Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
December 2, 2018
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God... Isaiah 40:5
Demetrius was right to be worried. The Ephesian silversmith made shrines for the goddess Artemis, and what kept him up at night—worrying about his job security—was the rapid growth of Christianity in his city.
Up until a missionary named Paul arrived, the silver trade in Ephesus had been rather lucrative. The worship of Artemis “brought no little business to the craftsmen” (Acts 19:24). But Christianity meant the end of idolatry, and this posed a threat to the livelihood of Demetrius and his colleagues.
So they staged a massive protest in the giant theater of Ephesus. For two straight hours, as many as 20,000 people shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:34).
The temple of Artemis was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and had taken two centuries to build. One hundred and twenty seven columns of white marble enclosed an enormous marble statue of the goddess herself.
Artemis seemed immortal. But Demetrius was right to be worried. The coming of Christ, the Blessed Son of God, meant the death of Artemis. She has long since been tossed on the scrap heap of history. With the exception of a few scattered columns on a plain near ancient Ephesus, the last fragments of her temple—a few broken columns and a handful of coins—are now on display in the basement of London’s British Museum.
The death of Artemis has turned Paul’s doxology into a hymn of triumph: “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17). Paul addressed these words to Timothy in Ephesus, the guardian city of Artemis, in defiance of the goddess and in celebration of the one true God.
Why does Paul sing the doxology here? It is easy for a personal testimony to become self-centered, so Paul ends his spiritual autobiography by glorifying God. There comes a time to leave off praising God for what he has done in someone’s life and simply to praise him for who he is in himself.
Paul’s praise becomes our own whenever we praise the Blessed Son of God as our forever King.
When was the last time you shared your personal testimony with someone who doesn’t know Jesus?
Let Us Pray
Immortal, invisible God, give us strength to ignore the idols that threaten to distract us from your truth. Keep our testimonies focused not on our own flawed stories but rather on glorifying the one true story of your Blessed Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Back to Introduction | Forward to Second Sunday of Advent
Download a PDF of this devotional.