Saints and Sinners – Part 1

1 Corinthians 1:1-17 This week’s lessons teach us about holiness.
Unity in the body of Christ.

The city of Corinth was a city with an interesting location and a long history. It was located on the narrow isthmus of land that divided the upper, northern, main portion of Greece known as Attica, from the southern portion of Greece, the Peloponnese. The capital of the northern portion was Athens. Sparta was the capital city in the southern portion. Between, on this narrow isthmus, lay the city of Corinth. It was a city of commerce, a great city for the mixture of races.

Traveling to and from Corinth by sea was difficult and dangerous. A journey over land was safer and easier. So the Corinthians devised a way to save commercial ships about two hundred miles of ocean travel. They found that it was possible at times to sail a ship into Corinth’s harbor on one side and drag the ship up over an area of low land and down to the other side in order to avoid having to sail the whole way around the southern portion of Greece. Although it seems to us like a terribly difficult thing to do, it was relatively easy compared with sailing. As a result, a great deal of trade grew up.

Corinth was also a debauched place, as many port cities are. Corinth was so known for its debauchery that people even used the name Corinth in the Greek language to describe what it meant to be perfectly debauched. “Behaving like a Corinthian” was about the worst thing you could say about somebody in moral terms.

The Roman general Manlius destroyed the city in 120 b.c. Years later, Julius Caesar, recognizing its strategic importance, rebuilt the city. At the time Paul arrived, Corinth had been reestablished and was the important trade city of that portion of the world. Paul visited Corinth on his second missionary journey. He had been in Philippi in the northern portion of Greece. He had made his way down the coast from Macedonia, spending some time in Athens. After he left Athens he went down to Corinth, leaving his companions behind for a time.

As was his custom, he began working to earn a living. He was a tentmaker. He found a Jewish couple, Aquilla and Priscilla, who had been expelled from Rome and who worked at the same trade as he did, so Paul teamed up with them. He talked to them about the Gospel, and they became key figures in the church. Later on his supporters joined him there in Corinth.

In his free time, when he was not earning his living making tents, Paul went into the synagogue where he reasoned with the Jews about the prophecies in Scripture pertaining to Jesus Christ. There was a crisis in the synagogue at that time, and there was resistance to what he was teaching. Eventually, he had to move out of Aquila and Priscilla’s home.

He was welcomed into the home of a man named Justus, presumably a Roman. Paul and his group of Christians moved into that the home of Justus, and it became a house church. It was next door to the synagogue. The ruler of the synagogue, whose name was Crispus, was converted through that ministry and he joined the group of new Christians that was forming there in Corinth.

Study Questions
  1. What was the implication of calling someone a Corinthian?
  2. What did Paul do to earn a living?
  3. Who were Aquilla and Priscilla?

Further Study
Using a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia, read about the city of Corinth as it existed during Paul’s day.

How did a typical day for Paul differ from how people spend time today?

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