The body of Christ at Ephesus began with about a dozen men in Acts 19 but some estimate that within 10 years there were about 25,000 believers, out of a total population of 250,000 in the city. Roughly 10% had become believers, helped by Paul's daily teaching for 2 years in the school of Tyrannus, and the 'special miracles' the Lord did. The move of God was so strong it affected the economy, causing idol makers to see a decrease in their sales.
Many new believers burned their books on the occult in repentance, and the knowledge of the Lord spread throughout that state called Asia - a relatively small area on the coast of what is modern day Turkey. Out of Ephesus, 6 other major cities in the state of Asia soon had a strong base of believers as well, mentioned in The Revelation chapters 2 & 3: Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodecia.
They all met in homes following the practice of the original synagogue movement which had developed in homes around 200-100BC, and then continued by disciples of Jesus after Pentecost. 25,000 people rotating homes, rotating who leads/hosts, keeping it simple in accordance with Acts 2: 42: Teaching, food, fellowship, prayer.
But when you read the book of Ephesians it is clear there were issues of immaturity. Paul told them in chapter 4 that thieves were to stop stealing and get a job so they would have money to give to those in need. In the same chapter he told them to not let the sun go down on their anger, but to love one another and make allowances for one another. In 4:19 he told them to stop committing sexual sin like they did before they became believers, and he also told them to stop cursing and gossiping.
Doing versus knowing
They believed in the Lord, but Paul told them to stop sinning in 4: 20, because 'you have not learned this of Christ'. He told them to 'put off' the old man and 'put on' the new man in v24, and several other 'do this and don't do that' commands. That they were believers is clear. That they had moral and spiritual issues is also clear.
But they were strong 'doers' of the faith. In The Revelation 2: 1-7 the Lord commends them for their 'perseverance, endurance, good works', and their rejection of evil and false teachers, and staying strong in the faith under life-threatening conditions. But He said in 2: 4, they had left their first love.
I was visiting a missionary who asked me to pray about some things on a list and tell him anything the Father or Lord told me. I told him he needed to pray, not me. His response was: "I'm too busy doing the work of the ministry to pray."
That was the church at Ephesus - full of 'doing' but short on 'knowing'. They had left their first love - knowing Jesus.
Evidently they were so busy doing, they had left 'knowing'.
Paul didn't tell them to rebuke the devil nor to cast out spirits from their former lives in the occult and idolatry. He didn't blame their issues on demonic spirits that came to them down through the generations. In fact he put the blame and responsibility squarely on them - you were sinners in the past, now you are new creations in Christ - act like it!
BUT...he actually preceded his commands to 'do this and don't do that' with a prayer that they would know the love that is beyond knowing. It is from knowing that we live our lives in and for the Lord. It is in knowing that we do 'good things' and it is in knowing that cause the temptations of this world to fade into nothingness.
"I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...that He according to the riches of His glory, would strengthen you with might by His Spirit in your inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, and that you would grasp (comprehend) that which is beyond knowing, being rooted and grounded in unconditional love, knowing the length and depth and height and width of the love of Christ, so that you will be filled with the fullness of the Father God." Ephesians 3: 14-19
Knowing what is beyond knowing
Most prayers are for something that can immediately be known and seen. But Paul prayed here that they would comprehend that which is beyond knowing.
The Greek word translated 'comprehend' here is 'katalabesthai'. It means to lay hold of, to seize. But the word used for 'behind knowing' is 'gnoseos' which means 'head knowledge' or reasoning. What Paul was praying was that 'you may take hold of and receive that which is beyond knowing something with your mind' - to know the love of Christ.
Paul makes it clear knowing that which is beyond head knowledge is his prayer for them - it is very similar to his prayer in 1: 17-19 that they be given the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him that the eyes of their understanding would be opened.
It all revolves around personal revelation that comes through knowing Him. Paul never encourages in any of his writings for the disciples to become involved in any 'stream' of the faith.
He emphasizes knowing the Father, knowing the Lord, knowing and seeing inside ourselves that which is beyond knowing - that is the point of the faith: "This is eternal life, to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
THAT is the point of our faith. THAT is our goal - as Paul told the Philippians: To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. THAT is the point. Anything beyond that is fluff. Know Him!
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
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