Acts 18 tells the story of Paul’s first visit to Corinth. No church in the New Testament is more like our modern churches than the Corinthian church.
Corinth was a city of wealth and culture, seated at the crossroads of the Roman Empire, through which flowed all the trade and commerce of the empire. A beautiful resort city, it was also a city of immorality. On the hill that rises behind the ancient city stood a temple to Aphrodite. Every evening the priests and priestesses — male and female prostitutes — would come down from the temple into the streets to ply their trade. It was known throughout the length and breadth of the ancient world as a city of great and widespread immorality.
Corinth the city
- City of Corinth
- Corinth was an exceptionally wealthy city and the 2nd most important city in the Roman empire.
- Corinth had access to both the Adriatic and Agean seas, as it sat on an isthmus (map).
- Ships and goods could cross this narrow land-bridge to avoid a long trip into the open sea.
- It was an important military outpost.
- The city, like Las Vegas today, was know for decadence and sexual immorality.
- Corinth had a population of about 200,000 free citizens, 500,000 slaves and a large population of freed slaves.
- The patron god was Poseidon, but it also had a large temple to Aphrodite. Temple worship consisted of visiting one of a temple priestess/prostitute.
- The Apostle Paul visited Corinth around 50 AD during his second missionary journey.
- Bible Atlas: Corinth
- Map of NT Greece
Paul in Corinth
- Paul left Silas and Timothy in Berea and traveled alone to Athens and then Corinth. He intended to stay in Corinth a short time, but after God’s vision, he stayed 18 months.
- Aquila is a Jew from Pontus (now northern Turkey). His name is Latin for “eagle” and he may have been a freed slave. It is unclear whether or not Priscilla is Jewish and whether she is also a tent maker.
- Priscilla’s name is often listed first. We can only speculate on the reason. She may have been the better teacher or simply had a closer relationship to Luke, the author of Acts.
- In 49 AD, the Emperor Claudius ordered all Jews who were not Roman citizens to leave Rome, causing Priscilla and Aquila to leave Rome.
- When Paul leaves Corinth, Priscilla and Aquila go with him to Ephesus, where they stay and host a house church.
- Paul begins his visit working as a tent maker during the week and preaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath.
- After the Jews reject him, he begins preaching to the Gentiles.
- Silas and Timothy arrive with a financial gift from Macedonia which allows Paul to preach full-time.
- Paul’s 2nd Journey – Visits Corinth on this trip
The Riot in Corinth
- Gallio is the brother of Seneca, the well-known stoic philosopher.
- Paul is charged with preaching an illegal religion, which could be punished by death.
- Judaism was a legal Roman religion. At this point, Christianity was considered a sect of Judaism and was therefore legal.
- Gallio’s ruling here gives Christianity legal protection for a few more years.
- Sosthenes became leader of the synagogue after Crispus converted and now has converted himself.
- The angry Jewish mob cannot beat Paul since he is a Roman citizen, so they turn on Sosthenes.
- This is probably the same Sosthenes mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:1.
Paul’s Letters to Corinth
- Paul probably wrote 4 letters to the Corinthians, but only 2 survived.
- Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus around 55 AD.
- Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia around 56 AD.
- Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in response to a letter of questions from Corinth and a verbal report from “Chloe’s people.”
- Encouraged by new from Titus, Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to prepare for his coming to see them again (after Macedonia).
- Chronology of Paul
- Paul’s 3rd Journey – writes the letters during this time period.