Share This Episode
The Bible Study Hour James Boice Logo

The Church in Ephesus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 15, 2020 8:00 am

The Church in Ephesus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


September 15, 2020 8:00 am

Judging by the movies we watch, were drawn to big cities. More than a thousand movies have been filmed in New York alone. In Pauls day, Ephesus was a big city, with a third of a million people. And it drew himnot only to visit but to linger. It was one of the cities where he honed his strategy for reaching people with the gospel.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Destined for Victory
Pastor Paul Sheppard
Sound of Faith
Sharon Hardy Knotts and R. G. Hardy
Leading the Way
Michael Youssef
Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson

Judging by the movies we watch were drawn to big cities more than a thousand movies have been filmed in New York alone in Paul's day, Ephesus was a big city with 1/3 of a million people and it drew him not only to visit but to linger. It was one of the cities where he honed his strategy for reaching people with the gospel.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act biblically. What was Paul's plan for reaching people with the gospel as he went from city to city. Let's listen as Dr. Boyce talks about his five-part strategy starting with making contacts and finishing with writing the letters. We know so well today, 1978 Dr. Roger Greenway, whom we know a recent professor at Westminster theological seminary and a former missionary at various parts of the world wrote a book called apostles to the city. Biblical strategies for urban missions.

Very timely book in view of the shift of the world's population studies and it's helpful to us at this point in our study lacks because Roger Greenway rightly focused at the end of the book and the strategy of the apostle Paul. Some of his studies had to do the Old Testament. She looked at Jonah and his ministry to Nineveh study Nehemiah Jeremiah.

He looked at New Testament figure like Barnabas but then at the end of this book, he focused as I said, quite rightly on the apostle Paul, because of all the characters in the Bible in this area. Area urban evangelization and articulated and well thought out approach to cities. The apostle Paul, undoubtedly heads the list.

I sense as I study acts that Paul's strategy involved in society. At the beginning he hadn't worked it through carefully had some ideas. No doubt body started out overland visiting one community after another. He didn't seem to be particularly focused on the city's at least not major cities but as time went on C circulated through the Roman empire began to speak here and there recognize that if the world of his day was going to be reached effectively and throughout.

It would have to be through a ministry focused in the great cities of the Empire so as time went on we see him developing a strategy focusing on the cities and as I indicated in earlier studies.

Spending more and more time in them. All of this of course is very very relevant to our time because today is that more so today than that we live in a world of cities in the task that we face, bringing the gospel of a supernatural redemption through the work of Christ to secular people is precisely the task of the apostle Paul base that Roger Greenway points out in his book that Paul had certain basic strategies and we are to keep them in mind. First of all, he had a message of his message was always one of personal repentance and conversion sometimes when people think of advancing into new areas.

Today they think they have to change the message going into the cities so we have to say what city people want to hear going on television.

We have to say what television audiences are programmed to expect. They want entertainment Entertainment. They want their ears tickled, we have to go there is a possible never did that apostle Paul taught the nature of sin.

The need for repentance work of God in Christ and the indispensability of conversion is turning from sin to follow Jesus Christ in faith believing in him.

Not only has one Savior from sin, but as the Lord of the universe and the Lord of one's life. Celeste first thing you possible always got before his mind and we seen it already, throughout the sitcoms of his missionary journeys, and secondly, the apostle Paul always planted churches is not just an evangelist who somehow was remote from the task of planting churches.

We went into an area that was his goal.

He settled in Corinth, he wanted to have a church there and currently laughed.

He wanted people in charge of that something we need to remember for our cities as well because for one thing you say when you establish a church you model what it is you're speaking about all verbalization is important is why it's important to have books in which the doctrines or explain contracts in which the gospel is popularized in radio programs that break new ground television.

Perhaps people watch the verbalization alone is not enough verbalization must be followed by actualization people in the cities particularly must be able to log and say yes, but only there is somebody who is speaking the gospel, but there is somebody who is living in you have the opportunity to do that in the fellowship of Christian churches I noticed also not so much what we read here specifically concerning Paul's strategy.

But more as it's reflected in his letters written. Later that much of this work was based in what today we would call house churches.

Sometimes, as here in Ephesus. Paul had a lecture hall. I guess that would correspond what we do in churches on Sundays, where he taught regularly only in his case was throughout the week as well. But whether churches were established she would seem that churches were established in the house and the homes of people here and there throughout these cities were little communities of believers met together worship God in the model. The gospel in their obedience to Christ. We need that in our cities and then a final strategy not only did Paul remember his message which was the message of repentance and conversion about only that he go about establishing churches once he had established churches use those churches as a base for the expansion of the gospel throughout the rest of the neighborhood region in the world say that, especially in Ephesus. The town they were going to look at tonight. However, this was a very important city. It's surprising related Paul about gone there before because it already been a nation that is the Roman province of Asia, where Ephesus was located. Ephesus was the chief city most wealthy and certainly the most attractive city and all of the Roman province reason Paul had gone there earlier as we've already seen is the Holy Spirit barred him from doing so. He was starting out in that direction after 11 Galatian on an earlier missionary journey. The Holy Spirit didn't allow him to go there in the other direction. He wanted to going to Bithynia and the Holy Spirit, by some means for bad is going there. So we pressed on the trail as they received the vision which eventually took them over in the Macedonia or Europe and all of the ministry in the Greek cities flowed from lab, including the great work in Corinth, but here at last he does go back to Ephesus.

And so begins what was an extraordinary time of ministry and blessing in the city.

This was a large city is a port city for one thing today.

The port is silted up and Ephesus is located 34 miles from the coast as the port silted up and lost its commercial advantage, but that the time Paul was there. It was at the height of its glory and had about 1/3 of a million people living there, which were an ancient city was a very large number of people. Indeed had a great theater theater which is been excavated, which I've seen theater seated 25,000 people. That's very large, the Rose Bowl, you know seats about hundred thousand people.

So this was about 1/4 of that size very significant stadium or theater and Ephesus was most noted for integration Temple of Diana Hieronymus was known as one of the wonders of the ancient world when it was finally discovered and excavated.

It was found to be 25 feet beneath the surface of the ground because of all of the destruction, and so on. That it happened over the centuries but it time.

It was magnificent in large and it was the center of a great deal of superstition and cult prostitution which was so common in all of these great temples of antiquity Ephesus. You will also remember is mentioned first among the seven churches of Revelation, which the Lord Jesus Christ himself sent these letters that is probably significant means and among all the other cities, all of which were important in that day, Ephesus was a first rank and so it was throughout history for long time church in Ephesus continue to be important in the city did as well.

Now Paul, as I said began this great ministry in Ephesus and his work there is significant in brining us pattern of how we might minister to the cities of the world today, including our own city want you to see a number of things that he did some of them briefly and some of them at greater length. First thing we find that Paul did was establish an initial contact with the city and the people lived there initial contact is described not in chapter 19 which we're studying, but in chapter 18 the verses preceding all of been in Corinth, he had been there for a year and 1/2. He was on his way back to Jerusalem and Antioch to report on his second missionary journey, but before he went back on the way he touched down in Ephesus as it were, and he began to teach their teaching in the synagogue and he left Priscilla hand, behind.

I don't know exactly what Paul's motives were in this initial contact with the city, but I suspect view of the waves described here that it was something like a reconnaissance run to the city to see for himself what city was like and what the potential seem to be establishing the church as a base for proclaiming the gospel throughout Asia. I assume that that's the significance of his ministry in the synagogue.

Verse 19 chapter 18 went into the synagogue and reasons with the Jews on the next verse tells us that I asked him to spend more time with them other words, he had a fairly decent reception in the synagogue here in this great city to be significant to Paul because in other places in a very short amount of time engendered such opposition that he had to leave and in some cases was even driven out of the city didn't seem to be happening here. They wanted him to spend more time he said no.

This is just a brief visit.

I'm on my way to Jerusalem, but he said I will come back so that was encouraging. I think were also to suspect that he was performing a reconnaissance casing the land as it were, by the fact that he left Priscilla and Aquila behind the case had not been promising. We would've expected in the Psion a while doubt nothing's going to happen here. Come on with me, let's go to Jerusalem and then will start out again will find another place to lay center that seemed to be a good reception so he said to the why don't you stay here, I'm going to go but I'll be back in the meantime, see what you can do in the meantime, they did a great deal Paulus came and ministered to him all the stops in the synagogue and so the ground was prepared for what Paul came later leads me to the second point of Paul's strategy with this particular city, though it is that point they didn't have a great deal to do with Paul directly and that's to say there was the ministry of Apollo's bowel Paul had left Priscilla and Aquila behind his friends.

They would establish a base for him able to advise him where he might most effectively began when he returned, but in the meantime. Unknown to Paul this manner Paulus gave Ephesus began an effective ministry were told that he reason very wisely and effectively with the Jews about the Messiah, how he had some defects. Apparently, at least this is the way I understand the story didn't know that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the one who had been promised by John the Baptist to come as a serious defect that a minister of the gospel is one that was remedied by Priscilla and Aquila, and in any event, here was this man in a very effective way, preparing the way for Paul's ministry significant thing in city work that there should be other people there preparing the way and sharing in the labor. I find it in most work that were called to do. We are very seldom ever called to do it entirely alone not saying that that's impossible. Certainly, people have very much alone been carried off, sometimes against their will, and remote areas of the world like St. Patrick Ireland is a young boy captured by pirates and there have witnessed and have been greatly blessed by God. I will say that never happens quite often when were called, we find that the area to which we are called is one that God has been preparing not only in the sense that the hearts of the people there are prepared, but in the sense another labors are set as well. I found that to be true personally.

At the time I came to Philadelphia. My wife and I discovered in those days it just about the same time that we had come to the city Lord brought in a whole group of young young couples much like ourselves who were committed to the city wanted to raise their children here wanted to bear witness not just for a short period of time in over a period of many years and it was not only enjoyed Austin encouragement to see the dogs doing that encouragement because obviously if God was leading other people there than God was about to do something and it was a privilege to be part of that kind of strategic offensive and outreach so Paulus was the second point in Paul's strategy. The third thing is the thing that is chiefly described in chapter 19 that is the church planting efforts along with his second-in-command Timothy's helper doesn't mention Timothy right at the beginning of the chapter, but we discover the end is there. We read verse 22 Erastus was along as well. Now the important point here is the nature of the ministry by which Paul and about to establish this church or churches.

What did he do they have a big rally that tracked all young people have a piano drop is a lot a blank face and should not been young life. You don't know what a piano drop is piano drop is this you get a helicopter and you attach a piano to it up in the sky hand out leaflets and say you're going to drop a piano and then when you get all young people to God because they love that sort of thing you brought the piano and it breaks makes big noise. Everybody can take a piece home with them afterwards.

That's what you make your contact then that the apostle Paul have a piano drop or something of that nature.

While the point I'm making is that he didn't do that at all. Paul had one strategy. That strategy was to teach the word of God. He really didn't need that everywhere. Everywhere he went he went into the synagogue and taught them from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.

This one who had come in his own lifetime would live, taught by been raised from the dead Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures, so he took the Old Testament and he taught it showing what God had said in the Old Testament is Messiah would do and indicating how Jesus did it. That's what you done elsewhere and that is certainly what he does here. I want you to see. First of all that he did it all kinds of people as he taught all groups of people on different types of people interesting to go through this chapter and see the kind of people that were dealt with in this ministry or slaughter with the disciples of John John the Baptist situation here was similar to that of the Paulus they heard of John and his teaching.

They knew that they were to repent of sin prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah, because John was a forerunner and his preaching was a preaching repentance is baptism is a baptism of repentance. They had been baptized. It meant that insofar as John had a ministry that ministry was effective in them, and they have been prepared like a Paulus. I hadn't heard yet that Jesus said, so when Paul arrived in the city and began to teach here were these disciples who had been baptized but not spiritually.

Only with water in the repentance ball began a special ministry with them. Those are ones that already been prepared.

They were halfway there when he began to explain to them that Jesus had gone well. Their hearts were ready for that. They believed it at once Holy Spirit came upon them, and their lives were blasted much the same way that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in Samaria when the gospel first came that so here was a group of prepared hearts, to whom the apostle came and ministered to them.

Secondly, when in the synagogue. Now he had been there before saw that in the 18th chapter. They had said to them, please come back and so when he got to Ephesus he did come back. He went and began to minister among the Jews was ever quite a time. It says see smoke there boldly for three months I we know when we compare this with what happened in other places earlier in the journeys that quite often on those earlier places. He was only given a hearing for a matter of a few weeks on the words really was a receptive audience though. As time went on, the attitudes of those were unbelieving pardons and eventually Paul was forced to leave the synagogue doesn't tell us a great deal about his results there speaks only of those became obstinate when we believe no doubt some did believe during the three-month ministry and so here is a second group of people, the Jews. Those were his kinsman according to the flesh. Thirdly, there were the Gentiles. They were the large majority living in the town of Ephesus ball began a special ministry to them after he had been forced to leave the synagogue.

Interesting how he did it were told that when he left the synagogue he went to the lecture hall of a man named Uranus Uranus was a Greek Greek philosopher, no doubt he was a teacher at a school word incidentally translated all as in the phrase lecture hall of terrain is in Greek is actually the word school to regular word schools: this was a panorama school and yet there were times that he wasn't using it so he simply stitch no doubt at an attractive rate, Paul and Paul went there and began to teach and let that be the base for his ministry to the Gentiles in the doubt and whatever Jews and other people would, we go on.

We find that he had a special ministry to those supported involved in the occult right to see the results there.

Perhaps most of the people were involved in the occult, because when the Spirit of God began to move in a really great way they turn from their occult practices. Then finally toward the end of the chapter we find the impact of the gospel on the business class because this great business that they had of making statues and other Rotary objects for the great Temple of Diana was hurt by what we would call a revival that means that impact was being felt there in that community as well. Now, no doubt there were other groups of people. But here it is very short accounts is very limited amount of space Luke indicates what Paul did. So far as the objects of his teaching were concerned, and secondly I want you to say that Paul talked for a long period of time. This is the direction that he had been moving.

He had been staying longer and longer in the cities when he was at Corinth.

He was there for a year and 1/2 now were told in Ephesus. He stayed there two years for a man who was an itinerant missionary you felt his calling to be the advancing of the gospel throughout the entire Roman world. That was a major time commitment would be the equivalent of many many more years, perhaps a lifetime ministry for you and me.

There is an interesting note in the Western text of the book of acts at this point it's not in the majority of the manuscripts was not included in our translations, no doubt rightly so than the Western text in the margin was a little note that says that when Paul lectured in the hall of terrain. This daily.

He did so from 11 o'clock in the morning until four in the afternoon is from the 10th to the fifth hour is very interesting. That's a long period of ministry 11 in the morning before the afternoon five hours every day, no doubt talk. Of the day when the hall was not used by trainers Uranus be there in the morning and perhaps lecturing the evening as well posted values in the middle of the day. All the same five hours. That's a long time and it did it every day. I don't think that means Monday through Friday.

I think in terms of the culture of the day that man every day. Take vacation never heard of a five day work week or 40 hour work week in those days I needed seven days a week, we learned something else as well because later on in the 20th chapter when Paul is speaking to the elders. He says that he supported himself while he was there in Ephesus so I suppose in the morning when other people were working. Paul is working working. It is tense and then 11 o'clock he knocked off and went over the hall and began to lecture and then he says here also. In speaking to the Ephesian elders anyone from house to house instructing them in the things of God. So I guess with all close down for him.

It was taken over by the owner for o'clock all started off at that point to teach in the homes but does called in some forms of church polity. Catechizing is teaching the mothers and fathers and the children things of God, draining all supported. Although God bless them in that miracles were not. But Paul didn't go there to do miracles. Miracles swallowed because of the blessing of the Holy Spirit what the apostle Paul did was go there to teach a thought regularly and indefinite effectively. That's what God bless the gospel establish itself in the city and then went from there throughout the whole of Asia. I'm talking about Paul's strategy. I want to get two more things he did before I move on to the results already saying that Paul's strategy was to make a preliminary visit. Saw the importance of the policy as part of that strategy the ball and not plan that we have seen this teaching ministry is the established churches for thing he did was conduct follow-up visits.

Now he had done that for the other churches as well as matter of fact it was on such a journey that he stop in Ephesus. He was going through the churches of Galatia Derby I Tony Melissa Brooks and others had trouble getting back Ephesus as a matter of fact, the only game in this case, the city nearby recalled Ephesian elders to it because as a return to Jerusalem at the time he was arrested many worship wrong as far as we know, we never got back to strategy was always to have visits back to the places where he had been to seal people were doing a check often to help where possible to correct problems in this part of his strategy one with which we can easily identify was a strategy of written communication as he wrote letters would say he provided lessons for the people. Miss Casey wrote the book of Ephesians and a six chapter 6 lesson course and what it really means to be a Christian. What to believe. Letter contains great doctrine talks about the sovereignty of God in salvation rebirth role of the church fact that we are ordained by God to do good works and talks about all of the relationships between people in the church's husbands and wives and slaves and masters in children and parents and then finally in the end has a great section about our spiritual warfare.because Paul realized how important that was.

This particular community.

I asked the question after strategy like that and an investment in time like that. What were the results we are thinking about it in contemporary terms, we would say we have set the objectives we developed a strategy that we want to.

The valuation of the question is how did it work. What happened well.

There were great blessings. First of all, that were miracles.

The power of God.

We see miracles were not done first to attract people here that many are making today are trying to make today. The word came first. God bless the words and then miracles follow this case, through Paul as authenticating his message. Secondly, there were marked changes in the lives of the believers.

They were involved, many of them in the occult. As I've indicated, and is the gospel was preached as the Lordship of Jesus Christ was emphasized. I saw increasingly that it was impossible for them to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and still even claim that these cult objects is one Lord, even Jesus Christ and salvation is by him. I couldn't keep 1 foot in the church and 1 foot in the world so they saw that they repented of their sin says that explicitly and then they brought their cult objects and had them destroyed. In particular, burning scrolls, the magic scrolls that contained the incantations publicly look at this point puts in total of the value of all these objects that were burned 50,000 droplets is always hard to make an equivalent from the New Testament, figure involving money to our day, but far as we can tell a drop that was about a day's wage, new international version says that at the bottom of the footnote when what we would say a day's wage today is but perhaps using a rough figure, let's say hundred dollars you put that into the formula multiplying 50,000 times and it comes out to $5 million may be an exaggeration but at any rate it was a large sum of money. What these Christians really did as they heard the power of the gospel and recognized for what they owed.

Jesus Christ died for them was laying on the line as we would say anything in their lives that was holding the back anything their lives that indicated a divided allegiance slightly decide it was the fact that they laid aside their money was these things that were claiming another allegiance, and if you have something in your life like that is very important that you get rid of it. I don't know what it may be whatever it is something you're hanging onto you just don't want to give up.

You know it's not really consistent with following after Jesus Christ you need to get rid of it is these Christians did so interesting that immediately after that.

After this great powerful movement of the Spirit of God among God's people. I wish they confess their sin and laid aside these objects. We read in verse 20.

In this way, word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

I need to contrast that verse, verse 20 with verse 10 says after Paul had been speaking in the lecture hall of tirade is this went on for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks lived in the Providence of Asia heard the word of the Lord is a difference between those two sentences as a result of Paul's teachings consistent teaching and preaching everybody heart is not the same thing as saying that everyone believe in verse 20 when the Christians laid on the line and really stand for the gospel, laying all hindrances inside. We read in this way, the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. That meant that people not only coded, they believed it began to follow Christ rather were few more results very end of the section 21 following you have a new vision of ministry for Paul say one of the problems are sometimes having churches is when you have the blessing people don't want to give it up. I don't want to go out on a server elsewhere. Even though the gospel is spreading effectively. Here Paul in the very midst of what was the greatest blessing of his ministry said no God called me to go throughout the Roman world and so I will and he began to make plans. First of all to go to Jerusalem, Macedonia, kanban is mindset on Rome as we know zero to the Romans he was thinking of going beyond only been displaying which actually visited and then finally the last results we see in our next study was opposition all the gospel is spreading. People were believing power of the Holy Spirit was evident but wherever that happens, there is opposition and the opposition came I'd conclude by saying trust the word of God Spirit of God to bless Lance in your ministry all ministry were called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ were to tell others about him say I need a new method. No, you don't need a new method need faithfulness administering the word. I began my referring to Roger Greenway and I find it interesting that that's the note in which she ends one strikingly beautiful feature of Paul's farewell to the elders of Ephesus was his deep trust in the power of the word in the spirit to nourish and protect the Ephesian Christians in the days ahead this on to be the goal of every missionary and iron missionaries. We must teach the word we must trust Holy Spirit blessed to those who need the gospel spray our father.

We do thank you for our calling to be your ambassadors throughout the world where we live and go about being a part of this great task of planning churches.

Churches in the city's churches to grow strong and become a base for the expansion of the gospel in other areas rent. We pray that we might be found faithful faithful in our testimony and faithful in our lives for the sake of our Lord even Jesus name we pray. You are listening to the Bible study hour with a Bible teaching of Dr. James voice listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James voice every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.

Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 port. You can visit us online@alliancenets.org for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1 C2 line 9 asking a free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian your continued support and for listening to the Bible study you


Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime