St. Paul arrived in Corinth sometime in late A.D. 50, the last stop on his 2nd missionary journey (A.D. 50-52). When Paul walked the 52-mile trek from Athens to Corinth, he entered one of the greatest and most modern cities of the Roman Empire.
Archaeology suggests that Corinth was occupied as early as 6500 B.C., and by 740 B.C. (about the time of the biblical king Ahaz and the Jewish prophet Isaiah) it was a major Greek city with a population of at least 5,000 people. By 400 B.C. Corinth was one of the largest and most powerful cities in Greece, with a population of over 90,000, and by the end of the 2nd-century B.C. it was capital of the Achaean League, a confederation of over 50 Peloponnese city-states.
Corinth’s power and influence came to an abrupt end, however. In 146 B.C. Rome declared war on the Achaean League, and the Roman General Lucius Mummius attacked Corinth; put all the men of the city to the sword; sold the women and children into slavery; shipped statues, paintings, works of art and anything else of value to Rome; and he razed Corinth, reducing it to ashes. For his swift and decisive victory over Corinth and the Achaean League, Rome awarded Mummius a triumphal procession: he entered Rome in a chariot drawn by four white horses, the general himself was crowned with laurel leaves, and he wore a purple and gold-embroidered triumphal toga. The crowds cheered him wildly.
Lesson #1: St. Paul the Apostle
St. Paul traveled over 10,000 miles by sea and by land during three missionary journeys: 1) A.D. 46-48; 2) A.D. 50-52; and 3) A.D. 54-57; Paul evangelized all of Asia Minor and a good portion of Macedonia and Greece; Paul wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament; and during his many years of travel, Paul suffered greatly for Christ and for the Church:
“Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
(2 Corinthians 11: 24-28)
Just who was this man who worked so tirelessly for Christ, this man who accomplished so much for the kingdom of God?
In Lesson #1 we find out.
Lesson #2: On the Road to Corinth
St. Paul’s 2nd missionary journey spanned A.D. 50-52, eighteen months of which he spent in Corinth, a very modern, cosmopolitan city with a population exceeding 50,000.
Strategically located as a center of maritime trade, Corinth linked the Peloponnese Peninsula to mainland Greece via a narrow, 4-mile wide Isthmus, with the Gulf of Corinth on the northwest and the Saronic Gulf on the east.
Rome destroyed ancient Corinth in 146 B.C. during the war between Rome and the Achaean League, but Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 B.C. as an ultra-modern metropolis, controlling maritime trade between Asia and Rome.
In Lesson #2 we follow St. Paul on his journey to Corinth, and when we arrive we take a tour of the city.
Lesson #3: The Church at Corinth
The rebuilt city of Corinth was not only an exceedingly prosperous double-seaport town, but it was the political and economic capital of Achaia, eclipsing Athens which had been in decline since its defeat by the Roman general Sulla in 88 B.C.
Because of its vibrant maritime trade, Corinth hosted a large transient population from the many cultures that surrounded the Mediterranean, and as one would expect, those cultures exerted significant social, religious, political and economic influences on the resident population. In Corinth temples to Poseidon, Apollo, Hermes, Aphrodite and Isis co-existed with a Jewish synagogue and with the embryonic Christian “house” churches.
Corinth catered to hundreds—if not, thousands—of sailors and traveling salesmen, all of whom spent their money freely while in town, and—as we might expect— immorality flourished. Although largely in ruins during the mid-1st century A.D., the temple of Aphrodite, had stood prominently atop the Corinthian acropolis, and it had been staffed by 1,000 sacred prostitutes, giving Corinth its notorious reputation for immorality. The historian Strabo (c. 64 B.C. – 24 A.D.) writes in his Geographica, reflecting back nearly 500 years:
“[In Corinth] the temple of Aphrodite [during the 6th century B.C.] was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, courtesans [etai√ra], whom both men and women dedicated to the goddess. And, therefore, it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew very rich; for instance, the ship captains freely squandered their money, and hence the proverb, ‘Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth’ [for the company of women was very was expensive in Corinth!]. Moreover, it is recorded that a certain courtesan said to the woman who reproached her with the charge that she did not like to work or touch wool: ‘Yet, such as I am, in this short time I have taken down three webs [caqeiÆlon i∆stiu√ß].’”
(Geographica, VIII, 6, 20)
Indeed, since the 6th century B.C.—and into St. Paul’s day—“Corinthian girls” were noted for their generous and extraordinary “talents.”
St. Paul decided to form a church community there!
Lesson #4: Introduction to the Corinthian Correspondence (1: 1-15)
Although Scripture includes two epistles to the Corinthians, the Corinthian correspondence consists of at least five exchanges between St. Paul and the church. Apart from Ephesus, Paul spent more time in Corinth than at any other church he had founded, for it was the most troubled and contentious community of them all.
One can understand why.
Corinth, with its socially diverse population, thriving economy and large number of transient workers presented enormous challenges to its small, fledgling Christian community, a community that spanned the entire socio-economic spectrum. Most permanent residents were Greek, although a large number were retired Roman military veterans, and a smaller number were Jews. The Roman character of Corinth is evident by the names of those we meet in Corinth: Aquila, Priscilla, Crispus, Lucius, Gaius, Tertius, Erastus, Quartus and Fortunatus, among others. Although St. Paul says that “not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1: 26), some were, such as Crispus and Sosthenes, both of whom were synagogue leaders, and Erastus, Corinth’s [oi∆kono√moß] “Treasurer” or “Director of Public Works” (Romans 16: 23).
In an affluent society where commerce and skilled trades were abundant, upward social mobility and class distinctions were commonplace, marks of the nouveau riche. In a Christian community where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 28), tensions among groups emerged quickly and sharply, manifesting themselves in factions and divisions, lawsuits among believers, sexual scandals, questions on marriage and challenges to St. Paul’s leadership.
The Corinthian correspondence addresses all of these.
Assignment: Read Acts 18: 1-18.
Lesson #5: Factions and Divisions in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1: 1 –2: 16)
After St. Paul’s Introduction (1: 1-3) and Thanksgiving (1: 4-9) he turns to the problems at hand. Paul learns from “Chloe’s people” in Corinth that there are factions and divisions in the Corinthian church: some claim to follow Paul; some Apollos; some Cephas [Peter]; and others Christ. The church in Corinth is little more than two years old—and already there are four denominations!
St. Paul addresses the matter firmly, stressing the simplicity and unity of the Gospel message, as well as the source of knowledge and the spiritual immaturity of those who depend upon their own learning and their overinflated sense of self.
Paul really goes after them!
Lesson #6: The Worldly and the Spiritual (1 Corinthians 3: 1 –6: 19)
Building on his argument that our source of knowledge is not our own learning, but divine revelation through the Spirit, St. Paul goes on to contrast “worldly wisdom” with “spiritual wisdom,” the latter being infinitely superior to the former.
It is one thing for an uneducated person to make such a statement, dismissing hard- earned classical learning, philosophy and rhetoric out of hand, while not possessing it; it is quite another for St. Paul to do so, for there were few people in the ancient world more learned than Paul. The fact that he does so elevates “spiritual wisdom” to the summit of all knowledge, a summit attained only through careful attention to the still, small voice of God, a voice that can be drowned out by the twists and turns of our own egocentric reasoning and our incessant, boastful chattering about it.
Assignment: Read: 1 Corinthians 1: 1 – 6: 19.
Lesson #7: Now for the matters you wrote about . . . (1 Corinthians 7: 1 – 8: 13)
Apparently Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus had delivered a letter to St. Paul from Corinth (1 Corinthians 16: 15-18)—or those from “Chloe’s people” had brought it with them—and now Paul turns to four questions raised in that letter, the first three of which deal with marriage, virginity and sexuality (always a hot topic!), and the last of which deals with meat sacrificed to idols.
All four questions deal with practical day-to-day matters in any early church community, but they are especially relevant to the Corinthian community, a church in crisis.
Lesson #8: St. Paul Asserts His Rights as an Apostle (1 Corinthians 9: 1 – 10: 33)
Was St. Paul really an Apostle? After Jesus’ Ascension, we read that the eleven Apostles decided they must appoint another to take the place of Judas, who had hanged himself. We read:
“During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said, “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’
‘May another take his office.’
Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.”
(Acts 1: 15-23)
The word “apostle” is a∆po√stoloß from the Greek compound of a∆po√, (from) and ste√llw, (I send)—or “messenger.” Anyone who is “sent” can be an apostle, but the criterion for being a “capital A” Apostle is that a person must have been an eyewitness to Jesus entire public ministry, from his baptism in the Jordan River by John through his Ascension from the Mount of Olives.
Given that criterion—established by the Apostles themselves—Paul does not qualify. This will be an ongoing issue in Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian church, especially as it concerns his leadership in that community.
Here St. Paul asserts his rights as a “capital A” Apostle, and in 2 Corinthians he will defend his apostleship even more vigorously.
Assignment: Read: 1 Corinthians 7: 1 – 10: 33.
Lesson #9: Propriety in Worship (11: 1-34)
The Church is the people of God, all of whom comprise the one body of Christ. The church as a physical building owned by the people of God for the purpose assembling the community in worship did not exist until mid 3rd century. The first church building devoted exclusively to liturgical use is at Dura Europos on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria.
When St. Paul was in Corinth, however, people met in “house” churches, the homes of individual people. Groups might consist of a few people to as many as 20 or 30, depending upon the size of the home in which they met. Obviously, larger groups would meet in the larger homes of wealthy people. Such gatherings would include teaching by leaders such as Paul, Apollos, Peter or other “traveling evangelists” (hence, the factions who followed them); fellowship; and a meal, which included a Eucharistic celebration. If there was any Scripture reading at all, it would have been from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.
So, what protocols were involved? Who read? Who taught? Who prepared the meal? What did they eat? Who lead the prayers? What prayers were said?
What did people wear? Did they sit or stand?
Remember, it is the early 50s and the New Testament has not been written yet. Teaching was purely oral, and the teaching would vary from one teacher to another. The Church will not have an agreed-upon core set of beliefs until the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325!
St. Paul addresses the practical, fundamental issues of liturgical worship in such a setting.
Lesson #10: Spiritual Gifts (12: 1 – 14: 40)
We learn in the Acts of the Apostles and The Gospel according to John that when a person places his or her faith in Christ and is baptized, the Holy Spirit dwells within that person to comfort and guide them in the Christian life and to provide them with “spiritual gifts”; that is, talents, gifts and abilities to be used in the service of the family of God. All believers receive “spiritual gifts”: the trick is to know what they are . . . and what they are not!
In Corinth, however, those gifts became not a blessing to the community, but the subject of boasting: “My spiritual gift is bigger than your spiritual gift!”
Assignment: Read: 1 Corinthians 11: 1 – 14: 40).
Lesson #11: Excursus: Jesus’ Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection
Christianity stands or falls on the literal resurrection of Christ: either he was physically, bodily raised from the dead, or he wasn’t. If he wasn’t—if Jesus’ resurrection was a fraud, or simply a metaphor for new life—then our faith, no matter how sincere or deeply held, is an illusion, and we should have the courage to look elsewhere for truth.
If he was resurrected, though, that changes everything.
In this lesson, we examine closely Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Lesson #12: The Corinthians and Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 16: 24)
The Corinthians have their doubts about Jesus’ literal, physical, bodily resurrection— as well as their own—and in this lesson St. Paul addresses those doubts point by point, as he moves toward the conclusion of his epistle.
Assignment: Read: 1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 16: 24.
Lesson #13: Words of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1: 1 – 2: 17)
Piecing together the events that lead to 2 Corinthians is notoriously difficult, but in this lesson, we take a stab at it.
- On his 2nd missionary journey, St. Paul spends 18 months in Corinth, A.D. 50-52;
- In A.D. 54 St. Paul arrives in Ephesus on his 3rd missionary journey, where he spends nearly 3 years, A.D. 54-57;
- In the winter of 54, word arrives in Ephesus from “Chloe’s people” informing St. Paul of trouble in Corinth, and a letter from Corinth arrives at about the same time, delivered by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus;
- St. Paul responds by writing 1 Corinthians, a rather harsh letter, especially as it addresses the expulsion of the immoral brother (1 Corinthians 5), lawsuits among believers (1 Corinthians 6) and propriety in worship (1 Corinthians 11);
- When the church at Corinth receives 1 Corinthians they are stung by it, and harsh criticism of Paul follows, especially regarding St. Paul’s authority, his apostleship and his motives;
- St. Paul makes a quick and painful visit to Corinth, apparently taking them to task (2 Corinthians 2: 1);
- Upon returning to Ephesus, St. Paul has 2nd thoughts about his visit, and he writes 2 Corinthians to smooth things over.
That seems to be the sequence.
Now, on to 2 Corinthians and words of comfort.
Lesson #14: St. Paul Defends His Apostleship, Part 1 (2 Corinthians 3: 1 – 4: 18)
Although St. Paul begins his epistle with words of comfort he quickly turns to defending his apostleship, a necessary step in establishing his authority over the Corinthian community. As we read in the opening sentence of Romans, Paul is a “called” Apostle, called by Christ himself while on the road to Damascus, called to a specific task: to take the Gospel message to the Gentiles.
Admittedly, Paul did not spend three years with Jesus walking the roads of Galilee, teaching and preaching like the other Apostles did; his call was not a matter of time and geography: his call was a call of destiny to bring the message of a new covenant to a new people.
Paul’s eternity—and the eternity of those in Corinth—depend upon Paul’s answering his call faithfully.
Assignment: Read: 2 Corinthians 1: 1 – 4: 18.
Lesson #15: St. Paul Defends His Apostleship, Part 2 (2 Corinthians 5: 1 – 7: 16)
In Lesson #15 St. Paul continues defending his Apostleship, emphasizing his “partnership” with the Corinthians and his love for them, then cataloguing his hardships—a rhetorical plea for sympathy, which ends in the woeful: “You are not constrained by us; you are constrained by your own affections”; or better, “We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us” (2 Corinthians 6: 12).
Paul then ends his defense (for the time being) with a plea for understanding.
Lesson #16: By the way, I’m taking up a collection . . . (2 Corinthians 8: 1 – 9: 15)
Having ended his “soft” defense, St. Paul now moves to the matter of taking up a collection for the church in Jerusalem. Rhetorically, Paul builds on the reconciliation he’s achieved, striking while the iron is hot!
In Romans, we see how deftly Paul presents his case for the Roman church to support—both through prayer and money—his planned mission to Spain. Here, Paul foregoes such subtlety makes a direct plea, which includes shaming the Corinthian church into a large contribution by comparing their possible lukewarm, anemic contribution to the generous churches in Philippi and Thessalonica!
Assignment: Read: 2 Corinthians 5: 1 – 9: 15.
Lesson #17: Back on the Defense! (2 Corinthians 10: 1 – 13: 14)
St. Paul concluded the “soft” defense of his Apostleship at 7: 16, but Paul just can’t seem to let it go. The Corinthian’s questioning his Apostleship seems a personal affront to Paul, and in Lesson #17 he strikes back, asserting his apostolic authority boldly and mocking those who say “his letters are severe and forceful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10: 10). Paul warns them that “what we are in word through letters when absent, that we also are in action when present” (2 Corinthians 10: 11), and he asserts that he is “not in any way inferior to [those] ‘superapostles’” (2 Corinthians 11: 5) about whom they boast.
St. Paul spares no one’s feelings here!
And then he goes on to catalogue his sufferings, comparing them to the “super- apostles,” and warning the Corinthians of an imminent visit:
“This third time I am coming to you. ‘On the testimony of two or three witnesses a fact shall be established.’ I warned those who sinned earlier and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not be lenient . . .”
(2 Corinthians 13: 1-2)
St. Paul then closes 2 Corinthians with a formulaic ending. Wow, scorching!
Lesson #18: Final Thoughts: Corinthians in Context
St. Paul founded many Christian communities during his 20+ years of missionary activity. He is rightly called THE Apostle. But St. Paul’s relationship with the church at Corinth was unique. In this final lesson, we place the Corinthian correspondence within the context of St. Paul’s other epistles and letters, as well as within the context of his overall missionary activity.
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Note to All Users
Note to California Residents
Your California Privacy Rights. California Civil Code Section 1798.83 permits California residents who have provided personal information to us or our third-party advertisers and marketing partners, if any, to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for direct-marketing purposes. Requests should be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and should include CALIFORNIA PRIVACY RIGHTS in the subject line. We will need your first and last name, mailing address, and email address in order to process your request. Within thirty days of receiving such a request, we will provide a list of the categories of personal information disclosed to third parties for direct marketing purposes during the immediately preceding calendar year, if any, along with the names and addresses of these third parties, if any. Please be aware that not all information sharing is covered by the requirements of Section 1798.83 and only information regarding covered sharing will be included in our response. This request may be made no more than once per calendar year.
Note to European Union Residents
Personally-Identifying Information We Collect
Personally-identifying information is collected when you voluntarily register, join our mailing list, submit an online enrollment form, request information, and/or purchase online courses from Logos (“Personal Information”). Personal Information we may collect includes, but is not limited to, your first and last name, email address, username and password, training history, and use data. If you communicate to us by e-mail, we will record the e-mail address from which you send your message. Any telephone calls to and from Logos may be monitored and recorded for quality assurance and training purposes. When you download or use apps created by Logos, we may receive information about your mobile device, including a unique identifier for your device.
Non-Personally-Identifying Information We Collect
Internet Protocol (IP) Address. Logos’ servers also automatically identify your computer by its Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. An IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to your computer by your Internet service provider. Your IP address does not identify you by name; however, it may reveal your geographic area and your Internet service provider. Logos may match your IP address to your Personal Information.
Click Through URLS. Logos may send you e-mail messages with a “click-through URL” linked to the content of our Services. When you click onto one of these URLs, you will pass through our server before arriving at the destination webpage. Logos may track this click-through data to help us determine subscriber interest in the subject matter and measure the effectiveness of our subscriber communications. You can avoid being tracked simply by not clicking on any links or images in the e-mail.
Domain Name Tracking. When you use our Services, we automatically record the name of the domain from which you accessed the Services. Additionally, if you reach our Services by means of a link from another site, our computers will note the fact that you came to us from that linked site.
Analytics. Logos may use one or more third party analytics programs, including but not limited to Google Analytics, to help analyze how users utilize the Services. Google Analytics does not collect any Personal Information. Google Analytics uses a single first-party cookie containing an anonymous identifier to distinguish users and to collect standard Internet log information and visitor behavior information. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the Services (including IP address) is transmitted to Google. This information is used to create statistical reports on user activity for Logos. For more information about Google Analytics, including opt-out options, visit the Google Analytics privacy page at https://www.google.com/analytics/learn/privacy.html.
Use of Information Collected
Our primary purpose for collecting Personal Information and Aggregate Information (collectively “User Information”) is to provide you with products and services you request. We may also use your User Information for the following purposes:
· to provide services and customer support that you may request;
· to correct problems, resolve disputes, and collect fees
· improving and optimizing our Services;
· to inform you about service updates and promotional offers;
· to send newsletters and marketing materials;
· to communicate with you about enrolling in one of our Bible study programs;
· to communicate preferences which you have indicated;
· to customize the advertising and content you see;
· to verify information; or
· for any other purpose disclosed at the point of collection.
Information We Share
Logos does not sell, rent, or trade Personal Information to any third party. Additionally, Logos does not disclose any Personal Information to any third party for that party’s own marketing purposes. However, Logos may disclose Personal Information to third party service providers hired to perform internal business functions on our behalf. Logos may also share Aggregate Information with third parties for advertising and promotional purposes. Further, we may disclose Personal Information to government/regulatory agencies as Logos deems reasonably necessary to comply with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
User Disclosures. Some Personal Information is disclosed as a matter of course as a result of your use of the Services. Any Personal Information shared using our Services or on another website (such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter) may become public information. You should exercise caution when disclosing information to third parties or in public forums. Content shared between users of our Services, including advice and opinions, represent the views and are the responsibility of those who post the content. We do not necessarily endorse, support, verify, or agree with the content posted. If you have any questions or comments about any content posted using our Services, please contact us at the address below.
USERS ASSUME ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY LOSS OF PRIVACY OR OTHER HARM RESULTING FROM THEIR OWN VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION IN PUBLIC FORUMS.
Business Transitions. Logos reserves the right to transfer all User Information in its possession in the event Logos goes through a business transition, such as a merger, being acquired by another company, or selling a portion of its assets. Similarly, your User Information may be passed on to a successor in interest in the event of a reorganization, reconstruction, liquidation, bankruptcy or administration. Users will not be notified of any such change of ownership or control of their User Information.
The Services are intended for adult use only and is not directed towards children, minors or anyone under the age of 18. If you are under the age of 13, you are not authorized to provide us with any personally identifying information. If the parent or guardian of a child under 13 believes that the child has provided us with any personal data, the parent or guardian of that child should contact us at the address below and ask to have this personal information deleted from our files. We appreciate your cooperation with this federally mandated requirement.
Links To Third Party Sites
No transmission of data over the Internet is guaranteed to be completely secure. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that your submissions to the Services, any content residing on our servers, or any transmissions from our server will be completely secure. It may be possible for third parties to intercept or access transmissions or private communications unlawfully. Any such transmission is done at your own risk.
Accessing and Updating Personal Information
Additional Information for European Union Users
Data controller. Logos Educational Corporation of P.O. Box 420398, San Diego CA 92142 is the data controller for registration, billing, and other account information that we collect from users in the European Union.
Accessing and correcting your personal data. You have the right to access and correct the personal information that Logos holds about you. This right may be exercised by contacting us at email@example.com.
· the transfer of your data to a data controller and data processors located in countries, including the United States, which do not have data protection laws that provide the same level of protection that exists in countries in the European Economic Area. Your consent is voluntary, and you may revoke your consent by opting out at any time. Please note that if you opt-out, we may no longer be able to provide you our Services.
· us sharing your personal data with relevant persons working for service providers who assist us to provide our Services; and
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