Paul & Corinth

During his second missionary journey Paul, accompanied by Timothy and Silas, met St. Luke, probably for the first time, at Troas where he had a vision (Acts 16:6-10) calling him to Macedonia and, therefore, Europe. He met with mixed success and ill treatment in Philippi, Thessalonica,  Berea and Athens (then a backwater university town) and finally to Corinth. He  arrived in physical pain from his stoning at Lystra where he had been left for dead and his beating with rods at Philippi and deeply disappointed by his poor reception in Athens.

Corinth, the capital of the Roman Province of Achaia (Greece) was a byword for loose living, dominated as it was by the notorious temple of Venus with its 1000 prostitutes. Situated at the South of the isthmus of the mainland and the Morea (Peloponnese) and on the main route between the East and West, it consisted of major harbours on each side of the isthmus. It was a turbulent city, filled with people from all over the Empire, not least Diaspora Jews some of whom had just arrived from Rome after their expulsion by Claudius as a political gambit in 49 AD; the very heterogeneity of the Jewish colony was to present Paul with a major problem even before he had to found a church which also contained gentiles. Paul came to this centre of traffic, excitement, wealth and vice near the end of 51 AD. He stayed for more than 18 months with two Roman exiled Jews, Aquila and his wife Priscilla and took up tent making to spare the feelings of the grasping Corinthians. He preached weekly in the Synagogue but when he was strengthened by the arrival of Timothy and Silas with money from Macedonia) he became more confident and preached to the gentiles in the house of Titus Justus next door which caused great offence, particularly when Crispus, its leader, and his family were converted. The Jewish opposition and general atmosphere of vice depressed him but the Lord appeared to him and urged him to stay (Acts 18:9-11).

Finally, Jewish patience broke and Paul was dragged before the new Proconsul Gallio (the brother of Seneca) who refused to listen which led to Sosthenes, Crispus' successor, being beaten while Gallio turned a blind eye. Paul seems to have left for a short while, returned for a short while and then gone to Jerusalem. Although he later established his headquarters at Ephesus for three years, only three days sailing away, he seems never to have returned to what was, after Rome itself, the most important city of his mission.

KC viii/07

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