May 28, 2024

Ephesus was a Thriving Metropolis During the First Century

Ruins of Ephesus Ruins of Ephesus © Edjbartos |

Ephesus was a bustling cosmopolitan Greek city of the ancient world ruled not only by the Greeks but also by the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The remnants of this religiously and archaeologically significant city mark a popular tourist attraction situated three kilometers away from the modern town of Selçukin the Izmir Province, Turkey.

Ephesus was one of the cities mentioned frequently in the New Testament.  Acts chapter 19 details a period of several years that Paul stayed in Ephesus and preached and grew the church there, and performed many miracles, including exorcisms.  A great fear and respect for Jesus came upon the residents of Ephesus and many public renounced their pagan practices, including a book burning mentioned in Acts 19:19.  All of this stirred the pot amongst craftsmen who made their living creating shrines and idols for the false god Artemis (Diana), leading to a major riot in the great theatre.   The book of Ephesians is a detailed letter from Paul to the disciples of Ephesus.  And Ephesus is the first of seven cities/churches to which letters were addressed by Jesus, through the apostle John, in the book of Revelation.

“If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained?’’ (1 Corinthians 15:32)

Not only this, but the incident of the Seven Sleeper of Ephesus also occurred there. It is said that seven Christians were sealed away in a cave because they didn’t give up Christianity for paganism. 200-300 years later, when Christianity flourished, the then ruler decided to break the seal. To his surprise, the seven men sleeping inside immediately woke up.

Ephesus was a prime area for Early Christianity and attracted many Christian leaders, including Paul, Timothy, and John. Legend also says that Mary spent the last years of her life at Ephesus and remnants of the Church of Mary are present there.

Main Attractions

Temple of Artemis

This magnificent temple, completed around 550 B.C., was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is what made Ephesus such a popular city. It was a Greek temple devoted to the Goddess Artemis.

The Great Theatre of Ephesus

This breath-taking view is that of the Great Theatre of Ephesus which was capable of holding 25,000 spectators! Its construction started during the Hellenistic period and was expanded later on. It was not only a center for musical festivities and plays but was also used for religious and political discussions. Additionally, it marks the site where Saint Paul was judged and sent to prison

House of the Virgin Mary

When Jesus was on the cross, he charged the apostle John to take care of his mother, Mary, as though John were her own son (John 19:25-27).  As John became the bishop of Ephesus in later years he brought Mary with him, and according to tradition she died and was buried there.   This house amongst the archeological rujns of Ephesus is believed by some to be the home where Mary lived in her latter years.


This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting creations of the Romans! Yes, they’re actually public toilets. Yes, that’s right. The toilets didn’t have doors. Instead, they had partitions between them which were also used as armrests.

Celsus Library

The picturesque Celsus Library is a splendid building whose intricacy will leave you awe-struck. I bet you won’t be able to help but utter a reflexive ‘wow’ or two when you look at its fine detailing.It was built in 117 A.D. and had a capacity of 12,000 scrolls. The hall of the library faced towards the east, allowing the luminous rays of the sun to pour in.

Temple of Hadrian

This majestic temple was constructed and dedicated to the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century A.D. The arch overlying its entrance bears intricate floral patterns and a figure of Tyche, the goddess of victory.

Each of the remnants of Ephesus has such a rich history that you cannot help but be amazed by the significance that limited area of land has to offer. The intense heat in that area is definitely worth the visit, so be sure to carry an umbrella with you!









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Last modified on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 05:41
Nathan Gopen

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Nathan Gopen is a professional software engineer and MIT graduate. He is committed to using his skills in software, multimedia and graphic design to create inspiring and powerful new ways of comprehending and studying the vast riches of God's Word.

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