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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Saint Paul in Ephesus, Turkey 1

A trip to Ephesus is like going back in time. It is amazing to see so many ancient structures, with the sculptures, mosaics and intricate carvings. And to think that only a small portion has been excavated. Wikipedia says Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Can you imagine how much more there is to this wonderful place?

So many people visit Ephesus today and it was quite crowded when I went there. But they say so many people lived there during its best days so I suppose it was just as crowded.

Ephesus has a special place in Christian history. It is one of the seven churches that are mentioned in the Book of Revelation and Saint Paul, who lived in Ephesus for two years, sent one of his letters to the Ephesians. As I walked the main street and visited the different buildings, I imagined myself in the time of St. Paul. I wondered how it felt to bring the Good News to the Ephesians.

In Acts 19, it says

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. [One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Just as in Paul's time, our sharing about Jesus can be met with resistance. "Some become obstinate; they refuse to believe and publicly malign the Way." But for those who are open to Him, the good news is, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that Saint Paul offered to the Ephesians is still available to us today, and God still does extraordinary miracles. The God of Saint Paul is alive today. And we can follow in Saint Paul's example, continue to share our faith and have "discussions daily" even if it is just in the "lecture halls" of our homes.

1 blog hugs:

Ephesus said...

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