Acts 23 – Paul Taken to Cesarea & Paul’s Third Journey

Finger Pointing Up

1 Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi was situated near the northern extremity of the land of Israel, about 4 miles east of Dan, 150 miles north of Jerusalem, 50 miles southwest of Damascus, and 30 miles east of Tyre and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Canaanite god of “good fortune” was worshiped there during the era of the Old Testament and Between The Testaments the Greeks constructed a shrine to one of their false gods.

Money, power and prestige has always been an element that greedy, as well as insecure, people strive for.

We have looked at many different powerful kingdoms and lost cities, which we aren’t done with, and tomorrow we’ll take a minute and come to the present and look at…

Acts 23
Paul Taken to Cesarea

1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

“Ananias” – High Priest 47-59 A.D., son of Nebedaeus. 

He is not to be confused with the high priest Annas (6-15 A.D.).  Ananias was noted for cruelty and violence. 

When the revolt against Rome broke out, he was assassinated by his own people.

2 Annas
Annas, also Ananus or Ananias, son of Seth (23/22 BC–death date unknown, probably around 40CE), was appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Iudaea in 6 AD; just after the Romans had deposed Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judaea, thereby putting Judaea directly under Roman rule.

3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

“White wall” – whitewashed, having an attractive exterior but filled with unclean contents, such as tombs holding dead bodies or walls that look substantial but fall before the winds.  It’s a metaphor for a hypocrite.

4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?

5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.

14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.

3 Felix
Felix was the younger brother of the Greek freedman Marcus Antonius Pallas.
Pallas served as a secretary of the treasury during the reign of the Emperor Claudius.

15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you tomorrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.

18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.

19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?

20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul tomorrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.

21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.

4 Claudius
Claudius was Roman emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor.

22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.

23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;

24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:

26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.

27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.

28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:

29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.

30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.

31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.

“Antipatris” – rebuilt by Herod the Great and named for his father.  It was a military post between Samaria and Judea – 30 miles from Jerusalem.

32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:

5 Drusilla
Drusilla of Mauretania was a Princess of Mauretania, North Africa and was the great grandchild of Ptolemaic Greek Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman Triumvir Mark Antony.

33 Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

“Cesarea” – the headquarters of Roman rule for Samaria and Judea – 2 miles from Antipatris.

34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;

“He” – Antonius Felix.  The emperor Claudius had appointed him governor of Judea c. 52 A.D., a time when Felix’s brother was the emperor’s favorite minister.  The brothers had formerly been slaves, then freedmen, then high officials in government.

The historical Tacitus said of Felix, “He held the power of a tyrant with the disposition of a slave.”  He married three queens in succession, one of whom was Drusilla.

35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.

Paul’s Third Journey

After resting several months in Antioch in Syria, Paul traveled to the regions of Galatia and Phrygia, again encouraging and strengthening the churches there.

Eventually he arrived in Ephesus and remained 2 years and 3 months (or possibly 3 years). He then journeyed to Macedonia and Achaia (Greece today) and spent the winter months in Corinth.

6 Pauls 3rd Journey

Paul went back through Achaia and Macedonia to Troas, Assos and Miletus, where he met with the elders of the Ephesian church. He continued on to Rhodes, Patara and Caesarea, before concluding the journey in Jerusalem.

The Journey Begins:
From Antioch, through Galatia, to Ephesus

From Antioch in Syria Paul took the road northwestward through Tarsus and the Cilician Gates for a third visit to the churches in Galatia — Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch — on the high Anatolian Plateau of Asia Minor, an indication of how important they were to Paul.

Years earlier, during his second missionary journey, he followed the same itinerary, then veered northwest  from Pisidian Antioch to the Dardanelles.

This time he headed west toward the province of Asia and a second, longer visit to the great city of Ephesus, fulfilling an earlier promise to return.

From Pisidian Antioch he had the choice of two routes. Acts 19:1 states that he “took the road through the interior,”  indicating that he did not follow the lower and more direct route west through the Lycus and Meander river valleys, passing near Colossae, Laodicea and the spa city of Hierapolis (all of which received letters from him*).

Instead, he took the upper route through Phrygia, approaching Ephesus from the north through Magnesia (modern Manisa).

“These three cities were evangelized by Epaphras from Colossae. Paul himself may never have visited them. When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, Epaphras came to him with a favorable account of the church at Colossae and remained with Paul in Rome. He was, in a sense, his “fellow prisoner” (Philemon 23).

Below, Opening segments of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey, from Antioch to Ephesus; lighter yellow line indicates the route he likely followed. 

7 Satalite

Ephesus Today

The partially restored remains of Ephesus (Roman form of the name), Ephesos (pre-Greek), or Efes (modern Turkish) are located on the outskirts of the modern Turkish town of Selçuk, about 5 miles inland from the Aegean Sea.

Below, satellite view of the Ephesus archeological site. 

8 Satalite

Below, The ruins of one of the great cities of the Roman Empire are spread over the slopes of two hills — Mount Pion (Penayir Dagi) and Mount Koressos (Bülbul Dagi) — and the valley between them. In the center of the photo, a lone white column marks the former site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

9 Mountains

Historical setting — Ephesus before Paul

Ephesus was about 47 miles south of Smyrna (modern Izmir) and about 3 miles inland from the Aegean Sea in the Roman province of Asia (today western Turkey).

Some authorities have suggested that city’s history goes back to Hittite period (c. 1400 BC) and Hittites called it Apasas — Possibly meaning “bee,” a symbol found on Ephesus coins — later corrupted to “Ephesus” (“Ephesos” in Greek).

The earliest inhabitants of Ephesus, the Leleges and Carians, built their settlement at the mouth of the Cayster River, inland from the Aegean Sea. Around 1000 BC, they were driven out by Ionian Greek settlers.

The new inhabitants assimilated the native religion of Anatolia (the ancient name for Turkey), the worship of Kybele, which they identified with their own goddess, Artemis (Roman Diana).  10

But this Artemis bore no resemblance to the beautiful virgin huntress of the Greek pantheon. She was a stiff-looking fertility goddess endowed with a hundred “breasts.”

In the mid-6th century BC King Croesus of Lydia conquered Ephesus and forced the inhabitants to build a new city farther inland, closer to the location of modern Selçuk.

A magnificent temple was constructed in honor of Artemis on the original shrine of Kybele. The Artemision, as it was known, was built of white, red, blue and yellow marble of the finest quality.

Gold was reputedly used between the joints of the marble blocks instead of mortar. Multitudes of priests and priestesses (temple prostitutes) were connected with temple rituals.

In 546 BC Ephesus, along with the rest of Anatolia was invaded by the Persians. The city maintained friendly relations with Persia for about 50 years.

In 478 BC the Persian king, Xerxes, returning from his failure in Greece, paid homage to the goddess Artemis, although he had sacked other Greek shrines, and even left his children for safety in Ephesus.

After 454 BC Ephesus appears as a regular tributary of Athens. Ephesus participated in a general revolt of 412 BC against Athens, siding with Sparta in the Second Peloponnesian War, and remained an effective ally of Sparta down to the end of the war.

11 One of three Artemis
One of three Artemis statues displayed in the Ephesus museum, called the “Great Artemis” (2nd century A.D.).

Threatened by Persia, Ephesus served in 396 BC as the headquarters of King Agesilaus of Sparta.

In 394 BC the Ephesians deserted to the anti-Spartan maritime league, but by 387 BC the city was again in Spartan hands and was handed by Antalcidas to Persia.

In 356 BC, disaster struck when the Artemision was destroyed by a fire started by a man named Herostratus who hoped the action would make him famous.

Alexander the Great, who was said to have been born the same day as the fire, took over the area in 334 BC.

According to legend, Artemis, a protector of women in childbirth, had left for Macedonia on the day of the fire to help deliver Alexander.

Twenty-two years later, the temple was still under construction and Alexander offered to finance its completion if the city would credit him as the builder.

In a famous refusal recorded by Strabo, the Ephesians said, “It is not fitting that one god should build a temple for another god.”

Below, model of the Temple of Artemis at Miniaturk Park, Istanbul, Turkey


The rebuilt temple, completed in 250 BC on the site of the first temple, was a forest of marble with 127 columns. It ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — four times larger than the Parthenon at Athens — 425 feet long, 220 feet wide, with 127 columns, each 60 feet high, in double rows.

(In comparison, the Parthenon, was 230 feet long, 100 feet wide and had 58 columns.) The building is thought to have been the first temple completely constructed with marble (except for the roof).

The sanctuary was said to house the very image of Artemis “which fell from heaven,” possibly a meteorite, or an image so old that only a heavenly origin could be attributed for it (see Acts 19:35). The temple was a source of great civic pride.

One month of each year was devoted to the worship of  Artemis. Missionaries spread her cult throughout Asia Minor. There were Artemision festivals, not only in Ephesus, but in other cities  (i.e., Perga and Sardis).

The Artemis temple was big business. One of the city’s chief industries was the sale of idols to pilgrim worshipers from all parts of the world, bringing enormous profit.

They were supposed to charm away evil spirits and protect the devotee from danger. Another major source of income was the sale of scrolls on mystical arts, magic, charms and incantations.

13 The so called Beautiful Artemis
The so-called “Beautiful Artemis, 1st century A.D.
In Greek mythology Artemis was the virgin huntress and twin of Apollo. who supplanted the Titan Selene as goddess of the Moon.

But the Artemis venerated at Ephesus was nothing like the beautiful figure worshipped elsewhere in the Greek world.

She was a fertility goddess with multiple breast-like protuberances apparently emphasizing fertility (over the virginity traditionally associated with the Greek Artemis). Some interpret the objects as representing the testicles of sacrificed bulls that would have been strung on the image.

However, it now appears they represented amber gourd-shaped drops, drilled for hanging, that were discovered in 1987-88 where an ancient wooden cult figure of Artemis had been caught in an 8th-century flood which destroyed the ancient Artemis temple.

Like Near Eastern and Egyptian deities (and unlike Greek ones), her body and legs bound together in a mummy-like tapered skirt.

She wore a necklace of acorns (oaks were sacred to her) and her breastplate was decorated with signs of the zodiac. On her head was a high crown topped with representations of the walls and turrets of Ephesus. Her skirt was decorated with rows of animals, denoting her fertility, and along the sides were bees (her symbol), depicted as actual insects and as priestesses (“honey bees”) with crowns and wings.

Artemis was known as the queen bee; her castigated priests were “drones.” Artemis of Ephesus was tremendously popular. Second century AD Greek geographer and traveler Pausanias stated that she was the god(ess) most worshiped in private devotions in the Mediterranean world. Some 50 stone statues of Artemis have been excavated at widely separated areas.

Known as “Ephesian Letters,” they were said to cure illness and infertility, and ensure success in any undertaking.

Upon the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, one of his generals, Lysimachus, took control of Ephesus.

But the gradual silting up of the harbor necessitated his moving the city to a new location and, in 286 BC, he began construction of a new fortified city in honor of his wife, Arsinoeia, in the valley between Mounts Pion and Koressos (the site of today’s ruins).

Apart from the walls he only completed a theater, stadium, agora (marketplace) and harbor. On his death the construction was abandoned and the city came under rule of the king of Pergamum.

Though situated three miles from the sea, the channel of the Cayster River, on which the city stood, was navigable as far up as the city, although attention was required to keep it free from silt.

As early as the 2nd century BC, king Attalus Philadelphus of Pergamum built a breakwater to keep the harbor from filling in. Unfortunately it had the opposite effect and made the harbor shallower.

In 133 BC Ephesus was handed over to the Romans and it became part the Roman Province of Asia.

Under the Romans, Ephesus thrived, reaching the pinnacle of its greatness and the Artemision continued to attract pilgrims from all over the Graeco-Roman world.

The Romans constructed many public buildings, and gates, baths and temples were donated by the rich.

The canny city leaders were able to curry the favor of the emperors by dedicating temples and other monuments to them.

In 29 BC, a temple was erected to the goddess Roma and the deified Julius Caesar. From then on the cult of emperor worship was promoted there.

In return the emperors honored and beautified the city. Under them, Ephesus became the governmental center of the province of Asia, replacing Pergamum.

By imperial edict it was made the gateway to the province of Asia. Stamped on coins found in the ruins of Ephesus are the titles, “First of all the greatest,” and “The first and greatest metropolis of Asia.”

The city’s beautiful location, together with the fertile soil and excellent climate, made it a very desirable place to live. Several important Roman highways met at Ephesus.

Because of its location on the most direct sea and land route to the eastern provinces, Ephesus had few equals anywhere in the world.

However, despite the efforts of no fewer than two of the emperors, the harbor continued to silt up. Unexpectedly, Nero’s plan almost worked; the masterful Hadrian’s scheme was doomed from the start.

Through the efforts of Paul, Timothy, Apollos, Aquila, Priscilla and many others whose names we’ll never know, the Christian church began to win converts in Ephesus, destined to become one of the most important centers of Christianity.

However, the transformation was not as immediate as implied in Acts. The bizarre cult of Artemis flourished for another two and a half centuries.

In the Footsteps of Paul — Ephesus

At the time of Paul, Ephesus ranked with Rome in Italy, Corinth in Greece, Antioch in Syria and Alexandria in Egypt as one of the foremost cities of the Roman Empire.

 Walking through the Ephesus site

We enter the main archaeological site from the east. Near the parking area are the scant remains of the Magnesian Gate (below), where the roads connecting Ephesus with  Magnesia (Manisa today ) and Laodicea entered the city.

Originally built in the 3rd century BC, together with the city walls, emperor Vespasian (69-79 AD) changed its name to “The Gate of Honor” and added two entrances.

Undoubtedly Paul entered the city through this gate upon his arrival to establish his mission there.


North of the gate are the remains of the East Gymnasium, a huge complex probably constructed around 200 AD by Flavius Damianus.

Here the city’s youth were educated in sports, music, astronomy and social skills. It included  baths, paleistra (sports area), courtyard, lecture hall and emperor’s hall.


From the Magnesia Gate we follow the city’s main east-west thoroughfare, below, on a gradual downhill course, leading to the commercial agora near the harbor area.

Archaeologists called the road Curetes Street for the Curetes (pronounced “crates”), an order of priests who dealt with religious and state affairs.

It is also known as the Sacred Way from the procession that passed along it on the annual feast-day of Artemis.  

16 1

Below, on the left (south) side to the street is the State Agora, a large open area surrounded by temples, a basilica, small theater (Odeon), fountains and other structures.

The remains indicate it was the administrative center of Ephesus at least from the time of Augustus.

The agora was paved in 66 BC by Timon, an Agoranomos (elected official who controlled the order of the marketplace or agora, hence the name, translated as “market overseer”).
 18 1

Some of the structures, now in ruins, around the State Agora:

Below, remains of the Varius Baths constructed in the 2nd century AD and restored on numerous occasions.

With its frigidarium (cold-water bath), tepidarium (warm water bath) and caldarium (hot water bath), and other adjacent sections, the baths cover a fairly large area. To the south is a large public toilet.

17 1

Odeon – A 1,500 seat theater, below, built in the 2nd century AD by wealthy Ephesians P. Vedius Antonius and his wife Flavia Papiana.

This was the scene of concerts; also the meeting place of the city council. The lack of drainage indicates it was once covered by a wooden roof. 

19 1

Prytaneion or Town Hall, below – Begun 1st century BC, it was the center for managing the city’s religious and ceremonial functions.

Architecturally, it was built like a private home, with an assembly hall, administrative rooms, state archives and dining hall in which officials and foreign visitors were welcomed.

In front of the assembly hall was a courtyard surrounded on three sides by rows of Doric columns. A perpetual flame, representing the well-being of the city, was kept burning at a shrine to Hestia Boulaea (Vesta), the sister of Zeus and Hera, who was honored in both temples and homes, as she was goddess of the hearth.

The city’s elite families were responsible for maintaining the flame. They also performed daily sacrifices to the different gods and goddesses and covered all the expenses.

Two statues of the Artemis were discovered in the Prytaneion and are now displayed in the Ephesus Museum. The larger statue, dating from the 1st century AD, was in the hall.

The other, dating from about 50 years later, had been carefully buried in a small room, apparently to protect it from Christians bent on destroying pagan idols.


Below, Sebastoi Temple (called Temple of Domitian at site) – During the Roman period, the Ephesians erected many buildings and temples, and dedicated them to emperors in order to secure good relations and the support of Rome.

The Sebastoi/Domitian Temple was one of them. The two pillars seen here were  part of a three-story platform that supported a small temple dedicated to the worship of the ‘Flavian Sebastoi’ or ‘Divine Flavians,’ the dynasty of emperors that ruled the Roman Empire from 69 to 96 AD: Vespasian (69-79 AD) and his successors (and sons) Titus (79-81 AD) and Domitian (81-96 AD).


Ephesus was designated “the protector of the Roman emperor’s temple,” a great honor for the city.

A special category of priests, the “Arkhierus,” cared for the temple. They belonged to a rich and influential class of the city and they were expected to finance all maintenance costs.

In return, they retained positions of influence in the city’s commercial dealings.

Originally the temple had 13 columns on each side and 8 on the front and back.

The second level featured sculptures of gods and goddesses, symbolizing the deities of the empire supporting and protecting the emperors who were worshiped in the temple above.

Parts of a huge 25-foot-high statue, below, were discovered in the substructure of the building. Sculpted of wood and stone, only the stone parts, the head and arm, have survived; they are now in the Ephesus Museum.


Originally it was thought to represent Domitian (believed to be the emperor when Revelation was written) and it is the reason archaeologists named the building for him.

But more recent research indicates that the statue is actually that of the emperor Titus (Titus Flavius Vespasianus), Domitian’s brother and predecessor.

During his reign, Titus spent great sums on games and monuments, including the Roman Coliseum, and he dispensed generous aid to the victims of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD and a plague and fire in Rome in 80 AD.

Ephesus – Part 2

Trajan Fountain (below), originally two stories-high, it was built around 102-104 AD by Aristion, an Asiarch (a men of high honorary rank in the Roman province of Asia), to honor the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD).

The facade of the two-storey building was once decorated with statues of Dionysus, Aphrodite, Androclos and emperor Trajan.

In front of the building was a pool with water cascading from beneath the colossal statue of Trajan, which is still in its original place, but only the pedestal and one foot remain.

The building flanked the pool on three sides and its facade was highly ornate with Corinthian columns on the upper story and composite columns on the lower.


Temple of Hadrian (below), was built in 138 AD by a citizen, P. Quintilius. Bronze statues of four emperors — Galerius, Maximian, Diocletian and Constantius Chlorus — once stood on the square pedestals in front.

The keystone of the arch has a relief of Tyche, the goddess of fortune.

In the lunette over the entrance to the cella, there is another relief of a semi-nude girl, probably of Medusa.

The interior featured scenes depicting the legendary foundation of Ephesus by King Androklos, son of the king of Athens, including:

Androclus killing a wild boar;

Hercules rescuing Theseus, a mythological hero and the first true King of Athens, who was chained to a bench as a punishment by Hades for trying to kidnap Persephone from the underworld;

Amazons, Dionysus and his entourage;

Emperor Theodosius I, an enemy of paganism, and an assembly of gods including Athena and Artemis. 


“Houses on the Slope” (below) – On the south (left) side of Curetes Street, between the state and commercial agoras, a group of condominiums crowded together on a series of ascending terraces on the slope of Mt. Koressos have been excavated.

They were owned by some of the city’s upper-middle class-citizens. Originally built in the 1st century AD, they were inhabited until the 7th century AD.

The apartment block is fronted by a colonnade sheltering stores and taverns. Passageways between the shops lead from the street up to the entrances of the homes.

Usually, they had two or more stories with about 12 rooms. The common feature of the homes was a small central courtyard surrounded by columns to let in fresh air and light.

They were decorated with beautiful frescoes and mosaics and had luxurious bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Ceramic pipes connected each to the city’s main water pipeline.

The thickness of the pipe was adjusted according to the need of each house — an early water meter.

The houses also featured a central heating system consisting of ceramic pipes hidden in the walls.

Perhaps some wealthy family, leaders of Ephesus’ budding Christian community, held home-church meetings in one of the houses being excavated here.

Baths of Scholastica (below) – Part of a large complex on the north side of Curetes Street.

Originally built in the beginning of the 2nd century A.D., it was renovated during the rule of the emperor Theodosius (4th century AD) by a wealthy Christian woman named Skolastika and included eating places, dressing rooms, hot and cold baths, massage and anointing chambers and a public lavatory.


Below, some of the fifty seats in the public latrine.


Library of Celsus (below) – One of the most spectacular buildings in Ephesus and one of the great libraries of the ancient world, it was built in 110 A.D. by the proconsul of Asia Gaius Julius Aquila as a memorial to his father Julius Celsus Polemeanus.

He was granted permission to bury his father in a sarcophagus within the library.

The library’s three entrances are flanked by four niches with statues representing the virtues of Celsus, Sophia (Wisdom), Areté (Valor), Ennoia (Thought) and Epistémé (Knowledge).

The semicircular niche on the main floor facing the central entrance probably contained a statue of Athena.

Although no traces have been found, it is thought that there was an auditorium for lectures or presentations between the library and the street leading to the great theater.

The library held an estimated 12,000 hand-written scrolls, which were given to readers by library officials. The building was burned in the 3rd century A.D. 


The two portals to the right of the library facade (above) belong to theMazaeus – Mithridates Gate, built in 40 AD by two slaves to honor emperor Augustus who gave them their freedom.

A Latin inscription with inlaid bronze letters reads, in part:

“From the Emperor Caesar Augustus, the son of the god, the greatest of the priests, who was consul twelve and tribune twenty times; and the wife of August Livia; the son of Lucus, Marc Agrippa who was consul three times, Emperor, and tribune six times; and the daughter of Julio Caesar Augustus, Mazaeus and Mithridates to their master and the people.”

At the end of Curetes Street is large private house (below) believed to have been a brothel, because a statue of the fertility god Priapus with an oversize phallus (now in the Ephesus Museum) was found inside.

The building was constructed during the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). It had a hall on the first floor and a number of small rooms on the second floor. On the west side was a reception area with colored floor mosaics, symbolizing the four seasons. 


Curetes Street ends at the plaza in front of the Library of Celsus; From there, another street, designated “Marble Way,” leads north to the Great Theater of Ephesus.

Etched into one of the paving stones along Marble Way, is a footprint (below) indicating the presence of a brothel nearby.  

Brothel, Ephesus. Turkey.
Ephesus is related in the Bible in Acts 19-20 in connection with the Apostle PaulÕs extended ministry. Ephesus became an important center for early Christianity from the 50s AD. Apostle Paul probably spent two and a half years in Ephesus during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:8, 19:10, 20:31.) Ephesus is one of the Seven Churches of Revalation to whom the Apostle John writes letters.


Great Theater (below) – Gouged out of the hillside at the end of the Marble Way (as if you can miss it!), it was originally built between 332-63 B.C. and enlarged under Claudius (41-54 A.D., about the time Paul was in the city), and again by Nero (54-68 A.D.).

It had seating for 24,500 spectators divided into three tiers of 22 rows each.


From the theater, a wide street called Arcadian Way leads west to the harbor, now completely silted up from the flow of sediments carried by the Cayster River.

Arcadian Way was named for emperor Arcadius (395-408 AD) during whose reign it was rebuilt in its present form.

Covered double colonnades ran along both sides, and there were monumental gates at both ends, but they were totally destroyed.

Its paving stones still show graffiti–Christian cruciform designs. During the Roman era the road was lighted by 100 lamps, making Ephesus one of the first ancient cities, along with Rome and Antioch, known to have had street lighting.

On the left side (south) of Arcadian Way was the city’s Commercial Agora(below) the city’s largest marketplace-trade center. This large open market area was known as the “Square Agora” because its sides measured 360 feet long. 


The agora was the center of the commercial world in Ephesus. In addition to the marketing of goods there was also a slave market of beautiful girls brought from different places by sea.

A water-clock and a sundial stood in the center. Sixty or so shops surrounded three of its sides (below).

It is quite possible that Paul worked here with Priscilla and her husband Aquila, his friends and co-workers in Corinth, in their tent-making business.

It is easy to picture Priscilla, clad in a white toga, shopping for an evening meal, while Aquila and Paul vigorously debate about Jesus with some of the city’s leading men or their fellow trades-people. 


Paul preaches the Gospel in Ephesus

September 52 AD: As promised during a brief stop during his second missionary journey, Paul returned to Ephesus, this time for an extended stay.

Unlike other cities he visited during his two previous missions — Philippi, Thessaloniki, Corinth, Pisidian Antioch — Paul did not found the church in Ephesus.

Christianity was introduced there through the Jews and the original community was under the leadership of a learned and eloquent Jewish convert from Alexandra named Apollos (1 Cor 1:12), who knew only of the baptism of John, and nothing of Jesus.

He began teaching in the synagogues, where Priscilla and Aquila, Paul’s former co-workers in Corinth and now living in Ephesus, heard him speak.

They invited him to their home to explain the way of God according to Jesus.

Before Paul’s arrival Apollos traveled to Corinth where he publicly refuted the Jews, quoting from the scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.

Like Corinth, Ephesus was a wealthy commercial center, yet it was also home to an assortment of pagan priests, exorcists, magicians, sacred prostitutes and charlatans.

The pride of Ephesus was the great marble Temple of Artemis, one of the fabled Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and it played host to hordes of pilgrims from around the known world.

Moreover the city prided itself on being a center for the cult of emperor worship. Rich, pampered and pagan to the core, Ephesus must have appeared as the ultimate challenge to Paul.

In a letter written from Ephesus to the Corinthians, Paul exulted: “a great and effectual opportunity has opened to me, but there are many adversaries” (1 Cor 16:9).

If Paul could win Ephesus for Christ, doors would be opened everywhere.

52-53 AD – Paul consolidated the Ephesus church and supervised mission efforts to other cities in the province of Asia, including Colossae, Hierapolis, Laodicea, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna and Thyatira.

During his two-year plus stay in Ephesus, he had to send Timothy on several missions to Macedonia to deal with disciplinary issues.

During his initial three months in Ephesus, Paul taught in the synagogue, until opposition forced him to move to the “hall of Tyrannus,” where he held daily sessions for another two years (in Acts 20:31 we are given a round figure of three years, from 54 to 57 A.D., for his total time in the city).

Tyrannus means “tyrant” but we don’t know if his students or his mother gave him the name.

He seems to have been a philosopher or teacher who rented out his hall to Paul for a nominal fee.

Paul taught there during the hottest part of the day, from 11 am to 4 pm, when Tryrannus’ own students had presumably left to take a nap. This allowed Paul to earn a living making tent cloth in the early morning hours.

c. 53 AD – Paul possibly wrote his letter to the Galatians to defend his apostolic authority, expose those who would destroy the essence of the gospel and exhort the Galatians to stand fast in the faith. One of the key verses in Galatians:

“Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Gal 2: 16).

c. 53 A.D. – Money arrived from Philippi allowing him to devote more time to his missionary efforts.  Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians as well.

c. 52-54 A.D. – Paul wrote a second letter to the Corinthians (now called 1 Cor; an earlier letter was lost). It contained instructions on collecting money for the needy Christians in Jerusalem.

Paul’s mission in Ephesus was so successful that many of the believers who had been practicing black magic burned their expensive books of incantations and charms, known as “Ephesian Writings,” in a public bonfire, indicating how deeply the region was stirred by the gospel.

The success of the Christians also alarmed the city’s merchants who did a brisk business selling commemorate images to pilgrims.

One, a silversmith named Demetrius, called a meeting and addressed his men, together with others employed in related trades:

“Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.

There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

As they listened, their anger boiled and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

A crowd gathered and soon the city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed into the city’s huge 24,500 seat theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions.

Paul wanted to help his friends but other friends, no less than the Roman provincial officials, begged him not to risk his life.

With a full-dress riot brewing the Ephesian Jews prompted one of their number, Alexander, to stand up in the orchestra and make it clear to the crowd that Paul did not represent the Jewish community.

Someone yelled that he was a Jew and bedlam broke out. The mob started shouting repeatedly for two hours.

“Great is Artemis of the Ephesians, Great is Artemis of the Ephesians, Great is Artemis of the Ephesians…” 


Finally, a “city clerk” (Greek “grammateus”) arrived and quieted the crowd. The man, likely the city’s acting chief official rather than a public servant as implied by Acts, told them that if they had any grievances, they could be legally address before the courts or proconsuls.

He concluded his speech with a reminder that Ephesus was a Roman colony and that if they didn’t halt this illicit behavior, the Roman proconsul, or even the emperor himself, might decide to punish the entire city:

“As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events.”

With that, the crowds dispersed, probably too tired and too hoarse to continue.

Originally built between 332-63 BC and enlarged under Claudius (41-54 AD, about the time Paul was in the city), and again by Nero (54-68 A.D.), the theater had seating for 24,500 spectators divided into three tiers of 22 rows each.

Nearly 2000 years later, the acoustics are excellent; from the stage you can easily hear snippets of French and Italian conversations from other tour groups.

To test them further, our guide dropped a coin on the orchestra pavement and it was heard perfectly near the upper row of seats. Some of the group began singing “Amazing Grace,” and it too was heard clearly.

According to Acts, Paul left Ephesus soon after the riot. Luke writes as if he had a relatively peaceful time there until he ran afoul of the silversmiths guild. The evidence of Paul’s letters speaks otherwise.

The Corinthian letters, written during his stay in Ephesus, reflect turmoil, conflict and confusion over any number of issues. In 1 Cor 15:32 he said, “I fought wild beasts in Ephesus.”

Since Paul was a Roman citizen he could not have been forced to fight wild animals in the city stadium. This must have been a figurative way of saying that he had to endure tremendous hardship.

There are indications that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus, possibly because of the theater riot, and that upon his release, he set out for Macedonia and Greece to deal with some of these problems personally.

Temple of Artemis Destroyed

In 263 AD the Temple of Artemis was plundered by the Goths. During the reign of Diocletian (285-305 A.D.) it was partially restored on a smaller scale.

It remained in use until 395 when emperor Theodocius ordered the closure of all pagan shrines. In 401 A.D. it was destroyed by a mob led by the Patriarch of Constantinople who saw the act as a final triumph of Christianity over paganism.

Like all pagan shrines the site became a quarry for columns and marble for building churches. Today the temple site (below) is marked by foundation outlines, scattered marble blocks and a single restored column. 


Excavation of the Artemsion site: In 1869 archaeologist J.T. Wood, working at Ephesus for the British Museum, uncovered a corner of the Artemision.

His excavation exposed to view not only the scanty remains of the latest edifice (built after 350 B.C.) but the platform below it of an earlier temple of identical size and plan subsequently found to be that of the 6th century B.C. temple built by Croesus.

The sculptured fragments of both temples were sent to the British Museum. In 1904 D.G. Hogarth, heading another mission, examined the earlier platform and found  the remains of three older structures beneath its center.

The earliest known phase the temple dates from about 600 B.C.

From Ephesus to Corinth

Below, overall map of this leg of Paul’s third missionary journey. 


About 56 AD –  Paul took leave of the believers in Ephesus and set out for Macedonia and Achaia (Greece), intending to make yet another visit to Corinth.

Acts is very brief in describing this part of his journey:

“He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece.”

Rather than sail directly from Ephesus to Corinth, Paul probably took the land route northward to preach at the important city of Alexandria Troas, where, on his second missionary journey, a vision urged him to take the gospel to Macedonia.

Possibly at this time or earlier a church was started in Troas, because later in this journey, he returned and spoke at length to the believers there before heading for Jerusalem.

Below, ruins of the harbor at Alexandria Troas


Paul seems to have made a prior arrangement to meet Titus in Troas with a report from Corinth on the effectiveness of a “severe letter” sent from Ephesus:

“For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you.

For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?

And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.

For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” (2 Cor 2:1-4)

While anxiously waiting for Titus, Paul took the opportunity to preach in Alexandria Troas.

When Titus didn’t arrive as planned, Paul set sail (as on his second journey) for Macedonia, retracing a major leg of his second missionary journey. From Neapolis he followed the Via Egnatia through Philippi to Thessaloniki.

Little is known of Paul’s activities on this leg of his journey. It was also during this time that he heard of another famine in Palestine.

Again, the church in Jerusalem needed help. Everywhere he stopped, he took up a collection for the needy Christians in Judea.

Somewhere in Macedonia ― Philippi or Thessaloniki or elsewhere ― Paul found Titus, who informed him that the “severe letter” had brought the desired results.

A relieved Paul sent another letter to Corinth (2 Corinthians), urging them to prepare for his impending visit and addressed the infiltration of the Corinthian church by false teachers who challenged Paul’s integrity and authority as an apostle.

From Thessaloniki he seems to have continued on the Via Egnatia to its western terminus at Dyrrachium in llyricum (also called Dalmatia; modern Albania) on the Adriatic Sea (reference in Rom 15:19; nothing recorded in Acts):

By the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

From Illyricum Paul revisited the small congregation at Berea, then passed through Athens to Corinth, his ultimate goal.

This, his ‘sorrowful’ visit to Corinth, would be his third and he stayed three months, during the winter of 57-58 A.D., when ships did not regularly sail the Mediterranean.

Below, remains of the Temple of Apollo, with the Acrocorinth beyond. 


Paul probably wrote his letter to the Romans at this time and it also gave him a chance to see first hand if the problems — the sexual laxity, the divisions among the Christians (some of whom said they were for Apollos, some for Cephas  (Peter), some for Paul, some for Christ — addressed in two letters (later called 1st and 2nd Cor) had been resolved.

Finally, the shipping lanes reopened and it was time to head back to Jerusalem with the famine relief aid, by now a considerable sum. A sea voyage would have been quicker, but Paul learned of a plot by the Jews to kill him.

Corinth’s eastern port of Cenchrea was a good place for his enemies to detect him as he boarded a ship; the money he was carrying was n a temptation for theft as well. Instead, he decided to retrace his steps back through Macedonia.

From Corinth to Assos

he plot against Paul’s life dictated that he retrace his steps through Achaia/Greece and Macedonia, eventually to Jerusalem. He left Corinth for Athens, then Berea, Thessaloniki and Philippi.


According to Acts 20:4,

“He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.”

These men were returning to their homes in Asia Minor  and were probably appointed to accompany Paul and his famine-relief collection.

At Philippi, in the spring of 58 AD, Paul remained for the five-day Passover observation (in the “days of unleavened bread”), while the others sailed ahead from Neapolis to Alexandria Troas. They remained until Paul could rejoin them. The “we/us” passages in Acts resume in 20:5, indicating that Luke met up with Paul at this point. He would remain at his side from this point on.

Below, remains of the Agora at Philippi.


Paul and Luke left Philippi for Neapolis and sailed to Alexandria Troas to rendezvous with the others. The voyage took 5 days; it only took 2 days going the opposite direction on the second missionary journey.

In the Footsteps of Paul — Alexandria Troas

At the time of Paul, Alexandria Troas (simply Troas in Acts) was a Roman colony, independent of provincial administration, with a governmental organization modeled after that of Rome.

It was an important seaport for connections between Macedonia and Greece on the one hand and Asia Minor on the other.

At some point, maybe after Paul’s second missionary journey or on his third, a church was started there.

Today the extensive, but rather overgrown site of the ancient city occupies a lonely area 50 miles south of Çanakkale.

The remains, dating mainly from the Roman period, include the theater, city wall (6 miles in circumference), aqueduct and a bathhouse constructed by Herodes Atticus (below).


Paul Preaches the Gospel in Alexandria Troas

This was Paul’s third time in Alexandria Troas and he remained seven days to commemorate the Lord’s Supper with the believers there.

Paul had much to say to them and, because he intended to leave the next day, he launched into a marathon sermon:

“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.

Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on.

When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.

Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!”

Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left.

The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted” (Acts 20:5-12).

Possibly because he wanted to spend as much time as possible with the Christians in Alexandria Troas, Paul arranged to go on foot across the peninsula from Alexandria Troas to Assos, about 20 miles, while his companions went by ship, a journey of around 40 miles. Thus Paul was not far behind.

Below, view from the area between Troas and Assos. Paul would have seen the ship carrying Luke and the others to Assos.


Below, along the road between Troas and Assos



Below, Assos acropolis


Below, Assos fortifications


Archaeological explorations at Assos have uncovered a temple to Athena (6th century BC) high on the acropolis overlooking the harbor (Doric columns below).


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Below, view northward from Assos.


At the Assos harbor, below, Paul met up with the ship carrying Luke and the others…


From Assos to Miletus

Below, overview of this segment of Paul’s third journey.


At Assos, Paul boarded the ship carrying Luke and the others. Together they headed for Mitylene on the southeast coast of the island of Lesbos, where they spent the night.


The town of Mitylene (“mutilated”) on Lesbos, the third largest of the Greek islands, is just 9 miles off the Turkish coast. Lesbos (modern Lesvos) is an island of great scenic beauty.

Excavations have uncovered evidence of settlement around 2700 BC. Founded by Aeolian Greeks about 1000 BC, the town site is now occupied by modern Mytilini. 

The ancient acropolis, which was probably visible to Paul, contained a sanctuary of the Greek mother goddess Demeter (7th-6th century BC). It is now occupied by a massive fortress looming over the city of Methymna.

Below, modern Mytilene, or Mytilini on the Greek island of Lesvos.

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Above the ancient north harbor are the remains of the 3rd century BC theater (below) which gave the Roman general Pompey the idea of building the first stone theater in Rome.


The ancient acropolis, which was probably visible to Paul, contained a sanctuary of the Greek mother goddess Demeter (7th-6th century B.C.).

It is now occupied by a large fortress, below (looming over the city of Methymna), thought to have been built in the 6th century A.D.

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“The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Kios” (Acts 20:15).

Kios (“snowy;” KJV Chios; modern Chios), a rugged island between Samos and Lesbos, is separated from the Turkish mainland by a 5 mile wide straight and most of it is occupied by craggy limestone hills, reaching a high point in Mt. Pellinaion (4,157′ above sea level).

The island has impressive cliffs, particularly on the east side. According to Greek mythology it was named for Chios, the son of Poseidon or Oceanus, and it is also considered to be the birthplace of Homer.

The island’s principle town and port, Chios or Chora, lies half way down the east coast. Its prosperity depends on agriculture and shipping; about one-third of the Greek merchant fleet is based on Chios, below.


On the third day, they crossed the mouth of the bay leading to Ephesus and came to the island of Samos.


A small island, only 27 miles long, Samos is located south of Chios, north of Patmos and about a mile off the Turkish coast.

About 487 BC the Greeks defeated the Persian fleet in the straight between the island and the mainland.

In ancient times the island of Samos was famous as the site of one the world’s most important sanctuaries and cultural centers, the Heraion, with its massive temple to the Greek goddess Hera (Roman Juno).

Below, Island of Samos. According to Strabo, the name Samos is from Phoenician meaning “rise by the shore.”


After leaving Samos the ship sailed for Miletus, a major city about 95 miles south of Smyrna (modern Izmir) and 35 miles from Ephesus.

Acts records no incidents or preaching stopovers at Mitylene, Kios or Samos. Paul decided to sail past Ephesus to “avoid spending time in Asia because he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem … by the Passover.” 


Meletus (“pure white fine wool”), near the coast of western Asia Minor, was one of the most important cities in the ancient Greek world.

It was situated at the mouth of the Meander River, 35 miles south of Ephesus.

The city was thought to have been founded by settlers from Crete, where there was a city of the same name.


Miletus had four harbors and three agoras (marketplaces) and flourished between 324 BC and 325 AD.

The city achieved maritime greatness by establishing eighty trading colonies, some afar afield as Egypt and the Black Sea. It was also famous as the birthplace of Greek philosophy.

Thales, the “father of Western philosophy,” lived in Miletus, as did Anaximander, the father of astronomy, and Hecataeus, the world’s first travel writer.

Another famous citizen was Hippodamos, who introduced the grid system for laying out cities (used at Miletus and elsewhere). The Milesians were also anti-feminists.

Historian Herodotus recorded that they had a law forbidding wives from sitting at tables with their husbands, or even addressing them by name.

The city’s main export was wool, which is said to have been marketed in every corner of the ancient world. The city was destroyed by the Persians in 495 B.C. and rebuilt by 479 B.C.

Its inhabitants opposed the advance of Alexander the Great (334 BC), only to be crushed again.

When the Romans gained control in 130 BC, the city was rebuilt, but it never regained it former maritime and economic greatness.

By the time of Paul’s visit, the city was living on past glories.

In the Footsteps of Paul — Miletus

The remains of this once great economic, cultural and political center are now isolated in an alluvial plain. The site, near the modern city of Söke, is among the most interesting in Turkey and it includes:

Below, “Lion Harbor,” a name derived from the two stone lions, one on each side of the harbor. A chain was strung between them to keep enemy ships out of the harbor in times of danger.


Below, monument just west of the Lions Harbor that commemorated the victory of Octavian and Agrippa over Marc Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.


Theater (below) with seating for 25,000. It sat on a peninsula between two of the city’s harbors.


Below, North Agora (marketplace).


Below, Adjacent to the North Agora is an Odeum, a small covered theater used for lectures, concerts; probably served as a bouleuterion, a meeting place for the city council (boule).

It was first built by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 B.C.) who ruled at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in Judea, also when the biblical book of Daniel was written.

It had a capacity of about 1,500.


Market Gate (below) once led into the southern agora (the largest known Greek marketplace). It is now on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany.


Below, southern agora, the largest of the Miletus’ three agoras of Miletus. Construction began in the Hellenistic period, and was completed in the Roman period.


Baths of Faustina (below) located west of the southern agora. The complex was financed by (and named for) Faustine, the wife of emperor Marcus Aurelius (161–180 AD).


Paul meets with the Ephesian elders at Miletus:

Miletus was the end destination for Paul’s ship. To reach Ephesus, 35 miles to the north, he would have had to change ships.

Paul was attempting to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost, fifty days from the Passover, which he had just celebrated in Philippi.

It took him over two weeks to get this far, leaving  about a month to complete his journey.

If he had gone to Ephesus, he would have had to greet various families and friends, and if trouble should arise, like the theater riot of a year ago (see Acts 19), he would have lost more time.

He could not risk the side trip, so he sent messengers requesting that the Ephesian elders come meet with him at Miletus for some final instructions.

It took messengers one day to travel to Ephesus with Paul’s invitation, and another day for the return to Miletus.

Meanwhile, Paul had time to speak with the believers in Miletus. When the Ephesian elders arrived, Paul spoke of his premonitions that it would be his last time in that area:

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.

I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”

Paul then left them with final instructions and a warning about what to expect in the future:

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.

Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!”

When he had said this, he knelt down and prayed with them.

“They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.

Then they accompanied him to the ship. After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea…”

After tearful goodbyes at Miletus, Paul and his companions boarded a ship for the final leg of their journey to Palestine.

From Miletus to Patara


Favorable winds took Paul and his companions from Miletus straight to the island of Cos, where they stopped for the night…


(Not to be confused with the island of “Chios,” where Paul stopped earlier on his way to Miletus)

The island of Cos (“a public prison;” KJV, Coos; modern Kos) is located in the Aegean Sea, just 3 miles off the southwest Turkish coast. The nearest major city of antiquity was Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum).

Cos was celebrated for its fertility, especially for its abundance of wine and corn.

It was also famous for the oldest cult site of the healing god Asclepius and for its medical school where the famed physician Hippocrates (5th century BC) once practiced.

The remains of this ancient hospital complex, or Asklepion (3rd century BC) (below), are located 2 1/2 miles southwest of the island’s chief town of Kos.

Also near Cos are the remains of a temple to the god Dionysus, a gymnasium, stadium, odeum (small covered theater), Hellenistic and Roman theater (below) and a reconstructed 3rd century AD Roman villa.

The next day they set sail southward from Cos to the island of Rhodes.


The fourth largest of the Greek islands, Rhodes (“roses;” actually hibiscus) is located off the southwest coat of Asia Minor in the Mediterranean Sea.

Although settled as early as the Neolithic era, it only developed with the arrival of the Dorian Greeks. In the 5th century BC Rhodes became a member of the Confederacy of Delos.

Below, monumental entrance to the sanctuary of Athena at Lindos.


Below, near the town of Lindos, on the island’s west side, is so-called “St. Paul’s Bay.”

Island of Rhodes


Rhodes City, on the northern tip of the spearhead-shaped island, has been the capital since its founding in 408 B.C.

The streets of the ancient city still follow a rectangular grid in accordance with the plan devised by Hippodamos of Miletus.

When Paul stopped over at Rhodes on his way to Tyre, it was only a minor provincial city. Disloyalty to Roman rule brought stiff economic sanctions, throwing it into economic decline.

Its importance was gone except as a resort for pleasure and learning.

Rhodes City was noted for its giant statue of the sun-god Helios, the “Colossus of Rhodes,” (below) one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, completed in 290 BC (and felled by an earthquake in 225 BC, over two centuries before Paul’s arrival).


Below, harbor entrance today, the site of the Colossus of Rhodes


In 1309, the city was occupied by the Knights of St. John (Hospitallers) who developed it into a powerful stronghold. In the 15th century, they defended it against Egyptian and Turkish attacks.

They occupied the northern part of the Old Town Rhodes and there are many reminders of their stay, including narrow cobblestone streets and lanes, walls, towers, moat and inns of the various nations in the Order of St. John.

Sreet of the knights, Rhodes.

But in 1522 the Knights were compelled to surrender the island to the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

From 1523-1912, no Christian was allowed to live in the city, which is still surrounded by a magnificent 2 1/2 mile-long circuit of walls built in the 15th and 16th centuries.


Below, harbor with small boats at Rhodes City.  


Below, St. Catherine’s Gate (or Sea Gate), the main entrance to the town, built in 1478 by Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson as part of an effort to strengthen the fortifications of Rhodes against a much feared Ottoman attack, which occurred two years later. 


Below, d’Amboise Gate, built by Grand Master Emery d’Amboise;  completed in 1512.

Access was protected by two massive round towers designed to withstand the Ottoman cannons.

St Ambrose Gate, Rhodes City.

In 1912, after almost 400 years of Turkish rule, the island was occupied by Italy. After the Second World War, it was returned to Greece.

In the Footsteps of Paul — Rhodes

Paul’s stopover on the island is commemorated by “St. Paul’s Gate” (below), one of the entrances to Old Town Rhodes. 


Rhodes to Tyre in Phoenicia

From Rhodes, still heading east, Paul sailed to Patara on the southern coast of the province of Lycia.



Patara (“scattering, cursing”) on the southwestern coast of Asia Minor, immediately east of the island of Rhodes, served as a popular port for ships traveling eastward during the early autumn months when favorable winds made travel to Egypt and the Phoenician coast easier.

The harbor sat near the outlet of the Xanthus River and it was the main shipping point for Xanthus (7 miles north), the chief city of the region of Lycia in antiquity.

The city probably dates from the 5th century BC, but it doesn’t appear in historical records until it surrendered to Alexander the Great in 333 BC.

In ancient times Patara was celebrated for its oracle of Apollo who, according to legend, wintered there after spending his summers on the Greek island of Delos.

Some considered Apollo’s oracle there to be better than the more famous one at Delphi.

Ancient historian Herodotus records that the oracle spoke through dreams experienced by priestesses.

Later it was a Roman city, and most of the ruins seen there today date from this period.

Exploring ancient Patara

Below, overall view of the ruins of ancient Patara.


Below, arch of Mettius Modestus, governor of the Roman province of Lycia-Pamphylia about 100 AD. Empty niches on the arch once held busts of Modestus and his family.


Between the arch and the theater, near the east edge of the harbor mouth, are baths built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian (r. 69-79 AD), a Byzantine basilica, a colonnaded street, and a council house.

Below, Patara theater.


The ancient harbor is now a reed-filled quagmire closed off from the sea by sand dunes. Recent excavations have uncovered a residential area; and two Hellenistic temples.

Restoration efforts are focused on the Roman baths, Byzantine basilica and ancient main street.

Below, temple.


At Patara, Paul changed ships, from one that hugged the shore of Asia Minor, to one going directly to the ancient Phoenician port of Tyre.

The journey took, perhaps, two to three days, and along the way he passed to the south of the island of Cyprus where he, accompanied by Barnabas, stopped on his first missionary journey.


At Tyre Paul remained for one week.


Tyre (“a rock”) was the principal seaport on the Phoenician coast, about 40 miles south of Sidon and 45 miles north of Acre (Acco).

According to Herodotus, Tyre was founded about 2700 B.C. Like Sidon, Tyre was in reality two cities, one  on an island, another on the mainland, and each had its own harbor.

Its Hebrew name, Tzor, signifies a rock, as in flint, which was used as a knife. The city took an active part in the maritime trade with Egypt which led to the Egyptian attempts to control the Phoenician coast.

When the Philistines plundered Sidon about 1200 B.C., many of its inhabitants fled to Tyre. Afterward, Tyre became the principal Phoenician port.

Below, modern Sour, Lebanon, successor to ancient Tyre in Phoenicia.



The city’s most coveted export was the costly red-purple dye, called ‘Tyrian,” made from the local murex shell.

Legend says the deities Melqart and Astarte were walking along the beach when their dog picked up a shell that stained its mouth crimson.

Astarte told Melqart she would love him forever if he would make her a dress of that color. In response he built the dye-works.

The Tyrians jealously guarded the processes used to extract and blend their dyes. Some of these trade secrets still lie buried in the ruins of ancient Tyre.

The city first appears in the Bible in Joshua 19:29 where it is referred to as a “fortified city” in reference to the boundaries of the tribe of Asher.

Joshua, however, was unable to conquer the surrounding territory.

But it is most famous as the city from which King Hiram sent cedar wood and workmen to David for the building of his palace, and subsequently supplied Solomon with materials and workmen for construction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

During his reign Hiram linked the mainland with the island by an artificial causeway and built a temple to Melqart (Herakles or Hercules) and Astarte (Ashtoreth in the Bible).

In the 9th century BC, Tyre founded Carthage in Libya, on the north African coast.

Early in the 6th century BC, king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to the walled city for 13 years.

Tyre stood firm, but it is probable that at this time the residents abandoned the mainland city for the safety of the island.

In 332 BC Alexander the Great set out to conquer this strategic coastal base in his war with the Persians.

Unable to storm the city, he blockaded Tyre for 7 months. Again Tyre held on.

But Alexander used the debris of the abandoned mainland city to build a causeway, then used his siege engines to batter and finally breach the city walls.

It is said that Alexander was so enraged at the Tyrians’ defense that he destroyed half the city. The towns’ 30,000 residents were massacred or sold into slavery.

Despite these heavy losses, the city recovered under Seleucid patronage. In 64 BC, Tyre (and the whole of ancient Syria) fell under Roman rule.

Herod the Great rebuilt the city’s main temple which would have been standing when Paul stopped over in Tyre, also earlier when Jesus came to the vicinity of Tyre and healed the demon-possessed daughter of a Canaanite woman (see Matt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-31).

The Romans built a great many important monuments in the city, all dating from the 2nd century to the 6th century AD. They include:

Monumental arch (below), which stands astride a Roman road that led into the ancient city. Alongside the road are the remains of the aqueduct that assured the city its water supply.


Hippodrome (below) – One of the largest ever found, with seating for 20,000 spectators who gathered to watch the death-defying sport of chariot racing (as in the movie “Ben Hur”).

Each end of the course was marked by still existing stone turning posts (metae). Charioteers had to make this circuit seven times.

Rounding the metae at top speed was the most dangerous part of the race and often produced spectacular spills.


Below, seating section of the hippodrome.



Colonnade of the palaestra, gymnasium exercise area.


This was Paul’s first visit to Phoenicia, but already a Christian congregation was thriving in Tyre.

He stayed with his fellow believers for seven days, and they, through the Spirit, urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem for fear of what would happen to him.

But Paul dismissed the warning because he wanted to take money collected from the Asian and European churches to the Holy City. Luke continues his account:

“But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way.

All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.

After saying good-bye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home. We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais…”

 Tyre to Jerusalem

Luke continues his account:

“We continued our voyage [south] from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais…”

Below, the concluding segments of  Paul’s third missionary journey.



Ptolemais was situated on a low promontory at the northern extremity of what is now Haifa Bay.

It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in Israel, dating back to the time of the Pharaoh Thutmose III (1504-1450 B.C.).

Originally called Acco, it was a Canaanite city at the time of the Hebrew conquest under Joshua, but it was never taken.

The tribe of Asher settled among its inhabitants. it commanded the only natural harbor on the Mediterranean coast and guarded access to the Plain of Sharon leading into the center of the country. 

It remained an important Phoenician city until captured by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

Following the death of Alexander it was seized by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (238-246 BC), ruler of Egypt and renamed Ptolemais.

Paul stayed there one day near the end of his third missionary journey, and it was already home to a Christian church (Acts 21:7).

Below, modern harbor at Acre, as the city is known today.


Below, Khan el Umdan, which means “Inn of the Columns” or “Caravanserai of Pillars.” It incorporates forty granite columns taken from Caesarea, Atlit and the ruins of Crusader monuments in Acre itself.


Below, part of the massive underground complex of buildings once occupied by the Knights of St John (Hospitallers).

It was buried under a great mound of earth on which Ahmed el-Jazzar built his Citadel and dates to the time of Louis VII of France, who stayed  in the town in 1148.


“Leaving [Ptolemais] the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied” (Acts 21:8-9).


Caesarea Maritima was originally a small Phoenician port called Straton’s Tower. Between 22 and 10 BC it was rebuilt by Herod the Great, who renamed it for his benefactor, Augustus Caesar.

Caesarea became the major port of his kingdom, replacing Acre. In 6 A.D., it became the seat of the Roman governor of Judea and it played an important part in early church history.


After a number of days in the house of Philip in Caesarea, a prophet named Agabus — the same Agabus who, 12 years earlier in Antioch, predicted a sever famine in Palestine ― came to him and performed a symbolic act.

He took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it, warning:

“The Holy Spirit says, In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles” (Acts 21:11).

Everyone took the dire warning seriously and pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. But Paul dismissed the warning:

“Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

Paul’s Arrival at Jerusalem

“After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.

Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us [on the 64 mile journey to Jerusalem] and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay.

He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples. When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly.

The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

[Paul also handed over the money collected from the churches in Achaia, Macedonia  and Asia.] When they heard this, they praised God” (Acts 21:15-19).

Below, artist’s rendition of Jerusalem  and the temple mount at the time of Paul.


…major cities of the world.

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