Before we even open our Bible, I recommend learning as much as we can about the city of Ephesus. To do that, we go to our tools, our Bible history book(s) and our maps. When we do this, we learn that Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire. We also learn that it was home of a rather substantial shrine to a female deity. In fact, that is how the city got its start.
More than 5,000 years prior to Jesus' birth, the Amazons, warrior women from the land of the Taurians on the Black Sea brought this female deity to that region. Some say they mounted it in an oak tree. To get an idea of the longevity of this, consider that the United States is just a little over 200 years old.
Later, this deity was moved to a structured sanctuary, and around that sanctuary a community grew. The community became the city of Ephesus. The entire region, known as Ionia, was a brain center of the Greek civilization which eventually dominated the entire known world. This is from where the epic of Homer was written. This is the source of the pre-Socratic philosophers. This was a birthplace of intellectual snobbery.
In stark contrast to a city like Philippi or Corinth, both of which were hardened military establishments, these people were the thinkers of their day. They had an obnoxious zest or zeal for philosophical debate. Knowing that, it will make perfect sense when you read Paul flying in the face of intellectualism as you read Ephesians.
Ephesus was considered a gateway city because of its prime location, as well as its sheer size. It is from Ephesus that Greek elements and culture were pushed into Asia. Conversely, through Ephesus, oriental culture and tradition were pushed further West and incorporated into the Greek culture.
Even as late as Jesus' day, over five thousand years later, Ephesus did not lose site of her roots and founding. In Ephesus you find (even today) the heavy-set mother goddess depicted at the very moment of birth. Other times she is depicted as having dozens of breasts. Sometimes she is engraved with signs of the Zodiac, because she controls the heavenly bodies. She is called by many names: Great Mother of the Gods, Mother of Humanity, Mountain Mother, Oupis, Ma, Bellona, Cybele, Demeter, Artemis, or Diana (as the Romans called her).
She is the giver of life. The dead are gathered once again to her womb. She stands guard over their tombs. She grew to such a level of popularity that history records there being a shrine to the Great Ephesian Artemis in every Greek city throughout the Mediterranean world. She was the most worshipped of all the Gods. Her temple in Ephesus would hold thousands of worshippers. It was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is in this temple that the Amazons first took refuge from Hercules.
From the worship of this goddess grew a system of magic, inscribed on the Ephesia Grammata, that involved the "six mystic words." We read in the book of Acts how the early Christians in Ephesus burned their books of magic. A text like that takes on new meaning when you have a fuller understanding of how dearly they held to those books.
When the Lydians were laying siege to the city of Ephesus, the Ephesians extended woolen fillets from the sanctuary of Artemis and encircled the city with them. So profound was the influence of this goddess, that the Lydians feared her protection and abandoned their siege.
This temple also served as the treasury for Asia Minor, the wealthiest province of the Roman Empire. They reasoned the goddess would give safe watch and keeping to their finances. From this, the temple itself came to serve as an enormous banking center. Ephesus stood as a bastion of female supremacy in all matters religious. It is absolutely no coincidence that it was in Ephesus that Mary, the mother of Jesus was first called "theotokos" (bearer of God). In the pagan world, Artemis bore that same title.
With all of that background, get your Bible, and read Acts 19:23-34. It will make perfect sense.