People in the Corinthian Church
After the city was destroyed and subsequently re-built by Julius Caesar, the new city’s inhabitants were mainly Romans. Greeks seem to have been reluctant to settle there for a time, but eventually they came back in numbers.
The new city also attracted men from many Eastern races, including a Jewish population large enough to have a synagogue (Acts 18:4).
People from Rome, the rest of Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor-indeed, all of the Mediterranean world-relished the lack of standards and freedom of thought that prevailed in the city.
These were the people who eventually made up the Corinthian church. They had to learn to live together in harmony, although their national, social, economic, and religious backgrounds were very different.
Acts 18:1-18 records the founding of the Corinthian church. During his second missionary journey, Paul went alone from Athens to Corinth in about AD 51. His two earliest epistles, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, were written there, A.D. 52 or 53. There he labored with a Jewish-Christian couple, Aquila and Priscilla, who recently had been expelled from Rome by the emperor Claudius because they were Jews.
Silas and Timothy also joined Paul in Corinth about 45 days after his arrival.
The church in Corinth consisted principally of non-Jews (1 Cor 12:2). Paul had no intention at first of making the city a base of operations (Acts 18:1; 16:9-10); for he wished to return to Thessalonica (1 Thess 2:17-18).
His plans were changed by a revelation (Acts 18:9-10). The Lord commanded him to speak boldly, and he did so, remaining in the city eighteen months. Finding strong opposition in the synagogue he left the Jews and went to the Gentiles (Acts 18:6).
Within a few years after Paul’s first visit to Corinth the Christians had increased so rapidly that they made quite a large congregation, but it was composed mainly of the lower classes: they were neither ‘learned, influential, nor of noble birth’ (1 Cor 1:26).
Paul had been instrumental in converting many Gentiles (1 Cor 12:2) and some Jews (Acts 18:8), notwithstanding the Jews’ opposition (Acts 18:5-6), during his 18 months there.
The immoralities abounding outside at Corinth, and the craving even within the church for Greek philosophy rather than for the simple preaching of Christ crucified (1 Cor 2:1), caused the apostle anxiety.
When Paul left Corinth 18 months later, a Christian congregation flourished. The congregation was composed primarily of former pagans (1 Cor 12:2), most of them apparently from the lower classes (1 Cor 1:26 f).
– Summary in Points –