Summary: It is helpful to see the events in the Ephesus Church’s life and what we can learn: to do things right, as Ephesus did them right, to pick up pointers as the Apostles gave them advice, and to avoid the mistakes that Ephesus made.
Starting from scratch
Ephesus - Year 1
For 9 sessions it is my intention to trace the Church at Ephesus as it unfolds in the New Testament. From Acts 18 to Revelation 2, we see the first half century of this primal church’s life. As it grows there are valuable lessons to be learned, which can help us to see how Churches cope, survive and thrive.
It is not my intention to build parallels between the church at Ephesus and Norma. The result would be contrived and probably untrue. Beyond that, since we are largely looking at the past, it would be irrelevant. It will be more helpful is for us to see the events in the Church’s life and what we can learn: to do things right, as Ephesus did them right, to pick up pointers as the Apostles gave them advice, and to avoid the mistakes that Ephesus made.
They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. When he landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.
After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. Acts 18:19-27 (NIV)
This is how it began for Ephesus.
Competent people stayed and worked
We often think of Paul as the great Church Planter of the first century, but he did not plant this church. Two displaced tent makers from Rome did. Priscilla and Aquila were Jewish Christians who lived in Rome, but were kicked out during a politically motivated mass exile from the city. They moved to Corinth. There they met Paul and signed on to travel with Him.
They must have been mature believers, because when they made it as far as Ephesus, Paul did not wait. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem, but he spoke, apparently only once, and resisted all efforts to get him to stay longer. As a compromise he left this couple behind to plow the field and begin the work of planting the church.
This woman and her husband had their entire life turned on its head. They had serious problems of their own, but now that they had moved on, they had settled in to their trade and began sharing Jesus, wherever they were.
• They had been forced out of their home by law
• They found themselves in a difficult and pagan place
• They connected with an itinerant
• And signed on for the journey
Now they find themselves in Ephesus, where there is apparently no knowledge of Jesus at all. Think of it. It is impossible that these believers had known Jesus for more than 15 years, probably not even that long. They had not had the advantage of living near the most seasoned teachers - the apostles. It is likely that their faith had been patched together from any place they could get spiritually fed, but they had grown.
Most of the people in today’s churches can claim a firmer foundation in the faith than Priscilla and Aquila had.
• We have been members of churches led by people with in-depth ministry training
• We have a complete Bible of our own
• We have freedom to worship without harassment
• We have long, rich Christian traditions
You may not think of yourself as qualified to forge ahead into raw, pagan territory with the gospel of Jesus, to change a town for Him, but you probably are.
Even if, like them, you have troubles in your life.
They began with people who knew something about God
When Priscilla and Aquila began their work, they followed Paul into the synagogue. Expatriate, Greek speaking Jews had settled all over the known world and they took with them the Scriptures - what we know as the Old Testament.