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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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Corinthians, First Epistle to the
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CORINTH was the capital of the Roman province Achaia, and, in every respect except educationally (see Athens), the most important city in Greece in Roman times. It was also a most important station on the route between E. and W., the next station to it on the E. being Ephesus, with which it was in close and continual connexion. Its situation made it a leading centre of Christianity. The city occupied a powerful position at the S. extremity of the narrow isthmus which connected the mainland of Greece with the Peloponnese. Its citadel rises 1800 feet above sea-level, and it was in addition defended by its high walls, which not only surrounded the city but also reached to the harbour Lechæum, on the W. (1 1 / 2 miles away). The other harbour, Cenchreæ, on the E., on the Saronic Gulf, was about 8 1 /2 miles away. The view from the citadel is splendid. The poverty of the stony soil and the neighbourhood of two quiet seas made the Corinthians a maritime people. It was customary to haul ships across from the one sea to the other on a made track called the Diolkos. This method at once saved time and protected the sailors from the dangers of a voyage round Cape Malea (S. of the Peloponnese). Larger ships could not, of course, be conveyed in this way, and in their case the goods must have been conveyed across and transhipped at the other harbour. The place was always crowded with traders and other travellers, and we find St. Paul speaking of Gaius of Corinth as ‘my host and of the whole Church’ ( Romans 16:23 ).

The city had been destroyed by the Romans in 146 b.c., but exactly a hundred years afterwards it was refounded by Julius Cæsar as a colonia , under the name Laus Julia Corinthus (see Colony). A number of Roman names in the NT are found in connexion with Corinth; Crispus, Titius Justus ( Acts 18:7-8 ), Lucius, Tertius, Gaius, Quartus ( Romans 16:21-23 ), Fortunatus ( 1 Corinthians 16:17 ). The population would consist of (1) descendants of the Roman colonists of 46 b.c., the local aristocracy; (2) resident Romans, government officials and business men; (3) a large Greek population; (4) other resident strangers, of whom Jews would form a large number (their synagogue Acts 18:4 ). Of these some joined St. Paul ( Acts 18:4-8 , Romans 16:21 , 1 Corinthians 9:20 ), and the hatred against him in consequence led to a plot against his life. The church, however, consisted chiefly of non-Jews (see 1 Corinthians 12:2 ).

St. Paul did not at first intend to make Corinth a centre of work (Acts 18:1 ), but a special revelation altered his plans ( Acts 18:9-10 ), and he remained there at least 18 months. The opposition he met in the Jewish synagogue made him turn to the Gentiles. St. Paul left the baptism of his converts almost entirely to his subordinates, and himself baptized only Stephanas ( 1 Corinthians 16:15 ), Gaius ( Romans 16:23 ), and Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue ( 1 Corinthians 1:14-16 ). Some weeks after his arrival in Corinth, St. Paul was joined by Silas and Timothy, returning from Macedonia. News brought by Timothy caused him to write there the First Ep. to the Thess. ( 1 Thessalonians 3:6 ), and the Second was probably written there also, immediately after the receipt of an answer to the First. While St. Paul was in Corinth, Gallio came there as proconsul of the second grade to govern Achaia, probably in the summer of the year 52 a.d. The Jews brought an action before him against St. Paul, but Gallio, rightly recognizing that his court could take no cognizance of a charge of the sort they brought, dismissed the action. St. Paul’s preaching was thus declared to he in no way an offence against Roman law, and in future he relied more on his relation to the State, against the enmity of the Jews. After the examination Gallio permitted the populace to show their hatred to the Jews ( Acts 18:17 ). It was in Corinth that St. Paul became acquainted with Prisca and Aquila ( Acts 18:2-3; Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26 ), and he lived in their house during all his stay. They worked at the same industry as himself, and no doubt influenced his plans for later work. They also left for Ephesus with him.

Christianity grew fast in Corinth, but the inevitable dissensions occurred. Apollos had crossed from Ephesus to Corinth (Acts 18:27 , 2 Corinthians 3:1 ) and done valuable work there ( Acts 18:27-28 , 1 Corinthians 1:12 ). He unconsciously helped to bring about this dissension, as did also Cephas, if (but see next art. § 3 ) he visited Corinth. The subject of these dissensions is, however, more appropriately dealt with under the following two articles. The Apostle wrote at least three letters to the church: the first, which is lost ( 1 Corinthians 5:9 ); the second, which we call First Corinthians, and which was probably carried by Titus (Timothy also visited Corinth at the instance of St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:17 ); the third, our Second Corinthians, which was taken by Titus and Luke ( 2 Corinthians 8:16-18; 2 Corinthians 12:18 ). St. Paul spent three months in Greece, chiefly no doubt at Corinth, in the winter of 56 57. Whether the Corinthians actually contributed or not to St. Paul’s collection for the poor Christians at Jerusalem must remain uncertain (but see p. 159 b , § 2 ad fin .).

A. Souter.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Corinth'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​c/corinth.html. 1909.
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