Thursday, October 5
After breakfast, drive along the Sacred Way of Eleusinian Mysteries, passing the Island of Salamis. Cross the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean and Ionian Seas. See the Isthmus where boats were once dragged over land from one sea to the other. Arrive Corinth, the most important city in the days of St. Paul. The vigorous and mostly Gentile Church he founded here in 50 AD caused him much grief and prompted him to write at least two letters to them. Visit the ruins of the ancient city where St. Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla. See the remains of first century shops, the agora where St. Paul's trial by Gallio took place, the Fountain of Peirene, Temple of Apollo and the Bema.
This afternoon, embark on a tour of the city where you will see the Royal Palace, the Stadium and Temple of Zeus, the Theatre of Dionysius and the Agora (marketplace) where Paul spoke and Socrates' prison. Visit Mars Hill and the Acropolis with the famous Parthenon.
Photos of our Day's Journey
PAUL’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE CORINTHIANS
During his second missionary journey, in the summer of 50 A.D., the apostle Paul leaves Athens and travels to the city of Corinth. In it he meets Priscilla and Aquila, a couple who will greatly aid him in his ministry. When they discover Paul is a tent maker like themselves they let him stay in their home. Paul's friends and fellow evangelists Silas and Timothy join him in Corinth. He preaches the gospel every Sabbath until he leaves the city around Autumn of 52 A.D. Paul will revisit the city in 58 A.D. during his third missionary journey.
Paul’s relationship to the Corinthians Christians is a complicated one. His first encounter with the Corinthians came as he first brought the gospel to them. He spent about a year and half in Corinth, establishing the church there. When he felt like this work of establishing the church was done, Paul left the city and continued his missionary journey. It was about a year and half later that Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians. We don’t have this letter, but we know about it because Paul mentions it in chapter 5 of the letter we call 1 Corinthians. He wrote in response to news that the church was struggling spiritually.
The Corinthians responded with a letter of their own, asking for clarification on certain matters of life and theology. Those questions revealed some deep confusion that resulted in some serious problems with how they lived their lives. This prompted Paul to write another letter, the first we have, called 1 Corinthians. In that letter, Paul not only offered counsel and direction for the church, but also said that he hoped to actually go back to Corinth and encourage them face-to-face. However, his plans changed and he wasn’t able to go. His partner in ministry, Timothy, did go, and he found the situation in Corinth bad. They hadn’t done anything Paul told them to do in his letter (1 Corinthians), and the church was fragmenting under the weight of its sin.
Paul immediately put aside everything else and made an urgent visit to Corinth to try to put things right. But this direct confrontation with the Corinthians turned out to be a bitter and humiliating experience for Paul. This was a “painful visit” that caused him much sorrow (2 Cor 2:1). The church had not only rejected Paul’s instructions but had chosen to follow other men who opposed Paul, and treated him with disrespect and ridiculed his apostleship. Not surprisingly, Paul didn’t stay long in Corinth. And even this was used by his opponents as evidence of Paul’s indecisiveness and lack of love for the Corinthians. But the truth was that Paul did care for the Corinthians, and he couldn’t leave things as they were, fearing his enemies would destroy the work of the gospel among the church.
Therefore, Paul wrote a third letter to the Corinthians. Again, we don’t have this letter, but we know from his fourth letter that this third one was a severe and tearful letter (2 Cor 2:4, 9). While Titus took this letter to Corinth, Paul remained in Ephesus, where he faced some of the worst opposition to the gospel. Eventually, Paul and Titus reunited, and the apostle received news of Corinth. The good news was that many had repented of their treatment of Paul and the gospel message. But all was not good. Some still remained in a lifestyle of immorality, while others continued to look down on Paul because of his suffering. All of this was made worse by a group of false apostles who undermined Paul’s authentic apostleship and made it difficult for Paul to minister to the Corinthians. It’s into this context that Paul writes his fourth letter to the Corinthians, the second one what we have in the Bible. . . .
All About the City of Corinth...
The Grecian city of Corinth, located on a narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, is about 48 miles west of Athens. Its history goes back at least as far as 900 B.C. Myth states that the city was founded by Corinthos, a descendant of the Sun god Helios. Starting in the 5th century B.C., the advantageous location of Corinth on an Isthmus soon made it a very wealthy city. Its three excellent harbors made it ideal to handle commercial traffic on both the western and eastern seas. Its riches eventually rivaled those of Athens.
After fighting a few wars over the years the Corinth city-state was controlled by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. The city was destroyed by the Romans in battle in 146 B.C. and was rebuilt about a century later. Under the Romans, Corinth became the seat of government for Southern Greece (Achaia).
Corinth was one of the major cities of antiquity. It was made up of three parts; the acropolis on the hill (Acrocorinth), the city itself on a lower plateau, and its port (Lechaion) on the coast. All this was protected by a wall which ran for 20km (over 12 miles).
Until the 1800’s the city was covered up by development, with only the Temple of Apollo visible. The earthquake of 1858 destroyed nearly all the town, and excavations began in 1896 by the Americans. As with many sites of this nature, the Roman era produced far more remains than the ancient Greek.
BUILT ON TRADE
Ancient Corinth was a very busy trading city, which led to its cosmopolitan character. It was known as “Wealthy Corinth". The reason for its wealth was its location. It was able to control the only land access to the Peloponnese and so dominated the trade in both the Saronic gulf (to the east) and the gulf of Corinth (to the west).
Corinth was famous for its pottery, and you can see a comprehensive collection of Corinthian pottery showing all stages of development. The heyday of Corinth's pottery was in the 8th and 7th century BC. Later, Athenian pottery took over as the main type in use.
At its peak, Corinth was known not only for its riches but also for its painters and its unique architecture. Building columns created in the Corinthian style were some of the most ornate in the ancient world. Because the museum contains artifacts recovered from excavations of the site, many of them are Roman. There is a very interesting floor mosaic showing the head of Dionysis.
The Corinth Canal is a six-kilometre waterway connecting the Aegean Sea and the Ionian Sea. Every year over 10,000 boats and cruise ships sail down the canal.
The present-day canal was built between 1881 and 1893 and is one of the most significant constructions made by man; however, it was planned many centuries earlier, when the Roman emperor Nero began excavating the land during the first century A.D.
Sadly, Corinth was also known for its vices. Immorality and sexual sins were rampant, in part, due to a pagan temple within the city limits that was dedicated to the pagan goddess Venus (i.e. it was dedicated to lust). The temple's illicit services employed more than 1,000+ women as prostitutes whom they referred to as "priestesses."