The Apostle Paul’s work in Ephesus was the last extended work of his we have recorded. It consumed most of what we call his Third Missionary Journey, and covered some three years – the longest period he spent working in any city during his journeys. It seems as if all he did before was in preparation for this time. And what a time it was! These three years were marked by large numbers of conversions, numerous miracles, and riots. Join us today as we review the work of Paul in Ephesus.
“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:8-10)
With these words Paul speaks in his letter of the goal of his work in Ephesus… and indeed summarizes what this epistle itself is about.
- We first meet Paul as Saul of Tarsus, a highly trained and capable religious and secular Jewish bigot
- On the Damascus Road that all changed. The Lord Jesus told him that he would be “My chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles.” (Acts 9:15)
- We could re-trace his missionary journeys to great cities like Antioch, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth… then Ephesus. All great Gentile centers, whether Syrian, Greek, or Roman.
- Urban, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious cities
- Centers of commerce, government, education and religions
- Each influencing large regions around them
- All before seemed to be in preparation for this work at Ephesus. And it, in turn, perhaps was preparation for the ultimate prize – Rome!
PAUL’S VIEW OF HIS TASK:
- The administration of God’s grace – Ephesians 3:2
- A servant of this gospel – Ephesians 3:7
- This grace was given to me – to preach… – Ephesians 3:8
- A prisoner for the Lord – Ephesians 4:1
- I am an ambassador in chains – Ephesians 6:20
PAUL’S ACCOMPLISHED WORK:
- A summary view from Acts 18 & 19 gives us Dr. Luke’s history of the work
- Paul’s review of his 3 years of work while speaking to the Ephesian elders:
- Supported himself financially even as he ministered among them – Acts 20:33-35
- Preached and taught publicly and from house to house – Acts 20:20
- To both Jews and Greeks – Acts 20:21
- Held back nothing – Acts 20:25-27
- Teach for 2 years in the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus… helped spread the gospel throughout the region – Acts 19:10
- Amazing miracles of healing – Acts 19:11-12. Contrast with myths of healings at Temple of Artemis and School of Hippocrates
- Converts abandoning the magical arts and burning their books and other stuff valued at some $3,000,000
- A riot which filled the local theater
- Raised up elders in the church
- Even reached the “Asiarchs” of the province
- Trained many gospel preachers: Trophimus, Tychicus, Epaphras, and perhaps Philemon
- Endeared himself to the believers – Acts 20:36-38
Our image shows carvings on paving stones in ancient Ephesus. They are of “ichthys” (Greek word for “fish”) and a wheel, both believed to represent the prominent presence of Christians in the city. Courtesy of Wikipedia.