Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Ephesus part 2
(Above is a sculpture of the Greek goddess, Nike)
Acts 19 describes Paul's ministry in Ephesus. He spent the first 3 months there teaching in the synagogue. Though the synagogue's ruins have not been identified, the menorah etched in the steps of the Library below may have pointed the way to the meeting place.
After being run out of the temple, Paul resorted to preaching in a lecture hall. Great crowds of people came to faith in Christ. The Gospel transformed the society so much that former socerers burned their books of magic and witchcraft; we are told the total cost of the books burned equaled 50,000 day's wages. About 60 years after Paul, one of the largest libraries of the time was built in Ephesus.
One of the key claims of Ephesus in the first century was its status as the home of Artemis the goddess of fertility.
In Acts 19, some of the craftsmen who made statues of Artemis became worried Paul's message would hurt their business, so they stirred up the city to riot. We are told that they all ran into the theater and shouted for 2 hours, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians."
This theater could seat 25,000. Its acoustics are incredible. I could speak on the stage in a normal voice, and you could clearly hear me on the last row.
Later, around 90 AD, Ephesus became a central stronghold of Imperial worship cults. These cults demanded that all people pledge allegiance "Caesar is Lord." Those who did not pledge would not be allowed to buy or sell in the province. It is widely believed by scholars that the Imperial cult is the beast out of the sea described in Revelation 13. Here are the remains of the Imperial Temple, established by Domitian.
Here is a statue of Domitian that was erected at the Imperial Temple. This is identified with the "image of the beast" described in Revelation13:14. Before it was broken, the whole statue supposedly was 21 feet tall. Historians record that mysterious activity surrounded the image. Many of our Christian brothers and sister died because they would not bow to this stone.
No doubt, Ephesus is one of the most fascinating places I have ever been. Imagine only being allowed to spend a few hours there! I feel a return trip on the horizon!