Biblical Archaeology Review 14:3, May/June 1988

Corinth in Paul’s Time—What Can Archaeology Tell Us?

By Victor Paul Furnish

On his first visit, Paul came to Corinth from Athens. He apparently stayed in Corinth a year and a half, teaching the word of his god and baptizing believers (Acts 18:1, 8, 11). According to Acts, it was in Corinth that Paul, after his preaching was rejected by the Jews, first turned to the gentiles. “From now on,” he said, “I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6).

While the account of the apostle’s initial visit to Corinth in Acts is more or less dependable, the most fascinating window on Paul’s ministry in Corinth comes from his letters to the congregation—from 1 and 2 Corinthians.

There we learn that Paul drew his Corinthian converts from extremely diverse segments of the population that often differed in their opinions and practices regarding such matters as sex, involvement with the “world,” spiritual gifts and the future resurrection of believers. At least some of these Christians had serious suspicions about the legitimacy of Paul’s apostleship—and, indeed, even about his personal integrity.

When Paul speaks of his constant anxiety for the churches he has founded (2 Corinthians 11:28), he surely includes the troubled congregation of Corinth.

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