|EPHESUS: BUSY BUT BACKSLIDDEN AND WITHOUT LOVE.
THE HISTORICAL SITUATION AT EPHESUS:
("Ephesus" means "desirable")
Ephesus was an apostolic2 church of the First Century and was a prosperous Roman trade city located on the Aegean Sea. Its business centered on worldwide sea trade due to its sheltered inland harbor. Today the city is but a ruin. Heavy timbering and over grazing of land eroded its top soil which was carried into the Cayster River and deposited in the bay the city was built by. They tried by dredging to clear the waterways, but failed. In time the river filled up the bay and it became a reed marsh. Today the ruins of the city are 12 miles inland. The city that occupies the area today is the Turkish town called Ayasaluk.
Ephesus was in the beginning a spiritually strong church and Acts 20:31, records that Paul spent three years there teaching and preaching. Timothy was pastor of Ephesus during Paul's imprisonment and martyrdom in Rome. Historians record that Timothy suffered at Ephesus the same martyrdom as Paul at Rome. Later, the Apostle John ministered at Ephesus and was exiled from there to the Island of Patmos. Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, was a faithful leader in this church. He too gave his life for Christ in that city. It was an evangelistic church sending missionaries to other areas and was a very busy and outwardly prosperous. Others who faithfully served the Lord and worked at Ephesus were Aquila, Priscilla and Tychicus. (Acts 18:2, 18, 20:4, 26; Rom. 16:3; Eph. 6:21, 24; Col. 4:7, 18; 2 Tim. 2:12: Titus 3:12)
The church at Ephesus was constantly plagued by Satan's attacks and by the problem of the saved but immature Gentiles who continued to walk after the world. (Eph. 5:2-17) Their unfaithfulness was robbing the church of God’s blessings. Ephesians 5:6 indicates there were false teachers in the assembly who were also teaching that sinning was all right with God. Timothy was battling a host of problems including false doctrine. John later opposed the false doctrines of Nestorius and Gnosticism who also plagued this church. This church is an example of the diligence of Satan in assaulting a church which is seeking to serve the Lord.
The city was located in the middle of pagan land where false religion dominated the culture. The idol goddess Diana's (Artemis) temple was there which was called one of Seven Wonders of the World. This temple and others made it a tourist city and part of its great industry was selling souvenirs and small idols. The pagan religion of the city was very rich and influential. When Paul first preached in Ephesus many people believed in Christ and sale of idols and pagan religious items dropped off. Those who made the idols, upset by the loss of business, caused the riot mentioned in Acts. 19:25-27.
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