Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So Many Gods to Choose From: Ephesus

Today we visited Ephesus. We were here before in 2007, but spent much more time here today. As we walked through the site and the museum I was reminded of Paul's time here and how for three years he lived and taught in the city.

Once again it was the religious context that impressed me the most. Everywhere one looks there is an altar to a god or an emperor. And if there isn't an altar there is some sort of symbol. It reminds me how much of an uphill battle it would be for Paul to preach a gospel about Jesus and the One God of Judaism to a population that was accustomed to having so many gods. Here are some examples that date from the time of Paul or just after.

Here at the gate is a set of carvings of Aesculapius and Hermes.

Just to the left inside the gate was a temple to the emperor Domitian. And here is a picture of me standing next to what remains of his statue.

This is a carving of Nike, the goddess of victory.

A little further down the street is Hercules.

On the right, a temple to Trajan. The ball in the one photo is his foot standing on the globe, which reminded me of the inscription in Pergamum that declared he was Lord of the land and the sea.

Finally, there is the goddess Artemis who got Paul into so much trouble in Acts 19.

Again, as I look at all of the gods that I encountered on such a short walk on just one street in ancient Ephesus it struck me that the early Christians had quite a challenge not only trying to proclaim the gospel, but also to live it. Living in a city where it seems like every other space was dedicated to a god, it must have seemed strange to be worshiping a god who forbid images and claimed that there were no other gods.


  1. Thanks for the pictures and your comments. Very informative.

  2. I hadn't realized there were so many gods in Ephesus. Yes, that does give better perspective of the difficult job ahead of Paul. Thanks for posting all this John!

  3. I just returned from a trip to Turkey. Visited Bergama (Pergamum), Ephesus, and Denizli (laodecia). What a powerful experience. God bless those early believers. You are so right about the difficulty they must have faced in those cities. They did what they did in the power of the Holy Spirit. What an example for us to follow today. We need to realize we live in communities that are godless also.We don't like to admit that but it is oh so true. Stand up for Jesus like those who preceded us. Maybe someday you will meet the Apostle Paul and he will refer to you as a hero of the faith.God Bless

  4. Did you see anything there that might represent the "Image that fell down from Jupiter"? The Holy Spirit mentions that it also was worshiped in Ephesus.
    Act 19:35  And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?