Ephesus

Our guide previewed our visit: Ephesus is a double site.

We know about the church in Ephesus from three biblical sources: Acts of the Apostles (18-20), Paul's letter Ephesians and the letter to the church in Revelation.  

It's a strategic location for Paul because Ephesus is was the capital of Asia Minor. All roads flowed to the Meander River, which emptied into the Aegean at Ephesus. A port city, the view from the sea included the awesome theater, where the riot broke out against Paul--24,000 people chanting “great is Artemus of the Ephesians!” The first temple to Artemis was built in the 5thC bc, so Ephesus was a famous place of pilgrimage and the temple served as the first bank in the world.

This was also a wealthy city with opulent terrace houses, amazing water fountains, 30,000 book Celsus Library. indoor plumbing, and central heating and cooling. The arm of the 10 meters high statute of Domitian was eight feet long.  

Paul spent three years in Ephesus. During that time, Paul introduced believers to the Holy Spirit, spent two years talking about Jesus in the Hall if Tyrannus, taught house to house, trained elders, worked as a tent maker to pay his own way, healed people and faced the craftsmen whose business he threatened by his claims "that gods made by human hands are no gods at all."

Of the 250,000 residents in the city of Ephesus in the first century, 93 to 95% of those residents were slaves. Paul's good news was great news to slaves as well as citizens. 

Paul had the right to speak publically in the state agora where virtues and philosophies were debated.

I can imagine Paul speaking in public and teaching house to house about Jesus, and slaves overhearing the good news of forgiveness and freedom they could have in Christ.

Paul makes the bold statement against the power structures of the Roman Empire in the culture of his day saying in Christ there is no Gentile or Jew, male or female, slave or free. 

The prison letter to Philemon (in Colossae) makes that very clear point. How would Onesimus be received as a runaway slave turned brother in Christ? How would Philemon's house church in Colossae hold him accountable?  Paul says,

He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.  So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. Philemon 16-17

John moved here with Jesus' mother Mary, maybe as late as the Jewish Wars and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 ad. By this time Paul and Peter have been killed and John alone us left as a pillar of the Church.

Here he wrote his gospel and was known as Hagia Theologos, Saint Theologian. His tomb is the foundation of the basilica built by Justinian in the 6th century ad. 

John lived to 98 years, 40 years longer than Paul. He shepherded two more generations of believers in Ephesus. He also fulfilled Jesus' request to care for Mary.

Yes, Ephesus is a double site.

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