Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 1, 1967
NUMBER 5, PAGE 5c-6a

The City Of Corinth (II.)

Bill Echols

After lying in ruins for a century, Corinth was rebuilt as a Roman colony by Julius Caesar in 46 B. C. It grew to 600,000 inhabitants. Greek merchants flowed in. Many Jews were attracted to it because of its advantages for business and its nearness to Palestine. The Roman population was outnumbered by the Greeks and Jews. Corinth became the capital of the Roman province of Achaia, and was governed by a proconsul presiding in Corinth. Gallio became proconsul in 51 A.D. He was the brother of the famous philosopher Seneca. A monument containing a copy of a letter from Emperor Claudius to Gallio helps us to fix the date of the beginning of his rule. As he was proconsul part of the time of Paul's stay in Corinth, we can date Paul's visit to Corinth rather closely.

In Paul's day two vices plagued Corinth a greed for material gain and fleshly lust. The wealth of commerce and industry fed the first. The cult of Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of love, fostered the other. The goddess' temple was atop the Acrocorinth and was served by more than a 1000 religious prostitutes. These prostrated themselves for hire for all corners. In a sense the whole city was the shrine of Aphrodite. By the widespread practice of the vicious forms of the goddess' worship, the city became notorious as a seat of immorality. Such terms as "to corinthianize", meaning to enter into the immoral practices of the city, became a part of the language.

The city had intellectual interests both in art and philosophy. The citizens were proud of their mental acuteness; so much so that in their conceit they criticized and questioned anything and everything. As they only dabbled in philosophy, their knowledge was shallow but they were puffed up with it.

In the neighborhood of the city were celebrated the Isthmian games which drew to Corinth many strangers and added to the wealth and fame of the city. It seems the games were held every two years in the spring or beginning of summer. If so, Paul Probably saw them or was in Corinth when they took place. In any case, he frequently refers to them when he is discussing the energy and activity of Christians in serving the Lord.

Paul entered the city in loneliness, uncertainty, and without funds. He had to earn a living. He met a Jew named Aquila with whom he worked as a tent maker. The banishment of the Jews from Rome by Claudius had resulted in Aquila being in Corinth. Based on Suetonius, this banishment is believed to have been in 49 A.D. Paul is thought by some to have arrived in 50 A. D. He could hardly have come earlier since this would have completed his 18 months before Gallio arrived in 51 A. D. Paul may have arrived later than 50 A.D.

We do not know how Paul traveled to Corinth from Athens. If by land, he came down the isthmus. If by sea, he would have landed at Cenchrea, the port on the Aegean Sea. The Corinth visited by Paul was destroyed by an earth quake. It was located about three miles from the modern city and many of the features seen by Paul still survive in ruins. Archaeologists have studied these extensively. Among their findings is an ancient door lintel bearing the sign "Synagogue of the Hebrews". This may be the very one Paul visited, although some think it dates from a later day.

The modern city of Corinth was founded in 1858, rebuilt after another earthquake in 1928 and today has about 16,000 people.

When we study the travels of Paul we find he sought to establish churches in key cities from which the gospel could spread. Once the gospel was established in Corinth, it would spread rapidly. With this background, we can appreciate more the history of the church in Corinth.