Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 20, 1953

Travels In Greece

J. T. Marlin, Sweetwater, Texas

Being accompanied by A. C. Horne, Perry Cotham, James Mahon, Earlene Bennett, Jewell Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Eyster, we had a very pleasant flight from Lydda, Israel to Athens, Greece via TWA. Enroute we passed over the islands of Rhodes and Patmos. I got a good view of southern Turkey.

In Athens I was thrilled once again to stand on Mars' Hill where we read from and meditated upon Paul's great discourse in Acts 17:16-34. It is impossible for one to walk the streets of Athens today without thinking of Socrates, Pericles, Demosthenes and many, many other orators, poets, statesmen, artists, and philosophers that Athens has given birth to.

A great point of Athenian interest is the Acropolis. The Propylea, or monumental gateway to the Acropolis, were erected by Pericles under the direction of the great architect Mnesicles. The Acropolis is a universally known rock. This mass of rock is about 1000 feet long, 500 feet wide, and 250 feet high. It was here that we viewed the ruins of the Parthenon, the temple of Athens and other things of the golden age of Greece or the "Periclean Age."

To us Mars' Hill had a far greater attraction than the Acropolis. The Theater of Dionysius with her seats of marble, the Temple of Jupiter, the Prison of Socrates, or the modern olympian stadium which seats 65,000. All Bible readers have pictured the platform upon which Paul stood when he delivered the wonderful sermon on the "Unknown God." (Acts 17:16-34) Northwest of the Acropolis lies a triangular rock called the Areopague or Mars' Hill. In ancient times a court for criminal cases, called the Areopagus, held its sittings here. They were held at night in the open air. This rock was the sight of Paul's message to the Athenians. It ranges from 30 to 40 feet high. Its width is about 90 yards and its length 200 yards. This mass of limestone rock has a reddish-grey color. One climbs about 16 or 18 steps cut in solid rock to get upon the hill. From the top one can visualize clearly the gods that Paul must have seen in the market place below as well as the heathen temples that adorned the Acropolis, It becomes easy from this point to understand why Paul's "spirit was stirred in him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." (Acts 17:16)

The next day, July 1, we journeyed to Corinth. From Athens to the new Corinth is a distance of 45 miles. The site of ancient Corinth lies about 50 miles from Athens. A new highway was completed a little more than two years ago between these cities. This is a lovely drive along the bay of Salamis. After we continued westward for nearly 40 miles our eyes were fastened upon the bay with Cenchrea in the background. From this seaport Paul embarked when leaving Corinth in about 54 A. D. (Acts 18:18) There was a New Testament church in this town in 60 A. D. Paul speaks of "Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is in Cenchrea." (Rom. 16:1) The record does not say that Paul ever preached here but he was familiar with this congregation.

At this point the Isthmus between the bay of Cenchrea and the bay of Corinth is about four miles wide. The Corinthian canal makes it possible for the smaller boats to pass from one point to another. All large ships must still sail around the southern point of the Peloponnesus. We were soon at ancient Corinth, the home of the church to which Paul wrote his two longest epistles. The history of this city dates back about eight centuries before our Lord. It history has been marked by wars, earthquakes, and political struggles. It was long a great commercial center because of its strategic location, at one time the finest and most modern city in all Greece. At Corinth Paul found Priscilla and Aquila who had been driven from Italy because of religious persecution. He remained in this city a year and a half preaching while supporting himself at his trade of tent-making. It was from here that he wrote two letters to the Thessalonians. In this day Corinth was one of the most wicked, licentious cities in all of the world. Its population numbered around 600,000. The temple of Aphrodite was there. There were about 1000 priestesses ministering to the baser passions of those who came for worship. The people had become so corrupt that when one exhausted his vocabulary in trying to describe another in the worst form, he simply said, "He acts like a Corinthian," There are but few houses and buildings at Corinth today, but the old ruins with the archaeological discoveries are revealing. Outstanding of the ruins above the ground stands seven columns, the remains of a magnificent temple dedicated to Apollo about 600 B. C. The national spot was pointed out where Paul stood and preached in the long ago. Another interesting thing was the feast of St. Paul then in progress. People had come from various parts of Greece for this occasion. One could not expect to visit this ancient spot and find more men, women, and children feasting upon barbecued meats without it being a similar occasion. We returned to Athens over the same road and viewed again the points of Biblical and historical interest before taking a plane for Rome, Italy.