Paul sails to Miletus

Acts 20:14-16 Paul and his companions meet up at Assos and continue by ship across the Aegean Sea to Mitylene on the island of Lesbos. The next evening they anchor off the island of Chios. The day after, they cross over to Samos, and the following day they arrive at Miletus (see 7 on Map 25).

 

Roman harbour at Miletus

The Roman harbour at Miletus  (Acts 20:15)

 

Miletus

Miletus was an important port and commercial centre, with a huge amphitheatre, a large agora (market place) and many pagan temples. It was situated on a branch of the River Meander (Menderes) that has since silted up, leaving the Roman harbour high and dry (see Map 25).

In Paul’s day, pilgrims travelled along the Sacred Way from Miletus to the Temple of Apollo at nearby Didyma (Didim), where Alexander the Great consulted the Oracle in 334BC before the seige of Halikarnassos (Bodrum) and his victory over King Darius of Persia at the Battle of Issus.

Today, visitors to Miletus can explore the extensive archaeological remains of the Roman city, walking, as Paul would have done, from the site of the old harbour, north of the citadel, down the main street past the impressive Ionic stoa (entrance portico) of the Baths of Faustina, built in 43AD. The hillside, into which the huge Roman amphitheatre was built, is now capped by the remains of a later Byzantine castle, while the remains of a 6th century Byzantine church is a reminder that Miletus was a Christian settlement some three centuries after Paul’s visit.

 

The Baths of Faustina at Miletus

The Baths of Faustina at Miletus  (Acts 20:17)

 

Paul meets the leaders from the Ephesian church

Acts 20:17-38 Paul sends a message to the leaders of the church in Ephesus (some 80 km / 50 miles away) and they join Paul in Miletus for a farewell gathering. He warns them that he faces persecution and imprisonment when he returns to Jerusalem. They weep when they realise they will never see him again.

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