In his later years and while living at Ephesus, St. John preached the Gospel and “idol-worshippers stirred up a riot among the populace, and they dragged him to the temple of Diana and tried to force him to offer sacrifice to the goddess.
Then the saint proposed this alternative: if by invoking Diana they overturned the church of Christ, he would offer sacrifice to the idols; but if by invoking Christ he destroyed Diana’s temple, they would believe in Christ.
To this proposal the greater number of the people gave their consent. When all had gone out of the building, the apostle prayed, the temple collapsed to the ground, and the statue of Diana was reduced to dust.”
He then challenged St. John, saying:
“If you want me to believe in your God, I will give you poison to drink. If it does you no harm, it will be clear that your master is the true God.”
St. John consented. But first Aristodemus had two condemned criminals released from prison and, in the presence of the crowd, gave them the poison to drink so that St. John would have to watch them die and it would fill him with a greater fear for his own life.