Summary: Today's cities are not so different from First Century cities as one might think. Jesus was enough to change Ephesus. He is enough to change your city!
I need to give you a background of the book of Ephesians, so you can see that it applies to our city. This way, you can get a feel for WHY Paul wrote what he did in the book.
Ephesus was one of the premier city of the Roman Empire. It was situated on
It benefitted from a great road system, all the major roads in that area pass through Ephesus. It was a port city, and had a lot of cultures, international people passing through it.
Consequently, it was a wealthy city, and a very multicultural city. This wasn’t your town where everyone in town was white and blue collar, and was raised there… the ideas were varied and many.
It was a leading city of spirituality in the Roman Empire. It was a famous center of worship, spirituality, and magic. Sorcery was practiced widely, and they believed that there was a spiritual world, where spiritual beings of various levels were directly involved with the natural world that you can see. Of course, we believe that as well.
We know of at least 50 gods and goddesses that were worshipped in Ephesus. They clearly believed in a spiritual world. IF you believe there is such a thing, then there’s the question about how you interact, how you impact, how you contact that spiritual world.
So, they sought to interact with that world through magic.
Now the natural thing if you believe in a spiritual world is fear. You realize that there is evil and there is wickedness… there are bad spirits out there. So you try to through magic interact with that world. Some people went to contacting bad spirits, thinking that if they do their will and cast curses and bad spells, the spirits won’t hurt them, and other people try to contact the good spirits, and they wear amulets, cast spells, and chant incantations to the good spirits to try to protect themselves.
This is basically what we have in today’s world – some people are strictly rationalists, but the culture overall is quite spiritual. Strict naturalism is kind of on its way out.
Like 90+% of people pray…
So we have a world where you have some people who practice black magic, because they are fascinated with it, and want power. Then you have a ton of people who basically are from the Barnes & Noble spirituality section where they repackage witchcraft as Wicca, earth-worship, paganism, where you cast spells to bless people & cast love spells to try to make boys fall in love with you, and have your very own episode of a soap opera in your love life.
We have Harry Potter movies, where some people do good “white” magic, and Voldemort the sorcerer is the “black” magic side of things. I don’t watch much in the way of movies, but I do track the industry, because it’s a good barometer of the country, and here’s what you have coming out in the next few months:
• Legion, a movie about angels and demons
• Sorcerer’s apprentice, a movie about a sorcerer and a teenager.
• The new Harry Potter movie
• Lightning Thief – a teenager wants to become one of the gods.
• Wolfman – about werewolves
• The next “Twilight” movie – vampires, werewolves, etc.
& that’s just off the top of my head.
• Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
• Legend of the Seeker
And they’re marketing these things straight to teens. So, get ready, the culture in the next 20 years is going to get TONS more like Ephesus.
So, I want to explain to you how the spiritual world works, so you can understand when we read through this chapter:
Explanation of God & angels, Satan & demons
The one thing they did not realize is that there is a God named Jesus who rules over ALL these realms, and that any spirit not on his side is against him, and that no magic is necessary with Him, that He is King and Ruler exalted over ALL spiritual realms… and that’s the message Paul came with.
The most popular god in Ephesus was a feminist god, a goddess. Artemis, also known as Diana. You may have heard of her Temple, the 8th wonder as
Intro to Ephesians:
Acts 19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 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."
3 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied.
4 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."