Monday, November 29, 2010
The church... is not a building. The church is not confined to four walls. The church is a body. Living, breathing, moving, working. God's people, working in one accord, every race, every nation, committed to serving Him and Him only.
One of the most prominent churches of the “church age” was the church at Ephesus. It was established in AD 53 by Paul. Timothy was later sent to be their leader.
Ephesus was a trade city. It was founded specifically for sea port trading in present day Turkey. When Paul came through Ephesus preaching however, the economy had started to decline. The main source of income the city had was its tourism to the Temple of Artemis (or Diana), which at the time was considered one of the seven wonders of the world. Artemis was the goddess of various things relating to hunting and women including animals, strong hunters, fertility, childbirth, and virginity. In the Temple of Artemis, prostitution was a common practice as part of the religious worship.
Because the church was preaching against the only real income the city had at that point, they met with great resistance (as with Demetrius in Acts 19). There was also a very real issue within the church body of new Christians struggling with the culture around them that they'd been so immersed in.
Paul is writing to encourage the people in their faith, to very specifically outline what a Christian and what a church is to be and do, and to yet again explain the foundations of our faith and the importance of the fact that we are all one family. There is no separation between Jew and Gentile. We have all been chosen by God to be adopted into His family.
It was intended to be a circulating open letter to be read to many churches, not just the Ephesians, although that seems to have been Paul's first audience for it.
So... Who is the church? What are we called to do? What is our mission? How are we to function? All these are things Paul answers in this letter.
As you study this book, be strengthened in your faith, strengthened in Christ, and renewed in your mission.