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?)
The north side of Corinth
The friendlier side of Corinth
18:1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 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, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 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.” 7 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. 8 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. 9 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)
3 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)