POWER ENCOURNTERS IN EPHESUS (Paul in Ephesus 1)
As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, it encountered fierce opposition from those who worshipped the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses. Satan’s power behind them came in direct conflict with God’s power in the Gospel. Paul was caught between the two often as he traveled and preached the good news. One such battle took place in Ephesus, where pagan goddess Artemis was worshipped.
The people there were Asiatic and thus animists who were really worshipping demons. Artemis was a widely worshipped deity whose temple in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She was recognized by her followers as the greatest power in the universe. She was seen as savior, lord and queen and was worshipped by many long festivals. ‘Missionaries’ were sent out to spread her message. This cult was very influential and very rich.
Of course, the power behind Artemis was demonic, and those who promoted her worship knew it. They used those powers to help her reputation, and therefore theirs as well, grow and expand. She was recognized as the goddess over the underworld and the one with authority over all demons. In fact, these demons who served her were given Jewish, Egyptian and Greek names. The ‘magic’ she had, the supernatural power over natural forces, was all Satanic.
Since Artemis was worshipped there, Ephesus became the main center for pagan demonic worship in all Asia Minor. Because of its key place in Asia Minor, geographically as well as culturally, Paul visited Ephesus at least twice (Acts 18:19-21; 19:1 – 20:1). Eventually the center of early Christianity moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus, then later to Rome itself. John and Mary lived in Ephesus. Because of its importance, Satan and his forces did all they could to oppose this. That is why spiritual warfare came to a head at Ephesus, as can be seen in the book of Acts as well as the epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:10-18), which was a circular letter read in all the churches in the area.
Luke records several of these power encounters between God and Satan during Paul’s first visit to Ephesus in Acts 19.
A power encounter is a crisis point occurring in the on-going spiritual warfare between God and Satan. Paul was bringing the kingdom of light into Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Satan was doing all he could to keep the area under his control. God gave Paul the ability to show God’s greater power by doing “signs, wonders and miracles” (2 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 15:19). Towards the end of Paul’s time there, God worked in a special way through Paul to show the people the power of Paul’s God and message.
LESSON FOR TODAY In cultures today which don’t have a Christian heritage or much of a gospel witness, God still, many times, uses physical healing and, deliverance from demonic influence and even dreams to show His power and bring others to His truth. I personally have seen some and heard of many other occurrences in India where God was showing His power is greater than the demonic gods that control them by fear. I have personally talked with those who have been supernaturally healed, delivered from demonic possession or protected from evil forces. God spoke to some in dreams telling them about salvation in Jesus. Cripples and those with terrible illnesses were told in dreams they would be healed by Jesus and it happened just as they were told. In the USA these things would be mocked and rejected, but in primitive areas of the world, where Satan use power to rule through fear, God shows His greater power to bring salvation, deliverance and healing when He chooses.
Pray for those around the world who have never heard of Jesus but instead are imprisoned in fear of the evil forces that control them. Thank God for the privilege you have had of seeing God’s great power at work in your life.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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