Ephesus IEntrance to the Library in Ephesus

Ephesus was home to the goddess Artemis, or Diana as the Romans knew her.  Her temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and pilgrims flocked to Ephesus to worship her.  This provided ample opportunity for silversmiths to peddle their wares.  Ephesus was a large and important city on the coast of Asia Minor.  Its seaport made it the most important trade center west of Tarsus.  Nearby Pergamum was the capital of the province, but Ephesus was larger with an estimated 300,000 residents.  Ephesians prided themselves on their culture.  The ruins betray her community baths, gymnasiums and impressive buildings including a huge library.  Excavations have uncovered very wealthy homes with frescoed walls.  But her adoration of Artemis was her real draw.  Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and daughter of Zeus.  She was known as the hunting goddess, a fertility goddess and the moon goddess.  Temple prostitution was commonly practiced in Ephesus, as well as magic.

Paul had a special place in his heart for the church at Ephesus.  It should come as no surprise since he spent more time ministering there than he did any other single location.  Ephesus provides a unique opportunity to track the life of one church to glean insights into its successes and its struggles.  While Acts and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians provides us with the most comprehensive look at the church there, digging into the details of other Scriptures provides details that help to piece together its distinctive history.

Arguably no other church had the intense and continual discipleship from early church leaders that Ephesus enjoyed.  It was a very different church than Corinth.   As we analyze the topics that Paul addressed in his letters to Timothy, we gain further insight into the struggles that this young pastor endured.  Paul cared about this church from his imprisonments.  He wrote to them from his house arrest in Rome, and later he wrote to strengthen and encourage Timothy there even while his own death was imminent.

The Church today needs discipleship to be the sustaining lifeblood of the Church. We see in Ephesus that discipleship was ongoing, deliberate and intentional.  These babes in Christ were nurtured by mature believers and in the end were able to stand firm against false teachers.

What is your definition of discipleship? Why would discipleship be the lifeblood of the Church today?

How are you actively being discipled? Who are you actively discipling?