Like Corinth, Ephesus played a key role in the Apostle Paul’s ministry. It was a seaport on the Mediterranean, bustling with commerce and religion but the religion was idolatry. One temple after another to the pagan goddess Artemis (or Diana, as identified in Acts) had been built, destroyed and rebuilt. During Paul’s time that temple was a magnificent marble structure, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient World. Artemis/Diana was the goddess of fertility, its idol was the figure of a woman with multiple breasts and eggs hanging from her body. The temple and city ruins have been partially excavated in modern times but are now miles from the Mediterranean, silt carried down in the river there having filled in land to the sea. Paul’s epistle to them from prison in Rome shortly prior to his martyrdom contains the pinnacle of truth to the Body of Christ today.
Ephesus is first mentioned in the Bible when Paul and his associates sailed there from Corinth. He reasoned with the Jews in the Synagogue and they wanted him to continue with them, but he had to leave having taken a vow and on his way to Jerusalem. He sailed from Ephesus to Caesarea and went up to Jerusalem where he greeted the believers, after which he went to Antioch and from there to Galatia and Phrygia, Acts 18:19 - 2319 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
. This short narrative of Paul’s travels is interrupted, and we are brought back to Ephesus where Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt is introduced. Apollos was well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures and spiritually zealous in teaching about Jesus, but he only knew the baptism of John, Acts 18:24 - 2624 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
a. At the Ephesus Synagogue he met Priscilla and Aquila who had learned the Gospel of God’s Grace from Paul while back in Corinth. They passed it on to Apollos, teaching him the way of God more perfectly, Acts 18:2626 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
. Apollos then left Ephesus and sailed to Corinth to teach, Acts 18:27 - 2827 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? (30th occasion) And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe (31st occasion) on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.” Acts 19:1 - 71 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7 And all the men were about twelve.
. Its revealing that Apollos from Alexandria as well as these 12 Jewish men were believers but hadn’t even heard about the gift of the Holy Spirit when we consider that the Jews in Jerusalem who believed Jesus was their Messiah had been filled with the Holy Spirit for several years; having the gift of tongues and healings, etc., by the Apostle Peter, Acts 2:1 - 471 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
. Stephen and six others were full of faith and the Holy Spirit when they were called upon to handle the treasury for the church in Jerusalem, Acts 6:1 - 61 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Communication in those days was nothing like it is today but you would think the Holy Spirit’s work and miracles of tongues, prophesy, healings, etc., in the Jewish Kingdom Church in Jerusalem would have spread quickly to Jews throughout the entire Mediterranean area. But it didn’t as is evident by the fact the Jew Apollos and the 12 Jews in Ephesus didn’t know about it. This is evidence the commission Christ gave His 12 Apostles had not been fulfilled at that time, Mark 16:15 - 1815 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
, and it didn’t because the Kingdom message entrusted to them didn’t get off the ground, so to speak, because the Nation of Israel as a whole rejected Jesus as their Messiah. The 12 Apostles never got out of Jerusalem and immediate area to spread the Word. But this was no surprise to God who in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ saved Paul and commissioned him, not to preach the Kingdom Gospel, but the Gospel of God’s Grace to Gentiles as well as Jews. Paul was every bit an Apostle (a sent one from the Lord Jesus Christ) as Peter and the 12. As proof, Paul’s Apostleship was born witnesses to by the Holy Spirit’s power: “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” Acts 19:11 & 1211 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
. These gifts left Paul when he finished his mission of revealing God’s Word in his epistles to the Body of Christ.
Paul taught in the Ephesian Synagogue for 3 months, but many didn’t believe and spoke evil of the Gospel of Grace, so Paul took those who did believe with him to the school of Tyrannus where he taught daily. It is said that cities with many Jews had both a synagogue and a divinity school and Tyrannus may have been a Rabbi who operated the school in Ephesus but converted to Paul’s Gospel. Paul taught there for 2 years to the point that all Jews and Gentiles in Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus, Acts 19:8 - 108 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
. But Satan and his followers always try to mislead people by replicating God’s work and used a group of Jews who traveled about earning their living as flimflam artists, including 7 sons of one of the Chief Priests in the Ephesian synagogue. And after observing Paul cast demons from people these men tried their hand at it on a demon possessed man. They did so in the name of the Lord Jesus who Paul preached, Acts 19:13 - 1413 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
but their attempt backfired: “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” Acts 19:15 - 1615 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
The next few verses are again especially instructive: “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” Acts 19:1717 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
. The Greek word “magnified” means to “enlarge, declare great or magnify” so we learn that fear fell on all the Ephesians and the name of the Lord Jesus was well known, “And many that believed (32nd occasion of the word believe in Acts) came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” Acts 19:18 - 1918 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
But even though the Word of God increased in power in Ephesus, Acts 19:2020 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
, it didn’t take long for Satan to stir up those Ephesians who were not true believers to rebel against Paul and his ministry. Satan did this through the silversmiths in Ephesus who made their living manufacturing and selling small replicas of the idol Artemis/Diana. Led by Demetrius, they rebelled against Paul because he taught there were no gods made with hands and turned many away from idol worship, Acts 19:23 - 2623 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
, “So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” Acts 19:2727 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
. Mob rule prevailed and two of Paul’s companions were caught up in an ensuing riot until cooler heads prevailed, Acts 19:28 - 4128 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
39 But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
Thus, we see that although at one time “fear fell on them all (in Ephesus), and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” the majority of the Ephesians were never-the-less not true believers. We see this today, there being many throughout the world who venerate the name of the Lord Jesus but never-the-less are not all true believers in the Gospel that Paul preached, which is: “Moreover, brethren, I (Paul) declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:1 - 41 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
. Many who call themselves Christians today don’t buy into the fact we are lost and bound for hell as sinners, Romans 3:2323 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
, nor do they believe He died for their sins, Romans 5:6 - 86 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
, that He was raised from the dead for their justification, Romans 4:24 - 2524 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
, that He has ascended into heaven, Ephesians 4:8 - 108 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
, and awaits to return to take us up to be with Him, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 1813 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.