The great city of Ephesus lay on the main route between the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire, and was one of the major cities of the ancient world. By Paul’s time, it had become the capital city of the province of Asia (in modern Turkey). Ephesus was renowned as a “political, commercial, and religious center.” We are also told that “it boasted a 25,000 seat theatre, a race course, and the temple of Diana…one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.” (R. Gromacki, New Testament Survey, 242).

The city’s prosperity was due not only to its being one of the great ports of the Mediterranean, but also to its status as the center of the cult of Artemis (known as “Diana” to the Romans). The goddess Diana was regarded “as queen over both the heavenly powers, including the potent zodiacal powers, and the gods of the underworld.” (M. Turner, New Bible Comm. 21st Century ed. 1228). Local artisans crafted statuettes of the image of Diana in the temple, and these were thought to have magical powers. Diana was believed to have a “magical influence in the unseen world [which] encouraged astrology and sorcery.” (D. E. Hiebert, An Introduction to the New Testament 2.255) It was because of the threat that Christianity posed to this religion that the city was in uproar at Paul’s preaching in Acts 19:23-41. Continue reading “OBSERVATIONS ON EPHESIANS”