by John Barnett

Our Ugly Flesh
John Barnett
Colossians 3

Paul's epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians were to people living in Roman Asia which is the area of modern Turkey. In the time of Paul was incredibly Roman.

There are more Greek temples in Turkey than in Greece, and there are more Roman cities in Turkey than there are in all of Italy. This was the epicenter of Roman life in the first and second centuries.

Why the history lesson? As you turn to Galatians 2 this evening let me describe life in the Roman world of the 1st century.

In Roman Asia (Turkey) was also the city we know from Revelation called Thyatira. This city was renowned for it's manufacturing and industry. Most workers in Thyatira were members of guilds, much like our labor unions of today. They set prices for labor and sales areas and so on: potters, dyers, tanners, bakers, metal workers, textile makers, bronze smiths, slave dealers, leather workers and the rest had their guilds in this town. History of this period notes three things.

? Trade guilds were compulsory; to be employed in a trade was only via the guild. It was a closed shop.
? Every guild in Thyatira had a patron God or Goddess. Thus, every guild function began with paying homage to that deity by offering--this was the obligatory opening to all meetings which were required to be an artisan/craftsman.
? Business followed and then the customary banquets known for their sexual freedom. The cost for the Christian was unmistakable.

Ramsay the famed 19th century archaeologist, writes "revelry, license and intoxication marked these pagan religious societies (trade guilds) lounging on dining couches, surrounded by troupes of unclothed, dancing and singing slaves...would be fatal to all self-restraining spirits". In short, a guild was no place for Christians and yet quitting the union was economic suicide.

So the battle with the flesh raged every day in Thyatira and all the other towns of Roman Asia. A ...

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