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ephesus Summary and Overview

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ephesus in Easton's Bible Dictionary

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."

ephesus in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(permitted), the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and an illustrious city in the district of Ionia, nearly opposite the island of Samos. Buildings. --Conspicuous at the head of the harbor of Ephesus was the great temple of Diana or Artemis, the tutelary divinity of the city. This building was raised on immense substructions, in consequence of the swampy nature of the ground. The earlier temple, which had been begun before the Persian war, was burnt down in the night when Alexander the Great was born; and another structure, raise by the enthusiastic co-operation of all the inhabitants of "Asia," had taken its place. The magnificence of this sanctuary was a proverb throughout the civilized world. In consequence of this devotion the city of Ephesus was called neo'koros, #Ac 19:35| or "warden" of Diana. Another consequence of the celebrity of Diana's worship at Ephesus was that a large manufactory grew up there of portable shrines, which strangers purchased, and devotees carried with them on journeys or set up in the houses. The theatre, into which the mob who had seized on Paul, #Ac 19:29| rushed, was capable of holding 25,000 or 30,000 persons, and was the largest ever built by the Greeks. The stadium or circus, 685 feet long by 200 wide, where the Ephesians held their shows, is probably referred to by Paul as the place where he "fought with beasts at Ephesus." #1Co 15:32| Connection with Christianity --The Jews were established at Ephesus in considerable numbers. #Ac 2:9; 6:9| It is here and here only that we find disciples of John the Baptist explicitly mentioned after the ascension of Christ. #Ac 18:25; 19:3| The first seeds of Christian truth were possibly sown here immediately after the great Pentecost. #Ac 2:1| ... St. Paul remained in the place more than two years, #Ac 19:8,10; 20:31| during which he wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians. At a later period Timothy was set over the disciples, as we learn from the two epistles addressed to him. Among St. Paul's other companions, two, Trophimus and Tychicus, were natives of Asia, #Ac 20:4| and the latter was probably, #2Ti 4:12| the former certainly, #Ac 21:29| a native of Ephesus. Present condition --The whole place is now utterly desolate, with the exception of the small Turkish village at Ayasaluk. The ruins are of vast extent.

ephesus in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

EPH'ESUS , the most important commercial city of Asia Minor, "one of the eyes of Asia," Smyrna, 40 miles to the north, being the other. Ephesus stood upon the south side of a plain, with mountains on three sides and the Icarian Sea on the west. The river Cayster ran across the plain. Scripture History. -- Paul visited Ephesus on his second tour. Acts 18:19-21; Apollos was instructed there by Aquila and Priscilla, Acts 18:24-26; Paul dwelt there 3 years, Acts 19; charged the elders of the church, Acts 20:16-28; the angel of the church of Ephesus is named in Rev 2:1-7. The city is a complete desolation; the ruins of the Stadium and theatre remain, but wild beasts haunt them. On the plain is a little Turkish village called Ayasolouk, from St. John, who is supposed to have ended his days at Ephesus. The ancient city often changed its name and its site. In the time of the Trojan war it was called Alopes, then Orthygia, next Morges, then Smyrna, Trachse, and Samornion, then Ptelae, then Ephesus, and now Ayasolouk. Buildings. -- In apostolic times Ephesus contained three remarkable buildings: 1. The Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the world. It was erected at the joint cost of all Asia, and was 220 years in building. Its length was 425 feet, and its breadth 220 feet. Built of purest marble, it is said to have gleamed like a meteor. Columns of Parian marble, 60 feet high and 127 in number, supported the roof. Its doors were of carved cypress. The jambs were of marble, and the transom above was a single block of vast dimensions, reputed to have been put in place by the goddess herself. The hall contained famous pieces of sculpture by Praxiteles, Phidias, and other masters; in the gallery, hung with master-pieces of paintings, one by Apelles is estimated to have cost upward of $190,000. In the centre of the court was an image of the goddess, which the superstitious people believed fell down from heaven. Acts 19:35. See Diana. Ephesus fell a prey to the Goths, a.d. 262, and the remains of its magnificent temple were hidden from the world until brought to light, in 1869, by Mr. J.T. Wood, who spent eleven years, from 1863 to 1874, in exploration about the ancient city. He found two large stones containing inscriptions in Greek and Latin recording that certain walls were built by order of Augustus, b.c. 6. Twenty feet below the surface was found a pavement belonging to the most ancient of the three temples which rose successively to Diana. The first temple, enlarged and beautified and called the second temple, was set on fire b.c. 356, on the night Alexander the Great was born. Some 2000 mediaeval coins were discovered in 1871, which are now in the British Museum. 2. The Theatre, Acts 19:29, the largest structure of its kind built by the Greeks, and claimed to be capable of seating 50,000 spectators. Mr. Wood estimated its seating capacity at 24,500 persons. 3. The Stadium, or Circus, 685 feet long by 200 feet wide, an arena in which the Ephesian people witnessed foot-racings, wrestlings, and fights with wild beasts. The combatants were usually condemned criminals, who were sent naked into the arena to be torn in pieces by the wild beasts. 1 Cor 15:32. The victims were sometimes exposed at the end of the combat, which gives great vividness to the apostle's figure in 1 Cor 4:9. Some of these games were held in honor of Diana, and the silver shrines or images of the goddess made by Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen were eagerly purchased for household idols by visitors. Acts 19:24. A railroad has been built from Ephesus to Smyrna by an English company.

ephesus in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Chief city of the Ionian confederacy and capital of the Roman province "Asia" (Mysia, Lydia, Caria), on the S. side of the plain of Cayster, and partly on the heights of Prion and Coressus, opposite the island of Samos. A leading scene of Paul's ministry (Acts 18; 19; 20); also one of the seven churches addressed in the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:11; Revelation 2:1), and the center from from whence John superintended the adjoining churches (Eusebius, 3:23). Ephesus, though she was commended for patient labors for Christ's name's sake, is reproved for having "left her first love." The port was called Panormus. Commodious roads connected this great emporium of Asia with the interior ("the upper coasts," i.e. the Phrygian table lands, Acts 19:1); also one on the N. to Smyrna, another on the S. to Miletus, whereby the Ephesian elders traveled when summoned by Paul to the latter city. On a N.E. hill stands the church Ayasaluk, corrupted from hagios theologos, "the holy divine," John, Timothy, and the Virgin Mary who was committed by the Lord to John (John 19:26), were said to have been buried there. It was the port where Paul sailed from Corinth, on his way to Syria (Acts 18:19-22). Thence too he probably sailed on a short visit to Corinth; also thence to Macedonia (Acts 19:21-27; Acts 20:1; compare 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 4:20). frontCORINTHIANS.) Originally colonized by the hardy Atticans under Androclus, son of Codrus, it subsequently fell through the enervation of its people under Lydian and Persian domination successively; then under Alexander the Great, and finally under the Romans when these formed their province of Asia (129 B.C.). A proconsul or "deputy" ruled Asia. In Acts 19:38 the plural is for the singular. He was on circuit, holding the assizes then in Ephesus; as is implied, "the law is open," margin "the court days are (now being) kept." Besides a senate there was a popular assembly such as met in the theater, the largest perhaps in the world, traceable still on mount Prion (Acts 19:29). The "town clerk" had charge of the public records, opened state letters, and took notes of the proceedings in the assembly. His appeal, quieting the people, notices that Paul was "not a blasphemer of the Ephesian goddess," a testimony to Paul's tact and wisdom in preaching Christ. The friendly warning of the Asiarchs to Paul, not to venture into the theater, implies how great an influence the apostle had gained at Ephesus. (See ASIARCHS.) Besides being famed as the birthplace of the two painters Apelles and Parrhasius, and the philosopher Heraclitus, Ephesus was notorious for its magical arts and amulets of parchment with inscribed incantations (Ephesia grammata), valued at enormous prices (50,000 pieces of silver), yet freely given up to the flame when their possessors received a living faith (Acts 19:19). In undesigned coincidence with Acts, Paul writing to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:13) says "seducers (goeetees, "conjurors") shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." The "special miracles" which God wrought by the hands of Paul were exactly suited to conquer the magicians on their own ground: handkerchiefs and aprons from his body brought as a cure to the sick; evil spirits cast out by him; and when exorcists imitated him, the evil spirits turning on them and rending them. The Diana of Ephesus, instead of the graceful Grecian goddess of the chase, was a mummy-shaped body with many breasts, ending in a point, and with the head of a female with mural crown, and hands with a bar of metal in each; underneath was a rude block. An aerolite probably gave the idea "the image that fell from heaven." After frequent burnings, the last building of her temple took 220 years. (See DIANA.) Some read Pliny's statement, "the columns were 120, seven of them the gifts of kings"; the diameter of each is six feet, the height 60 feet, according to Ward's measurement. The external pillars according to Wood's arrangement are 88; the whole number, internal and external, 120. The glory of Ephesus was to be "a worshipper of the great goddess" (see margin), literally, a caretaker, warden, or apparitor of the temple (neokoros), and the silversmiths had a flourishing trade in selling portable models of the shrine. Perhaps Alexander the "coppersmith" had a similar business. The "craftsmen" were the designers, the "workmen" ordinary laborers (Acts 19:24-25). The imagery of a temple naturally occurs in 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 written here, also in 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Timothy 6:19; 2 Timothy 2:19-20, written to Ephesus; compare also Acts 20:32. Demetrius would be especially sensitive at that time when Diana's sacred month of May was just about to attract the greatest crowds to her, for 1 Corinthians 16:8 shows Paul was there about that time, and it is probable the uproar took place then; hence we find the Asiarchs present at this time (Acts 19:31). Existing ancient coins illustrate the terms found in Acts, "deputy," "town clerk," "worshipper of Diana." The address at Miletus shows that the Ephesian church had then its bishop presbyters. Paul's companions, Trophimus certainly and Tychicus possibly, were natives of Ephesus (Acts 20:4; Acts 21:29; 2 Timothy 4:12.) Also Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16-18; 2 Timothy 4:19), Hymeneus and Alexander, Hermogenes and Phygellus, of Ephesus, were among Paul's opponents (1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 4:14).