Ephesus in the Bible
Ephesus in the Bible: Mary and Paul in Ephesus
Ephesus is a very prominent city in the Bible and has remained a place of pilgrimage for Christians since the late 1st century. According to some, John the Apostle brought the Virgin Mary hereafter Jesus’ crucifixion in 33 AD. Persecution of Christians was still legal at the time so, for their safety, John and Mary moved up to the nearby mountain; many Christians continue to make a pilgrimage to Mary’s House here.
The most prominent mentions of Ephesus in the Bible centre around Paul the Apostle. Paul came to the city in 53 AD and lived there for two and a half years, first preaching at the Synagogue. The Jews of the Synagogue weren’t receptive to his teachings however, so Paul then moved to preach at a local school. While Christianity existed in Ephesus before Paul arrived, he introduced the Ephesians to the concept of the Holy Spirit, the third form of God within the Holy Trinity.
While in Ephesus, Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians which would later become the First Book of Corinthians (Corinthians I). Paul also performed miracles in the city, healing the sick and injured with his touch or cloths he bandaged them with. To earn income, Paul sold tents in the Commercial Agora; he had learned to make these from his grandfather and father, who made tents for the Roman Army. Though Paul’s father was Greek, in return for his service to the Army, he was granted Roman citizenship which was then passed down to Paul. This was important because it allowed Paul to travel freely throughout the Empire evangelizing and also prevented forces other than Roman soldiers from arresting him.
Many of the mentions of Ephesus in the Bible come to the Book of Acts, Chapter 19. This book tells the story of a riot incited against Paul in 56 AD. Paul’s preaching and evangelizing had begun to upset the silversmiths of Ephesus; these smiths produced silver statues of Artemis, the Greek patron goddess of the city. They gathered a mob in the Theater but were calmed before they could search for Paul. Regardlessly, Paul was forced to flee the city. After evangelizing throughout Asia Minor, Paul returned to the nearby city of Miletus and asked the elders of Miletus to come meet with him. Unable to appease them, Paul continued to Jerusalem where he was arrested. Claiming his right as a Roman citizen to be judged by the Emperor. Paul was brought to Rome and while he awaited trial wrote a letter to Ephesus, which later became the Book of Ephesians. Paul was eventually executed in Rome.
Nearby sites include the Magnesia Gate, Domitian Temple, and Hadrian Temple.