joyy (Posted by) Level 3
When the evangelist’s letter reached Ephesus, its hearers were part of one of the wealthiest, most cosmopolitan cities in the Roman Empire. A strategically placed port, it had long been the hub of trade and commerce from Eastern Asia Minor to the Mediterranean and thus of interest to every king and leader who wanted to control the flow of resources from the East to the West. Over the centuries, Ephesus had witnessed one attempt after another to meld the Mediterranean region into one unified political and economic region serving the goals of a dominant lord who dreamed that all cities and tribes could be subjugated into a single, ordered system.

Through the steady succession of tyrants and visionaries, a body of common wisdom was formulated and ingrained in the awareness of the region: ordinary people, while certainly accountable for the roles they played in their lives, were subject to forces quite beyond themselves. Fate was larger than the choices and desires of any particular individual or group. Additionally, while the gods had agendas that might have nothing to do with the desires or wellbeing of any local populace, the gods had to be constantly acknowledged, praised and placated lest they became irritated and abandoned the care and protection of their people. The gods were the great benefactors who provided the basic necessities from which ordinary people wrested a living. They also could protect against the demonic and unseen evil forces that created havoc and chaos. Determining (divining) the will of the gods and acting in harmony with their purposes improved the group’s chance of prosperity and survival. The praise, offerings, and service given them functioned to mitigate the gods’ capriciousness and arbitrary nature, as the gods were partially dependent on the locals’ offerings and so had at least some interest in...
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