Ephesus During the Time of Paul
By the time of Paul, Ephesus had become enormously wealthy due to its status and position as a major port city of Asia Minor. It boasted a number of major public buildings, including gymnasiums, theaters and a triumphal arch constructed in 3 B.C.
In addition, the Ephesin temple of Artemis was lauded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and was already then a significant source of income.
Ephesus became a major center of the Christian faith. Although Paul probably wrote his epistle to the Ephesians as a circular letter, the church of Ephesus was a major focus of his ministry.
From the time of Augustus, these dwellings of wealthy Ephesians, were decorated with beautiful frescoes and mosaics.
The houses had luxurious bedrooms, bathrooms, triclinium, and kitchens.
Built against the mountain south of Ephesus, the roof of one house forms the terrace for the house above it.
These houses were inhabited until the 7th century A.D.
The apostle John also wrote to this church in Rev 2:1-7, and during the first five centuries A.D. several church councils were convened there.
By the medieval period, however, silt from the Cayster River had extended the coastline so far to the west that Ephesus had ceased to be a port city and was abandoned.
The desertion of Ephesus was a boon for modern archaeology, since it meant that the unoccupied city was open for excavation.
Today Ephesus exists as one of the most magnificent ruins of the ancient world. Under the direction of Austrian and Turkish archaeologists, the city has reappeared. Important finds include the following:
* The Temple of Artemis.
Little remains of the temple today (it was sacked by Goths in 262 A.D.), but it was a sacred site for over 1,200 years and was at the center of the controversy between pagans and early Christians.
* Other Temples.
Egyptian god Serapis
Several other Roman-eratemples and shrines have been discovered there. Evidence indicates that Ephesus was home to a wide variety of pagan cults, including a temple to the Egyptian god Serapis.
* The Great Theater.
This theater, which could seat 25,000 persons, was the location of the tumultuous protest against Paul’s preaching related in Acts 19. Although Paul wanted to address the crowd gathered there, the disciples restrained him.
* The Agoras.
Two agoras, or public squares, have been located in Ephesus. One was the Civic Agora (perhaps the location of the temple to Augustus) and the other was the Square or Commercial Agora (near the harbor and the site of numerous shops).
* The Celsus Library.
One of the great libraries of the ancient world, it was built in 115-125 A.D. and so was not yet in existence in New Testament times.
* The Gymnasiums, Baths and Public Latrines.
Several gymnasium and bath complexes have been identified in Ephesus, although a few date to later than the New Testament period.
Archaeologists are often able to identify a gymnasium’s changing room, exercise room, swimming pool, frigidarium (cold-water bath), caldarium (hot-water bath) and unctorium (oil-massage room).The public latrines also visitors an obvious connection t in an ancient city.
* Private Homes.
Residential areas of Ephesus have been excavated, and several upper class homes have been unearthed. Frescoes (paintings done on freshly spread, moist lime plaster) have been recovered and kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms identified.
* The Basilica of Saint John.
This structure obviously postdates the New Testament but according to second-century tradition, the apostle John spent his last years in Ephesus there and was buried under what is now the example apse of this church, which also features a fine example of an early Christian baptistery.
According to tradition Jesus’ mother, Mary, may have died in Ephesus; therefore there is also a church of the Virgin Mary (the site of the ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.).
Pamucak Beach, Ephesus, Turkey Today
The population of New Testament Ephesus is unknown, but it is clear that the city at that time was a thriving, cosmopolitan center of trade, religion and recreation. Its remains provide a rare look at an ancient city that was also important as a setting for the apostolic mission and the rise of Christianity.
Perhaps more than any other archaeological site, Ephesus affords the reader of Acts a sense of context. Since there is no modern city there, the remains of Ephesus distinctively allow visitors to enter vicariously into the ancient world.
This is the last chapter of the Book of 2 Timothy so tomorrow we’ll begin with…
2 Timothy 4
Greetings and Benediction
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
“I charge thee” – Paul states his charge to Timothy, aware that he does so in the presence of God the Father and of Christ, who will judge all men.
He is also keenly aware of the twin facts of Christ’s return and the coming establishment of God’s kingdom in its fullest expression. Timothy was to view a charge so given as of upmost importance.
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
“Be instant” – be ready in any situation to speak the needed word, whether of correction, or rebuke or of encouragement.
This is something that very, very few pastors and evangelists do today. They all basically only say nice words so that their congregation will admire them.
The preachers are going back to the 60s of the United States, but with an evil plot and without drugs.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
“Having itching ears” – these hearers will have ears that want to be satisfied by words in keeping with their evil desires.
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
“My departure” – his impending death.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
In this verse Paul looks back over 30 years of labor as an apostle (c. 36-66 A.D.). like an athlete who had engaged successfully in a contest (“fought a good fight”), he had “finished my course” and had ”kept the faith,” i.e., had carefully observed the words of Jesus Christ.
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Continuing with the same figure of speech, Paul uses the metaphor of the wreath given to the winner of the race (1 Cor 9:25).
He could be referring to (1) crown given as a reward for a righteous life, (2) a crown consisting of righteousness or (3) a crown given righteously (justly) by the righteous judge.
“That day” – not the day of Paul’s execution, but Jesus’ second coming.
9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
“Galatia” – either the northern area of Asia Minor (Gaul) or a Roman province in what is now central Turkey.
“Dalmatia” – present-day Albania and a portion of Yugoslavia, also known in Scripture as Illyricum (Rom 15:19).
Kourion – One of the ten Ancient City Kingdoms of Cyprus
Destroyed in a cataclysmic earthquake in 365 A.D. the ancient city kingdom of Kourion is located above the Kouris river near Limassol in the island’s west.
Archaelogical evidence and historical sources prove that Kourion is one of the most important ancient kingdoms of Cyprus.
11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
“Mark” – John Mark had deserted Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:13). After Paul refused to take Mark on the second journey, Barnabas separated from Paul, taking Mark with him on a mission to Cyprus.
Ultimately Mark proved himself to Paul, indicated by his presence with Paul during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment (Col 4:10; Phil 24) and by Paul’s request here for Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome.
12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.
13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
“Cloke” – for protection against the cold dampness. It was probably a heavy, sleeveless, outer garment, circular in shape and with a hole in the middle for one’s head.
“The books, but especially the parchments” – the books or scrolls were made of papyrus, and the parchments were made of the skins of animals. The later may have been copies of parts of the Old Testament.
Pope Linus was, according to several early sources, the second Bishop of Rome and is listed by the Roman Catholic church as the second pope, although this position is thought by historians to have not represented the special role it later acquired.
His papacy lasted from c. 67 to his death c. 76. According to other early sources, Pope Clement I was the second pope; per the Annuario Pontificio Clement was the fourth pope.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
“Alexander the coppersmith” – possibly the Alexander mentioned in 1 Tim 1:20.
“Lord reward him according to his works” – see Rev 22:12.
15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
“That by me the preaching might be fully known” – even in these dire circumstances Paul used the occasion to testify about Jesus Christ in the imperial court.
18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
“The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work” – since Paul fully expected to die soon (v. 6), the rescue he speaks of here is spiritual, not physical.
“Heavenly kingdom” – heaven itself.
19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.
Imagine an ancient Roman temple, which was built in around 20 B.C.
Then, the Roman Empire captured the Galatia Province, while the colors, the shapes and the size of the temple were main symbols of the area.
“Miletum” – a seaport on the coast of Asia Minor about 50 miles south of Ephesus.
21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.
“Linus” – early tradition says he was bishop of Rome after the deaths of Peter and Paul.
22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.
…the Book of Titus.