Biblical Ephesus

” God seals with His Spirit those who are saved, who have believed in a dead and risen Christ.’’

The City Of Ephesus

Ephesus is the most interesting archeological site in Turkey. Once Ephesus was a great commercial center thanks to its harbour. Paul set sail for Macedonia after the Ephesian riot from Ephesus harbour. The main street of the city was the Arcadian Way between the harbor and the theater, streching from the base of the theatre lined with statues, porticoes and public buildings. The street was over 100 feet wide and paved with marble slabs. The street was paved with marble discs and often used for shows and ceremonies, flanked on either side by rows of columns 50 feet deep. The street was named in honor of the emperor Arcadius who enlarged and restored it. At night the street was lit by torches, which made Ephesus city the third city to use torches to light up the city. The massive theatre at Ephesus, with the 25.000 seating capacity, gives us some idea of the elegance of the ancient city in the time of Paul. When Paul was returning from Corinth to Ephesus talked in a synogogue where he was asked to stay longer in Ephesus, and promised, “I shall come back to you if it’s God’s will.” It is believed that John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus and she lived out her days on a hilltop south of the city. The home of Mary, is now visited by many pilgrims each year coming to see and pray in this ancient spot of worship.The construction began during the reign of Claudies and was completed during the reign of Trajan. In the north of the Arcadian way is the Church of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. One could see the ornamented arch, the entrance to the stadium in the north of the Ephesus Theater.

ephesusAnother street of Ephesus was the marble road, streching from the theater south to the library of Celsus. The Library of Celsus was built in 135 A.D. by Julius Aguila in memory of his father, Celsus, who was a Roman senator and governor of the province of Asia. Here thousands of parchments and papyri were stored, protected from dampness and worms by a double wall. Estimates of the number of rolls that could be stored in the library vary from 9,500 to 12,000. On the first floor of its facade there stood four female statues representing wisdom, fortune, knowledge, and virtue. To the west of the library are stairs, the tumbled columns, and the intricate decorations of the temple of Serapis. Another important street was Curetes Street, which derived its name from the Curetes (priests), who guarded the sacred fire of the hestia (hearth) in the prytaneion. The Curetes were a college of priests attached to the service of Artemis. Many inscriptions and reliefs may be seen along the street, including a relief representing Nike, the goddess of victory, with a wreath in her left hand and a spike in the right. The most beautiful building on Curetes Street is the Temple of Hadrian built in 117–138 A.D. The Fountain of Trajan is located on the northern end of the street, dedicated to the Emperor Trajan at the end of the first century. The Odeion in Ephesus had 22 tiers and accommodated over 1500 spectators. Here musicians played their flutes, lyres, and citharas, and poets recited from Homer.

Paul’s First Visit To Ephesus

The apostle Paul first visited Ephesus on the return from his missionary journey where he “entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews” (Acts 18:19–21). The result of this first visit is the expression of the desire of the Jews to hear more of Paul’s ministry. Having other exercises upon his heart, the apostle is not free to accede to their request, but promises, if the Lord will, to come back again.

Paul’s Second Visit to Ephesus

When Paul returned to Ephesus, according to his promise, he found disciples who had been baptized with John’s baptism, but who had not heard of the coming of the Holy Spirit. They were in the same position as Apollos when Aquila and Priscilla met him. When the more perfect teaching of Christianity was brought before them by Paul, they were baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and through the laying on of the apostle’s hands they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It may have been to this Paul referred when he wrote in Ephesians 1: 13, 14, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.”

Paul’s Call to the Elders of Ephesus

Before the intervention of Demetrius, Paul had already purposed in his spirit to visit Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem and Rome (Acts 19: 21); and after the uproar he started out on his journey. A plot of the Jews in Greece brings about a return through Macedonia, and probably within the year Paul is found once more in the region of Ephesus, but does not go there, as he desires to reach Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost. On reaching Miletus, about 25 miles distant, Paul sent for the elders of Ephesus.