Some define the name Ephesus as meaning “desirable.” In John’s day Ephesus was the leading city of the Roman province of Asia, and later was its capital. It was located at the western terminus of a great highway that crossed Asia Minor from Syria, and this, together with its seaport on the Aegean, made it a major city for trade.
Christianity was introduced there about a.d. 52, by Paul, when he stopped while homeward bound to Jerusalem and Antioch from his Second Missionary Journey. His friends Aquila and Priscilla settled there at that time with Apollos and evangelized until Paul’s return (Acts 18:19 to 19:7). When he returned, the apostle remained at Ephesus for about three years, longer than at any other place on his recorded missionary journeys. This is an indication that his work was successful there.
Luke, declares that “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). It seems that some of the other churches in Asia were established during this time (Col. 4:13, 15, 16). After his first Roman imprisonment Paul appears to have visited Ephesus again, probably about a.d. 64 (1 Tim. 1:3).
Nothing is clearly known of the history of the church at Ephesus until it is mentioned again about three decades later in the Revelation. However, tradition indicates that John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, became the leader of this church after the breakup of the Christian headquarters at Jerusalem about a.d. 68, during the Jewish-Roman War. Thus, at the time the Revelation was written, Ephesus was one of the main centers of Christianity.
The church‘s spiritual condition is characteristic of the church during the apostolic period, the era of Christian history reaching approximately to the end of the 1st century. It was called the Age of Apostolic Purity, an characteristic highly favorable in God’s sight. But with time this church forgot its first love and the Lord called her back saying, “you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Revelation 2:4,5)
In His service,
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