We spent the night in a secluded cove, between the Greek island of Samos and mainland Turkey. The channel at this spot is only about one mile wide. We know that the apostle Paul sailed through this channel on his way from the island of Chios to Miletus (see Acts 20:15). We literally spent the night within a few yards of where his modest ship must have sailed.
Now as we go down the streets of Ephesus, admire its restored library façade and stand in the huge theatre, we walk in his footsteps. The streets used to be crowded with merchants and people going about their business, now they are crowded with tourists following their guides. Back then, languages from all over the ancient world could be heard: Greek and Latin of course, but also Aramaic, Parthian, Arabic, and the countless dialects and vernacular languages of the time. Today, you hear German and French, English and Dutch, Russian and Czech, and more.
As I admire the theatre, I can almost hear the roar of the crowd chant in unison “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:28). Demetrius, the leader of the league of the silversmiths who made and sold statues of Artemis as votive figures, was not going to let this itinerant preacher take his business away. He was heir to a vast fortune, and wielded great influence in the city. He quickly whipped up the crowd into a frenzy. As history shows, his fears were well founded. Within one hundred years, Christianity became dominant, and by the middle of the 3rdcentury, a German tribe ravaged the city and destroyed the temple. Today, the little that is left of the temple lies around scattered in a swamp. One column still stands, or rather stands again, erected by archaeologists. Most of the beautiful columns and the building material were shipped to Istanbul to build the greatest church in Christendom (today the mosque of Hagia Sofia). Some were used to build the Christian basilica that stood overlooking the site of the temple. Faith had triumphed over paganism. It still does today.