Paul spent several years in the city of Ephesus during his second and third missionary journeys, leaving Timothy there to care for the church, which had become a major center of the Christian faith. Around ad 60-62 while imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote Ephesians, a letter to the Christians in Ephesus. Tychicus delivered the letter from Rome to Ephesus, but like the other epistles, this letter was circulated among many churches, particularly in the province of Asia. Mary (the mother of Jesus) is believed to have spent her final years in Ephesus in the home of the apostle John. The church in Ephesus is the first of seven churches addressed by John in the book of Revelation, written around ad 95.
Capital of the province of Asia and a port strategically intersecting major trade routes, Ephesus was probably the third largest city in the Roman Empire. Local attractions included three gymnasiums, a triumphal arch, public baths/latrines, fountains, aqueducts, a large library, elegant homes, the Great Theater (seating 25,000), and many temples, including the beautiful and magnificent Temple of Artemis/Diana (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world). Ephesus was a thriving cosmopolitan center of trade, religion, art, and recreation, drawing people from all over the known world.
In Ephesians, Paul emphasizes God’s gracious gift of salvation in Christ and how this grace can be lived out in our personal life, relationships, and spiritual battles. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one should boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)