(mi lee' tuhss) An ancient city on the west coast of Asia Minor. Miletus had four natural harbors and was a major port for the Minoan and Mycenean cultures. After 700 B.C. the Ionians developed it into an even greater center of commerce. It served as the port for Ephesus.
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.