Shortcoming of the corporate model.

To the first-century traveler who sailed across the Aegean Sea, Ephesus must have seemed magnificent. Its population of three hundred thousand, bustling commerce, and political prominence as a free city all drew large numbers of visitors. Disembarking from the ship in the harbor, tourists and businessmen alike could not fail to be impressed by the Arcadian Way, the thirty-five-foot avenue that stretched up the gentle slope to the city itself. Lined with columns, this avenue presaged other engineering, architectural, and intellectual triumphs: the Library of Celsus, a major stadium, the theater with its seating capacity of twenty-five thousand, and above all the Temple of Artemis (“Diana”)—one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Yet the perceptive visitor might well ask himself how long this splendor could last. Even in the first century, the city, despite its splendor and wealth, was beginning its long decline. A thousand years earlier, the sea had lapped the shores near the site of the Temple; but by the first century the silting from the Cayster River had pushed the harbor far out to sea. In time, the harbor would be abandoned, and Ephesus would wither and die. Today, six miles stretch between the sea and the ruins.

Ephesus enjoyed a succession of capable Christian witnesses. Priscilla and Aquila settled there about A.D. 51. Paul spent two and a half years there, and the church was so well-established during this period that the gospel radiated outward from this center into all the important cities of Asia Minor. Later, Timothy ministered in Ephesus; and last of all came the apostle John.

This same John penned the letter the exalted Christ wants him to communicate to the Ephesian ...

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