Bronze coins were also issued during the emperorships of Tiberius and Claudius. These are discussed at some length in the Pocket Guide. They are not common in the trade, which is a bit odd considering the significance of Ephesus both in terms of the Empire as well as regarding the story of Paul’s residence there. I have been able to acquire two types, a bronze coin of which a case can be made that it was minted at Ephesus, or at least in Asia, and another which features the jugate busts of Claudius and Agrippina on the obverse and on the reverse a stag standing (the stag was an animal associated with Artemis).
Coin of Augustus. Asia: Ionia, Ephesus? bronze, 25 mm. This coin features a very realistic portrait of Caesar Augustus on the obverse, and on the reverse, the simple word ‘Augustus’ surrounded by a laurel wreath. The reference work Roman Provincial Coins cannot make a positive identification of the mint for this coin. It was widely circulated throughout the province of Asia as well as further east. It is believed that it was minted in the years 27-23 B.C., so for our purposes this is asking a bronze coin to circulate for approximately 80 years! Ordinarily this would simply not do. But, this coin is so common and has been found over such a wide area, that it is certainly conceivable that it was still being used in Ephesus, or brought into the city from surrounding cities by merchants and other travelers. [Nota Bene: Today (December 2010 A.D.) over 2,000 years later it is still a very fine coin in hand, with little wear on the finer features).
Coin of Claudius and Agrippina II. Asia: Ionia, Ephesus, leaded bronze, 18 mm. This coin can be reliably dated to 49-50 A.D. It features the current emperor and his wife. The coin would have been still very much in circulation at the time Paul was in Ephesus. The reverse figure of a stag is a direct connection with the goddess Artemis, since it was an animal sacred to her. As much as any of my coins, this one has the right time and place associated with it and thus, as such, is truly a “St. Paul coin” in the sense that the apostle could certainly have handled it!
Now to Paul’s missionary life, it was in Ephesus that Paul really became the great evangelist that he is known as today. He may have written his epistles to the Galatians and the Philippians whilst there; likewise those to the Corinthians (more of which below). We are told that he spent his days after work preaching, first in the local synagogue and then later, when the inevitable Jewish problems arose, he moved his venue to a hall owned by someone called Tyrannus. This was the first true ekklesia or church with a publicly visible and continuing operation. Enough cannot be said for the help he received from the aforementioned couple, fellow tent-makers, Aquila and Priscilla. They had been in Ephesus all the time that Paul was away in Antioch and traveling through Galatia. When Paul finally arrived in Ephesus much preparatory work had already been accomplished by this important husband and wife team of early Christianity.
We are not told a great deal of specifics about Paul’s time in Ephesus. What is related devotes one section to discussing a man named Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria. He seems to come out of nowhere in the sense that he was well-versed in the scriptures and had been instructed in Jesus’ “Way of God”. However, his understanding came from a theology based upon John the Baptist. He was a great speaker and evangelist and in the course of time left Ephesus just before Paul arrived and went to Corinth where he did substantial work.
When Paul finally did arrive in Ephesus and encountered some of Apollos’ converts, “He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’. They replied, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’. Then he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They answered, ‘Into John’s baptism.’” (Acts 19:1b-3) Paul upon hearing this baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus and then the Holy Spirit came immediately upon them. We are also briefly told about certain miracles performed by Paul directly, or were effected indirectly simply by virtue of some persons having touched his “handkerchiefs or aprons”. This is one of the reasons why finding coins that may have been handled by Paul is so important.
Acts reports that the main event which occurred in Ephesus had to do with a silversmith named Demetrius; at least it began with him. Demetrius made silver shrines of Artemis for a living. When he saw that Paul had begun to convince people that praying to such idols was a waste of time, he realized that this was a threat to his livelihood and to that of everyone else in Ephesus who made their living, in one way or another, from the cult of Artemis. Demetrius gathered together these other craftsmen and told them how he saw things developing and they were outraged. Beginning to shout, they repeated the phrase “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” over and over. Soon a crowd gathered and confusion and chaos reigned. Some of Paul’s companions were drawn into this mob and were dragged to the great theater. Even the local town clerk, a man named Alexander, had trouble in pacifying the mob. Hearing about this Paul wanted to go to the theater but his friends would not let him for fear of his life. Eventually the commotion did subside.
Here Acts has Paul’s time in Ephesus come to an end and has him going up to Troas and over to Macedon to shepherd the churches he had established there. However, Pauline scholars, such as Dominic Crossan (2004), Murphy-O’Connor, and Chilton believe that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus. They deduce this from reading Paul’s letters to Philemon and Philippians, as well as making other associations that we need not go into here. I believe they are right and that Paul was imprisoned as a direct result of this uproar from the Artemis artisans. Hence part of the two years that Paul was in Ephesus were spent in confinement and even in fear of his life!
This brings up an important point. Acts does not always agree with or even coincide with events as reported by Paul in his own letters. And, when in doubt, many scholars believe, and again I am in agreement, that it is preferable to follow the epistles themselves.
There are also passages in both letters to the Corinthians which indicate that Paul visited Corinth on three separate occasions rather than just the two reported by Acts. This bears some study. There was a great deal of trouble in the church at Corinth during the time that Paul was in Ephesus, perhaps in part while he was imprisoned. In any event, he sent Timothy, one of his most trusted disciples, to Corinth in order to discover first hand what the difficulties were. Timothy reported back to Paul that the situation in Corinth was very bad indeed.
It was this report of Timothy which many Pauline scholars (Murphy-O’Connor, Chilton, Crossan) believe occasioned a quick visit by Paul directly from Ephesus to Corinth across the Aegean Sea. This is characterized as the “Visit of Tears” in II Corinthians 2:1 and 13:2. Apparently Paul accomplished nothing positive with this visit because we are told that things continued to get worse. Back in Ephesus, Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians and followed that up by sending Titus ahead of him. Paul then left Ephesus for Troas, expecting to meet Titus either there or in Macedonia.
54 A.D. ASIA: through Ionia to Alexandria Troas
We are not absolutely sure when Paul finally left Ephesus and headed out for Macedonia and Greece to visit the churches and communities that he, Silas, and Timothy had established there on the Second Missionary trip. Late in 54 A.D. seems to be reasonable since we have been told that Paul stayed in Ephesus over two years and his arrival there is fairly well dated (there is always some question about what people of that time considered a “year”, whether it was a full 12 months or just any point in time in that year). It is also noteworthy to mark here the transition from the emperorship of Claudius to that of Nero in 54 A.D.
NERO Emperor 54 - 68 A.D.
As Paul made his way from Ephesus to Alexandria Troas he followed the main Roman road, which passed through the major cities of Smyrna and Pergamum.