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Such being the state of religion and morals among the Ephesians, St. Paul, who was expressly commissioned by Christ to turn the Gentiles from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, resolved, at his departure from their city, to return soon, Acts xviii. 21. that he might have an opportunity of attacking idolatry in this its chief seat. Accordingly, having celebrated the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem, he went down to Antioch, and after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples, Acts xviii. 22, 23. And having passed through the upper coasts, he came to Ephesus, Acts xix. 1. On this occasion he preached boldly in the synagogue for the space of three months, discoursing concerning, and proving the things which related to the kingdom of God, ver. 8. But the Jews, who had heard him with pleasure at his former visit, now opposed him violently, when they perceived that he preached salvation, without requiring obcdience to the law of Moses. They spake also with the greatest virulence against the gospel itself; insomuch, that the apostle found it needless, and even dangerous to frequent the synagogue any longer. Wherefore, separating the disciples from the unbelieving Jews, he discoursed daily in the school of one Tyrannus, who either was himself a disciple, or allowed the apostle the use of his school for hire, And this, we are told, Acts xix. 10. continued for the space of two year8 ; 80 that all they who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
After leaving the school of the philosopher Tyrannus, the apostle seems to have preached and worked miracles at Ephesus, in the places of most public resort; for his fame became so great, that from his body were brought unto the sick, handker. chiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, Acts xix. 12. About this time, also, the apostle's fame was greatly increased, by what happened to the seven sons of Sceva, one of the Jewish chief priests, who went about pretending to cast out devils. In short, Paul's preaching and miracles were so blessed of God, that multitudes of the idolatrous inhabitants of Asia, strongly impressed by them, embraced the gospel; and among the rest, many who had practised the arts of magic and divination. These, to shew how sincerely they repented of their former evil practices, brought out the books which contained the secrets of their arts, and burned them publicly, notwithstanding they were of very great value: So mightily grew the word of
the Lord, and prevailed in Ephesus itself. This extraordinary success determining the apostle to stay in Asia for a season, he sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia. But after they were gone, one Demetrius, a silversmith, who made shrines for Diana, calling together the workmen of like occupation with himself, said to them, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth: Moreover, ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephe8U8, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned arvay much people ; saying, that they be no gods which are made with hands : So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set al nought; but also, that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia, and the world worshippeth. By this artful speech, Demetrius enraged the craftsmen to such a degree, that they made a great tumult, laid hold on Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's companions, and rushed with them into the theatre, intending, no doubt, to throw them to the wild beasts which were kept there. But the town-clerk, speaking to the multitude with great calmness and prudence, quieted them and dismissed the assembly; so that the Christian preachers were let go in safety.
It is said, Acts xx. 1. That after the uproar was ceased, Paul departed for to go into Macedoi.ia. But as in the sacred history many events are narrated as in immediate succession, which happened at a considerable distance of time from each other, the passage just now quoted, may be supposed an instance of that kind. For, if I am not mistaken, the apostle abode two or three months in Ephesus and its neighbourhood after the riot. This appears from his speech to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus, Acts xx. 31. Remember, that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one, &c. These three years were completed in the following manner: At his first coming to Ephesus, he abode only a few weeks, Acts xviii. 19.-21. When he returned, he preached in the synagogue three months, then taught in the school of Tyrannus two years. On leaving the school of Tyrannus, he preached and wrought miracles more publicly; the effect of which was, that many believed, and came and confessed their evil deeds, Acts xix. 18. Many also who used curious arts, being converted, brought their books and burned them, ver. 19. After which the apostle sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia, but he himself staid in Asia till the riot of Demetrius. The things which happened after Paul left the school of Tyrannus, to the riot of Demetrius, may have taken up five months; and these added to the two years and four months before mentioned, make his abode in Ephesus, from his first arrival, to the riot, in the whole, only two years and nine months. Wherefore, the remaining months of his three years abode at Ephesus, must have passed after the riot; unless we are of opinion, that his transactions from the time of his leaving the school of Tyrannus, to the riot, occupied eight months. However, as some of the Asiarchs were his friends, Acts xix. 31. there is nothing improbable in supposing, that he remained in safety at Ephesus, or in the country adjacent, even after the riot; especially if he no longer taught publicly, but contented himself with instructing and comforting the disciples in their own houses, and employed himself privately in settling the affairs of the churches of Asia, before his departure for Macedonia.
The apostle, during his long abode in Ephesus and its neighbourhood, gathered a very numerous Christian church, which was as remarkable for the quality, as for the number of its members. According to Strabo, Ephesus was the greatest trading town in Asia, on this side Mount Taurus. It was also the residence of the Roman Proconsul, who governed the province of Asia, and the seat of the Courts of Justice; consequently, it was the place to which men of fortune, and learning, and genius resorted. Being thus inhabited, we cannot doubt, that among those whom Paul converted, there were people of distinction. In particular, some of the converted, who had for. merly been magicians, were men distinguished by their natural parts, and by their literature; as may be inferred from the value of their books which they burned, amounting to fifty thousand pieces of silver, supposed to be equal to five thousand pounds of our money. The Asiarchs, also, or priests of Diana, who had the care of the games celebrated in her honour at Ephesus, and who are called Paul's friends, may have been converted, or in a disposition to be converted. Nay, the town-clerk, in his speech to the multitude, shewed that he entertained a good opinion of the Christian teachers, and of their doctrine, Acts xix. 37. The church at Ephesus, therefore, merited all the pains the apostle had bestowed in gathering it, and the care which he afterwards took to secure it against the erroneous doctrines and vicious practices, which the false teachers endearoured to introduce into it. See Pref. to 1 Tim. sect. 2.
From 2 Cor. ii. 12, 13. we learn, that on leaving Ephesus after the riot, the apostle did not go straightway into Macedonia, but abode awhile at Troas, where also he had great success in preaching. Nevertheless, having no rest in his spirit, because he did not find Titus, whom he expected to meet in his
from Corinth to Ephesus, he took leave of his disciples at Troas, and went forward to Macedonia. There Titus, at length, came to him, and made him happy by the account which he gave him, of the good disposition of the Corinthians towards him, their spi. ritual father. In Macedonia, the apostle received the collections, which the churches in that province had made for the poor of the saints in Judea ; then went to Corinth, where he remedied the disorders which had taken place in that church; and having received their contributions, with those of the other churches of Achaia, he proposed to sail from Cenchréa to Judea. But, understanding that the Jews lay in wait for him in Cenchrea, he altered his resolution, and returned through Macedonia. From Macedonia he went by sea to Miletus, and sent for the elders of Ephesus to meet him there ; and when they came, he delivered to them the pathetic exhortation, recorded Acts xx. 17.35. then sailed away to Syria. But he no sooner appeared in the temple at Jerusalem, than the unbelieving Jews who had come from Asia, raised a great tumult against him, in which he must have been killed, if he had not been rescued by the Romans; but which ended in his imprisonment, first in Jerusalem, after that in Cesarea, and last of all in Rome.
Shewing that the Epistle, which, in our Canon, is inscribed to the Ephe.
sians, was actually written to them, and was not originally inscribed to the Laodiceans.
Since the publication of Mill's edition of the Greek New Testament, many learned men have adopted his opinion, that the epistle in our Canon, inscribed To the Ephesians, was not written to the Ephesians, but to the Laodiceans. This opinion Mill hath endeavoured to support by the following arguments : 1. The testimony of Marcion the heretic, who, as Tertullian reports, said the Epistle to the Ephesians was written to the Laodiceans ; or called this the Epistle to the Laodiceans. 2. St. Basil, in his second book against Eunomius, insinuates, that the first verse of the epistle to the Ephesians, ran originally in this manner : To the saints who are, and to the faithful in Christ Je
848, without the words, in Ephesus.—3. Certain passages in the cpistle itself, which, in Mill's opinion, are neither suitable to the character of the Ephesians, nor to the habits which subsisted between them and their spiritual father, Paul.
But to these arguments Lardner, who maintains the common opinion, opposes, 1. The agreeing testimony of all the ancient MSS. and versions of this epistle now extant; particularly the Syriac, Vulgate, Persic, and Arabic, all which, without exception, have the words ey Epero, in Ephesus, in the first verse. For, as he very well observes, “It is inconceivable how there “ should have been such a general agreement in this reading, “ if it was not the original inscription of the epistle."
2. The unanimous consent of all the ancient fathers, and Christians writers, who, without exception, bear witness, that this epistle was written to the Ephesians, and never entertained the least doubt of it. This argument is well represented by Lardner, who, after the most accurate search into every thing pertaining to Ecclesiastical Antiquities, hath thus written : Can. vol. ii. page 394. “ That this epistle was sent to the church at “ Ephesus, we are assured by the testimony of all Catholic “ Christians of all past ages. This we can now say with con“ fidence, having examined the principal Christian writers of “ the first ages, to the beginning of the twelfth century; in all “ which space of time, there appears not one who had any ( doubt about it." Of these testimonies, that of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in the end of the first century, is very remarkable. In a letter, which he wrote to the Ephesians, from Smyrna, in his way to Rome, he says, chap. xii. “ Ye are the “ companions in the mysteries of the gospel of Paul the sancti“ fied, the martyr, deservedly most happy; at whose feet may “ I be found when I shall have attained unto God, who, 77007
επισολη (for όλη επιστολή, as πασα οικοδομη, Ephes. ii. 21. is put “ for órne) throughout all his epistle, makes mention of you in « Christ.'
Μνημονευει υμων, Makes honourable mention of you. So the Greek phrase signifies, Matth. xxvi. 13. Mark xiv. 9. Acts X. 4. Ignatius means, that Paul commended the Ephesians, and never blamed them throughout the whole of his epistle, as he did some others, in the letters which he wrote to them. This is exactly true of the present epistle to the Ephesians. Moreover, by calling them ouppeuros, companions, or par. takers of the mysteries of the gospel of Paul, he alluded to those passages in the present epistle to the Ephesians, where the gospel