The Greek city of Corinth had two great ports. The city itself stood a little inland; but its two ports were Lenchaeum on the west, and Cenchrea on the east, one facing Europe, the other facing Asia. Corinth was a great commercial center and quickly won strategic commercial and military importance because of its location. At the time, Corinth was the wealthiest and most important city in Greece with about 600,000 people, including its two ports.

Corinth was located west of Athens 8 miles from Cenchraeae on the Gulf of Saroson on the narrow isthmus joining the Peloponnesus to the Greek mainland. Here was the meeting place of all nations for traffic and had become the department store of the world, swarming with tradesmen and travellers. Corinth had a reputation for commercial prosperity but she was also a by-word for evil and wickedness. Living like a Corinthian had become part of the Greek language with its drunken and immoral debauchery.

Corinth was to the Jews commercially as Jerusalem was religiously. A glance at a map shows that Corinth should be one of the greatest trading and commercial centers of the ancient world. It was necessary that all the north to south traffic of Greece should pass through Corinth, there was no other way to go. Also by far the greater part of the east to west traffic of the Mediterranean passed through her from choice. Because it was a world merchandise center, it also had a large Jewish colony.

Paul's epistle to the Corinthians shows that divisions had sprung up in the Christian church. The congregation had preferred showy, ecstatic gifts of the spirit such as speaking in tongues, the celibate life, eating meat offered to idols. Christian freedom was the theme against self-righteous legalism. I Corinthians was written by Paul from Ephesus in the spring of 55 and the second epistle about two years later. First Corinthians was a failure for it did not accomplish the main purpose for which it was written. The factions in the church of Corinth, so far from putting aside their differences and blending harmoniously into a unified church life, shifted just enough to unite all who for any reason objected to Paul and then faced him and each other more rancorously than ever. The chief characteristic of Paul's second letter is its boldness. So far from apologizing for himself, he boasts and glories in his authority, his endowments, and his achievements.

A wide open city, Corinth was famous for wealth and vice. In earlier centuries Corinth was known for the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, which was served by cult prostitutes. The Temple of Aphrodite with its thousands of priestess prostitutes gave license to sensual revelry and sexual immorality, the "Corinthian Girls" were harlots. The word "Corinthian" is still used for one wholly given to dissipation and debauchery. Long after the temple had been destroyed by the Romans (146 BC) the city’s reputation for immorality lingered. Yet in this predominately pagan city, Paul founded his most successful church.

The temple was at the summit of Acrocorinth and at the center of the city stood the marketplace, with its bronze statue of Athena and the temple of Apollo. Its riches produced pride, ostentation, effeminacy, and all the vices generally consequent on plenty. Lasciviousness was not only tolerated but consecrated here by the worship of Venus and the notorious prostitution of numerous attendants devoted to her.

Corinth was destroyed by the Romans in BC 146 and afterwards restored by Julius Caesar. Dominating the center of the city was the marketplace or agora, richly colonnaded and adorned with monuments. Shops fronting the marketplace were supplied with fresh water by a subterranean channel connecting with a well. Crispus was president of the synagogue at Corinth and converted under the preaching of Paul and baptized by him.
[291, 296, 311, 318, 339, 345, 357, 374, 380, BD]

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