The church in Ephesus was ethnically diverse, as was the population of this city and was dominated by the Greek culture of the day. Paul preaches to Gentile and Jews using the same language of “redemption” that before this time was previously only applied to the Jews. The Greco-Roman world understood the concept of redemption because it applied to slaves, who were approximately one-third of the population during Paul’s time. A slave was freed or redeemed when a ransom or debt was paid. Paul told his readers that this is exactly what Jesus did for all of us.
Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash
Read Ephesians 1:7-12.
7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. 12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. (Ephesians 1:7-12, NLT)
PAUL’S HISTORY IN EPHESUS (3RD MISSIONARY JOURNEY)
- The Temple of Artemis was also in Ephesus. Artemis was worshiped for thousands of years by Greek people, and his temple considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Ephesus was also the home to the Domitianus Temple, the Fountain of Trajan, the Temple of Hadrian, the Celsius Library, and an open-air theater that took twenty-five thousand people.
- An important religious center of ancient Greece, Ephesus was also the center for sorcerers and magicians. Polytheism and idolatry were central to the culture of the Greeks who had believed in human-like gods for thousands of years.
- For two years, Paul taught Christ followers in the Tyrannus school in Ephesus between 11:00 am and 4 pm. Due to the high daytime temperatures, that halls of the school were empty of people, so Paul’s voice could be heard.
- Paul taught that “gods made by human hands could not be true gods,” and his words threatened the business owners who depended on the trade brought in by the myriad of pilgrims in town to worship their gods.
- A jeweler named Dimitrios had become rich through making and selling silver sculptures at the temple of Artemis. He saw Paul as a threat to business, so used this fear to enrage an angry mob against the Christians and especially Paul. “We make great earnings from this business, and Paul says that handmade objects are not gods. He teaches this all over, not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia. He will ruin our art and maybe even destroy the Temple of Artemis. Our supreme goddess will be ignored and forgotten–the glory of Artemis will be eliminated.” (See: Acts 19)
Read the text again, this time in The Message.
7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. 11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. (Ephesians 1:7-12, MSG)
Look through these verses and add to the chart below all of the information that God has provided.
Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes, ears, and heart to hear Him speak to you as you read through the verses one more time in the New American Standard Bible.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He set forth in Him, 10 regarding His plan of the fullness of the times, to bring all things together in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. 11 In Him we also have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things in accordance with the plan of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in the Christ would be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:7-12, NASB)
What lifted for you today?
- Write it out in words.
Taking the information in and repeating it in your own words will help you digest and remember what God is speaking to you today.
- Draw a picture to show God’s message to you in these verses.
This is not an exercise in fine art, but a doodle that will help you cement God’s words into your head. Sharing it with another and telling your “why” for the design is another helpful memory tool.
- Do both words and doodles.
Don’t make this hard. It could be one word that stood out or a full sentence or two. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. And stick figures are fine. If you’d rather include a picture you found or copied, use that. Make sure you could explain why you chose this picture for these verses.
Check in on Tuesday to see what I dug up in Ephesus. Share yours with me by commenting on the blog or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.