And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
Note 3 at Ac 18:19: Ephesus was the main commercial center of Asia Minor. The Romans made it the capital of proconsular Asia. It was located at the mouth of the Cayster, about thirty-five miles southeast of Smyrna. It had an excellent harbor on the Aegean Sea. Many famous orators and philosophers lived there, rivaling the city of Athens (see note 1 at Ac 17:15).
The architecture of Ephesus was among the best in the world at that time. The temple of Diana was three times as large as the Parthenon in Athens. The theater of Ephesus was one of the largest known in ancient times. It was semicircular with a diameter of over 465 feet and could seat over 21,000 people. Paul visited Ephesus briefly here on his second missionary journey, leaving Aquila and Priscilla (see note 2 at Ac 18:2) there as he hurried to Jerusalem (Ac 18:20-21).
On Paul's third missionary trip, he spent at least three years in Ephesus (Ac 20:31) with great success. A thriving church was established in Ephesus, of which Timothy was ordained the first bishop (subscript at 2Ti 4:22 [found in some Bibles]). One of the letters in Revelation was written to the church at Ephesus. Even into the fifth century, the church at Ephesus was a dominant force in the Christian world. In A.D. 431, the Third Ecumenical Council of the church was held in Ephesus. Tradition has it that the Apostle John spent his last days in Ephesus.
Like most major cities of that time, Ephesus was given to idolatry, with many temples to different gods. The dominant temple in Ephesus was the Temple of Diana (see note 1 at Ac 19:24). This temple was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Paul's success in sharing the Gospel was greatly diminishing the worship of the goddess Diana. This enraged those who made their living from the sale of her idols (Ac 19:24-27). A riot ensued, and Paul eventually left Ephesus (Ac 20:1).
Paul wrote an epistle to the church at Ephesus, and toward the end of his third missionary journey, he called all the elders of the church together and delivered a charge to them (Ac 20:17-36).
In A.D. 263, Ephesus was destroyed by the Goths, and it never regained its former glory. The site of the Temple of Diana is marked only by a single column built of fragments from the temple. Little remains of this city that was once a stronghold of the Christian faith. Ephesus' ruins lie near the modern-day Turkish city of Seljuk.
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