Ephesus

Ephesus [N] [H] [S]

the capital of proconsular Asia, which was the western part of Asia Minor. It was colonized principally from Athens. In the time of the Romans it bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of Diana (q.v.), who there had her chief shrine; and for its theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of containing 50,000 spectators. It was, like all ancient theatres, open to the sky. Here were exhibited the fights of wild beasts and of men with beasts. (Compare 1 Corinthians 4:9 ; 1 Corinthians 9:24 1 Corinthians 9:25 ; 15:32 .)

Many Jews took up their residence in this city, and here the seeds of the gospel were sown immediately after Pentecost ( Acts 2:9 ; 6:9 ). At the close of his second missionary journey (about A.D. 51), when Paul was returning from Greece to Syria ( 18:18-21 ), he first visited this city. He remained, however, for only a short time, as he was hastening to keep the feast, probably of Pentecost, at Jerusalem; but he left Aquila and Priscilla behind him to carry on the work of spreading the gospel.

During his third missionary journey Paul reached Ephesus from the "upper coasts" ( Acts 19:1 ), i.e., from the inland parts of Asia Minor, and tarried here for about three years; and so successful and abundant were his labours that "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" ( 19:10 ). Probably during this period the seven churches of the Apocalypse were founded, not by Paul's personal labours, but by missionaries whom he may have sent out from Ephesus, and by the influence of converts returning to their homes.

On his return from his journey, Paul touched at Miletus, some 30 miles south of Ephesus ( Acts 20:15 ), and sending for the presbyters of Ephesus to meet him there, he delivered to them that touching farewell charge which is recorded in Acts 20:18-35 . Ephesus is not again mentioned till near the close of Paul's life, when he writes to Timothy exhorting him to "abide still at Ephesus" ( 1 Timothy 1:3 ).

Two of Paul's companions, Trophimus and Tychicus, were probably natives of Ephesus ( Acts 20:4 ; 21:29 ; 2 Tim 4:12 ). In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul speaks of Onesiphorus as having served him in many things at Ephesus ( 2 Timothy 1:18 ). He also "sent Tychicus to Ephesus" ( 4:12 ), probably to attend to the interests of the church there. Ephesus is twice mentioned in the Apocalypse ( 1:11 ; 2:1 ).

The apostle John, according to tradition, spent many years in Ephesus, where he died and was buried.

A part of the site of this once famous city is now occupied by a small Turkish village, Ayasaluk, which is regarded as a corruption of the two Greek words, hagios theologos; i.e., "the holy divine."

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Ephesus". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

Ephesus [N] [E] [S]

desirable
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Ephesus'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

Ephesus [N] [E] [H]

(permitted ), the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and an illustrious city in the district of Ionia, nearly opposite the island of Samos. Buildings. --Conspicuous at the head of the harbor of Ephesus was the great temple of Diana or Artemis, the tutelary divinity of the city. This building was raised on immense substructions, in consequence of the swampy nature of the ground. The earlier temple, which had been begun before the Persian war, was burnt down in the night when Alexander the Great was born; and another structure, raise by the enthusiastic co-operation of all the inhabitants of "Asia," had taken its place. The magnificence of this sanctuary was a proverb throughout the civilized world. In consequence of this devotion the city of Ephesus was called neokoros, ( Acts 19:35 ) or "warden" of Diana. Another consequence of the celebrity of Dianas worship at Ephesus was that a large manufactory grew up there of portable shrines, which strangers purchased, and devotees carried with them on journeys or set up in the houses. The theatre , into which the mob who had seized on Paul, ( Acts 19:29 ) rushed, was capable of holding 25,000 or 30,000 persons, and was the largest ever built by the Greeks. The stadium or circus, 685 feet long by 200 wide, where the Ephesians held their shows, is probably referred to by Paul as the place where he "fought with beasts at Ephesus." ( 1 Corinthians 15:32 ) Connection with Christianity --The Jews were established at Ephesus in considerable numbers. ( Acts 2:9 ; 6:9 ) It is here and here only that we find disciples of John the Baptist explicitly mentioned after the ascension of Christ. ( Acts 18:25 ; 19:3 ) The first seeds of Christian truth were possibly sown here immediately after the great Pentecost. ( Acts 2:1 ) ... St. Paul remained in the place more than two years, ( Acts 19:8 Acts 19:10 ; 20:31 ) during which he wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians. At a later period Timothy was set over the disciples, as we learn from the two epistles addressed to him. Among St. Pauls other companions, two, Trophimus and Tychicus, were natives of Asia, ( Acts 20:4 ) and the latter was probably, ( 2 Timothy 4:12 ) the former certainly, ( Acts 21:29 ) a native of Ephesus. Present condition --The whole place is now utterly desolate, with the exception of the small Turkish village at Ayasaluk . The ruins are of vast extent.


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Ephesus'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

EPHESUS

ef'-e-sus (Ephesos, "desirable"):

A city of the Roman province of Asia, near the mouth of the Cayster river, 3 miles from the western coast of Asia Minor, and opposite the island of Samos. With an artificial harbor accessible to the largest ships, and rivaling the harbor at Miletus, standing at the entrance of the valley which reaches far into the interior of Asia Minor, and connected by highways with the chief cities of the province, Ephesus was the most easily accessible city in Asia, both by land and sea. Its location, therefore, favored its religious, political and commercial development, and presented a most advantageous field for the missionary labors of Paul. The city stood upon the sloping sides and at the base of two hills, Prion and Coressus, commanding a beautiful view; its climate was exceptionally fine, and the soil of the valley was unusually fertile.

Tradition says that in early times near the place where the mother goddess of the earth was born, the Amazons built a city and a temple in which they might worship. This little city of the Amazons, bearing at different times the names of Samorna, Trachea, Ortygia and Ptelea, flourished until in the early Greek days it aroused the cupidity of Androclus, a prince of Athens. He captured it and made it a Greek city. Still another tradition says that Androclus was its founder. However, under Greek rule the Greek civilization gradually supplanted that of the Orientals, the Greek language was spoken in place of the Asiatic; and the Asiatic goddess of the temple assumed more or less the character of the Greek Artemis. Ephesus, therefore, and all that pertained to it, was a mixture of oriental and Greek Though the early history of the city is obscure, it seems that at different times it was in the hands of the Carians, the Leleges and Ionians; in the early historical period it was one of a league of twelve Ionfan cities. In 560 BC it came into the possession of the Lydians; 3 years later, in 557, it was taken by the Persians; and during the following years the Greeks and Persians were constantly disputing for its possession. Finally, Alexander the Great took it; and at his death it fell to Lysimachus, who gave it the name of Arsinoe, from his second wife. Upon the death of Attalus II (Philadelphus), king of Pergamos, it was bequeathed to the Roman Empire; and in 190, when the Roman province of Asia was formed, it became a part of it. Ephesus and Pergamos, the capital of Asia, were the two great rival cities of the province. Though Pergamos was the center of the Roman religion and of the government, Ephesus was the more accessible, the commercial center and the home of the native goddess Diana; and because of its wealth and situation it gradually became the chief city of the province. It is to the temple of Diana, however, that its great wealth and prominence are largely due. Like the city, it dates from the time of the Amazons, yet what the early temple was like we now have no means of knowing, and of its history we know little except that it was seven times destroyed by fire and rebuilt, each time on a scale larger and grander than before. The wealthy king Croesus supplied it with many of its stone columns, and the pilgrims from all the oriental world brought it of their wealth. In time the temple possessed valuable lands; it controlled the fishcries; its priests were the bankers of its enormous revenues. Because of its strength the people stored there their money for safe-keeping; and it became to the ancient world practically all that the Bank of England is to the modern world.

In 356 BC, on the very night when Alexander the Great was born, it was burned; and when he grew to manhood he offered to rebuild it at his own expense if his name might be inscribed upon its portals. This the priests of Ephesus were unwilling to permit, and they politely rejected his offer by saying that it was not fitting for one god to build a temple to another. The wealthy Ephesians themselves undertook its reconstruction, and 220 years passed before its final completion. Not only was the temple of Diana a place of worship, and a treasure-house, but it was also a museum in which the best statuary and most beautiful paintings were preserved. Among the paintings was one by the famous Apelles, a native of Ephesus, representing Alexander the Great hurling a thunderbolt. It was also a sanctuary for the criminal, a kind of city of refuge, for none might be arrested for any crime whatever when within a bowshot of its walls. There sprang up, therefore, about the temple a village in which the thieves and murderers and other criminals made their homes. Not only did the temple bring vast numbers of pilgrims to the city, as does the Kaaba at Mecca at the present time, but it employed hosts of people apart from the priests and priestesses; among them were the large number of artisans who manufactured images of the goddess Diana, or shrines to sell to the visiting strangers.

Such was Ephesus when Paul on his 2nd missionary journey in Ac (18:19-21) first visited the city, and when, on his 3rd journey (19:8-10; 20:31), he remained there for two years preaching in the synagogue (19:8,10), in the school of Tyrannus (19:9) and in private houses (20:20). Though Paul was probably not the first to bring Christianity to Ephesus, for Jews had long lived there (2:9; 6:9), he was the first to make progress against the worship of Diana. As the fame of his teachings was carried by the pilgrims to their distant homes, his influence extended to every part of Asia Minor. In time the pilgrims, with decreasing faith in Diana, came in fewer numbers; the sales of the shrines of the goddess fell off; Diana of the Ephesians was no longer great; a Christian church was rounded there and flourished, and one of its first leaders was the apostle John. Finally in 262 AD, when the temple of Diana was again burned, its influence had so far departed that it was never again rebuilt. Diana was dead. Ephesus became a Christian city, and in 341 AD a council of the Christian church was held there. The city itself soon lost its importance and decreased in population. The sculptured stones of its great buildings, which were no longer in use and were falling to ruins, were carried away to Italy, and especially to Constantinople for the great church of Saint Sophia. In 1308 the Turks took possession of the little that remained of the city, and deported or murdered its inhabitants. The Cayster river, overflowing its banks, gradually covered with its muddy deposit the spot where the temple of Diana had once stood, and at last its very site was forgotten.

The small village of Ayasaluk, 36 miles from Smyrna on the Aidin R. R., does not mark the site of the ancient city of Ephesus, yet it stands nearest to its ruins. The name Ayasaluk is the corruption of three Greek words meaning "the Holy Word of God." Passing beyond the village one comes to the ruins of the old aqueduct, the fallen city walls, the so-called church of John or the baths, the Turkish fort which is sometimes called Paul's prison, the huge theater which was the scene of the riot of Paul's time, but which now, with its marble torn away, presents but a hole in the side of the hill Prion. In 1863 Mr. J. T. Wood, for the British Museum, obtained permission from the Turkish government to search for the site of the lost temple of Diana. During the eleven years of his excavations at Ephesus, ,000 were spent, and few cities of antiquity have been more thoroughly explored. The city wall of Lysimachus was found to be 36,000 ft. in length, enclosing an area of 1,027 acres. It was 10 1/2 ft. thick, and strengthened by towers at intervals of 100 ft. The six gates which pierced the wall are now marked by mounds of rubbish. The sites and dimensions of the various public buildings, the streets, the harbor, and the foundations of many of the private houses were ascertained, and numerous inscriptions and sculptures and coins were discovered. Search, however, did not reveal the site of the temple until January 1, 1870, after six years of faithful work. Almost by accident it was then found in the valley outside the city walls, several feet below the present surface. Its foundation, which alone remained, enabled Mr. Wood to reconstruct the entire temple plan. The temple was built upon a foundation which was reached by a flight of ten steps. The building itself was 425 ft. long and 220 ft. wide; each of its 127 pillars which supported the roof of its colonnade was 60 ft. high; like the temples of Greece, its interior was open to the sky. For a further description of the temple, see Mr. Wood's excellent book, Discoveries at Ephesus.

E. J. Banks


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'EPHESUS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.