“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:” Revelation 2:1 NLT
Jesus is the One who holds the seven stars (angels of the seven churches) in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lamp stands (the seven churches - see Revelation 1:12-20). The first church to receive an assessment from Jesus was Ephesus. Ephesus was the most prominent church among the seven of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Ephesus was a coastal city that was the most important Roman seaport in Asia Minor. The city was a crucial trade center. A special canal had to be constantly maintained in order to keep the harbor open because of silting that came from the Cayster River. In modern time, this city now sets in swampy ruins because of the silting. During the time of Paul, Ephesus was a city with a population of approximately 300,000. Indeed, it was a cultural powerhouse. The city had an amphitheater that sat 25,000 people. Gymnasiums, baths, and other impressive buildings dotted the landscape. Religiously, the city was steeped in worship to the Roman goddess Diana (Artemis - Greek name). The temple ranked as one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, which was supported by scores of stone columns. As the daughter of Zeus, Artemis was known as the moon goddess, the goddess of hunting, and the patroness of young girls. The citizens of this city took great pride in their "beautiful temple". The Christian church in Ephesus May have been started by Priscilla and Aquila (see Acts 18:18-19). Paul had stopped there, taught in the synagogue, and departed. This was during his second missionary journey. In Acts 19, Paul goes to Ephesus on his third missionary journey. He re-entered the synagogue and began teaching about Jesus Christ. When some began to speak against the Christian faith, he began teaching daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (see Acts 19:9). He stayed for about three years (see Acts 20:31). This is the longest time Paul stayed in any area. The only time that compares to this is his Roman imprisonment at the end of his years (see Acts 28:30-31). Paul loved the believers of Ephesus. They had become close to him. He, later, specifically requested to meet with the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20 because he knew he would, likely, never see them again (see Acts 20:25-38). Timothy also had an appointment to the church at Ephesus. (see I Timothy 1:3). Sometime after Paul's ministry in Ephesus, John, the apostle, came to Ephesus (approx. A.D. 67) There he ministered until the time of Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). During the reign of Domitian, he was exiled to the remote island of Patmos for his faith in Christ. While there, he received the Revelation of Jesus (approx. A.D. 95-96). It is believed that John returned to Ephesus after the reign of Domitian. The traditional belief is that he died a natural death. The traditional tomb of John is in Ephesus.
Rev. Curtis Norris