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Religious Warfare –

A Examine of Acts 19 and the ebook of Ephesians

Introduction: It appears to me there’s heightened curiosity within the topic of non secular warfare in lately. The existence of an final character of evil – the satan – and an unlimited world of different evil personalities of various varieties and ranks within the unseen realm… all this appears to be mirrored within the brutal, self-destructive, sinful nature engulfing our world. How else can we clarify the headlong plunge into Marxism that appears to enchant our cultural elites regardless of its century-long document of horrendous failure? How can we clarify the societal dedication to bloodbath tens of millions of harmless preborn infants? And on the subject of the atrocities of warfare, how can we clarify the evil of teams like ISIS? And the sexual perversions which can be dominating our tradition, with lots of our educators wanting to verify our youngest youngsters are acclimated to those debaucheries?

All this stuff transcend the human capability for evil, as nice as it’s. What we’re seeing right this moment is supernatural evil, and the Bible’s main laboratory for learning it’s discovered within the historical metropolis of Ephesus—each within the account of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus and within the letter he later wrote to the Ephesians. 

At this time we’re persevering with our research referred to as Unstoppable, the story of the ebook of Acts. As we noticed final time, in Acts 19, Paul started preaching and evangelizing within the port metropolis of Ephesus, the magnificent ruins of which you’ll nonetheless go to alongside the coast of Turkey. Paul started with twelve males and stayed within the metropolis about three years. He confronted Jewish opposition, but planted a church, which evangelized the complete area after his departure. You possibly can’t miss the parallel with Jesus’ ministry. Now, let’s choose up the story in Acts 19:8. As ordinary, Paul started his ministry by taking the Gospel into the Jewish quarter of town.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for 3 months, arguing persuasively in regards to the kingdom of God. However a few of them grew to become obstinate; they refused to imagine and publicly maligned the Method. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions day by day within the lecture corridor of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for 2 years, so that each one the Jews and Greeks who lived within the province of Asia heard the phrase of the Lord.

That is the only longest interval of secure ministry within the revealed lifetime of the apostle Paul; and because of this, the church in Ephesus is the strongest mannequin for an area church in the complete New Testomony. The lecture corridor of Tyrannus was a public auditorium, and a number of the previous texts say that Paul taught right here daily from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M.  It could have been owned and operated by an area trainer named Tyrannus, or it may have been an auditorium named for him. Apparently, Paul rented this area. He, in impact, opened a seminary. I occur to imagine each native church ought to have some type of a Faculty of Tyrannus. Each church ought to have a method of offering Bible-college stage instructing for believers at a time when it’s handy for them.

For the Ephesians, that was within the afternoons. In line with Witherington, within the Greco-Roman world, the everyday work or faculty day took benefit of the cooler morning hours, and often ran from daybreak till about 11 a.m. So the corridor would have been free starting at 11. And the identical is true for Paul’s listeners. They’d have labored or been at school all morning, however by about midday, they’d be free for the day. Paul lectured there on this auditorium like a thinker or educational would have performed, on this lecture corridor.

Supernatural Energy in Paul’s Ministry within the Metropolis of Ephesus (verses 11-12)

However now, I wish to present you ways Luke devotes the remainder of the chapter to numerous conditions involving non secular warfare. First, in verses 11-12, God gave Paul the flexibility to carry out miracles and to have authority over evil spirits. Have a look at verse 11:

11 God did extraordinary miracles by Paul, 12 in order that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him have been taken to the sick, and their diseases have been cured and the evil spirits left them.

That is actually wonderful. If somebody had a rag and it brushed in opposition to Paul or introduced it as much as him to the touch within the Faculty of Tyrannus, they may take it to their sick beloved one, wipe their forehead with it, and the individual can be healed. There’s nothing fairly like this elsewhere within the Bible. Why is that this? Due to the character of town of Ephesus. As we’ll see, it was a metropolis enthralled with magic and with the magic arts. It was a metropolis filled with invisible, evil forces, and so God gave Paul authority over them.

Paul’s success, particularly over evil spirits, was so wonderful that some Jewish exorcists tried to duplicate what he was doing. Earlier than I learn this, let me go forward and provide the background, as a result of that is important for understanding not solely the ebook of Acts but in addition the epistle to the Ephesians. Other than the Bible, my main supply for learning this can be a ebook entitled Energy and Magic: The Idea of Energy in Ephesians by Clinton E. Arnold and printed by Baker Books. It was really useful to me years in the past by my pal, Jim Weaver, who was really the writer for this ebook at Baker. He later grew to become my writer at Thomas Nelson for a sequence of initiatives. Energy and Magic is an important work on the background and contents of the ebook of Ephesians.

In line with Arnold and others, town of Ephesus was the capital of magic and the middle of the occult for all of Asia Minor. It was a metropolis stuffed with magic, with superstition, with evil spirits, and with all types of demonic forces. Once I use the phrase magic, I don’t imply performances of phantasm, however darkish and demonic powers. Arnold defines magic as “the idea that supernatural powers…may very well be harnessed and utilized by appropriating the proper method.” It was “a way of manipulating supernatural powers to perform sure duties.”

One other authority wrote, “Of all the traditional Greco-Roman cities, Ephesus…was by far probably the most hospitable to magicians, sorcerers, and charlatans of all types.”

We all know this, partly, from the invention of the magical papyri, particularly the Ephesia Grammata (actually, the Ephesian Letters), which have been related to the goddess Artemis of Ephesus. I don’t have time to enter the character of this goddess, however her temple in Ephesians was a surprise of the world and the complete metropolis operated in her shadow. This created an environment for the magical arts to thrive.

Now, in antiquity there have been many books of magical spells and charms. The perfect recognized extant papyri about this are the Greek Magical Papyri, which had their roots in historical Egypt. Papyri was the traditional Egyptian type of paper. The Greek Magical Papyri contained many magical spells and formulation and rituals. These books unfold from there all through the complete Greco-Roman world, and these magic formulation influenced each a part of the day by day life for many Ephesians and apparently led to the Ephesian Grammata and to many different books and scrolls stuffed with incantations and spells.

As we’ll additionally see a bit later in Acts 16, the brand new Christians in Ephesus burned all their magical books and paraphernalia; and as individuals got here to Christ throughout the Roman Empire, these individuals additionally burned their books of demonism and magic. In consequence, the magical writings moved underground and have been saved in secret. The magic arts grew to become mysterious and cryptic and esoteric for tons of of years. For 1800 years, magic was a darkish underground motion that terrorized the world with fears of evil spirits.

Within the 1800s, an Armenian man named Jean d’Anastasi traveled by the world finding and buying collections of historical Egyptian papyri that had been found. He shipped these to Europe and offered them to locations just like the British Museum and the Louvre in Paris. These paperwork sat in these museums for an additional century earlier than students actually started to review and translate them. Someplace across the 12 months 1900, a few of these supplies have been printed. Within the meantime, different discoveries have been made. So we have now a big physique of historical materials now, which helps us perceive the demonic maintain that magic had over the world of Paul’s day, particularly in Ephesus, the house of the temple of the goddess Artemis. 

I’ve learn a number of samples from the magical papyri. Keep in mind, that is demonic, magical, and addressed to false gods, idols, and forces of evil. These samples are from The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, edited by Hans Dieter Betz and printed by the College of Chicago Press in 1986.

For somebody dealing with a fantastic misery, this magical formulation was written: “I name upon you, lord. Hear me, holy god who rests among the many holy ones, at whose facet the Wonderful Ones stand frequently. I name upon you, forefather, and I beseech you everlasting one, everlasting ruler of the solar’s rays, everlasting ruler of the celestial orb, standing within the seven half area….”

And there follows a protracted sequence of syllables which can be one thing akin to phrases like abracadabra – simply made-up phrases of magic. 

Then the distressed one would say, “I name upon you, lord of the universe, in an hour of want; hear me, for my soul is distressed and I’m perplexed and in need of all the pieces…. Protect me in opposition to all extra of magical energy of aerial demons and destiny….”

And following that’s one other sequence of unusual syllables. Now that was a comparatively easy incantation, nearly like a prayer provided to darkish unseen powers. However different magic spells had parts that remind us of the films. For instance, one other entry within the magical papyri incorporates a formulation for invisibility. It says:

“Take fats or a watch of an evening owl and a ball of dung rolled by a beetle and oil of an unripe olive and grind all of them collectively till clean, and smear your complete physique with it and say to Helios: ‘I adjure you by your nice identify…’ [and there follows another long series of magical words. And if you do it correctly and the god agrees, you’ll be invisible in the presence of any man until sunset.]

Right here is yet one more. To attain a very good reminiscence, the spell mentioned: “Write on a leaf of cinquefoil the next character, written with myrrh ink, and hold it in your mouth whilst you sleep.” And there adopted a particular image, one thing like our letter “l” in script kind. 

Effectively, this pervasive environment of magic and invisible forces engulfed Ephesus and it additionally seeped into the Jewish quarter. Actually, there have been parts of Judaism in all places that have been caught up in issues of angels and demons and speculations as to the character of the supernatural realm. Again in Acts 13, Paul had encountered a Jewish sorcerer named Bar-Jesus or Elymas who tried to show away Paul’s first convert in Europe, and Paul struck him blind for a time and mentioned, “You’re a baby of the satan and an enemy of all the pieces that’s proper! You’re filled with deceit and trickery. Will you by no means cease perverting the precise methods of the Lord” (Acts 13:10).

Effectively, right here in Ephesus, there have been different Jewish sorcerers and so they have been in for a shock. Let’s proceed our studying of Acts 19, resuming at verse 13:

13 Some Jews who went round driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the identify of the Lord Jesus over those that have been demon-possessed. They’d say, “Within the identify of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come back out.” 

14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, have been doing this. 15 In the future the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I do know, and Paul I learn about, however who’re you?” 16 Then the person who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered all of them. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the home bare and bleeding.

This occasion marked a turning level for the Gospel in Ephesus. Verse 17 continues:

17 When this grew to become recognized to the Jews and Greeks residing in Ephesus, they have been all seized with worry, and the identify of the Lord Jesus was held in excessive honor. 18 Lots of those that believed now got here and overtly confessed what that they had performed. 19 A quantity who had practiced sorcery introduced their scrolls collectively and burned them publicly. Once they calculated the worth of the scrolls, the overall got here to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 On this method the phrase of the Lord unfold broadly and grew in energy.

These magic papyri and books of magic have been very helpful. Some have been previous and uncommon. Apparently 1000’s of them have been burned. Fifty thousand silver cash could have amounted to one million {dollars} or extra in right this moment’s phrases.  

One other factor occurred too. Since Ephesus was the worldwide heart for the worship of the goddess Artemis, there have been statues of her in all places on the market, each handmade by artisans. It was like a Disneyworld for Artemis. The Gospel got here with such supernatural energy in the course of the three years of Paul’s ministry there that gross sales of those collectible figurines dropped dramatically, and that’s what led to the riot described within the latter a part of the chapter.

So what I’m wanting you to know from Acts 19 is the Lord outfitted Paul with supernatural affect in Ephesus. It was an influence ministry, as a result of this metropolis was the middle for the magical arts as no different metropolis he ever visited. Now, why is it so essential to know that? As a result of it provides us some wanted background after we research the letter Paul later wrote to the Ephesians.

Supernatural Energy in Paul’s Message within the E book of Ephesians

There’s one remaining factor I wish to say about this. Whenever you learn the ebook of Ephesians in opposition to this background it comes alive.

Earlier I discussed the ebook, Energy and Magic: The Idea of Energy in Ephesians by Clinton E. Arnold. In its unique kind, this ebook was based mostly on a doctoral dissertation introduced to the  College of Divinity on the College of Aberdeen in June 1986. Arnold factors out that Ephesus was a beehive of demonic powers, as we’ve seen. When Paul later wrote to the Ephesians, he continually referred to the infinite energy of God, far above all different authorities and powers.  

Arnold says, “(There’s) a considerably increased focus of energy terminology than in another epistle attributed to Paul (the only real exception is 1 Corinthians—however it’s practically 3 times longer). When these occurrences of energy terminology in a given ebook are thought-about in proportion to the scale of that ebook, Ephesians is discovered to comprise a larger share of energy terminology than another New Testomony ebook…. The satan and varied classes of ‘powers’ are talked about sixteen instances within the epistle…. Ephesians can be loaded with many ideas and theological constructs conveying the notion of divine energy.”

This is the reason the ebook of Ephesians is floor zero when learning non secular warfare from a biblical perspective. A lot of the ability terminology Paul makes use of would have been acquainted to readers of the magic papyri. 

Let’s flip over to Ephesians and I’ll provide you with some examples.

Have a look at the best way the ebook opens in Ephesians 1:3: Reward be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us within the heavenly realms with each non secular blessing in Christ.

The heavenly realms are the unseen realms, the supernatural realms, the realms occupied by the Everlasting. We’re blessed in these realms after we belong to Christ. Now we have nothing to worry.

Paul goes on to wish for us to know God’s incomparably nice energy for us who imagine.

That energy is similar because the mighty energy 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the useless and seated him at his proper hand within the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, energy and dominion, and each identify that’s invoked, not solely within the current age but in addition within the one to come back. 22 And God positioned all issues underneath his ft…

All of the ranks and rivals within the non secular world – all of the forces good and unhealthy – are underneath Christ. And His supreme final cosmic energy is obtainable to assist us. Our private energy is bestowed by Christ, who ascended far above all different non secular forces within the seen and unseen realms, each now and eternally.

Let’s go on to chapter 2: 

As for you, you have been useless in your transgressions and sins, wherein you used to dwell while you adopted the methods of this world and of the ruler of the dominion of the air, the spirit who’s now at work in those that are disobedient.

The air or the environment was thought by individuals within the first century to be the realm of those invisible forces of evil, and they’re dominated over by Devil, who can be working within the unsaved tradition. Quoting Clinton once more: “The air was considered the dwelling place of evil spirits in antiquity. That is properly attested within the magical papyri.” Jews believed the air was the abode of demons. And from what Paul writes in Ephesians, there’s fact to that.

However we have now been delivered from all this. Clinton wrote, “(Paul) seeks to exhibit to his readers that there are two attainable realms wherein individuals exist. One is the realm of loss of life, which is managed by an evil angelic prince, and the opposite is the realm of life, entered by religion in Christ Jesus. The believer has skilled a switch from one realm to the opposite.”

In chapter 3, Paul says that the spirits within the unseen realm—each good and unhealthy—realized about God’s triumphant plan by listening to it within the apostolic instructing. Verse 10 says:

10 His intent was that now, by the church, the manifold knowledge of God needs to be made recognized to the rulers and authorities within the heavenly realms. 

And have a look at Paul’s prayer on the finish of chapter 3:

14 For that reason I kneel earlier than the Father, 15 from whom each household in heaven and on earth derives its identify. 

In different phrases, each group within the human race and each group within the heavenly realm—each good and evil—is underneath the authority of Almighty God. Paul continues:

16 I pray that out of his superb riches he could strengthen you with energy by his Spirit in your internal being, 17 in order that Christ could dwell in your hearts by religion. And I pray that you simply, being rooted and established in love, 18 could have energy, along with all of the Lord’s holy individuals, to know how broad and lengthy and excessive and deep is the love of Christ. 

Arnold factors out that the phrase, “broad, lengthy, excessive, and deep” would have been acquainted to the magicians of Ephesus. These 4 dimensions are discovered within the papyri. It’s referred to as dimensional terminology. In one of many magic spells, for instance, the magician is instructed to name on the identify of a sure god and request his energy in order that the secrets and techniques of the ability of the god could also be recognized. The incantation says: “Let there be opened for me the home of the omnipotent god Albalal, who’s on this gentle! Let there be gentle, breadth, depth, size, top, brightness….”

The 4 dimensions check with all area, in all places, in each realm. They need to do with the vastness of energy.

20 Now to him who is ready to do immeasurably greater than all we ask or think about, in line with his energy that’s at work inside us, 21 to him be glory within the church and in Christ Jesus all through all generations, with no end in sight! Amen.

Occurring to Ephesians 4:6, we learn in regards to the “one God and Father of all, who’s over all and thru all and in all.” The subsequent verse refers back to the second of Christ’s ascension, when “He ascended on excessive, (and) He took many captives.”

Ephesians 4:27 tells us to not give the satan a foothold.

In Ephesians 5:8 we’re advised that we have been as soon as in darkness, however now we’re youngsters of sunshine.

And, in fact, the nice climax of all of it is available in Ephesians 6 when Paul says:

10 Lastly, be sturdy within the Lord and in his mighty energy. 11 Placed on the complete armor of God, with the intention to take your stand in opposition to the satan’s schemes. 12 For our battle will not be in opposition to flesh and blood, however in opposition to the rulers, in opposition to the authorities, in opposition to the powers of this darkish world and in opposition to the non secular forces of evil within the heavenly realms. 

Arnold factors out that the primary century readers would have understood that rulers, authorities, powers, and forces have been referring to numerous ranges of invisible spirits that pervaded the unseen environment round them. And we have now the unbelievable directions in regards to the armor of the believer. I don’t have time to delve into all that, however my level is that after we learn the ebook of Ephesians, we have now to learn it in opposition to the backdrop of the story of the institution of the church within the metropolis of Ephesus in Acts 19. And from the historic research and from the written letter, we achieve unbelievable insights for realizing what it means to confront non secular warfare.

Let me simply finish with these ensuing verses in Ephesians 6:

 13 Subsequently placed on the complete armor of God, in order that when the day of evil comes, you could possibly stand your floor, and after you’ve gotten performed all the pieces, to face. 14 Stand agency then, with the belt of fact buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and together with your ft fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 Along with all this, take up the defend of religion, with which you’ll extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the phrase of God.

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