The Seven Churches of Revelation
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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. Easily reachable either by land or sea, Ephesus was the most easily accessible city 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)
Although Paul visited the city briefly during his second missionary journey, he returned during his third missionary journey and stayed for a little more than three years.
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.