Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:1-2).
Ephesus was a city of idolatry and filth.
Or was it?
Our 2019 National Conference will go through Ephesians verse by verse. In preparation for that, I will be preaching through Ephesians at church. So I’m researching what life was like in Ephesus when Paul wrote his letter.
We know that Ephesus was a deeply religious city, famous for the Temple to Artemis (or Diana) who was widely worshipped (“Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence,” Acts 19:27). That Temple was one of the seven wonders of the world.
Many of the commentaries say that the temple was a site of ritual prostitution. The priestesses were prostitutes. It turns out, that might be wrong. This article, by S. M. Baugh, argues that being a priestess in the Artemis temple was reserved for the daughters of wealthier families, as a kind of introduction to society: “A priestess of Artemis compares better with a Rose Bowl queen or with Miss Teen America than with a cult prostitute.”
That paints a slightly different picture for me. Does it you?
I’m excited about going through this powerful letter. There is much to learn and study in preparation for preaching and teaching it. I plan on blogging on it over the next few months.
If you’re interested in Ephesians, I encourage you to sign up for the national conference!