(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 neo'koros, (Acts 19:35) or "warden" of Diana. Another consequence of the celebrity of Diana's 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, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. 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 19:8,10; 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. Paul's 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.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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