From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


Miletus was an ancient Greek colony on the coast of Caria, and became the most flourishing of the twelve free cities which formed the Ionian League. Five centuries before Christ it ‘had attained the summit of its prosperity, and was accounted the ornament (πρόσχημα) of Ionia’ (Herod. v. 28), being unquestionably the greatest of Greek cities at the time. Favourably situated on the S. shore of the Gulf of Latmos, and possessing four harbours, it controlled the trade of the rich Maeander Valley, and was without a rival in the commerce of the aegean.

‘The citizens,’ says Strabo (xiv. i. 6, 7), ‘have achieved many great deeds, but the most important is the number of colonies which they established. The whole Euxine, for example, and the Propontis, and many other places, are peopled with their settlers.… Illustrious persons, natives of Miletus, were Thales, one of the seven wise men, his disciple Anaximander, and Anaximander the disciple of Anaximander.’

After the capture of Miletus by Darius, who massacred the inhabitants (494 b.c.), and by Alexander the Great (334), its days of greatness and glory were ended. The trade of the Maeander Valley was diverted to Ephesus, and, before the coming of the Romans, Miletus, though still called a ‘metropolis’ of Ionia, had become a second-rate commercial town, which the conquerors did not think it necessary to link up to any important city by one of their great roads. Having no longer any political importance, it became more and more isolated, and nature gradually completed its ruin by filling its harbours and almost the whole gulf with the silt of the Maeander (Pliny, Historia Naturalis (Pliny) ii. 91, v. 31). Its site-known as Palatia, from the ruins of its great theatre-is now 5 or 6 miles from the sea, and the island of Lade, which Strabo (xiv. i. 7) mentions as lying ‘close in front of Miletus,’ is now a small hill in the plain.

St. Paul did not select such a decaying city as a base of missionary operations, and its connexion with the record of his activity is a mere accident. At the end of his third journey, when he was hastening to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Pentecost, he deliberately chose at Troas a ship which was not to touch at Ephesus, where it was probably still unsafe for him to appear, and where in any case his time would have been very short ( Acts 20:16). But when the coaster in which he was sailing, and whose movements he naturally could not control, came to Miletus, he unexpectedly found that he would be detained there for some days, and it occurred to him that in the interval he might send a messenger to Ephesus-30 miles distant in a straight line, and somewhat further by boat and road-and summon its elders to meet him.

If his ship sailed from Samos (or Trogyllium, according to D) early in the day, and thus took advantage of the northerly breeze which rises in the aegean every morning during the summer and dies away in the afternoon, he would reach Miletus, 25 (or 20) miles distant, before noon. His messenger probably did not make the great detour by Heracleia at the head of the gulf, but waited for the gentle south wind (called the Imbat ), which blows after sunset, to take him across to Pyrrha or Priene.

Strabo makes the ancient topography clear. ‘From Heracleia to Pyrrha, a small city, is about 100 stadia by sea, but a little more from Miletus is Heracleia, if we include the windings of the bays. From Miletus to Pyrrha, in a straight line by sea, is 30 stadia; so much longer is the journey by sailing near the land’ (xiv. i. 8, 9).

Passing through Priene, crossing Mt. Mycale, and speeding along the coast road, the messenger might reach Ephesus by midnight. The elders would travel south next day to Priene or Pyrrha, and get the northerly wind to take them over the bay to Miletus on the following morning. St. Luke writes as an eye-witness of the meeting, fellowship, and parting of St. Paul and the Ephesians, the record of which has given Miletus an abiding consecration. The Apostle’s address to the elders, with its lofty ideal of pastoral duty, reads ‘as an unconscious manifesto of the essence of the life and ministry of the most influential exponent of Christianity’ (J. V. Bartlet, Acts [Century Bible, 1901], p. 327).

Miletus is mentioned again in  2 Timothy 4:20 : ‘Trophimus I left at Miletus sick.’ This has been regarded as proving that St. Paul, released from his Roman prison, resumed his work in the East, and after all revisited the scene of his pathetic farewell. But many scholars prefer a different construction. Assuming that the passage in question occurs in a brief note ( 2 Timothy 4:9;  2 Timothy 4:11-13;  2 Timothy 4:20-21 a) sent to Timothy from Macedonia, and afterwards editorially incorporated in a longer letter written to him from Rome, they date the visit to Miletus before the one recorded in  Acts 20:15. When St. Paul was leaving Ephesus, intending to return by Macedonia to Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 16:5), he may have had reasons for first visiting Miletus, and been obliged to leave Trophimus, who became sick there; or, though he did not personally visit Miletus, he might use a condensed expression, which meant that his friend, having been sent to Miletus and detained there by sickness, was unable to return to Ephesus before the time of sailing, and so was left behind.

Miletus has extensive ruins, of which the most remarkable is the theatre, and the site has been excavated by Wiegland for the Berlin Academy ( SBAW [Note: BAW Sitzungsberichte der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften.]1900 ff.).

James Strahan.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

MILETUS. The southernmost of the twelve colonies forming the Ionian confederacy of Asia Minor. It lay on the S. coast of the Latonian Gulf, which penetrated Caria S. of the peninsula of Mycale, and received the waters of the Mæander. The silt of this river filled up the gulf, and Miletus is now 5 miles from the sea, while the former island of Lade, which helped to make its harbour, is now a hill rising in the alluvial plain.

Two visits of St. Paul to Miletus are mentioned. The first ( Acts 20:15 ) took place when he was returning to Jerusalem at the end of the Third Missionary Journey. He stayed long enough to send for the elders of Ephesus, and give them the farewell charge recorded in   Acts 20:1-38 . This probably needed two days. The second visit is mentioned in   2 Timothy 4:20 ‘Trophimus I left at Miletus sick.’ This must have been between St. Paul’s first and second imprisonment at Rome. In neither case are we told of any attempt to found a church at Miletus. Miletus was already unimportant by comparison with Ephesus, which now received the trade of the Mæander valley, and shared with Smyrna the trade that came along the great road through the centre of Asia Minor. Ephesus was recognized by the Romans as the southern capital of the province of Asia. Formerly Miletus had led Ionia. Its trade was mainly in wool, and it had founded numerous colonies on the Black Sea and Propontis (Sinope, Trapezus, Abydos, Cyzicus), besides Naucratis in Egypt. It had led the Ionian revolt, the fate of which was determined by the battle of Lade and the capture of Miletus, b.c. 494. It had defended itself on behalf of the Persian power against Alexander in b.c. 334. Its ruins are now called Palalia . They seem to include few Christian remains, but Miletus was a bishopric, and from the 5th cent. an archbishopric.

A. E. Hillard.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Mile'tus.  Acts 20:15;  Acts 20:17. Less correctly called Miletum in  2 Timothy 4:20. It lay on the coast, 36 miles to the south of Ephesus, a day's sail from Trogyllium.  Acts 20:15. Moreover, to those who are sailing from the north, it is in the direct line for Cos. The site of Miletus has now receded ten miles from the coast, and even in the apostles' time, it must have lost its strictly maritime position. Miletus was far more famous, five hundred years before St. Paul's day, than it ever became afterward.

In early times, it was the most flourishing city of the Ionian Greeks. In the natural order of events, it was absorbed in the Persian empire. After a brief period of spirited independence, it received a blow from which it never recovered, in the siege conducted by Alexander, when on his eastern campaign. But still it held, even through the Roman period, the rank of a second-rate trading town, and Strabo mentions its four harbors. At this time, it was politically in the province of Asia, though Caria was the old ethnological name, of the district in which it was situated. All that is left now is a small Turkish village called Melas , near the site of the ancient city.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

 Acts 20:15;  Acts 20:17; where Paul on his third missionary journey (A.D. 51) assembled and addressed the elders of Ephesus, 25 miles distant to the N. Miletus was a day's sail from Trogyllium ( Acts 20:15) and in the direct course for Cos ( Acts 21:1). He visited Miletus again before his last imprisonment, and left Trophimus there sick ( 2 Timothy 4:20 where it ought to be Miletus not Miletum). On the Maeander, anciently capital and chief seaport of Caria and Ionia, subdued by Croesus, then by Persia. Now, owing to the alluvial deposits of the river, it is ten miles inland; even in Paul's time it was no longer on the sea, as  2 Timothy 4:38 implies, "they accompanied him unto the ship." There are ruins of the theater, one of the largest in Asia Minor. Also of a church building lying in ruins said to have been preached in by John (?). Now Palatia. The coin of Miletus has a lion looking back at a star. Strabo mentions its four harbors. Miletus was for a long period the seat of a bishopric.

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

It featured a major school of philosophy; many artisans practiced there; and it was among the first cities to mint coins. This culture flourished until 494 B.C. when the Persians sacked the city in answer to a revolt by the Ionians. Alexander captured Miletus on his way eastward in 334 B.C., and the city saw a revival of the arts under his Hellenistic regime. In particular the architectural beauty of the city increased. Rome's influence increased the pace of economic development.

Paul encountered a robust city when he sailed to Miletus. The people probably were open to the gospel he preached. He chose to meet with the elders of the church at Ephesus in Miletus ( Acts 20:15-17 ). A second visit may have been made by the apostle a few years later ( 2 Timothy 4:20 ). The harbor began to silt up by 100 A.D., bringing a gradual halt to the city's usefulness and prominence. Today the ruins are over five miles inland. See Asia Minor; Ephesus .

Mike Mitchell

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

An ancient city, formerly the metropolis of all Ionia, situated on the western coast of Asia Minor, on the confines of Caria, just south of the mouth of the river Meander. It was the parent of many colonies, and was celebrated for a temple and oracle of Apollo Didymaeus, an as the birthplace of Thales, Anaximander, Democritus, and other famous men.

The apostle Paul, on his voyage from Macedonia toward Jerusalem, spent a day or two here, and held an affecting interview with the Christian elders of Ephesus, who at his summons came nearly thirty miles from the north to meet him,  Acts 20:15-38 . He also revisited Miletus after his first imprisonment at Rome,  2 Timothy 4:20 . There were Christians and bishops there from the fifth to the eighth century; but the city has long been in ruins, and its exact site can hardly be determined, so much is the coast altered around the mouth of the Meander.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [7]

a city on the continent of Asia Minor, and in the province of Caria, memorable for being the birthplace of Thales, one of the seven wise men of Greece, of Anaximander and Anaximines, the philosophers, and of Timotheus, the musician. It was about thirty-six miles south of Ephesus, and the capital of both Caria and Ionia. The Milesians were subdued by the Persians, and the country passed successively into the power of the Greeks and Romans. At present the Turks call it Molas, and it is not far distant from the true Meander, which encircles all the plain with many mazes, and innumerable windings. It was to this place, that St. Paul called the elders of the church of Ephesus, to deliver his last charge to them,  Acts 20:15 , &c. There was another Miletus in Crete, mentioned  2 Timothy 4:20 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Miletus ( Mî-Lç'Tus ),  Acts 20:15;  Acts 20:17, less correctly called Miletum in  2 Timothy 4:20, A.V. It was on the coast, 36 miles to the south of Ephesus.  Acts 20:15. The site of Miletus has now receded ten miles from the coast, and even in the apostles' time it must have lost its strictly maritime position. Miletus was far more famous 500 years before Paul's day than it ever became afterward. Now the small Turkish village Melas is near the site of the ancient city.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [9]

On the west coast of southern Asia Minor were the important towns of Miletus and Ephesus. They were about fifty kilometres apart and fell within the Roman province of Asia. (For map and other details see Asia .)

When Paul visited Miletus towards the end of his third missionary journey, he invited the elders of the church at Ephesus to come and meet him at Miletus. He gave them some important instructions and warnings and then left for Jerusalem ( Acts 20:15-17). He visited the town on at least one other occasion, not long before his final imprisonment and execution ( 2 Timothy 4:20).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

The place where Paul left Trophimus sick. ( 2 Timothy 4:20) It should seem that there was another place of this name near Ephesus. (See  Acts 20:17)

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 2 Timothy 4:20 Acts 20:15-35

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

mı̄ - lē´tus ( Μίλητος , Mı́lētos ): A famous early Ionian Greek city on the coast of Caria, near the mouth of the Meander River, which, according to   Acts 20:15 - 21:1, and   2 Timothy 4:20 (the King James Version "Miletum"), Paul twice visited. In the earliest times it was a prominent trading post, and it is said that 75 colonies were founded by its merchants. Among them were Abydos, Cyzicus and Sinope. In 494 BC, the city was taken by the Persians; it was recovered by Alexander the Great, but after his time it rapidly declined, yet it continued to exist until long after the Christian era. In the history of early Christianity it plays but a little part. The Meander brings down a considerable amount of sediment which it has deposited at its mouth, naturally altering the coast line. The gulf into which the river flows has thus been nearly filled with the deposit. In the ancient gulf stood a little island called Lade; the island now appears as a mound in the marshy malarial plain, and Palatia , the modern village which stands on the site of Miletus, is 6 miles from the coast. Without taking into account the great changes in the coast line it would be difficult to understand  Acts 20:15-21 , for in the days of Paul, Ephesus could be reached from Miletus by land only by making a long detour about the head of the gulf. To go directly from one of these cities to the other, one would have been obliged to cross the gulf by boat and then continue by land. This is what Paul's messenger probably did. The direct journey may now be made by land. Miletus has been so ruined that its plan can no longer be made out. Practically the only remaining object of unusual interest is theater, the largest in Asia Minor, which was not built in a hollow of the hillside, as most ancient theaters were, but in the open field.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Mile´tus, a city and sea-port of Ionia in Asia Minor, about thirty-six miles south of Ephesus. St. Paul touched at this port on his voyage from Greece to Syria, and delivered to the elders of Ephesus, who had come to meet him there, a remarkable and affecting address . Miletus was a place of considerable note, and the ancient capital of Ionia and Caria. It was the birth-place of several men of renown—Thales, Timotheus, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Democritus. Ptolemy places Miletus in Caria by the sea, and it is stated to have had four havens, one of which was capable of holding a fleet. It was noted for a famous temple of Apollo, the oracle of which is known to have been consulted so late as the fourth century. There was, however, a Christian church in the place; and in the fifth, seventh, and eighth centuries we read of bishops of Miletus, who were present at several councils. The city fell to decay after its conquest by the Saracens, and is now in ruins, not far from the spot where the Meander falls into the sea. The site bears, among the Turks, the name of Melas.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [14]

The foremost Ionian city of ancient Asia Minor, at the mouth of the Mæander, was the mother of many colonies, and the port from which vessels traded to all the Mediterranean countries and to the Atlantic; its carpets and cloth were far-famed; its first greatness passed away when Darius stormed it in 494 B.C., and it was finally ruined by the Turks; Thales the philosopher and Cadmus the historian were among its famous sons.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Miletus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.