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Thursday, March 15 2012

Paul's Ephesus Ministry

Ephesus was a major city in Asia Minor (i.e. Turkey) during the time of the ministry of the apostle Paul. He visited the city during parts of his missionary journeys (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey) and one of his epistles was written to the Christians there (see notes for Ephesians 1-3 and Ephesians 4-6 from our Holy Bible Reading Plan). Ephesus later became one of the prophetic "seven churches of Asia" (see the Fact Finder question below).

It was during Paul's third missionary journey that he remained in Ephesus for about two years ("And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" Acts 19:10 KJV). The work began there beginning with his finding a few students of John the Baptist (who may have been among those scattered by Paul's own pre-conversion persecution of Christians; see The Crossing Of Philip And Saul) who had been baptized, but the Holy Spirit had not come upon them because they hadn't at the time understood what John was preaching - to not look to John (as so many preachers do today, building a cult of themselves, so that people look to them, rather than to the coming Messiah that they should be preaching), but to the Messiah that was coming soon after John. John never taught people to look to him, nor was there any shortage of Holy Spirit for those who paid attention to what he taught.

John had the Holy Spirit, right from conception, as the angel Gabriel told John's father Zacharias at the time of John's conception:

"1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God." (Matthew 1:13-16 KJV)

Nor was there anything wrong or inadequate about John's baptizing of people (those who paid attention to what he was saying) because the Messiah himself, as an example, was baptized by John.

Paul's Third Missionary Journey

"3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:13-17 KJV)

So, beginning his ministry there, Paul baptized (not re-baptized, since there is only one baptism) those people who then understood what John had already told them years before.

"19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?

And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?

And they said, Unto John's baptism.

19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 19:7 And all the men were about twelve." (Acts 19:1-7 KJV)

"And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks"

Despite the inevitable and predictable opposition (see also Does God Love His Enemies?), Paul then continued his teaching at the local synagogue (keeping in mind that Paul never stopped being, or calling himself a Pharisee e.g. "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" Acts 23:6 KJV - the only difference is that his great Scriptural knowledge had been pointed in the right direction by the Holy Spirit at his conversion; see Straight Street).

Ephesus

"19:8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God [see The True Gospel Of Christ].

19:9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

19:10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:8-10 KJV)

Miracles of healing and cleansing from evil spirits were also done by Paul, as enabled by the LORD (see Appearances Of The LORD God), for the purpose of demonstrating the power of the Truth. When a few "exorcists" used the God-given authority of Paul to distract people to their supposed ministry, the LORD permitted it to happen, but as a public lesson to them to not do that i.e. "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."

"19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 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." (Acts 19:11-16 KJV)

The lesson was well taken - "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."

The Ancient Theater at Ephesus

"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 19:17-20 KJV)

Paul was then left without two of his foremost associates: "he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus."

"19:21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

19:22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season." (Acts 19:21-22 KJV)

It's curious that Paul would have sent Timotheus and Erastus away, but perhaps it was to get them out of harm's way. Paul's preaching was in direct opposition to the religion of the city - and moreover, of the businessmen who profited from it i.e. "ye know that by this craft we have our wealth." "Babylon" has always been about much more than just religion (see What And Where Is Babylon Today?).

"19:23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 19:25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

19:26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth." (Acts 19:23-27 KJV)

The businessmen, who had created a religion from their business, then stirred up a riot among those who worshipped the idols that they sold.

False Witnesses

"19:28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

19:29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

19:30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 19:31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

19:33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians." (Acts 19:28-34 KJV)

The townclerk then intervened, not to save Paul, but to keep the town from being damaged (again economics taking precedence over religion).

"19:35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 19:36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 19:37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 19:38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 19:39 But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 19:40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.

19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly." (Acts 19:35-41 KJV)

Fact Finder: Ephesus became one of the seven churches to whom the LORD addressed the book of Revelation (which actually begins as an epistle, a letter to those "churches"). Do those seven "churches" exist today?
See Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?


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This Day In History, March 15

44 BC: Julius Caesar was assassinated (stabbed 23 times while entering the Roman Senate) by Senators led by Brutus (Marcus Junius Brutus) and Cassius (Gaius Cassius Longinus). The date has become known as the "Ides of March" (Latin Idus Martii). The term ides was used for the 15th day of the Roman months of March, May, July and October, and the 13th day of the other months (see The Politics Of Rome and A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).

351: Constantius II proclaimed his cousin Gallus to Emperor of the Eastern part of the then in-decline Roman Empire (see Pax Romana: The Birth Of The Roman Empire).

493: Odoacer, the German conqueror of the West Roman empire, was assassinated by Theodoric, who split him in two from shoulder to waist with a broad sword.

933: Henry the Fowler defeated the raiding Magyars at Merseburg, Germany.

1341: During the Hundred Years War, an alliance was made between Roman Emperor Louis IV and King Philip VI of France.

1493: Christopher Columbus arrived back in Spain after his first voyage to the New World.

1545: The first session of the Council of Trent began.

1603: French explorer Samuel de Champlain set out on his first voyage to what is now eastern Canada. He established friendly relations with the natives and explored the St. Lawrence River to the rapids above Montreal. He returned several times, and was made the first governor of "New France" in 1632.

1744: During the War of the Austrian Succession, France declared war on England.

1827: The University of Toronto was chartered.

1888: The Anglo-Tibetan War of 1888 began.

1906: Rolls-Royce was incorporated.

1916: Woodrow Wilson sent 4,800 troops over the U.S.-Mexico border to pursue Pancho Villa.

1917: Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated the Russian throne; his brother became then Tsar.

1922: After Egypt was granted independence from the United Kingdom (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate), the Sultan of Egypt assumed the title of King Fuad I.

1939: German troops occupied Czechoslovakia.

1957: Britain became the 3rd nation to explode a nuclear bomb.

1985: The first Internet domain name was registered (symbolics.com).

1990: Iraq executed, by hanging, a British-based journalist for London's Observer newspaper after being accused of espionage.

1991: 4 Los Angeles police were charged with beating Rodney King, an incident that set off major riots in the city.

1998: Edwin Shoemaker died at age 90. He was the inventor of the "La-Z-Boy" (plushly padded rocking and swivel) chair. He died in one while taking a nap.

2004: French President Jacques Chirac signed the law on (in English) "secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools," commonly known as the headscarf ban.


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