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Ephesus: A Church in Decline John M. Nielson The Life Cycle of the Church at Ephesuswith “The Church as a Social Institution” Social Institution” by.

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Presentation on theme: "Ephesus: A Church in Decline John M. Nielson The Life Cycle of the Church at Ephesuswith “The Church as a Social Institution” Social Institution” by."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Ephesus: A Church in Decline John M. Nielson

3 The Life Cycle of the Church at Ephesuswith “The Church as a Social Institution” Social Institution” by David O. Moberg

4 Pre-suppositions 1. Paul is the Author of Ephesians – which was addressed to that city or included it. 2. Apostle John wrote 1 st John and it reflects his teaching as pastor of that church. 3. Revelation is written by the Apostle John and is the product of Divine revelation.

5 5 Paul Journey 3

6 6 Seven Churches of Asia

7 7 Ephesus

8 Significant Passages 1. Acts 18:18-26 – The Church Founded 2. Acts 19:1-20:1 – Paul’s Ministry in Ephesus 3. Acts 20:17-36 - Paul’s Farewell Message 4. The Epistle to the Ephesians – Paul to Ephesians 5. I Timothy – Paul to Pastor at Ephesus (note 1:3-11 6. The Epistle of First John – John as Pastor (?) 7. Revelation 2:1-7 – Jesus to Ephesians 7

9 The Word of God (Rev. 2:1-6 NIV)

10 The Word of God (Rev. 2:1-6 NIV)

11 The Word of God (Rev. 2:1-6 NIV)

12 The Word of God (Rev. 2:1-6 NIV)

13 Advantages of Ephesus 1. Strategic Location 2. Participants in Miracle 3. Great Pastors 4. Great beginnings, tradition, & heritage 5. Victorious in conflict 6. Powerful presence of H.S. 7. Balanced congregation 7

14 Commendations by Christ 1. I know your deeds. (v. 2) 2. I know your hard work. (v. 2) 3. I know your perseverance. (v. 2) 4. I know you cannot tolerate evil men. (v. 2) 5. I know you have rejected false teachers. (v. 2) 6. I know you have endured hardship. (v. 3) 7. I know you have not grown weary. (v. 3) 7 Based on G. Campbell Morgan

15 Commendations by Christ 1. Good Works 2. Hard Effort (that produces good works) 3. Persistence (in that effort) 4. Pure ethics 5. Pure doctrine 6. Faithful in persecution 7. Not weary (great strength) 7 NOT BAD!

16 “But I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love.”

17 The Meaning of First Love Question: Is “First Love” a matter of chronology, or quantity, or quality, or priority? Moffat: “You have given up loving one another as you did at first.” Weymouth: “You no longer love me as you did at first.” G. Campbell Morgan: “First Love is the love of espousal and marriage – Romance, Excitement, Commitment. He points to Ephesians 5) Was their First Love Jesus... & have they lost Him?

18 The Meaning of First Love Hugh Martin: “It is a matter of “cooling off.” (The Seven Letters) W. M. Ramsay: First love is enthusiasm. The “Tree of Life” comes from Hellenistic sacred trees. “Removal” means the church building would be moved. A “mild” denunciation because loss of enthusiasm is natural and easily rectified. Ignatius of Antioch proves the recovery of Ephesus. (Letters to the 7 Churches of Asia)

19 Results of “Lost” Love 1. It means a fall from a great height. (v. 5) 2. It demands repentance. (v. 5) 3. It demands return to first works. (v. 5) 4. It means loss of Christ & His presence. (v. 5) 5. It means death of the Church 6. It means the loss of heaven. (v. 7) 7. It opens them to other sin(s) (implied) (love fulfills the law) 7

20 Reasons for “Lost” Love 1.Loss of Faith, Love, and Hope from our Work, Labor, Endurance (see I Th. 1:3) (BBC) 7

21 We remember... your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3) I know your works, your labor your endurance. (same words in Greek) (Revelation 2:2)

22 Reasons for “Lost” Love 1. Loss of Faith, Love, and Hope from our Work, Labor, Endurance (see I Th. 1:3) 7 2. Intolerance for evil can become legalism that kills love. 3. Busy-ness with good works may crowd out the time for love. 4. Protecting the doctrine can lead to rigidity that stifles love. 5. Being so commendable can lead to self-sufficiency so we don't depend on God & His love. 6. Beginning to lose love allows the evils of society to re-infect the church. 7. It’s a natural process.

23 Challenges to the Church at Ephesus Acts 20:13-38 1.Guard yourself and the flock (28) 2.Be Shepherds (28) 3.Beware of wolves from without (30) 4.By hard work, seek to help the weak (35) 5.Be givers (35)

24 Challenges to the Church at Ephesus I Timothy 1:3-11 1.Beware false doctrines & controversies (3-4) 2.The goal of this command is love (5) 3.Love flows from A.a pure heart B.a good conscience C.a sincere faith (5) 4.The importance of morality (8-11) 5.Instructions regarding overseers & deacons (ff)

25 Challenges to the Church at Ephesus Epistle to the Ephesians 1.Commended for their love for the saints (1:15) 2.Unity is found in Christ (Implied love?) (2:11-18) 3.Paul’s prayer for them is built around love (3:14-21) 4.They are to speak the truth in love (4:15) 5.Live a life of love patterned after Christ (5:2) 6.Warned about immorality (5:3ff) 7.Challenged regarding love in the home that is seen as a reflection of the love of Christ for the church.

26 Challenges to the Church at Ephesus Epistle of First John 1.Key themes are obedience and love that are constantly seen as inter-related. 2.The word for “love” is always “agape” 3.God’s love is made complete in us by obedience (2:5) 4.Living in Light means loving your brother (2:10, 4:19-21) 5.Lack of love leads to stumbling (2:10-11) 6.Love for the world is incompatible with love for the Father (2:15)

27 Challenges to the Church at Ephesus Epistle of First John 7.God’s love for us is lavish (3:1) 8.Love for the Brethren confirms that we are God’s children (3:10, 14; 4:7-12) 9.Love’s definition is: A.Christ’s sacrifice (3:16 B.God’s love for us (4:10) C.God Himself (His character/essence) 4:16 D.Obedience to God (5:3)

28 Challenges to the Church at Ephesus Epistle of First John 10.Love’s words must be exceeded by love’s actions (3:18) 11.Love removes the fear of judgment (4:17, 18) 12.There is double warning in 2:18-27 regarding doctrine and love. According to tradition, John’s greeting was... “Little Children, Love One Another!”

29 1. Stage of Incipient Organization A. Dissatisfaction with existing churches B. Collective excitement C. Charismatic, authoritarian, prophetic leaders D. Sometimes hard to designate a founder Moberg

30 A. Formal membership B. Separation from parent group C. Membership goals D. Seeks the perfection of society & individuals E. Creed protects orthodoxy F. Slogans that emphasize group's distinctives G. Distinctive code of behavior H. Differences draw persecution Moberg 2. Period of Formal Organization

31 A. Leadership is less emotional - more statesmanly B. Rational organization replace charismatic leadership C. Historians & apologists emerge with “propaganda” D. Intellectuals repelled by earlier emotionalism are drawn in E. Moves from a despised sect to near- equality with recognized organizations Moberg 3. Stage of Maximum Efficiency

32 F. Hostility toward others diminishes G. First generation of converts has mostly died H. Development of committees & boards I.Rituals and procedures are seen as means, not ends J. Rapid, but uneven growth with periods of integrating new members K. Incomplete integration gives rise to internal dissension Moberg 3. Stage of Maximum Efficiency

33 A. Formalism saps group's vitality B. Bureaucracy concerned with perpetuating its own interests not original theological distinctives C. Administration centers in self- perpetuating boards D. Those in authority talk one thing and practice another E. Mechanism of structure becomes an end in itself F. Creeds become venerated relics Moberg 4. The Institutional Stage

34 G. Organized worship becomes a ritual, empty formality H. Symbolism replaces internal, personal devotion J. Conflict with the outside world is replaced with toleration K. Membership standards relaxed to gain respectable members L. Feelings of intimacy decline Moberg 4. The Institutional Stage

35 M.Membership becomes passive and remote from leadership N. Activities once considered secular now become major attractions O. Institution becomes the master, not the servant P. Sermons become topical lectures, not fervent discourses on sin, salvation, and doctrine Moberg 4. The Institutional Stage

36 A. Formalism, indifference, obsolescence, absolutism, red tape, patronage, corruption B. Loss of confidence in leadership C. Many withdraw to new sects D. Support becomes nominal and half-hearted E. Futile attempts at restoration by a few Moberg 5. Over-institutionalism Leads to Disintegration & Death

37 Historical Observations 7 1. Ephesus seems to have succumbed to the processes outlined by Moberg. (See Revelation)

38 Historical Observations 7 1. Ephesus seems to have succumbed to the processes outlined by Moberg. (See Revelation) 2. Evidence for that is found in the Letter of Ignatius of Antioch.

39 Historical Observations 7 1. Ephesus seems to have succumbed to the processes outlined by Moberg. (See Revelation) 2. Evidence for that is found in the Letter of Ignatius of Antioch. 3. Ephesus became center of Montanism.

40 Historical Observations 7 1. Ephesus seems to have succumbed to the processes outlined by Moberg. (See Revelation) 2. Evidence for that is found in the Letter of Ignatius of Antioch 3. Ephesus became center of Montanism. 4. Ephesus became center of Gnosticism

41 Historical Observations 7 1. Ephesus seems to have succumbed to the processes outlined by Moberg. (See Revelation) 2. Evidence for that is found in the Letter of Ignatius of Antioch 3. Ephesus became center of Montanism. 4. Ephesus became center of Gnosticism 5. Ephesus became center of Mariolatry

42 Temple of Diana in Ephesus

43 Artemis/Diana – Ephesus Museum Photo by Carlos Serrao

44 Historical Observations 7 1. Ephesus seems to have succumbed to the processes outlined by Moberg. (See Revelation) 2. Evidence for that is found in the Letter of Ignatius of Antioch 3. Ephesus became center of Montanism. 4. Ephesus became center of Gnosticism 5. Ephesus became center of Mariolatry 6. Ephesus became center of magic traditions

45 Historical Observations 7 1. Ephesus seems to have succumbed to the processes outlined by Moberg. (See Revelation) 2. Evidence for that is found in the Letter of Ignatius of Antioch 3. Ephesus became center of Montanism. 4. Ephesus became center of Gnosticism 5. Ephesus became center of Mariolatry 6. Ephesus became center of magic traditions 7. Ephesus was involved in controversy over the date to celebrate Easter. (preoccupation with peripheral?)

46 Contemporary Applications 7 Without Love... 1. Possessions become Materialism 2. Freedom becomes Antinomianism 3. Free Choice becomes Pluralism 4. Individualism becomes Isolationism 5. Abundance becomes Loss of Value 6. Ease becomes Hedonism 7. Obedience becomes Legalism

47 Gen #1 Gen #2 Gen #3 12345

48 50 AD 75 AD 100 AD 125 AD Founding 51 Revelation 95 Paul’s Farewell 57 Ignatius 117 The Epistle 60-62 EPHESUS 12345

49 12345 Church of the Nazarene Your Congre- gation Gen #1 Gen #2 Gen #3

50 The Penalties of “Lost” Love 1.Removal of the lamp stand 2.Invasion of other problems 3.The death of the Church 4.No entrance into Heaven

51 The Remedy for “Lost” Love 1.Remember 2.Repent 3.Return The Prodigal Son

52 The Promise to those who “Lost” Love Behold! I stand at the door and knock!” God’s call to the wayward Entrance into Paradise Eternal Life

53 an addendum... Cultural issues: Evidence author knows the city Hellenistic Sacred Trees The threat from Paganism & the Imperial Cult Ephesus as asylum where criminals could hide vs. Cross where sinners find refuge/new life Eventual movement of Ephesus and the Church to a site near the complex of Diana worship see Ramsay and Hemer on these

54 Cultural issues: 1)As is often seen in Scripture & true contextualization, there is the use of local images that can be transformed and/or contrasted with Christian Concepts. (John’s use of “Logos”) 2) The Church living in the neighborhood of paganism means three things: a) the danger of syncretism and compromise b) the potential for persecution c) the opportunity for evangelism & outreach The absence of “First Love” complicates each of those 3) Now... about US!?!? an addendum...

55 Bibliography Ellul, Jacques. Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation, Seabury Press, NY 1977 Gardner, Percy. The Ephesian Gospel, Williams Norgate, New York, 1915. Heick, Otto W. A History of Christian Thought, v. 1, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1965. Hemer, Colin J. The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting. Eerdmanns: Grand Rapids, 1989. Martin, Hugh. The Seven Letters, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1956 Meinardus, Otto. St. Paul in Ephesus, Lycabattus Press, Athens, 1973. Moberg, David O. The Church as a Social Institution, Prentice Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1962. Morgan, G. Campbell, A First Century Message to a Twentieth Century Christians, Fleming H. Revell Co., New York, 1902 Ramsay, W.M. Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, A. C. Armstrong & Son, New York, 1905. also: The New Shaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia & online resources


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