Acts 19:1-7 When Apollos leaves for Achaia to teach the new believers in Corinth, Paul moves on through the Roman province of Asia to stay with his old friends Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus (see 2 on Map 25).
On arrival, he discovers that the new believers have been taught about John’s baptism by Apollos (see Acts 18:24-26) but haven’t yet received Jesus's baptism - the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So Paul prays with these twelve believers and they are filled with the Holy Spirit. They speak in different ‘tongues’ (inspired languages) and prophesy.
The Ephesians are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6)
Acts 19:8-10 Paul and Timothy make Ephesus their base for the next three years (53-56AD) (see Acts 20:31). They stay in the home of Aquila and Pricilla where the church in Ephesus meets (see 1 Corinthians 16:19).
Paul preaches for three months in the Jewish synagogue in Ephesus. But when some of the Jews begin to criticise the ‘Way of Salvation’ through faith in Jesus Christ, Paul abandons the synagogue and moves – with the new believers – to the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus.
Ephesus was the most important city in the Roman province of Asia (see Map 25). It had many pagan temples, the most important of which was the Temple of Artemis – celebrated as one of the seven ‘wonders’ of the ancient world. From Paul’s missionary base in Ephesus, fellow-workers carried the Good News of Jesus throughout the Roman province of Asia (see Acts 19:10). Epaphras, for example, established new churches at Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis (see Colossians 1:7 & 4:12-13).
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Acts 19:27)
Modern-day visitors to Ephes (Ephesus) in Turkey can explore the site of the Temple of Artemis and enter the ruins of the 6th century St John’s Basilica, built over the tomb of St John in nearby Selçuk. John – the author of John’s Gospel and the Book of Revelation – escaped from Jerusalem to Ephesus in c.66AD, around the time of the outbreak of the Romano-Jewish War. He had pastoral oversight of the early Christian churches in Asia Minor before being exiled to the island of Patmos by the emperor Domitian in c.90AD.
The excellent archaeological museum in Selçuk houses several huge cult statues of the many-breasted fertility goddess Artemis, as well as many everyday objects from Ancient Ephesus.
Visitors to the extensive archaeological remains of Roman Ephesus can walk along the Arcadian Way from the site of the old harbour to the great Amphitheatre where the silversmiths who made images of Artemis stirred up a riot and dragged Paul’s companions Gaius and Aristarchus before the hostile crowds.
To the north of the Arcadian Way, visitors venturing beyond the usual ‘tourist trail’ can enter two 4th century Byzantine churches, in the earlier of which, the third Ecumenical Church Council met in 431AD. The later church, Hagia Maria, was the first Christian church to be named in honour of the Virgin Mary, following the tradition that the mother of Jesus was brought to Ephesus in her later years by the apostle John (see John 19:26-27).
4th century Church of Hagia Maria, Ephesus (Acts 19:17)
Following the Priest’s Way up the hill beyond the celebrated frontage of the Library of Celsus, built in the 2nd century AD, visitors can enter the partly-restored houses of wealthy 1st century Roman citizens, decorated with beautiful mosaic floors and colourful frescoes. Paul – a relatively wealthy Roman citizen - may have lived with his friends Aquila and Priscilla in this part of the city, as the impressive Temple of Hadrian and the nearby Fountain of Trajan would not have been built in Paul’s day.
Inquisitive visitors who venture beyond the shops and car park at the upper entrance to Roman Ephesus will find the remains of a small Byzantine chapel believed to have been built over the Tomb of St Luke – the author of Luke’s Gospel. The cross and the symbol of a bull – inscribed on a stone column at the entrance to the building – indicate that the chapel was dedicated to Luke, the evangelist and colleague of Paul. (See the feature on The Four Living Creatures in Chapter 20.)
Tomb of St Luke, Ephesus (Acts 19:22)
During the spring of 56AD Paul writes his First Letter to the Corinthians and plans to visit Corinth in the autumn (1 Cor 16:5-9). In his letter, Paul relates the Christian faith to everyday life in Corinth – a cosmopolitan Greek city. He addresses questions about immorality, sex and marriage, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.