Corinth in the New Testament
Corinth was famed for its commerce, chiefly due to its situation between the Ionian and Aegean seas, on the isthmus connecting the Peloponnese with Greece.
In Paul's time it was capital of Achaia, and seat of the Roman proconsul (Acts 18:12). Its people had the Greek love of philosophical subtleties. The immorality was notorious even in the pagan world; so that "to Corinthianize" was proverbial for playing the wanton.
The worship of Venus, whose temple was on Acrocorinthus, was attended with shameless profligacy, 1,000 female slaves being maintained for the service of strangers. Hence, arose dangers to the purity of the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 5--7), founded by Paul on his first visit in his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-17).
The early Greek Corinth had been left desolate for 100 years; its merchants had withdrawn to Delos, and the presidency of the isthmian games had been transferred to Sicyon, when Julius Caesar refounded the city as a Roman colony.
Gallio the philosopher, Seneca's brother, was proconsul during Paul's first residence, in Claudius' reign. Paul had come from Athens, shortly afterward Silas and Timothy from Macedonia joined him. His two earliest epistles, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, were written there, A.D. 52 or 53. Here he made the friendship of Aquila and Priscilla, and labored at tentmaking with the former. Here, after his departure, Apollos came from Ephesus.
The number of Latin names in Paul's epistle to the Romans, written during his second visit of three months at Corinth (Acts 20:3), A.D. 58, is in undesigned harmony with the origin of many of its people as a Roman colony. At the time of Paul's visit Claudius' decree banishing the Jews from Rome caused an influx of them to Corinth. Hence, many Jewish converts were in the Corinthian church (Acts 18), and a Judaizing spirit arose.
Clement's epistles to the Corinthians are still extant. Corinth is now the seat of an episcopal see. It is a poor village, called by a corruption of the old name, Gortho. The remains of its ancient Greek temple, and of the Posidonium or sanctuary of Neptune (N.E. of Corinth, near the Saronic gulf), the scene of the Isthmian games, are remarkably interesting.
The stadium for the foot race (alluded to in 1 Cor. 9:24), and the theater where the pugilists fought (1 Cor. 9:26), and the pine trees of which was woven the "corruptible crown" or wreath for the conquerors in the games (1 Cor. 9:25), are still to be seen. The Acrocorinthus eminence rising 2,000 feet above the sea was near Corinth, and as a fortress was deemed the key of Greece. N. of it was the port Lechaeum on the Corinthian gulf; on the other side on the Saronic gulf was Cenchraea (Acts 18:18).
The ornate "Corinthian order" of architecture, and "the Corinthian brass" or choice bronze statuary, attest the refinement of its people.
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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).