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Acts 20:17

Acts 20:17

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus
Which is said, by some, to be about four hundred furlongs from Miletus, and, by others, ten German miles.

And called the elders of the church;
that is, at Ephesus; not the ancient members of the church, but the officers of it; the pastors, bishops, and overseers, as they are called, ( Acts 20:28 ) and are so styled from their office, and not their age. The twelve disciples the apostle found in this place, and the numerous converts made by him here, first composed this church, which doubtless was formed into Gospel order by himself; to which he afterwards wrote an epistle, when at a distance from them, called the Epistle to the Ephesians; and in the latter end of the first century, another epistle was sent from Jesus Christ himself, by the Apostle John, to this church, ( Revelation 2:1 ) and which had an angel, pastor, or bishop over it; but who he was, is not certain; Caius, who is reckoned among the seventy disciples, is said to be bishop of it; (See Gill on Luke 10:1). Some say Timothy was the first bishop of this church, and after him Onesimus; but these accounts are uncertain, and not to be depended on: but certain it is, that the Apostle John dwelt here, and in the parts adjacent, unto his death, and was a superintendent and overseer in common of this church, and others near it; concerning whom Irenaeus F7, a very ancient writer near his time, says, the church at Ephesus was founded by Paul; but John remained with them to the times of Trajan. In the "second" century Ignatius F8 wrote an epistle to this church, in which he speaks highly of it, saying, there was no heresy in it; and makes mention of Onesimus as bishop of it: in the "third" century there was a church in this place, and a very memorable affair happened here in the times of Decius; he having obliged all to sacrifice to the idols in the temple, seven persons, by name Maximianus, Malchus, Martinianus, Dionysius, Johannes, Serapion, and Constantine, were accused of Christianity, which they owned; but being soldiers, they had space given them to repent until the return of the emperor, who was going elsewhere: whilst he was gone they fled and hid themselves in the caves of Mount Caelius; upon the emperor's return they were inquired after, and found to be there; who, being provoked, ordered the mouth of the caverns to be shut up with stones, that they might be famished; and it is said, that what through fear and grief they fell asleep, and slept to a great age; some pretend to say to the times of Theodosius, and then awaked; and these are they that are called the seven sleepers: in the beginning of the "fourth" century there was a bishop of this church at the council of Nice: in the "fifth" century Ephesus was famous for a general synod, convened in it against Nestorius; and in this age we read of several bishops of this place: at the time of that synod, Memnon was bishop of it, and before him Antonius and Heraclides, and after him Basil, Bassianus, Stephen, and Paul: in the "sixth" century there was a bishop of this church present at the synod of Rome and Constantinople; and in the same age Ruffinus was bishop at Ephesus, who flourished under Mauritius the emperor: in the "seventh" century a bishop of this place assisted at the sixth council at Constantinople; in this century it was a metropolitan church, and Theodorus was archbishop of it: in the "eighth" century, one Theodosius presided over the church here; to which church the emperor Constantine gave a hundred pounds of gold {i}: so far down Christianity is to be traced in this place.


FOOTNOTES:

F7 Adv. Haeres. l. 3. c. 3.
F8 Epist. p. 16, 17.
F9 Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 3. c. 2. p. 2. c. 12. p. 212. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 3. c. 10. p. 590. &c. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 4. c. 10. p. 342. cent. 7. c. 2. p. 3. c. 7. p. 111, 115. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 4.
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