GCC community Bible study meets Wed night from 7:30-9:00pm. Our Spring 2017 study is Ephesians: Our Immeasurable Blessings In Christ by John MacArthur.
At the time Paul wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus, the city had a population of over 300,000 people. Think about it in terms of Wichita, which according to Google has a population of about 380,000 people. For the ancient world, Ephesus was a massive, massive city. It was also a massive commercial and trade center. All trade that went through ancient Asia whether on land or sea went through Ephesus.
It was a very rich city. Their main street was called Arcadian Way and it connected the harbor with the theater which could hold 25,000 people. This street, Arcadian Way, was their version of our Bay Street because it was 100 feet wide. But it was also paved in marble and it was lit with lanterns every night.
Ephesus also had the temple of Artemis, which was one of 7 wonders of the Ancient world. In fact, Ephesus was really the epicenter of worship for many of the Greek and Roman gods. There were tons of elaborate, ornate temples in Ephesus. So it was a society that had a wide range of religious influence, and a society that was relatively wealthy and experience a lot of decadence.
Paul spent about 2 years and 3 months in the city of Ephesus. You can read about that in Acts chapter 19, but essentially he came into the city, found the Jewish synagogue and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ there daily, until he was kicked out and that took about 3 months. Then he spent the next 2 years building up his disciples and the church in Ephesus, and preaching the Gospel in a lecture hall. And then when the church was strong and had leaders and was able to function on its own Paul left and went to the next church.
This letter we’re studying was written many years after Paul’s time in Ephesus. The letter of Ephesians was written by Paul while he was imprisoned by Romans. And the letter is really written in 2 parts. In the first 3 chapters, Paul lays out what the Gospel is, and how it is the culmination of all of God’s work, and how specifically through the Gospel, all people, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free; all people have been brought together in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-everything, collection of God’s people. They are the church as we are the church. The last 3 chapters of this book deal with what all of that looks like for living our lives. Chapter 4 verse 1 starts with the words therefore, therefore. Paul is saying therefore, in light of all, in light of this Gospel of Jesus Christ by which you are saved and sanctified, how should you live your life. And that’s what the last 3 chapters are all about. Paul explains, in very practical terms, how the Gospel of Jesus Christ should affect every relationship you have, how it should affect really every aspect of your life. It’s a wonderful book.