The public degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire in Paris; his uniform badges and buttons were cut off, and his sword was removed and broken.

1896: German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen discovered x-rays.

1914: The Ford Motor Company made headlines by raising basic wages from $2.40 for a 9 hour day (about 27 cents per hour) to $5.00 for an 8 hour day (about 63 cents per hour). The invention of the timed and moving assembly line actually decreased labor costs per vehicle for the company, while at the same time raising wages for the workers.

1919: Spartacists in Berlin led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht attempted to take over the government and seized a number of buildings.

1919: The German Workers Party, later to be called the Nazi Party, was formed (see also Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).

1919: The Soviet army took Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, during the Baltic War of Liberation. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania eventually successfully defended their independence from attacks from both Russia and Germany during that conflict.

1941: During the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), British forces completed their rout of the Italians at Bardia, Libya (see also Libya In History And Prophecy).

1964: Pope Paul VI met Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem, the first encounter by the leaders of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches in 5 centuries.

1968: In Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek succeeded Antonin Novotny as First Secretary of the Communist Party. His policy of democracy within a Communist framework led to the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union.

1993: Oil poured onto the coast of northern Scotland's Shetland Islands after the 89,000-ton Liberian-registered Braer hit rocks in heavy seas. The tanker carried 84,500 tons of crude oil. A huge oil slick stretched 25 miles up the coast.

1996: Yahya Ayyash, the "Engineer," the elusive mastermind behind a wave of Islamic suicide bombings against Israel, was killed in Gaza by a booby-trapped cell phone.


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