First Century Corinth
The Epistles to the Corinthians were written by the apostle Paul in the mid 50’s A.D. These were letters written to a church community that, according to the book of Acts, Paul had a hand in founding on an earlier journey (Acts 18:9). The epistles themselves speak much about the cultural, economic, and spiritual significance of this very heavily Roman influenced Greek city located on the Isthmus of Corinth. By examining the epistles and further historical source, the context and importance of first century Corinth will be explored. The city of Corinth as it is in the first century A.D. was founded as a Roman colony in 44 B.C. by the Emperor Julius Caesar. In just one century since it’s re-founding, Corinth had become a very cosmopolitan city through its strategic location that was conducive for trade, its large and very multicultural population, and the favor it had in the region as a colony of the mighty Roman Empire. When Corinth was resettled, the Roman Empire populated it with a diverse cross section of the cultures contained within the empire at the time. Italians and Greeks would be the primary colonists along with Hellenized Jews, but also among the settlers were freed Judean slaves and other middle-easterners. (Morris 18) This made for a melting pot of traditions, customs, and beliefs. And in conjunction with the economic promise of the city, this relative freedom and safety produced some interesting problems for the spiritual life of the Corinthian church that Paul was out to address in his epistles. Corinth was located strategically on an isthmus that happened to be nearly equidistant between Greece’s other two major cities in the region, Sparta and Athens. In a stretch of less than five miles, this area contained a port on each side of the isthmus. The eastern port had easily defended water access toward Asia Minor, south to northern Africa, and to the rest of the Mediterranean. The crucial port on the west of the isthmus had...
Cited: Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. 1988. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Baker Book House: Grand
Garland, D. E. 2003. 1 Corinthians. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Baker
Academic: Grand Rapids, MI
Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. 1953-2001. Vol. 18: Exposition of the First Epistle to the
Morris, Leon. The First epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: an introduction and commentary.
Leicester, England Grand Rapids, Mich: Inter-Varsity Press Eerdmans, 1983
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