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Tom Hamilton’s main focus in writing his essay is to show readers the importance of the book of Ephesians and why it is crucial to have in the Bible. He claims that the epistle’s significance comes from its city’s relationship between Jews and Gentiles, its cultural impact on the society of the day, and Paul’s work with the local congregation. The relationship between the Jews and Gentiles is further defined in the book with having the Artemis and Imperial cults versus the Jewish community.
The Gentiles were known for being hostile towards the Jews due to their odd ways, but it was the introduction of the Christians to the city that brought on further conflict. Christians were especially blamed for the lowered sale of Artemis shrines (Acts 19:24-29) and the pagans hated this new religion for hurting their business and way of life.
Ephesians importance is also addressed by Hamilton as being a key location in Asia Minor and it was crucial to have a strong congregation in that area in order to spread the Word.
Paul was known for working in such cities that contained huge populations as well as travelers going in and out of the city. Having a congregation there would influence citizens of the city as well as travelers who in turn could spread the Word throughout the Roman Empire.
Overall, I believe that Tom Hamilton did a great job at bringing his point across of how important the church of Ephesus was in assisting the spread of Christ’s message.
Something I had not considered in the past is how Ephesus’s size could contribute to the wide spread of the gospel. He mentions that the city was the third largest city in the Roman Empire with Rome being first and Alexandria second. This shows how there were so many people to convert in just one community. This was not an easy task since Paul had to compete against worshippers of Artemis. I do think that Hamilton could have gotten into further detail on how the worship of Artemis affected Paul’s since this was a main factor of how difficult it was in spreading Christianity in this area.
The text goes on to describe the Jewish community in Ephesus with a great amount of detail. Hamilton guesses that about five percent to ten percent of the city’s population was made up of Jews. This percentage shows how that it was going to be likely that there would be a number of Jews going the church and that there would be a mixture of Jews and Gentiles under the same faith. He probably could have talked about how this would affect the relationship between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, but there is not a lot of information on this matter in the essay. The essay continues with Hamilton going into some specific details concerning the history of Paul’s stay in Ephesus as well as the other Christians that were living in that area. Much of the evidence used to make his various points are from scripture itself. It may have been better if he included both the Bible and documents that are by other historians, but he still provides a great deal of facts from the inspired word. I like that he uses looks at various view points in the scripture to paint a picture of what the church at Ephesus was like. He uses some of the obvious books like Acts and the epistle Ephesus, but he also uses the books of 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Revelation.
Hamilton’s conclusion of this section of his essay is strong and wraps up this area of the writing elegantly. His view of that the church in Ephesus was able to handle problems like false teachers is agreeable. The story of Ephesian Christians provides hope for all believers throughout the centuries that are going through trials and tough times. The essay addresses this directly and I appreciate that this is described in detail in the conclusion of this section.
Ephesians is later examined towards the back end of the essay for its literary context. Hamilton goes into much detail concerning false teachers and how the letter warns against this type of people. Hamilton still could have explained why some scholars believe that this epistle was meant for not only the Christians at Ephesus, but also for multiple congregations around Asia Minor. He did talk about the relationship between the Christians based in Ephesus and the brethren in Colossae, but it lacked greater information on that specific relationship.
The entire essay was an excellent essay for assessing the book of Ephesians. There were times where Hamilton could have expanded upon his point, like the relationship between the Jews and Gentiles, throughout his essay. He still delivers a lot of information that is impressive towards those who deeply educated in biblical history and literacy. This is a must read for everyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of Ephesians.
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