12 – Corinth

Whenever I think of Corinthians, I think of rampant hedonism and debauchery. But I’d never bothered to think that it might be an actual city still in ruins today in Greece.

The city of Corinth dates back to well before 2,000 BC. It straddled the Corinth Isthmos, the narrow strip of land that separated the Peloponnese peninsula from mainland Greece. It had two sea ports: one in the Corinthian Gulf, the other in the Saronic Gulf (Adriatic and Aegean Sea). As such, it was a major port on the trade routes through the area.

Although it had been destroyed by Lucius Mummius in 146BC, Julius Caesar rebuilt the city shortly before his assassination. It became the seat of the Roman government in southern Greece and was noted for its wealth, luxury and immorality. As a major sea port, it attracted people of many nationalities and beliefs. It was dominated by the Acro-corinth and the temple to Aphrodite. Temple prostitutes and a large mobile population helped give Corinth a reputation for every sexual behavior imaginable.

When Paul first visited the city (AD 51 or 52), Gallio, the brother of Seneca, was proconsul. Paul resided here for eighteen months (). It was here that he met Aquila and Priscilla, and soon after his departure Apollos came from Ephesus.

Paul visited Corinth for a “second benefit” (2 Corinthians 1:15), and remained for three months, (). During this second visit in the spring of 58AD, it is likely the Epistle to the Romans was written. Paul also wrote two of his epistles to the Christian community at Corinth. The first Epistle reflects the difficulties of maintaining a Christian community in such a cosmopolitan city. (That doesn’t sound like the modern USA to you, does it?)

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This section of Corinth is about 3 acres and in the neglected portion of the ancient ruins. I guess it’s on the wrong side of the road or something.South of Corinth, in the background of this photo, is the “acro-Corinth” up on top of the hill.
In 1929, this marble block was uncovered: “ERASTVS. PRO. AED. S. P. STRAVIT”, which is an abbreviation of ERASTUS PRO AEDILITATE SUA PECUNIA STRAVIT. The inscription translates as “Erastus, in return for his aedileship, laid this pavement at his own expense”. In , Paul spoke of Erastus the city treasurer at Corinth. Our guide didn’t know about this. This same Erastus is mentioned in and .
If you cross the road and head to the southern portion of ancient Corinth, the first thing you see is the Theater. Things get a bit more interesting on this side of the road.
Temple of Octavia.
Pillars near the museum.
Lots of pillars everywhere.
A neat little farmhouse with the acro-corinth in the background.
The Bema Seat.
Runners would start at the eastern end of the market place. There were notches carved out in the stone where runners would place their feet. Much like sprinter’s blocks on a modern track.Sprinters would race a couple hundred yards and end up in front of the Bema Seat, where the judges would hand out wreaths to the winners.
Now I do all this because of the gospel, that I may become a partner in its benefits. Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
1Co 9:23-27
Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad. Knowing, then, the fear of the Lord, we persuade people. We are completely open before God, and I hope we are completely open to your consciences as well.
2Co 5:9-11
Some fancy stuff here on the eastern side of Corinth.
I could hear a fountain gurgling around, but I couldn’t see it. No doubt it brought water into this bath area. (assuming it’s a bath area)
There was a trough that funneled water somewhere else.
One of the main streets. It led right up to the Bema Seat.
There’s a museum that houses a bunch of the artifacts.
Saaaaaay! Didn’t we see this in Delphi?
Temple of Apollo.

The north side of Corinth

The friendlier side of Corinth

Museum courtyard

18:1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. (ESV)

There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. (ESV)

23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you. (ESV)

22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. (ESV)

20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. (ESV)