The large east-west oriented island (27 miles east-west and about 14 miles north-south) is located southwest of ancient Ephesus in the Aegean Sea. It was an ancient Ionian settlement founded probably as early as the 11th century BCE, and was thought to be settled by the people of Epidaurus. The colony enjoyed great prosperity in the C6-5th BCE. The maritime colony developed healthy trade with the Asian coast. The island passed to Rome through the will of the last Pergamene king (133 BCE). Under the Romans the island was severed from its client relationship to the mainland and given free status (by Augustus in 17 BCE). The island was known for its woolen products, pottery and fine metalwork. The island was home to several ancient poets and moralists like Anacreon, Aesop, Ibycus and the astronomer Cono.
Paul either “passed by” or “touched” the island in the channel between the island and mainland on his third mission journey. (Note the unusual use of the term “parebalomen” and the variety of its translations). Paul sailed from Assos to Mitylene, Chios and then by Samos, on his way to Jerusalem.