Ephesus and Patmos. Two of the most famous New Testament locations outside the Holy Land. And for good reason! Paul stayed in Ephesus for three years making sure the believers there could stand on their own until, eventually, being run out of town for decimating the idol trading business. Patmos is where John was exiled and where he received his Revelation; a letter of encouragement and warning for the 7 churches in Asia, and throughout the world and across time, as they await the second coming of Christ. The church in Ephesus was so established and important that John spent his last years of ministry there as well. Ephesus was also home to Eutychus, the patron saint of suffering the effects of long sermons.
Read Acts 18:24-19:40 as well as Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (6 chapters). The Revelation of St. John is not a quick read, nor will we have time to study it on our trip. But I would encourage you to study it in depth with a good teacher or Lutheran resource guide at some point.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians shows his love for them as his fellow churchmen, neighbors, and partners in Christ. Their main problems were in-fighting between those who were of Jewish background and those who were gentiles. Later, Timothy had to go and straighten out some false teachings that were being spread there.
Heavenly Father, continue to send to us pastors and teachers like Paul and Timothy who, out of love for you, love your people just as much as Jesus. May they continue in service, despite our differences and misunderstandings of your word, and may they be blessed by your provision, and our hearing during their time of service. Lead us to be like Aaron, holding up the prophet’s hands in the most critical moments of ministry. We pray it in the name of Jesus. Amen.