Thursday, August 2, 2012

Coliseum in Ephesus

The book of Acts records a story that unfolds in the very place pictured above. Heres the story from  Acts chapter 19:

The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.
32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people.34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Ephesus was a major city of commerce, trade, and a center of the worship of Artemis who's temple was one of the very largest ever constructed in that era. It was roughly twice as big as the temple that sits atop the acropolis in Greece. Paul and his companions had threatened the trade and business of the silversmiths who made idols of Artemis. They were not happy about the possibility that an 'unseen' God, could convince people that their God of silver was no God at all!  It was very moving to stand in this theater, which seats 20,000, and consider the scene that is described above; one that speaks volumes about the faith and courage of Gaius, Aristarchus and Paul.

Ephesus is an amazing city; one that had a population of over a quarter of a million at the time Paul visited. It is also, to this city, that Paul writes one of his great epistles, the 2nd chapter of which has one of the most powerful and clear passages on the 'plan of redemption' and righteousness by faith ever written. 

I've committed verses 1 thru 17 to memory as it such a powerful reminder of what Jesus has done for us in order to pardon our sins and save us in his kingdom. A final picture; this one is of the facade of the great library in Ephesus.  Only this section remains of what was a magnificent edifice which contained one of the great library's of the ancient world. The building, like the city itself, and it's once thriving population, have disappeared from the face of the earth. The magnificent remains are stunning; yet, the greatest monuments in Ephesus are the lives changed by the Gospel which Paul and his companion's introduced.  These living temples, will rise again in the Kingdom made new!

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