Ruins of Celsus Library
The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls.
Ephesus, in the Roman province of Asia, is 56 kilometers (35 miles) from Smyrna. Located opposite the island of Samos, it is the closest of Revelation's seven churches to the island of Patmos where the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation. It was the capital both of Ionia and proconsular Asia and was founded primarily by those from Athens. The city was originally called Arsinoe after the second wife of one of its governors.
Ephesus' location made it the chief city of Asia Minor. It maintained an artificial harbor accessible to the largest ships. The city stood at the entrance of a valley that reached far into the province. It was also connected via highways to other important cities in the region. The ease of traveling to the city, either by land or sea, made it the most accessible populated destination in Asia.
Ephesus had a plethora of the most eminent orators and speakers in the world and contained many beautiful buildings. It was world famous for its large temple to the pagan goddess Diana (in the New Testament Diana is a translation of the Greek word Artemis).
The city was also known for building the largest outdoor theater in the world, capable of containing 50,000 spectators. For many years it was the largest city in the Roman Empire next to Rome and boasted a population of more than a quarter million.
The Ephesian church was founded by the Apostle Paul.
Paul traveled through the upper parts and came to Ephesus; and when he found certain disciples, 2. He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit after you believed?" And they said to him, "We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
5. And after hearing this, they were baptized . . . (Acts 19)
Revelation's Seven Churches
The church in the city is the first of seven churches in Asia Minor who receive a spiritual evaluation directly from God through Jesus Christ.
1. "To the angel of the Ephesian church, write: These things says He Who holds the seven stars in His right hand, Who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. 2. I know your works, and your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot bear those who are evil; and that you did test those who proclaim themselves to be apostles, but are not, and did find them liars; 3. And that you have borne much and have endured, and for My name's sake have labored and have not grown weary;
4. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works; for if you do not, I will come to you quickly; and I will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent. 6. But this you have: that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes I will give the right to eat of the tree of life that is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:1 - 7, HBFV)
Tradition states the apostle John lived in the city after being released from Patmos. A marked tomb in Ephesus is believed by some to be that of John.