Embracing Mystery – Ephesus

Reflections from Dr. Howell

And so we begin our slow, deliberate, reflective reading of Ephesians together. Usually, I like to provide an overview of a book like Ephesians, an introduction so you’ll know what’s coming, what to look for. But I’d rather leave it entirely open-ended. We’ll read, and discover. If you think you know Ephesians already, toss what you think you know away for now and try to start fresh. Imagine you’re with those first Christians in Ephesus, receiving a rolled up parchment with Paul’s wax seal on it. It’s unrolled, and someone begins to read aloud. Slow down! What did he just say? Wow.

I will share a couple of things now. Paul had spent 3 years there. Surprising, as he was a man on the move, tirelessly journeying from place to place, planting new churches all over what today is Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Italy. Today, Ephesus is an archaeological wonderworld. You can walk its streets, survey its temples, banks, houses, and the theater. Check this out!

Acts, chapter 19, narrates Paul’s dramatic time there. When he arrived, he found some Christians who say “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Paul straightens that out – and the Holy Spirit, as we’ll see, is pretty important in Ephesians.

Paul spoke publicly, day by day. Some believed. Some were hostile. Miracles happened. Some who practiced “magic arts” burned their books. They gave up their livelihoods to become Christian!

The arrival of the Christian faith in Ephesus impacted the livelihoods of others too: Demetrius, a silversmith, stirred up other business owners, and a riot broke out in the streets! His gripe was this: he crafted little figurines of Artemis, a pagan goddess who fabulous temple was one of the 7 Wonders of the World – in Ephesus, her home base! But Paul was converting people to Jesus – meaning they would no longer purchase his silver trinkets. Amazing: a real economic impact to faith in Christ. I wonder how a real, living, vital Christianity might impact various businesses today?

Next time, we’ll dive into Ephesians as we begin Embracing Mystery.