Ed Compean pastors Calvary Chapel Githurai, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more info, go to the church website at calvarygithurai.org. This is Part 1 of a 2-part blog series on the church in Ephesus…
The initial church plant at Jerusalem was known for a church planting movement resulting from the persecution beginning with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1, 11:19). The church Barnabas began in Antioch of Syria was known for its great commitment to church planting and being willing to send out its best people for the effort (Acts 13:3). The churches in Macedonia teach much about sacrificial giving to plant other churches (2 Cor 8:2). Of the about 33 individual church plants and regions of churches in the Bible, the plant at Ephesus gives the best example to glean from of a church plant that had exponential influence to not only add, but multiply churches.
The Ephesus Plant Was Spirit Led
Paul had desired to go to Asia Minor, whose leading city was Ephesus, but in the often discussed Macedonian call the Spirit led elsewhere (Acts 16:8-9). The Spirit’s sovereign and omnipresent nature did not leave the people of Ephesus without hope, but it seems He was preparing for a greater work with more influence in His own time concerning that leading city. Paul and his growing band of missionaries completed the work in Macedonia and eventually came to Achaia where Paul spent about 18-months planting the church at Corinth. It was in this time Aquila and Priscilla fled the persecution of Christians and Jews in Rome and came to Corinth where they were presumably discipled by Paul and prepared for the work God would have for them on the Ephesus core team (Acts 18:2).
Ephesus was Planted in God’s Time
Knowing Paul’s personal drive and clues of his prayer life make it reasonable to think Paul continued to pray for the region of Asia Minor while in Macedonia and Achaia. It is no surprise that at the end of his 18-months at Corinth Paul layovers with Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus on his return to Antioch. Leaving the couple in Ephesus, the core of the church planting team was in place (Acts 18:19). Soon after, a gifted preacher named Apollos joined the team and after some correction he becomes a powerful addition, though only for a short time before returning to Corinth (Acts 18:27-29).
Ephesus had Implanted DNA to Replicate
When Paul returned to Ephesus the first recorded conversation he had with the disciples was concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:3). A few months later the apostle gathered his disciples for teaching in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). The Bible records that he taught the disciples daily for two-years. Reliable, though extra-biblical, sources record Paul not only taught daily, but taught five-hours every day. We can presume that besides the classroom training, Paul implemented practical ministry, because it is recorded the result of the classes was, “…so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
These 3 characteristics of the Ephesian church play into its success. Tune in here on Thursday for the fourth characteristic of this church and what we can learn from the church at Ephesus!