Introduction to First Corinthians www.generationword.com
3000 BC – the area of Corinth a was inhabited
before 3000 BC
2000 BC – Corinth invaded and abandoned in the Bronze
age by an alien people who may have been the forerunners of the Greeks.
1350 BC – A new settlement
came to the Corinth
1200 BC – At time of the
Trojan War Homer calls it “wealthy Corinth.”
700’s BC – Corinth began to develop as a commercial
center. Political influence increased through territorial expansion with colonies.
400’s – Corinth
joined Sparta against Athens in war. Corinth and Athens were commercial
rivals. This rivalry led to the
Peloponnesian War which Corinth
300’s – Corinth began to decline
146 – Rome
Male population killed. Others sold.
46 BC – Julius Caesar reconstructs Corinth. He populated it with Roman war veterans and
Orientals and large number of Jews.
44 BC – Corinth is reestablished as a Roman
colony. Romans used the existing
buildings but reorganized the city plan and lay out. Included were additions to the old market
place (the agora) and
the bema (the judgment tribulation platform where Paul would
appear before Gallio in Acts 18:12).
During this time Corinth again became
vastly prosperous from :
The Corinthian pottery and
Corinthian brass (mixture of gold, silver, copper) were world famous.
(For more information on pottery go to: http://henry.sandi.net/staff/mbaldwin/greek%20pots.html)
The Isthmian games were celebrated
at the temple of Poseidon
seven miles east of Corinth
every two years. These games succumbed
to luxury, recklessness and immorality because the sanctuary of Poseidon was
given over to the worship of Aphrodite.
Aphrodite’s temple was on the Acrocorinth and
had more than 1,000 female prostates also known as priestesses. The city grew even richer as people traveled
to “worship” Aphrodite.
50 AD – Apostle Paul starts
AD – Emperor Nero often visited Corinth,
displayed his artistic talents at the Isthmian games
and declared the city free.
200-300’s – Corinth was ravaged by Gothic hordes.
521 AD – Goths destroyed Corinth. Contemporary quote of the time:
“God is abandoning the Roman
1858 – Ancient site of Corinth left due to an
earthquake. New Corinth built near by.
The Location of the City
was located on the isthmus (land bridge) between Attica to NE (mainland Greece)
and Peloponnesos (peninsula like formation to the
There were two ports. The eastern port 5 miles away in the city of Cenchrea in the Saronic
Gulf that led to the Agean Sea. The western port which was north of Corinth in the city of Lechaeum in the Corinthian
Gulf that led to the Ionian
Small ships were rolled across
the 4 ˝ mile isthmus on rollers to avoid the dangerous sea around the cape at
the southern tip of the Peloponnesus. Large ships would unload in the eastern port,
transport the goods across the Isthmus and reload in the western port.
How the City was Laid Out
lay at the north foot of the Acrocorinth. The Acrocorinth
is an acropolis which rises 1,886 feet.
The Acrocorinth was so easily defended
that it was not taken by storm until the invention of gun powder. The temple of Aphrodite
The temple of Apollo
was constructed in 540 BC and had 90 limestone columns. There were two theaters. The large on
was built in 400 BC and had a new orchestra and new scene building added in the
200’s BC. It seated 18,000. The Erastus inscription stone was found in a paved
street at the east side of the theater.
This same Erastus is mentioned in Actst 19:22 and in Romans 16:23
The Triumphal gateway is seen at the north in the wall. The Lechaeum Road
entered the city at the Triumphal gateway and led up to the Agora
)market place, or what the Romans called the forum.) The Agora
was 300 feet by 600 feet and had many shops.
Many shops had individual wells for the heavy amount of wine made and
drank in the city. Paul may have made
tents in one of these shops. Located near the center of the Agora with a row of
shops on both sides was the bema (Greek) or the “rostra” (Latin) or the
tribunal platform or the judicial bench.
From this platform officials addressed audiences. The bema was covered with marble and
fragments can still be found there. On
either side were waiting rooms with mosaic floors and marble benches where
magistrates heard cases. Paul was
brought here since a mob would not have been allowed into a Roman Court. By the 900’s a church had been built on the
bema with an inscription being found that said, “The Church of Saint Paul.”
To the south was the acropolis
The ruins in the foreground are the remains of the bema which was
located in the middle of the central shops in the Agora. Acts 18:12-17 records the
account of Paul being taken by a mob in front of this bema upon which the
proconsul Gallio stood and dismissed the mobs
charges. Roman records show Gallio was proconsul of Achaia from June of 51 AD until May
The People of Corinth in Paul’s Day
The city of Corinth in Paul’s day had only been rebuilt
100 years before but it waqs five ties as large as Athen. The city was ylung, dynamic an dnot bound be tradition. The people were a mix of
dislocated individuals without strong ethnic identities. The Corinthina
church shows this mixture in the names of it members
Roman (Latin) Names in Corinthian Church
- Gaius $
- Titius Justus $
Greek Names in Corinthian Church
- Stephanas $
- Erastus $
Jewish Names in Corinthian Church
Corinth was an extremely reich city. Note the names above of the wealthy
church members with the $.
was ornamented with magnificent monuments and buildings such as the Temple of Apollo
& the theater.
Corinth produced the prized Corinthian vases
They also developed the
Corinthian style of columns whose design and use spread through out the world.
The Erastus Stone
Paul writes from Corinth in his closing
greeting to the Roman, “Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and
our brother Quartus send you their regreetings.” (Romans 16:23) Erastus is also
mentioned in Acts 19:22 as one of Paul’s associates in the ministry that was
sent with Timothy to Macedonia. The below picture is a stone from a paved
road on the east side of the theater.
The inscription in the stone says, “Erastus the commissioiner of
public works bore the expense of this pavement.” Scripture and this stone identify from the
same time period in Corinth
a man with the same name and with the same public office. It is almost for certain Paul and this 2,000
year old stone are talking about the same individual.
Below is an inscribed lintel
block with the words “Synagogue of the Hebrews.” It dates from the time of Paul’s visit and
would have been over the door leading into the synagogue that Paul preached in.
For more photos of Corinth go to http://www.holylandphotos.org
Paul’s Visit to Corinth
in Acts 18
18:2 – Aquila
a man of Jewish birth, from Pontus North of Galatia. Priscilla was his wife.
Chrestus uprising in Rome is
referred to in this quote by a Roman historian who wrote in 120 AD concerning this time period: “As the Jews had
again increased in numbers, but could with difficulty be banished from the capital without a
tumult because of their number, Claudius did not actually expel them, but forbade them to meet in accordance with
their ancestral customs.” When this did
not work Claudius expelled them.
18:3 – Tentmakers were leather
workers. They made military tents and
all kinds of leather work in Judaism it was
not proper for a scribe or rabbi to receive payment for teaching. Most Rabbis had a trade in addition
to study and teaching. Gamaliel III commended the study of Torah in combination
with a secular occupation. He said:
“All study of the Torah which is not combined with work will ultimately
be futile and leads to sin.”
18:5 – Silas and Timothy bring
an financial offering from Macedonia and Paul teaches full
time (2 Cor. 8:1-7)
18:6-7 – The name Titius Justus (the nomen and the
cognomen) suggests he was a Roman citizen and his family may have been originally placed in Corinth by Julius Caesar
in 44 BC. His praenomen would be Gaius making
him the man Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 1:14 and Romans 16:23. One of the few baptized by
Paul. He was wealthy with a large
house for the church to meet in.
18:8 – Crispus
along with Gaius were only ones baptized by Paul (1 Cor. 1:14)
18:9-10 – Vision said “no harm”
in Corinth unlike Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. Paul came to Corinth in “fear
and trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:3)
18:11 – The next 5 years were
spent living, writing, and visiting Corinth
18:12 - No harm was promised, but there
would be attacks:
- In Thessalonica . . . .they
stirred up the city rabble.
- In Philippi. . . .
. . . . they accused Paul before the civic authorities
- In Corinth.
. . . . . . .they approached the Roman
A decision by civic magistrates
such as were in Thessalonica would effect only their jurisdiction. But a decision by a Roman governor would effect his whole province and be followed by other governors
through the empire
18:13 – Jewish religion was
accepted by Rome
due to its antiquity. Paul’s religion
(Christianity) was new.
18:14-16 – Gallio ruled that this conflict and Paul’s
religion were still an issue of Jewish interpretation of their
Law. Basicallly he said
Paul’s “new religion” was still under the jurisdiction of the Jewish “old
This was a monumental legal
decision because it set the stage for the Roman attitude towards Christianity
through out most of Paul’s life.
Christianity would not become illegal through out the empire until after
the fall of Jerusalem
in 70 AD when Christianity had to separate itself from Judaism and was revealed
to Rome as a
18:17 – Anti-Jewish demonstrations
were obviously common and the Gentiles grabbed a Jewish leader
Sosthenes (probably the one who
replaced Crispus as synagogue ruler and beat him. Sostnenes became a believer soon
after this as is seen in 1 Corinthians 1:1 when Paul mentions his name in the
opening of the letter.
was the son of Seneca, a rhetorician (50 BC-40 AD) and a brother of Seneca the
younger (3 BC-65 AD) a Stoic philosopher and a member of the imperial
court. He was originally named Marcus Annaeus Novatus but was named
after Lucius Junius Gallio. He was a man
of grat personal harm. His brother said, “No moral is so pleasant to
any one person as Gallio is to everybody.” He left Achaia with a fever and took a
cruise. He died with the rest of his
family by Nero’s execution.
Timeline of Paul and the Corinthians
Fall 50 AD to Spring 52 AD –
Paul goes to Corinth
during his second missionary journey.
53-56 AD – Paul goes on a
third missionary journey. Apollos is in Corinth.
a) Paul stays
in Ephesus for
2 ˝ years
b) Paul writes a letter to Corinth that has been lost and is referred to
in 1 Corinthians 5:9 as the
c) In 1
Corinthians 1:11 Paul has heard of disorder in the Corinthian church from Chloe’s
delegation (1 Corinthians 16:17) had been sent to him in Ephesus
with questions from the congregation that he addressees in 1 Corinthians 7:1.
up this letter with a “painful” visit directly from Ephesus and back in 2 Corinthians 2:1.
Paul leaves Corinth and returns to Ephesus and writes a “sorrowful letter”
referred to in 2 Corinthians 2:4 and
7:8,9. He shed “many
tears” writing this letter according to 2 Cor.
2:4. Paul says he
“repented” or “regretted” writing it because it made them sad
in 2 Corinthians 7:8. This letter, his
third to the Corinthians, has also been
Paul left Ephesus and went to Macedonia where he met Titus who
was on his way back from the Corinthian
church. Titus had an encouraging report.
(2 Corinthians 7:5-7)
the winter in Corinth
(Acts 20:2-3) and wrote the book of Romans.
Paul left for Jerusalem
in the spring of 57 to end his
third missionary journey.
TOTAL: Paul wrote 4 letters to Corinth
and made 3 visits to Corinth.