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Ephesus was most celebrated for being the location of the temple of Diana. The gospel was introduced into Ephesus by the apostle Paul. He first preached there about 54 AD and founded the church. The cause of religion was greatly promoted by the miracles which Paul wrought.
The gospel secured such a hold on the people in Ephesus that there was a danger the temple of Diana would be forsaken, and that all who were dependent on the worship of Diana for a livelihood would be thrown out of employment. Paul remained longer at Ephesus than any other place preaching the gospel. He seems to have set himself deliberately to work to establish a church there which would ultimately overthrow idolatry.
Another reason why Paul sought Ephesus as a field of labour may have been, that it was at that time not only the principle seat of idolatry, but was a place of great importance in the civil affairs of the Roman empire. He thought that Ephesus should become as important as the centre of influence in the Christian world, as it had been in Paganism and in civil affairs.
The church at Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia, and the first one mentioned to which John was directed to address an epistle from Patmos. Whatever was the relation which John sustained to the church in Ephesus , it is agreed that he spent there a considerable portion of his life. It was from Ephesus that, under the Emperor Domitian, AD 95, he was banished to the island of Patmos from which he returned AD 97. John is supposed at that time to have been about 90 years of age. He is said to have died in Ephesus AD 100, at the age of 94.
Of the subsequent history of the church at Ephesus little is known, and it would not be necessary to dwell upon it in order to an exposition of the epistle before us. It is sufficient to remark, that the "candlestick is removed out of its place," and that all the splendor of the temple of Diana, all the pomp of her worship, and all the glory of the Christian church there, have alike faded away.