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Paul first draws a word from the Roman world to capture the entire bearing of these godly role model women in Christ’s church. He uses the word that meant to operate as a priest in a temple.
In the ancient world, the prime temples to the chief gods were intentionally built outside of town. People had to stop, take a bath, change into special clothes and then walk down a “sacred way” often stretching a mile or more to the temple. They were led down the sacred path by individuals who acted as representatives of the gods.
The Greek word translated “reverent” is used only here in the Bible, and it conveys the idea of priest-like. That word for ‘acting as a representative of a god’ is the word Paul uses to describe the devout and godly character of the Titus 2 woman. Older women are to live like holy priests serving in the presence of God. Their sacred personal devotion to the Lord has slowly come to influence every aspect of their lives.
To us who live in the front end of the 21st Century, Temples, priests, and priestesses, and the overwhelming influence that the worship of the Pantheon of Graeco-Roman gods held over daily life in New Testament days is remote, and hard to fathom. But the world of the Bible was filled with pagan deities and their false worship.
Paul stayed and taught the longest of all his ministry life, in the shadow of the largest of all the temples. Ephesus was home to the epicenter of worship in Roman Asia (modern-day Turkey). Think of how this Temple dominated the lives of people in that great city.
Paul’s communication to believers used the imagery of the world around them.
Life revolved around the gods. Holidays, festivals, athletics, travel, and even daily work, all fell under the dominant influence of cultural religion. Towering above everything else in life, the temples of those gods stood as constant reminders of the need to worship the gods.
If you had arrived at Ephesus with Paul, there would be only one sight that would catch your eyes. It wouldn’t be the bustling harbor that was full of boats. It wouldn’t be the roads that were lined with the exotic spices and the goods coming in from the East. No, what would catch all our eyes would be the lustrous, golden gleam of the largest building ever built in the ancient world, the temple of Diana.
This most amazing temple ever built in the ancient world, (the size of a city block, ten stories high, covered with gold), was the temple of Diana. Four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens, it was 425 feet long, 225 feet wide, and filled with a forest of over 120 intricately carved, 30,000 pound, 60 foot high columns, all gifts from kings all across the ancient world. Each of these columns around the altar to Artemis (the Greek name), or Diana (the Roman name), was covered with life-size figures completely covered with pure gold.
Paul explained that Christ can change your life no matter how strong the world’s tug, no matter how overpowering the world’s enticements: Christ’s power worked in Ephesus in formerly sin-enslaved pagans, and thus it can work in anyone, anytime, and anywhere!