Alexander the Great also had a hand in Miletus , when he seized the city in a battle that took place around 334 BC. The region profited from a wave of trade and prosperity. After Alexander died, Miletus was ruled by his general Lysimachus, who generously donated to the city. In 133 BC, the Romans came to the city and built a handful of monumental structures to the city. This article will also touch upon the significance of Miletus during the third missionary journey of St. Paul.
In religious circles, the people of Miletus made an annual pilgrimage taking the route of the Sacred Way during Hellenistic and Roman times. They had a goal to reach the Temple of Apollo at Didyma from the city.
In the Bible, Miletus is mentioned as one of the stops of St. Paul during his third missionary journey. In Acts 20:16-38, it is said that he passed through while on his way back to Jerusalem. He was in a hurry because he wanted to make it to the holy city by the day of Pentecost. He traveled from Troas and skipped Ephesus, but while at Miletus, he requested that the elders of Ephesus come meet him in the city. It was then that he made a long farewell speech to the elders , proclaiming that he would most likely not see them again. He is quoted as saying “the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me.” These words brought tears to the elders, as they prayed and embraced one another. They accompanied him to the ship where he would sail for Jerusalem. This speech is significant because it is considered the only recorded sermon that he delivered exclusively to believers.
Paul is believed to have visited Miletus on another occasion. In 2 Timothy 4:20, it is suggested that Paul left Trophimus in Miletus due to illness.
When Paul reached Jerusalem after leaving Miletus, he was imprisoned. Some of the Jews there accused him of teaching against Jewish law or for defiling the temple by bringing Gentiles inside. The entire city erupted with his presence and people quickly came to see what all of the ruckus was all about. If Roman soldiers had not intervened, Paul would have been killed. A violent crowd had gathered and the soldiers had to carry him away to rescue him.
When they reached the stairs to the castle, Paul asked if he could speak to the crowd. The soldiers surrounded him and he started to say a few words in his defense. He spoke of his conversion. The crowd listened for a bit until Paul said that the Lord had sent him to the Gentiles. They grew violently angry. The commander had to take Paul inside and ordered that he receive a beating. However, they did not know that Paul was a Roman citizen and in those days, Roman citizens were not allowed to be beaten. Paul informed them of his citizenship and they became fearful of the treatment they had given him.