Our group has returned home safely from our trip to Turkey (and Greece – see Patmos). It was a fun trip, and I really enjoyed getting to know the students, my colleagues, and our tour guide along the way.
Towards the end of the trip, we had two highlights: Patmos and Ephesus.
Patmos, a Greek island that was a 4 hour boat trip from the coast of Turkey near Ephesus, was much larger than I imagined it:
The apostle John was exiled as a political prisoner on this Aegean island, most likely during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, in the mid-90’s A.D. From here John wrote Revelation to the seven churches of Asia and shared the contents of what God had revealed to him on this island. We saw a cave that is the traditional location for where John received this revelation. We could not take pictures inside the cave or the small church attached to it, but a mosaic above the door to the entrance of the church complex depicts the scene of John receiving the revelation and dictating it to his scribe (traditionally identified as Prochorus):
The next day we visited Ephesus. The memory of John is also very strong here, since the city is the supposed location for John’s burial. According to tradition John had returned to Ephesus after the new emperor Nerva released him from his exile. A church was built at the traditional location for the burial site of John in the city:
Here is a 6th century baptismal pool found in that church, giving believers a striking picture of the forgiveness of sins that we enjoy through the death and resurrection of Christ:
Most Christians associate Ephesus more with Paul than with John, but since Paul died elsewhere, there are fewer overt reminders of his presence. But this theater was the site where he and his friends were confronted by a hostile mob (Acts 19):
The angry crowds were upset that Paul’s gospel of Jesus Christ was negatively affecting the worship of Artemis and the economy that was centered around the Temple of Artemis and the sale of her shrines. Once one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, today little remains of the Temple of Artemis:
Worldly kingdoms rise and fall, but God’s kingdom endures forever. The gospel or good news of Jesus is that we who believe and are washed of our sins through the sacrificial work of the Savior-King will enjoy God’s kingdom forever.