The Pergamum Museum in Berlin is home to three outstanding architectural remains from the ancient world: the Zeus Altar from Pergamum, the Miletus Market Gate, and the Ishtar Gate from Babylon.
The Market Gate of Miletus, constructed about 120-130 A.D. during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, has been reconstructed in the museum. Fant and Reddish say,
This two-story gateway is one of the finest examples of Roman façade architecture in existence” (Lost Treasures of the Bible, p. 349).
German archaeologists excavated the gate and sent it to Germany in the first decade of the 20th century. It was more than 20 years before a suitable room was available for the gate to be reconstructed.
Miletus was already a significant city with outstanding monuments when Paul stopped there on the return from his third journey, but this building would not be built for another 60 or 70 years.
The recently renovated Miletus Market Gate in the Pergamum Museum, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
A seated statue of the Emperor Trajan, seen on the left side of the above photo, comes from a different place. We know from the writings of Pliny that some Christians of Asia Minor were persecuted during the reign of Trajan. See here.
The Emperor Trajan (A.D. 98-117). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
To illustrate the greatness of this museum, if we go through one exit from the room we see the Zeus Altar, but if we go through the gate we see the Ishtar Gate from Babylon. Notice the colored bricks of the Ishtar Gate in the photo below.
The Ishtar Gate can be seen through the Miletus Market Gate. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Miletus is mentioned only two places in the New Testament. The first is on Paul’s return from the third journey about A.D. 57 (Acts 20:15, 17). The other time is when Paul tells Timothy, in his last letter, that he had left Trophimus “sick at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20). This indicates that Paul may have stopped at Miletus on the voyage to Rome, but no activity is recorded.
From Miletus, on the first visit, Paul sent for the elders of the church at Ephesus. In those days it would be a lengthy journey for a messenger to go from Miletus to Ephesus. The distance by land would have been about 63 miles. If the couriers went across the Gulf of Latmos (Latmus) the distance would be about 38 miles. The map below shows the location of Miletus on the south of the Gulf of Latmos. Over the centuries the harbor, fed by the Meander River, silted up. Today Miletus is landlocked about five miles away from the Aegean Sea.
Map showing Miletus and Ephesus. Map courtesy BibleAtlas.org.