At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus: “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own Blood . . . . When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship. (Acts 20:28,36-38)
During the Roman Empire, Ephesus was an important capital of Western Asia Minor and a early Christian center. This passage represents the fluidity of terminology in early church ministers. Paul summons the presbyters (elders) and then refers to them as overseers (episkopoi). In a much later time these terms will no longer be interchangeable but will represent a hierarchy: bishops (epispopoi), elders (presbyteroi) and deacons (diakonoi). In the Mediterranean world, the tiny ships were the Greyhound buses of today.