About Ephesus

Ephesus was a luxurious and splendid eastern city but it was given up to the magic arts and idolatrous superstitions of the Orient. Ephesus could well be called "superstition city" Its people lived in a superstitious atmosphere. The Ephesians worshipped the Asiatic goddess Diana and its supreme glory was the temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, which made the city famous. Not only at Ephesus, but throughout all Asia and the world was the goddess Diana, the great mother, worshipped. She was worshipped as the goddess of virginity and motherhood from primitive times and pictured with many breasts. The veneration of Mary blended and replaced her as a religious force.

Ephesus was the capital of proconsular Asia, about 40 miles SE of Smyrna. Ephesus being located about halfway between Jerusalem and Rome was the approximate center of the Roman Empire. The most famous city of Ionia; colonists from Athens had founded it about 1000 BC. It was an opulent city with an ample harbor, colonized by the Athenian Androclus. Ephesus was a wealthy metropolis and in Paul's day the population was about some 250,000. The word Ephesus means "desirable". Ephesus was a proud, rich, busy port, the market of Asia Minor and called "The Treasure House of Asia." In those days trade followed the river valleys and Ephesus stood at the mouth of the Cayster commanding the richest hinterland in Asia Minor. the commercial rival This great city, closely connected with Alexandria and considered a commercial rival of Alexandria and Syrian Antioch.  Ephesus was a meeting place of many currents of Hellenistic thought.

Under the shadow of the temple of Artemis (Diana), ghostly priests and miracle workers abounded. Between the occult worship of Artemis and the widespread practice of magic, the city was preoccupied with the black arts. The worship of Artemis included shameless and vile practices such as prostitution and mutilation in the rituals. This made the residents easy prey to false magicians and vulnerable to demonic penetration. She was the home of criminals and the temple possessed the right of asylum. There were the famous charms and spells called "Ephesian Letters" that guaranteed to bring protection on journeys, children to childless, success in love or business, from all over the world people came to buy these magic parchments, which they wore as amulets and charms. Into the Ephesus of darkness God brought Paul.

The letter of Paul to the Ephesians was written at the same time as Colossians, during Paul's imprisonment at Rome, carried by Tychicus on the journey to Asia. The believers in Ephesus worked themselves to the state of exhaustion for the sake of Jesus.  Their labor cost them something... You cannot bear them who are evil... Many Christians are more interested in peace than in purity of doctrine. Tradition and ceremony are the conditions under which the Holy alone existed and was accessible. Obedience, respect, reverence, were the most important religious feelings.

The church at Ephesus is the first of the Seven Candlesticks of the apocalypse. Traditionalism and the ritualism so closely connected with it are prominent characteristics of the Greek Church, but this is just what shows how far it has departed from the gospel in the value which it attaches to orthodoxy, to sound doctrine but without the vital spirituality of Jesus. They had lost their first love to the point that the candlestick is threatened to be taken from its place.

Ephesus in the first century was a dying city, given to parasite pursuits, living like Athens on a reputation, a curious meeting place of old and new religions, of East and West. The Ephesian epistle was addressed to the church in Ephesus, but intended also as a circular letter to neighboring churches. Paul wrote Ephesians epistle in 61 or 62 from prison in Rome. Paul had done some of his most successful work from around 54 to 57 and there was such a multitude of converts, almost overnight Ephesian Christianity became one of the most powerful influences in the city, and, soon, one of the most famous churches in the world. There were many Jews of the city who were more or less influenced by Christianity, not to mention the many Gentiles. At Ephesus Paul had found a door for effective work wide open and the ones that opposed him did so because he was so successful that trade in silver shrines were effected. Pliney wrote back to Trajan that Christians had become so numerous that Heathen Temples were almost deserted. Christian churches included large and influential elements of the population.

According to Eusebius, John spent his last years in Ephesus. Ephesus became the home of Saint John and Mary. the mother of Jesus had gone to live there also, under John's care. It was before the days of church buildings, they had to meet in halls or homes or wherever they could. There was not one great central temple, but many perhaps hundreds, of small congregations, each under its own pastor, yet the letter is addressed to "The Church at Ephesus". Hundreds of congregations: yet One Church. John opposed the doctrines of Nestorius, Paul the idolatry.

Paul's mission was so successful that the temple priests noted a steep decline in the number of pilgrims, and merchants and innkeepers complained of a loss of business.

Timothy was bishop of the church founded by St. Paul. In 262, Ephesus was destroyed by the Goths and never rose to its former glory.



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