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"Paul, and with him Priscilla and Aquila, came to Ephesus, and he left them here: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. And when they asked him to abide a longer time, he consented not; but taking his leave of them, and saying, I will return again unto you, if God will, he set sail from Ephesus.... Now a certain man named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, a learned man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught carefully the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more carefully."—Acts xviii. 19-21, 24-26.

"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus."—Acts xix. 1.

Ephesus has been from very ancient times a distinguished city. It was famous in the religious history of Asia Minor in times long prior to the Christian Era. It was celebrated at the time of the Roman Empire as the chief seat of the worship of Diana and of the magical practices associated with that worship; and Ephesus became more celebrated still in Christian times as the city where one of the great Œcumenical Councils was held which served to determine the expression of the Church's faith in her Divine Lord and Master. It must then be of great interest to the332 Christian student to note the first beginnings of such a vast transformation as that whereby a chief seat of pagan idolatry was turned into a special stronghold of Christian orthodoxy. Let us then devote this chapter to tracing the upgrowth of the Ephesian Church, and to noting the lessons the modern Church may derive therefrom.

St. Paul terminated his work in Corinth some time about the middle or towards the close of the year 53 A.D. In the early summer of that year Gallio came as proconsul to Achaia, and the Jewish riot was raised. After a due interval, to show that he was not driven out by Jewish machinations, St. Paul determined to return once more to Jerusalem and Antioch, which he had left some four years at least before. He went down therefore to Cenchreæ, the port of departure for passengers going from Corinth to Ephesus, Asia Minor, and Syria. A Christian Church had been established there by the exertions of St. Paul or some of his Corinthian disciples. As soon as an early Christian was turned from sin to righteousness, from the adoration of idols to the worship of the true God, he began to try and do something for Him whose love and grace he had experienced. It was no wonder that the Church then spread rapidly when all its individual members were instinct with life, and every one considered himself personally responsible to labour diligently for God. The Church of Cenchreæ was elaborately organised. It had not only its deacons, it had also its deaconesses, one of whom, Phœbe, was specially kind and useful to St. Paul upon his visits to that busy seaport, and is by him commended to the help and care of the Roman Church (Rom. xvi. 1, 2).

From Cenchreæ St. Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla sailed333 for Ephesus, where, as we have already hinted, it is most likely the latter pair had some special business avocations which led them to stay at that city. They may have been large manufacturers of tents, and have had a branch establishment at Ephesus, which was then a great mercantile emporium for that part of Asia Minor.

An incidental remark of the sacred writer "having shorn his head in Cenchreæ, for he had a vow," has raised a controverted question. Some refer this expression to Aquila, and I think with much the greater probability. It was customary with the Jews at that time when in any special danger to take a temporary Nazarite vow, binding themselves to abstain from wine and from cutting their hair till a certain definite period had elapsed. Then when the fixed date had arrived, the hair was cut off and preserved till it could be burned in the fire of a sacrifice offered up at Jerusalem upon the individual's next visit to the Holy City. The grammatical order of the words naturally refer to Aquila as the maker of this vow; but I cannot agree in one reason urged for this latter theory. Some have argued that it was impossible for Paul to have made this vow; that it would, in fact, have been a return to the bondage of Judaism, which would have been utterly inconsistent on his part. People who argue thus do not understand St. Paul's position with respect to Jewish rites as being things utterly unimportant, and, as such, things which a wise born Jew would do well to observe in order to please his countrymen. If St. Paul made a vow at Corinth it would have been simply an illustration of his own principle, "To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order that I might gain the Jews." But further, I must say that the taking of a vow, though derived from Judaism, need not have334 necessarily appeared to St. Paul and the men of his time a purely Jewish ceremony. Vows, in fact, naturally passed over from Judaism to Christianity.182182   Jeremy Taylor, in his Holy Living, in his chapter on Prayer, has some wise remarks on vows. He includes them under the head of Prayer: "A vow to God is an act of prayer and a great degree and instance of opportunity, and an increase of duty by some new uncommanded instance, or some more eminent degree of duty or frequency of action, or earnestness of spirit in the same. And because it hath pleased God in all ages of the world to admit of intercourse with His servants in the matter of vows, it is not ill advice that we make vows to God in those cases in which we have great need or great danger." He then proceeds to lay down rules and cautions for making vows. Vows, indeed, of this peculiar character, and with this peculiar external sign of long hair, are no longer customary amongst Christians; but surely special vows cannot be said to have gone out of fashion, when we consider the wide spread of the teetotal movement, with its vows identical in one important element with that of the Nazarites! But viewing the matter from a still wider standpoint, people, when contending thus, forget what a large part the tradition of ancient customs must have played in the life, manners, and customs of St. Paul. All his early life he was a strict Pharisaic Jew, and down to the end of life his early training must have largely modified his habits. To take but one instance, pork was the common and favourite food of the Romans at this period. Now I am sure that St. Paul would have vigorously resisted all attempts to prevent the Gentile Christians eating bacon or ham; but I should not be in the least surprised if St. Paul, trained in Pharisaic habits, never once touched a food he had been taught to abhor from his earliest youth. Life is a continuous thing, and the memories of the past are very powerful. We can to this day trace among ourselves335 many customs and traditions dating back to the times antecedent to the Reformation, and much farther. The fires still lighted on St. John's Eve throughout Ireland, and once customary in Scotland, are survivals of the times of Druidical paganism in these islands. The ceremonies and social customs of Shrove Tuesday and Hallow E'en are survivals of the rude mirth of our pre-Reformation forefathers, on the nights before a celebrated fast, Ash Wednesday, in one case, before a celebrated feast, All Saints' Day, in the other. Or perhaps I may take another instance more closely analogous still which every reader can verify for himself. The use of the Church of England has to this day a curious instance of the power of tradition as opposed to written law. There is a general rubric placed in the Book of Common Prayer before the first Lord's Prayer. It runs as follows: "Then the minister shall kneel and say the Lord's Prayer with an audible voice; the people also kneeling and repeating it with him, both here, and wheresoever else it is used in Divine Service." This rubric plainly prescribes that clergy and people shall always say the Lord's Prayer conjointly. And yet, let my readers go into any church of the Anglican Communion on Sunday next, I care not what the tone of its theological thought, and observe the first Lord's Prayer used at the beginning of the Communion Service. They will find that this general rubric is universally neglected, and the celebrating priest says the opening Lord's Prayer by himself with no voice of the people raised to accompany him. Now whence comes this universal fact? It is simply an illustration of the strength of tradition. It is a survival of the practice before the Reformation handed down by tradition to the present time, and over-riding a positive and written law. In336 the days before the Reformation, as in the Roman Catholic Church of the present day, the opening Dominical or Lord's Prayer in the Mass was said by the priest alone. When the service was translated into English the old custom still prevailed, and has lasted to the present day.183183   See Procter on the Common Prayer, p. 212; Canon Evan Daniel on the Prayer Book, pp. 87 and 300. This was only human nature, which abhors unnecessary changes, and is intensely conservative of every practice which is linked with the fond memories of the past. This human nature was found strong in St. Paul, as in other men, and it would have argued no moral or spiritual weakness, no desire to play fast and loose with gospel liberties, had he, instead of Aquila, resorted to the old Jewish practice and bound himself by a vow in connexion with some special blessing which he had received, or some special danger he had incurred. When we are studying the Acts we must never forget that Judaism gave the tone and form, the whole outer framework to Christianity, even as England gave the outward shape and form to the constitutions of the United States and her own numberless colonies throughout the world. St. Paul did not invent a brand new religion, as some people think; he changed as little as possible, so that his own practice and worship must have been to mere pagan eyes exactly the same as that of the Jews, as indeed we might conclude beforehand from the fact that the Roman authorities seem to have viewed the Christians as a mere Jewish sect down to the close of the second century.184184   See on this subject of the confusion of Christianity with Judaism by the Romans, Wieseler's Die Christenverfolgungen der Cäsaren, pp. 1-10.


I. Let us now take a rapid survey of the extensive journey which our book disposes of in very concise fashion. St. Paul and his companions, Aquila and Priscilla, Timothy and Silas, sailed from Cenchreæ to Ephesus, which city up to this seems to have been untouched by Christian influences. St. Paul, in the earlier portion of his second tour, had been prohibited by the Holy Spirit from preaching in Ephesus, or in any portion of the provinces of Asia or Bithynia. Important as the human eye of St. Paul may have viewed them, still the Divine Guide of the Church saw that neither Asia nor Bithynia, with all their magnificent cities, their accumulated wealth, and their political position, were half so important as the cities and provinces of Europe, viewed from the standpoint of the world's conversion. But now the gospel has secured a substantial foothold in Europe, has taken a firm grasp of that imperial race which then ruled the world, and so the Apostle is permitted to visit Ephesus for the first time. He seems to have then paid a mere passing visit to it, lasting perhaps while the ship discharged the portion of her cargo destined for Ephesus. But St. Paul never allowed time to hang heavy on his hands for want of employment. He left Aquila and Priscilla engaged in their mercantile transactions, and, entering himself into the principal synagogue, proceeded to expound his views. These do not seem to have then aroused any opposition; nay, the Jews even went so far as to desire him to tarry longer and open out his doctrines at greater length. We may conclude from this that St. Paul did not remain during this first visit much beyond one Sabbath day. If he had bestowed a second Sabbath day upon the Ephesian synagogue, his ideas and doctrines would have been338 made so clear and manifest that the Jews would not have required much further exposition in order to see their drift. St. Paul, after promising a second visit to them, left his old friends and associates, Aquila and his wife, with whom he had lived for nearly two years, at Ephesus, and pushed on to Cæsarea, a town which he must have already well known, and with which he was subsequently destined to make a long and unpleasant acquaintanceship, arriving at Jerusalem in time probably for the Feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated on September 16th, A.D. 53. Concerning the details of that visit we know nothing. Four years at least must have elapsed since he had seen James and the other venerated heads of the Mother Church. We can imagine then how joyously he would have told them, how eagerly they would have heard the glad story of the wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles through the power of Jesus Christ. After a short sojourn at Jerusalem St. Paul returned back to Cæsarea, and thence went on to Antioch, the original seat of the Gentile mission for the propagation of the faith. After refreshing himself with the kindly offices of fraternal intercourse and conversation at this great Christian centre, where broad liberal sentiment and wide Christian culture, free from any narrow prejudices, must have infused a tone into society far more agreeable to St. Paul than the unprogressive Judaising views which flourished in Jerusalem, St. Paul then determined to set off upon his third great tour, which must have begun at the earliest some time in the spring of A.D. 54, as soon as the snows of winter had passed away and the passes through the Taurus Range into the central regions of Asia Minor had been opened. We know nothing more concerning the extended339 journey he took on this occasion. He seems to have avoided towns like Lystra and Derbe, and to have directed his march straight to Galatia, where he had sufficient work to engage all his thought. We have no mention of the names of the particular Churches where he laboured. Ancyra, as it was then called, Angora as it is now named, in all probability demanded St. Paul's attention. If he visited it, he looked as the traveller does still upon the temple dedicated to the deity of Augustus and of Rome, the ruins of which have attracted the notice of every modern antiquary. Glad, however, as we should have been to gratify our curiosity by details like these, we are obliged to content ourselves with the information which St. Luke gives us, that St. Paul "went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, in order, stablishing all the disciples," leaving us a speaking example of the energising power, the invigorating effects, of a visitation such as St. Paul now conducted, sustaining the weak, arousing the careless, restraining the rash, guiding the whole body of the Church with the counsels of sanctified wisdom and heavenly prudence. Then, after his Phrygian and Galatian work was finished, St. Paul betook himself to a field which he long since desired to occupy, and determined to fulfil the promise made a year previously at least to his Jewish friends of the Ephesian Synagogue.

II. Now we come to the foundation of the Ephesian Church some time in the latter part of the year 54 A.D. Here it may strike some reader as an extraordinary thing that more than twenty years after the Crucifixion Ephesus was as yet totally untouched by the gospel, so that the tidings of salvation were quite a novel sound in the great Asiatic capital. People sometimes340 think of the primitive Church as if, after the Day of Pentecost, every individual Christian rushed off to preach in the most distant parts of the world, and that the whole earth was evangelised straight off. They forget the teaching of Christ about the gospel leaven, and leaven never works all on an heap as it were; it is slow, regular, progressive in its operations. The tradition, too, that the apostles did not leave Jerusalem till twelve years after His ascension ought to be a sufficient corrective of this false notion; and though this tradition may not have any considerable historical basis, yet it shows that the primitive Church did not cherish the very modern idea that enormous and immediate successes followed upon the preaching of the gospel after Pentecost, and that the conversion of vast populations at once occurred. The case was exactly contrary. For many a long year nothing at all was done towards the conversion of the Gentile world, and then for many another long year the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles entirely depended upon St. Paul alone. He was the one evangelist of the Gentiles, and therefore it is no wonder he should have said in 1 Cor. i. 17, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." He was the one man fitted to deal with the prejudices, the ignorance, the sensuality, the grossness with which the Gentile world was overspread, and therefore no other work, no matter how important, was to be allowed to interfere with that one task which he alone could perform. This seems to me the explanation of the question which might otherwise cause some difficulty, how was it that the Ephesians, Jews and Gentiles alike, inhabiting this distinguished city, were still in such dire ignorance of the gospel message341 twenty years after the Ascension? Now let us come to the story of the circumstances amid which Ephesian Christianity took its rise. St. Paul, as we have already said, paid a passing visit to Ephesus just a year before when going up to Jerusalem, when he seems to have made a considerable impression in the synagogue. He left behind him Aquila and Priscilla, who, with their household, formed a small Christian congregation, meeting doubtless for the celebration of the Lord's Supper in their own house while yet frequenting the stated worship of the synagogue. This we conclude from the following circumstance which is expressly mentioned in Acts xviii. 26. Apollos, a Jew, born in Alexandria, and a learned man, as was natural coming from that great centre of Greek and Oriental culture, came to Ephesus. He had been baptized by some of John's disciples, either at Alexandria or in Palestine. It may very possibly have been at Alexandria. St. John's doctrines and followers may have spread to Alexandria by that time, as we are expressly informed they had been diffused as far as Ephesus (see ch. xix. 1-4). Apollos, when he came to Ephesus, entered, like St. Paul, into the synagogue, and "spake and taught carefully the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John." He knew about Jesus Christ, but with an imperfect knowledge such merely as John himself possessed. This man began to speak boldly in the synagogue on the topic of the Messiah whom John had preached. Aquila and Priscilla were present in the synagogue, heard the disputant, recognised his earnestness and his defects, and then, having taken him, expounded to him the way of God more fully, initiating him into the full mysteries of the faith by baptism into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy342 Ghost.185185   Meyer, in his Commentary on ch. xix. 5, enunciates the following extraordinary theory about Apollos, which plainly shows that, valuable as may be his textual criticism, his conception of Christian doctrine and of Apostolic Church life is very defective: "We may not infer from this passage that the disciples of John, who passed over to Christianity, were uniformly re-baptized; for in the case of the apostles who passed over from John to Jesus this certainly did not take place; and even as regards Apollos the common opinion that he was baptized by Aquila is purely arbitrary, as in xviii. 26 his instruction in Christianity, and not his baptism, is narrated." Again: "Apollos could dispense with re-baptism, seeing that he, with his fervid spirit, following the references of John to Christ, and the instruction of his teachers, penetrated without any new baptismal consecration into the pneumatic elements of life." Meyer evidently fails to grasp what the sacrament of baptism was, as conceived by St. Paul, and uses the most dangerous line of argument, that from silence, concluding that, because there is no mention of the Christian baptism of Apollos, therefore such a baptism never took place. But this is not all. Meyer's theory cannot possibly explain why baptism was necessary for Cornelius, though he enjoyed the gift of the Holy Ghost, while it was not necessary for Apollos, "who penetrated without any new baptismal consecration into the pneumatic element of life." Meyer says, indeed, that in the whole New Testament there is no example except in xix. 1-5 of the re-baptism of a disciple of John. But then in the Acts and Epistles, where alone we read of the administration of Christian baptism, there are only two examples of the admission of John's disciples. In one case twelve such were admitted, and they were all baptized by Paul's own order. In the case of Apollos there is silence. Surely the sounder conclusion is that Christian baptism was administered there too, though nothing is said about it! As for the apostles not being baptized with Christian baptism, the explanation is not far to seek. Baptism is the reception of a disciple into covenant with Christ through the medium of water. In the case of the apostles this reception took place in person, and not through any medium. In the apostles' case, too, there is another consideration. Meyer's conclusion is simply one e silentio even in their case. We know not, however, everything that Christ did as regards His apostles. This incident has an important bearing upon the foundation and development of the Ephesian Church, but it hears more directly still upon the point on which we have been dwelling. Apollos disputed in the synagogues where Aquila and Priscilla heard him, so that343 they must have been regular worshippers there notwithstanding their Christian profession and their close intercourse with St. Paul for more than eighteen months. After a little time further, Apollos desired to pass over to Greece. The little Christian Church which met at Aquila's house told him of the wonders they had seen and heard in Achaia and of the flourishing state of the Church in Corinth. They gave him letters commendatory to that Church, whither Apollos passed over, and rendered such valuable help that his name a year or two later became one of the watchwords of Corinthian party strife. The way was now prepared for St. Paul's great mission to Ephesus, exceeding in length any mission he had hitherto conducted, surpassing in its duration of three years the time spent even at Corinth itself. His own brief visit of the year before, the visit and work of the Alexandrian Jew, the quiet conversations, the holy lives, the sanctified examples of Aquila and Priscilla, these had done the preliminary work. They had roused expectation, provoked discussion, developed thought. Everything was ready for the great masterful teacher to step upon the ground and complete the work which he had already so auspiciously begun.

I do not propose to discuss the roads by which St. Paul may have travelled through the province of Asia on this eventful visit, nor to discuss the architectural features, or the geographical position of the city of Ephesus. These things I shall leave to the writers who have treated of St. Paul's life. I now confine myself to the notices inserted by St. Luke concerning the Apostle's Ephesian work, and about it I note that upon his arrival St. Paul came in contact with a small congregation of the disciples of John the344 Baptist,186186   The movement instituted by St. John the Baptist was perpetuated into the second century, and in some measure developed into, or connected itself with, the sect subsequently called the Hemerobaptists. The history of this movement from apostolic days is elaborately traced by Bishop Lightfoot in his Essay on the Essenes, contained in his Colossians and Philemon; see especially pp. 400-407, to which we must refer the reader desirous of more information. The Hemerobaptists are mentioned in the Clementine Recognitions, i. 54, the Clementine Homilies, ii. 23, which date from about 200 A.D., and in the Apostolic Constitutions, vi. 6, which may be put down as a century later. This shows the continuity of the sect. There are still some fragments of it existing in Babylonia, under the name of Mandeans: see further the article "Sabians" in Smith's Dict. Christ. Biog., iv. 569-73. who had hitherto escaped the notice of the small Church existing at Ephesus. This need not excite our wonder. We are apt to think that because Christianity is now such a dominant element in our own intellectual and religious atmosphere it must always have been the same. Ephesus, too, was then an immense city, with a large population of Jews, who may have had many synagogues. These few disciples of John the Baptist may have worshipped in a synagogue which never heard of the brief visit of a Cilician Jew, a teacher named Saul of Tarsus, much less of the quiet efforts of Aquila and Priscilla, the tentmakers, lately come from Corinth. St. Paul, on his second visit, soon came in contact with these men. He at once asked them a question which tested their position and attainments in the Divine life, and sheds for us a vivid light upon apostolic doctrine and practice. "Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?" is plainly an inquiry whether they had enjoyed the blessing connected with the solemn imposition of hands, from which has been derived the rite of confirmation, as I showed in the previous volume. The disciples soon revealed the imperfect character of their religion by their reply:345 "Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Ghost was," words which led St. Paul to demand what in that case was the nature of their baptism. "Into what then were ye baptized?" and they said, "Into John's baptism."

Now the simple explanation of the disciples' ignorance was that they had been baptized with John's baptism, which had no reference to or mention of the Holy Ghost. St. Paul, understanding them to be baptized disciples, could not understand their ignorance of the personal existence and present power of the Holy Ghost, till he learned from them the nature of their baptism, and then his surprise ceased. But then we must observe that the question of the Apostle astonished at their defective state—"Into what then were ye baptized?"—implies that, if baptized with Christian baptism, they would have known of the existence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore further implies that the baptismal formula into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, was of universal application among Christians; for surely if this formula were not universally used by the Church, many Christians might be in exactly the same position as these disciples of John, and never have heard of the Holy Ghost!187187   See my remarks on this topic on pp. 141, 142 of my first volume on Acts. St. Paul, having expounded the difference between the inchoate, imperfect, beginning knowledge, of the Baptist, and the richer, fuller teaching of Jesus Christ, then handed them over for further preparation to his assistants, by whom, after due fasting and prayer, they were baptized,188188   See the Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, concerning the methods used in preparation for baptism. and at once presented to the Apostle for the imposition346 of hands; when the Holy Ghost was vouchsafed in present effects, "they spake with tongues and prophesied," as if to sanction in a special manner the decided action taken by the Apostle on this occasion.

The details concerning this affair, given to us by the sacred writer, are most important. They set forth at greater length and with larger fulness the methods ordinarily used by the Apostle than on other similar occasions. The Philippian jailor was converted and baptized, but we read nothing of the imposition of hands. Dionysius and Damaris, Aquila and Priscilla, and many others at Athens and Corinth, were converted, but there is no mention of either baptism or any other holy rite. It might have been very possible to argue that the silence of the writer implied utter contempt of the sacraments of the gospel and the rite of confirmation on these occasions, were it not that we have this detailed account of the manner in which St. Paul dealt with half-instructed, unbaptized, and unconfirmed disciples of Christ Jesus. They were instructed, baptized, and confirmed, and thus introduced into the fulness of blessing, required by the discipline of the Lord, as ministered by his faithful servant. If this were the routine observed with those who had been taught "carefully the things of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John," how much more would it have been the case with those rescued out of the pollutions of paganism and called into the kingdom of light!

III. After this favourable beginning, and seeing the borders of the infant Church extended by the union of these twelve disciples, St. Paul, after his usual fashion, flung himself into work amongst the Jews of Ephesus upon whom he had previously made a favourable impression. He was well received for a time. He continued347 for three months "reasoning and persuading as to the things concerning the kingdom of God." But, as it was elsewhere, so was it at Ephesus, the offence of the Cross told in the long run upon the worshippers of the synagogue. The original Christian Church was Jewish. Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos and Timothy, and the disciples of John the Baptist would have excited no resentment in the minds of the Jews; but when St. Paul began to open out the hope which lay for Gentiles as well as for Jews in the gospel which he preached, then the objections of the synagogue were multiplied, riots and disturbances became, as elsewhere, matters of daily occurrence, and the opposition became at last so bitter that, as at Corinth, so here again at Ephesus the Apostle was obliged to separate his own followers, and gather them into the school of one Tyrannus, a teacher of philosophy or rhetoric, whom perhaps he had converted, where the blasphemous denunciations against the Divine Way which he taught could no longer be heard.189189   See pp. 32, 33 above for some remarks on this title, the Way, used in the Acts for the Gospel Dispensation or the Christian Church. Cf. also ch. ix. 2, xix. 23, xxii. 4, xxiv. 14, and the expression the Way of Life in the Didache. In this school or lecture-hall St. Paul continued labouring for more than two years, bestowing upon the city of Ephesus a longer period of continuous labour than he ever vouchsafed to any place else. We have St. Paul's own statement as to his method of life at this period in the address he subsequently delivered to the elders of Ephesus. The Apostle pursued at Ephesus the same course which he adopted at Corinth in one important direction at least. He supported himself and his immediate companions, Timothy and Sosthenes, by his own labour, and that we may presume for precisely the348 same reason at Ephesus as at Corinth. He desired to cut off all occasion of accusation against himself. Ephesus was a city devoted to commerce and to magic. It was full of impostors too, many of them Jewish, who made gain out of the names of angels and magical formulæ derived from the pretended wisdom of Solomon handed down to them by secret succession, or derived to them from contact with the lands of the far-distant East. St. Paul determined, therefore, that he would give no opportunity of charging him with trading upon the credulity of his followers, or working with an eye to covetous or dishonest gains. "I coveted no man's silver or gold or apparel. Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me," is the description he gave of the manner in which he discharged his apostolic office in Ephesus, when addressing the elders of that city. We can thus trace St. Paul labouring at his trade as a tentmaker for nearly a period of five years, combining the time spent at Ephesus with that spent at Corinth. Notwithstanding, however, the attention and energy which this exercise of his trade demanded, he found time for enormous evangelistic and pastoral work. In fact, we find St. Paul nowhere else so much occupied with pastoral work as at Ephesus. Elsewhere we see the devoted evangelist, rushing in with the pioneers, breaking down all hindrances, heading the stormers to whom was committed the fiercest struggle, the most deadly conflict, and then at once moving into fresh conflicts, leaving the spoils of victory and the calmer work of peaceful pastoral labours to others. But here in Ephesus we see St. Paul's marvellous power of adaptation. He is at one hour a clever artisan capable of gaining support sufficient for others as well349 as for himself; then he is the skilful controversialist "reasoning daily in the school of one Tyrannus"; and then he is the indefatigable pastor of souls "teaching publicly, and from house to house," and "ceasing not to admonish every one night and day with tears."

But this was not all, or nearly all, the burden the Apostle carried. He had to be perpetually on the alert against Jewish plots. We hear nothing directly of Jewish attempts on his life or liberty during the period of just three years which he spent on this prolonged visit. We might be sure, however, from our previous experience of the synagogues, that he must have run no small danger in this direction; but then when we turn to the same address we hear something of them. He is recalling to the minds of the Ephesian elders the circumstances of his life in their community from the beginning, and he therefore appeals thus: "Ye yourselves know from the first day that I set foot in Asia, after what manner I was with you all the time, serving the Lord with all lowliness of mind, and with tears, and with trials which befell me with plots of the Jews." Ephesus again was a great field wherein he personally worked; it was also a great centre for missionary operations which he superintended. It was the capital of the province of Asia, the richest and most important of all the Roman provinces, teeming with resources, abounding in highly civilised and populous cities, connected with one another by an elaborate network of admirably constructed roads. Ephesus was cut out by nature and by art alike as a missionary centre whence the gospel should radiate out into all the surrounding districts. And so it did. "All they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks," is the testimony of St. Luke with respect to350 the wondrous progress of the gospel, not in Ephesus alone, but also throughout all the province, a statement which we find corroborated a little lower down in the same nineteenth chapter by the independent testimony of Demetrius the silversmith, who, when he was endeavouring to stir up his fellow-craftsmen to active exertions in defence of their endangered trade, says, "Ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people." St. Paul's disciples laboured, too, in the other cities of Asia, as Epaphras for instance in Colossæ. And St. Paul himself, we may be certain, bestowed the gifts and blessings of his apostolic office by visiting these local Churches, as far as he could consistently with the pressing character of his engagements in Ephesus.190190   Bishop Lightfoot, Colossians, Introd., p. 30, has some good remarks bearing on this topic: "How or when the conversion of the Colossians took place we have no direct information. Yet it can hardly be wrong to connect the event with St. Paul's long sojourn at Ephesus. Here he remained preaching for three whole years. It is possible, indeed, that during this period he paid short visits to other neighbouring cities of Asia; but if so, the notices in the Acts oblige us to suppose these interruptions to his residence in Ephesus to have been slight and infrequent. Yet, though the Apostle himself was stationary in the capital, the Apostolic influence and teaching spread far beyond the limits of the city and its immediate neighbourhood. It was hardly an exaggeration when Demetrius declared that 'almost throughout all Asia this Paul had persuaded and turned away much people.' The sacred historian himself uses equally strong language in describing the effects of the Apostle's preaching: 'All they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.' In accordance with these notices the Apostle himself, in an Epistle written during this sojourn, sends salutations to Corinth, not from the Church of Ephesus specially, as might have been anticipated, but from the 'Churches of Asia' generally (1 Cor. xvi. 19). St. Luke, it should be observed, ascribes this dissemination of the gospel not to journeys undertaken by the Apostle, but to his preaching at Ephesus itself. Thither, as to the metropolis of Western Asia, would flock crowds from all the towns and villages far and near. Thence they would carry away, each to his own neighbourhood, the spiritual treasure which they had so unexpectedly found." But even the superintendence of vast missions throughout the province of Asia did not exhaust the prodigious labours of St. Paul. He perpetually bore about in his bosom anxious thoughts for the welfare, trials, and sorrows of the numerous Churches he had established in Europe and Asia alike. He was constant in prayers for them, mentioning the individual members by name, and he351 was unwearied in keeping up communications with them, either by verbal messages or by written epistles, one specimen of which remains in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, written to them from Ephesus, and showing us the minute care, the comprehensive interest, the intense sympathy which dwelt within his breast with regard to his distant converts all the while that the work at Ephesus, controversial, evangelistic and pastoral, to say nothing at all of his tentmaking, was making the most tremendous demands on body and soul alike, and apparently absorbing all his attention. It is only when we thus realise bit by bit what the weak, delicate, emaciated Apostle must have been doing, that we are able to grasp the full meaning of his own words to the Corinthians: "Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the Churches."

This lengthened period of intense activity of mind and body terminated in an incident which illustrates the peculiar character of St. Paul's Ephesian ministry. Ephesus was a town where the spiritual and moral atmosphere simply reeked with the fumes, ideas, and practices of Oriental paganism, of which magical incantations352 formed the predominant feature. Magic prevailed all over the pagan world at this time. In Rome, however, magical practices were always more or less under the ban of public opinion, though at times resorted to even by those whose office called upon them to suppress illegal actions. A couple of years before the very time at which we have arrived, workers in magic, among whom were included astrologers, or mathematicians, as the Roman law called them, were banished from Rome simultaneously with the Jews, who always enjoyed an unenviable notoriety for such occult practices.191191   I allude, of course, to the decree of Claudius against the Jews in A.D. 52, to which Suetonius (Claudius, 25) and Dio Cassius, lx. 6, refer; cf. Tacitus, Annals, xii. 52, and Lewin's Fasti Sacri, A.D. 52. In Asia Minor and the East they flourished at this time under the patronage of religion, and continued to flourish in all the great cities down to Christian times. Christianity itself could not wholly banish magic which retained its hold upon the half-converted Christians who flocked into the Church in crowds during the second half of the fourth century; and we learn from St. Chrysostom himself, that when a young man he had a narrow escape for his life owing to the continuance of magical practices in Antioch, more than three hundred years after St. Paul.192192   The story is an interesting one. It will be found in Stephens' Life of St. Chrysostom, p. 61. The Emperor Valens had discovered that some of his enemies had been endeavouring, through magical contrivances something like table-rapping, to spell out the name of his successor, and had succeeded so far that they had found out the first part of the name as Theod, but the oracle could tell nothing more. The jealous Emperor ordered every prominent man with the names Theodore or Theodosius to be slain, vainly thinking to kill his own successor. He also ordered every one found with magical books in their possession to be at once slain. Chrysostom and a friend were walking in A.D. 374 on the banks of the Orontes when they saw a book floating down the stream. They stretched forth and rescued it, when, seeing that it was a magical book, they at once flung it back into the river, and not a moment too soon, as just then a police officer on detective duty appeared on the scene, from whom a moment earlier they could not have escaped. St. Chrysostom always regarded this as one of the great escapes of his life: see Art. "Chrysostom" in Dict. Christ. Biog., vol. i., p. 520, and his own reference to the escape in his 38th Homily on the Acts, translated in the Oxford Library of the Fathers. Mr. Stephens, l.c., gives an account of the magical rites and their ceremonial, which was doubtless much the same in A.D. 374 as in A.D. 54, whence we take a brief extract: "The twenty-four letters of the alphabet were arranged at intervals round the rim of a kind of charger, which was placed on a tripod consecrated by magic songs and frequent ceremonies. The diviner, habited as a heathen priest, in linen robes, sandals, and with a fillet wreathed about his head, chanted a hymn to Apollo, the god of prophecy, while a ring in the centre of the charger was slipped rapidly round a slender thread. The letters in front of which the ring successively stopped indicated the character of the oracle." It is no wonder that when Diana's worship353 reigned supreme at Ephesus, magical practices should also flourish there. If, however, there existed a special development of the power of evil at Ephesus, God also bestowed a special manifestation of Divine power in the person and ministry of St. Paul, as St. Luke expressly declares: "God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, insomuch that unto the sick were carried away from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits departed from them." This passage has been often found a stumbling-block by many persons. They have thought that it has a certain legendary air about it, as they in turn think that there is a certain air of legend about the similar passage in Acts v. 12-16, which makes much the same statement about St. Peter. When writing about this latter passage in my previous volume, p. 230, I offered some suggestions which lessen, if they354 do not quite take away, the difficulty; to these I shall now only refer my readers. But I think we can see a local reason for the peculiar development or manifestation of miraculous power through St. Paul. The devil's seat was just then specially at Ephesus, so far as the great province of Asia was concerned. The powers of evil had concentrated all their force and all their wealth of external grandeur, intellectual cleverness, and spiritual trickery in order to lead men captive; and there God, in order that He might secure a more striking victory for truth upon this magnificent stage, armed His faithful servant with an extraordinary development of the good powers of the world to come, enabling him to work special wonders in the sight of the heathen. Can we not read an echo of the fearful struggle just then waged in the metropolis of Asia in words addressed some years later to the members of the same Church, "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places"? We make a great mistake when we think of the apostles as working miracles when and as they liked. At times their evangelistic work seems to have been conducted without any extraordinary manifestations, and then at other times, when the power of Satan was specially put forth, God displayed His special strength, enabling His servants to work wonders and signs in His Name. It was much the same as in the Old Testament. The Old Testament miracles will be found to cluster themselves round the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and its Reformation at the hand of Elijah. So, too, the recorded miracles of the apostles will be found to gather round St. Peter's earlier work in Jerusalem,355 where Satan strove to counter-work God's designs in one way, and St. Paul's ministry in Ephesus, where Satan strove to counter-work them in another way. One incident at Ephesus attracted special attention. There was a priestly family, consisting of seven sons, belonging to the Jews at Ephesus. Their father had occupied high position among the various courses which in turn served the Temple, even as Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, did. These men observed the power with which St. Paul dealt with human spirits disordered by the powers of evil, using for that purpose the sacred name of Jesus. They undertook to use the same sacred invocation; but it proved, like the censers of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, a strange fire kindled against their own souls. The man possessed by the evil spirit recognised not their presumptuous efforts, but attacked them, and did them serious bodily injury. This circumstance spread the fame of the man of God wider and wider. The power of magic and of the demons fell before him, even as the image of Dagon fell before the Ark. Many of the nominal believers in Christianity had still retained their magical practices as of yore, even as nominal Christians retained them in the days of St. Chrysostom. The reality of St. Paul's power, demonstrated by the awful example of Sceva's sons, smote them in their inmost conscience. They came, confessed their deeds, brought their magical books together,193193   The magical books thus consigned to the flames by the Christian believers who practised magic were filled with figures or characters technically called "Ephesian letters," Γράμματα Ἐφέσια. These were mystic characters and strange words which were engraven on the crown, zone, and feet of the goddess. Clement of Alexandria discusses their use, and says the Greeks were greatly addicted to them, in his Stromata, v. 8, as translated in Clement's works, vol. ii., p. 247, in Clark's Ante-Nicene Library. The same use of curious mystic words passed over to the Manichæans and other secret sects of mediæval times. See also Guhl's Ephesiaca, p. 94 (Berlin, 1843), where all the authorities on this curious subject are collected together. Conybeare and Howson, ch. xiv., give them from Guhl in a handy shape. Great quantities of these "Ephesian letters" have been found among the Fayûm Manuscripts discovered in Egypt, which almost universally make a large use of the name Iao or Jehovah, showing their contact with Judaism. and gave the greatest proof of their356 honest convictions; for they burned them in the sight of all, and counting the price thereof found it fifty thousand pieces of silver, or more than two thousand pounds of our money. "So mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed" in the very chosen seat of the Ephesian Diana.

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