Ephesus

the capital of proconsular Asia, which was the western part of
Asia Minor. It was colonized principally from Athens. In the
time of the Romans it bore the title of "the first and greatest
metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of
Diana (q.v.), who there had her chief shrine; and for its
theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of
containing 50,000 spectators. It was, like all ancient theatres,
open to the sky. Here were exhibited the fights of wild beasts
and of men with beasts. (Compare 1 Cor. 4:9; 9:24, 25; 15:32.)

Many Jews took up their residence in this city, and here the
seeds of the gospel were sown immediately after Pentecost (Acts
2:9; 6:9). At the close of his second missionary journey (about
A.D. 51), when Paul was returning from Greece to Syria
(18:18-21), he first visited this city. He remained, however,
for only a short time, as he was hastening to keep the feast,
probably of Pentecost, at Jerusalem; but he left Aquila and
Priscilla behind him to carry on the work of spreading the
gospel.

During his third missionary journey Paul reached Ephesus from
the "upper coasts" (Acts 19:1), i.e., from the inland parts of
Asia Minor, and tarried here for about three years; and so
successful and abundant were his labors that "all they which
dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and
Greeks" (19:10). Probably during this period the seven churches
of the Apocalypse were founded, not by Paul's personal labors,
but by missionaries whom he may have sent out from Ephesus, and
by the influence of converts returning to their homes.

On his return from his journey, Paul touched at Miletus, some
30 miles south of Ephesus (Acts 20:15), and sending for the
presbyters of Ephesus to meet him there, he delivered to them
that touching farewell charge which is recorded in Acts
20:18-35. Ephesus is not again mentioned till near the close of
Paul's life, when he writes to Timothy exhorting him to "abide
still at Ephesus" (1 Tim. 1:3).

Two of Paul's companions, Trophimus and Tychicus, were
probably natives of Ephesus (Acts 20:4; 21:29; 2 Tim. 4:12). In
his second epistle to Timothy, Paul speaks of Onesiphorus as
having served him in many things at Ephesus (2 Tim. 1:18). He
also "sent Tychicus to Ephesus" (4:12), probably to attend to
the interests of the church there. Ephesus is twice mentioned in
the Apocalypse (1:11; 2:1).

The apostle John, according to tradition, spent many years in
Ephesus, where he died and was buried.

A part of the site of this once famous city is now occupied by
a small Turkish village, Ayasaluk, which is regarded as a
corruption of the two Greek words, hagios theologos; i.e., "the
holy divine."