Paul in Ephesus (September 2007)

   Posted by: John   in Older Posts, Scriptures

A part of the Sunday School lesson today dealt with Paul as he was teaching in Ephesus.  He had gone to the synagogue, teaching and discussing the scriptures, for about 3 months.  He was rejected and so went to teach in other places, for about 2 years.

During that time, he was able to convince a good number of people about Christ.  But, as always seems to be the case, when he (and the other apostles and disciples) were successful, there were others who were not happy with them.  Usually it was the Jews.  This time, however, there is another group who is upset.

It seems that there was a goddess by the name of Diana that a portion of the people worshipped.  Along with that, there were a number of businesses who made silver images and religious items for those worshippers.  As people converted to the gospel, these makers of idolatrous items found their market decreasing.  So, they started to make an uproar about it, seeing that their livelihood was disappearing.  Read Acts 19:24-28.

I got to thinking about the early years of the restored church.  These were days when missionaries of the truth were few but they went forth in great power.  They borrowed churches and halls, preached on the streets and, at times, found many who recognized truth.  It made the ministers of many churches jealous and afraid.  After all, every person who left their church took their money with them.  When threatened with their livelihood, it is a rare person who does not fight back.  Even more, these preachers of religion were sure they were saving their people from evil by fighting truth.

It is an interesting parallel to compare the silversmiths of Ephesus with the ministers of the 1830s.  While the ministers were not making graven images with silver, they were well aware of the economic ramifications if their members left them for another church.  Add to this the fact that they could not compete with the power of the spirit that the missionaries of the true church carried.  The religious leaders (and merchants) of Ephesus were no match for the spirit of Paul.  The end results are interesting to look at.

First, in the face of strong opposition, there were many people who were convinced of the truth and joined the church.  This was true in Ephesus, as it was in many cases in the latter day church.

Second, those who taught the truth were very often subject to beatings, torture, humiliation and sometimes death.

Third, the people who seem to have the most problem with the true gospel being preached are religious leaders who stir up people to fight against the word of God.  (While the silversmiths at Ephesus were not happy with Paul and company, the Jews were also out for their hides.)

One thing we don’t hear about much from the New Testament is the presence of alcohol.  We can read accounts from journals of latter-day saints saying that often the mobs were drunk and sometimes were given the alcohol by those who wanted the riots going.  I suspect that at times, Paul and the other apostles had to deal with drunken mobs.  Funny how numbing the mind with alcohol will get people to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do.  And we can purchase that substance at almost any grocery store, gas station mini-mart or convenience store.

So we can see that there are some coincidental things that seem to repeat themselves throughout history.  The word of God is preached by those who have the spirit.  It is fought by those who don’t, generally by those who are harmed financially or threatened religiously.  In spite of enormous opposition, people see the truth and join with it, and many times, the stronger the opposition, the greater the success.  Funny how that works.

I’m grateful that we have the accounts of the apostles.  These men truly served God and gave their lives to his service.  And, I am very glad that we have such a great teacher in my ward who is able to place us there in mind so we can understand and learn the lessons the apostles gave us.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 3rd, 2007 at 4:03 pm and is filed under Older Posts, Scriptures. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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