The church in Antioch was no doubt pleased with what they heard, and Paul could scarcely wait to head out again. His focus would continue to be on the Empire’s imperial routes and its major cities were strategically-placed churches would grow and carry the Gospel into the surrounding countryside.
Sometime in AD 53 he set off overland through Galatia and Phrygia again, likely retracing earlier steps and renewing old and dear acquaintances in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Psidian Antioch (Acts 18:23) before settling in Ephesus (Acts 19:1). Paul remained in Ephesus for up to three years (Acts 19:8, 10; 20:31; cf. Acts 18:20–21). There he found “a wide door for effective service” (1 Cor 16:8–9) and used the city as a base of operations to reach people from all areas of Asia Minor (Acts 19:10, 26).
Years later, when he was a prisoner in Rome, Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, a mature treatise on the blessings and responsibilities of living the Christian life. One gets the feeling that he gained great satisfaction from his work in there. Eventually pressure from citizens loyal to Artemis, the city’s patron deity, drove Paul out of town, partly for his own safety, partly for the sake of the church (Acts 19:23–20:1).