The Letter to Ephesus
I will cite the verses as the post unfolds. If you desire to read it all at once click on this link which will open in a new window.
Historical Focus on the City of Ephesus
The historical situation of the seven churches gives us the context of the rest of the book of Revelation.
Founding of the Church
Acts 19 records the founding of this church by Paul on his second missionary journey. Later the Apostle John made Ephesus his headquarters after the fall of Jerusalem. What a privileged church to have had two eminent pastors!
Paul Preaching In Ephesus, Historic Steel Engraving From A Bible 1860.
The city was very much pagan. It contained the famed Temple of Diana — one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Criminals used the temple for sanctuary and tourists and pilgrims flocked to it.
The Temple of Diana by Antonio Tempesta (Italy, Florence, 1555-1630)
Even though Pergamum was once the capital of Asia Minor, Ephesus became the preeminent city and seat of the proconsul from Rome. A city of some 250,000 boasted of a huge theater seating 25,000. Paul was driven from it when the silversmiths saw a decline in their idol-making business. (Click on this link if you wish to read the account in the Acts.)
This was designed and drawn upon wood by Mr. J. Hodson, 1888 and engraved and printed. Source
21st Century Parallels
Paganism and false religions around a church doesn’t mean the door to Gospel is closed. People grow disillusioned with that which is false. Churches surrounded by paganism have an opportunity, not a problem. Suffering and sacrifice are needed to bring the Gospel to pagans and those who embrace false religions.
Unprecedented Church Growth in the Middle East Today
“In 1979, there were less than 500 known Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today the most conservative estimate is that there are at least 360,000 believers in the nation. Church leaders believe that millions can be added to the church in the next few years — such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime. If we remain faithful to our calling, our conviction is that it is possible to see the nation transformed within our lifetime. Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world.”
Vision and Strategy for Impact
“[Our] vision is that all the people of the Iran region would have the opportunity to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him as a disciple, and that Iranians would be instrumental in taking the Gospel to other Muslims. To achieve this vision, we: 1. Train leaders for fruitful, effective ministry in the Iran region. 2. Equip the Iranian church with Bibles and resources for evangelism and discipleship. 3. Send the Gospel into the Iran region through trained evangelists, church planters and Christian media.”
“Such is the openness of the Iranian people that wherever there is a witness to the Gospel, individuals, families and even communities are coming to Christ.” [See Elam’s Mission below.]
God has placed us where we are for a reason!
Just as Ephesus had an opportunity for Christ, we in the 21st Century in the midst of the re-paganization of the West should turn our situation into an opportunity for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom! We must meet paganism with genuine Biblical Christianity, not watered down liberal church teaching and structures.
More on Ephesus next time.
Elam’s Mission. (2019). Accessed February 5, 2019 from https://www.elam.com/page/elams-mission
ESV. Accessed from https://www.biblegateway.com/
© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved
Great post with timely application. I enjoyed your insight.
Thank you, and God bless!