Place & History
Corinth is a prominent Greek city evangelized by Paul. As Greece’s most splendid commercial city, Corinth was located just south of the narrow isthmus connecting central Greece with the Peloponnesus.
Ideally situated on the Isthmus of Corinth between the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea, Corinth was the connecting link between Rome, the capital of the world, and the East. Its strategic situation made it the mecca of trade between the East and West.
It had 3 harbours: Its eastern port was Cenchrae (Rom 16:1), its western port was Lechaeum, and Schoenus on the Saronic Gulf.
Following the natural configuration of the land, the southern section was about thirteen feet higher than the northern part. At the dividing line of the two levels stood the bema where public officials could address crowds and render judgment; no doubt Paul stood before Gallio there (Acts 18:12-13).
On a rocky terrace overlooking the western side of the agora stood a Temple of Apollo. Built during the sixth century B.C., its 38 columns stood almost 24 feet in height. These were especially impressive because they consisted of single shafts of stone instead of being built up with drums, as was the usual practice. Today the Temple of Apollo, partially in ruins, towers above the ancient marketplace.
A marble lintel or crosspiece of a door was found near the residential section of Corinth. It bore the inscription, “Synagogue of the Hebrews.” This may have been the very synagogue in which Paul first proclaimed the gospel message to Corinth, accompanied by his new-found Jewish friends, Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2).
Also, the infamous Temple of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) was located on top of this fortified hill. This pagan temple and its 1,000 “religious” prostitutes poisoned the city’s culture and morals. For this reason, the apostle Paul sometimes had to deal harshly with the converts in the Corinthian church.
The occupation of the site goes back to Neolithic times, about 8,000 BC, when ancient tribesmen first settled the site.
The cult of Aphrodite was cultivated there early. Corinth was an aggressive colonizing city in the eighth and seventh centuries BC; Corinthian bronze and pottery became proverbial.
The Romans completely invaded and destroyed it in 146 BC.
Julius Caesar restored it in 46 BC, and it grew so rapidly that it was made Achaia’s capital and the seat of the proconsulship by Augustus (Acts 18:12).
The city soon became a melting pot for the approximately 500,000 people who lived there at the time of Paul’s arrival. Merchants and sailors, anxious to work the docks, migrated to Corinth. Professional gamblers and athletes, betting on the Isthmian games, took up residence. Slaves, sometimes freed but with no place to go, roamed the streets day and night.
Its prosperity continued until the city was taken by the Turks in 1458.
A terrific earthquake destroyed the old city in 1858, and a new city was constructed about four kilometers from the old city.
– Summary in Points –