Paul's travels continue to Corinth, a city known for immoral behavior.
After Athens, Paul and his companions travel to Corinth. What an interesting city Corinth was. Paganism was widespread. The city was known for immoral behavior. In fact, even as late as the time of William Shakespeare, the term Corinthian was sometimes used to describe a person of low moral character. Corinth had two harbors. People of the ancient world wanted to connect the two harbors with a canal, but it was logistically impossible. (There is a canal there today.) Corinth was also the site of the biennial Isthmian Games. Not surprisingly, Paul used a race metaphor when he wrote to the Corinthians. (I Corinthians 9: 24-27) In Corinth, Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla. These two were among the Jews banished from Rome by Emperor Claudius. The Roman historian, Suetonius wrote, “as the Jews were indulging in constant riots at the instruction of Chrestus he (Claudius) banished them from Rome.” (When Claudius died, many Jews returned to Rome.) Like Paul, they were tent makers, and he worked with them. In all likelihood Paul had a stall at the market place (agora). With this much activity in the city there would have been many opportunities for Paul!
Archeologists have discovered the site of the agora in Corinth. It was built on two levels, and where the levels divide stood a podium from which public officials could address the people. This is where Paul would have stood before Gallio. Gallio was the proconsul of Achaia, and when the Jews of Corinth brought a complaint against Paul, he would have been the one to hear the case. The Jews said of Paul, “’This man,’ they charged, ‘is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.’” (Acts 18: 13) Gallio is known outside the Bible. An inscription from Emperor Claudius has been discovered which reads, ‘Julius Gallio my friend and proconsul of Achaia’. (Achaia is the province where Corinth is located.) Archeologists have discovered some other interesting things at the agora site. An inscription was found reading, ‘Synagogue of the Jews’. To the northwest corner of the agora stood the temple to Apollo. Here, on one of the paving stones, Archeologists found the name ‘Erastus’. Paul will mention him in Romans 16: 23. As I mentioned, the Jews brought complaints against Paul, but the Roman authority deemed their complaints an ‘internal matter’, and wanted nothing to do with it.
Paul will spend a year and a half in Corinth before setting sail for Ephesus. Paul was anxious to get back to Jerusalem by Pentecost. Not just to be with friends, but he knew there would be thousands of Jews from all over the Mediterranean world coming to Jerusalem, and there would be many opportunities to reach out to his fellow Jews with the Good News. So, Paul made a brief stay in Ephesus. “When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined, but as he left, he promised, ‘I will come back if it is God’s will…’” (Acts 18: 20-21) After spending time in Jerusalem, Paul will begin his third missionary trip, and as promised, he will return to Ephesus. (Part 6, next blog)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.