Bill Heroman’s blog has a nice extension of the question I raised yesterday about Peter and Corinth. He gives five good reasons to think that Peter did in fact go to Corinth, three of which are quite convincing.
Here’s his “thought experiment.”
If Peter had innocently assumed all the gentile issues had really been fixed by Jerusalem’s letter (an assumption easier to maintain from Jerusalem, but one which Paul’s entire career proves is false) – then Peter probably went in unprepared; overconfident that all was well. The controversies were all taken care of. In that mindset, Peter casually mentions Jerusalem’s letter. At that point, most likely, someone in Corinth says, “What letter?”
Good question — what evidence do we have that Paul ever distributed the letter from the Apostolic council? He never refers to it in his letters, even if there is good reason that he might. Perhaps Peter went to Corinth in order to “check out” the Pauline mission to Gentiles as he did with Philip’s mission in Antioch, or even the diaspora situation in Antioch. (I think Barnabas went first for that reason, but quickly gave way to Paul). This is (for me) the best explanation for Peter’s presence in Corinth.
6 thoughts on “Peter and Corinth”
I love the comparison with Antioch, Philip. That’s something I hadn’t thought of… and it combines nicely with Acts 18:22 to give me another new thought.
Acts 18:22 is the first time Paul goes to Jerusalem after the Council. It’s also the first chance Paul had to tell Jerusalem about Corinth. While it’s possible Jerusalem already knew about Corinth, it’s still likely Paul would have shared about his Greek mission while there. And if Paul’s attitude remained the same as Galatians 2:2 (to make sure he wasn’t running in vain) – then Paul very well might have encouraged or even invited Peter to go “check it out”.
Another good point – of all the gentile churches beyond Antioch, at that point, Corinth was the most easily accessible by Sea. In other words, if Peter was going to go check out Paul’s churches, Corinth would be his first chance to go somewhere reasonable.
*(Btw, on the Council’s letter: If Jerusalem specifically asked Paul about the letter, Peter might have gone to Corinth knowing full well Paul hadn’t mentioned it. In that case, my thought experiment changes to considering that Peter *was* prepared, and went there purposefully (partly) to correct Paul’s omission.
By the way, which three?
I thought the last three points were good, albeit speculative. But since we are not dealing with clear texts as much as hints in a text, speculative will have to do.
As for Paul not distributing the letter from Jerusalem – the letter was to be delivered by Judas and Silas (15:32), the Paul and Barnabas go their separate ways and Paul begins traveling with Silas. I think that I have always taken those two references to Silas as the same person, since Luke does not try to make a difference clear, the names are identical. If Silas was tasked by Jerusalem to deliver the letter, would he work with a Paul who is not referencing the Letter in Corinth?
Perhaps the dispute with Barnabas is over the issue of the use of the letter, a “sharp dispute” is not a personality conflict over John Mark, but rather a strong disagreement over something important, perhaps it is the proper use of the Letter
Judas & Silas discharged their duty in Antioch. Acts 15 gives us no indication whether or not the Council intended Galatia to be ‘troubled’ by even so much.
Now, that’s before Silas went to Antioch. After Silas went to Antioch, his horizons must have been expanded (at least as much as any intelligent American who travels overseas) to the Gentile world, and something about the experience of being there caused Silas to want to stay there. The other thing that happened after Silas went to Antioch is that Paul found out what the Judaizers did in Galatia. We’ve no idea how much that may have added to Silas’ sympathy for the gentiles.
The point is, Silas may have been won over.
A separate point is, after Peter’s visit to Corinth, Silas may have been ‘won back’. If Silas is the Silanus of 1st Peter, Silas may have left Corinth with Peter and headed for Bithynia. (But that itself is an argument for nothing about our original conversation.)
On the disagreement between Paul & Barnabas, you may be right. But there is also Cyprus to consider, if we’re looking for something else for them to have fought about. P may not have been as eager to go back to B’s homeland, where the churches were probably less gentile in makeup. (Acts 13, esp.v.5).
A breach between Paul and Silas is intriguing, since he drops out of the story in Acts without any comment (last mentioned in 18:5, after the rejection of Paul at the Synagogue in Corinth). Perhaps like John Mark,Paul’s strong language of rejection was disturbing, and Silas re-joined (the more moderate?) Peter in Northern Asia Minor.
I posted about this today, but it is at least possible Peter did not visit the churches to which he wrote in First Peter, maybe the connection is Silas?
With Peter casually mentioning the Jerusalem letter he might have assumed from word of mouth that it was going to be delivered. He might have figured that it was already delivered by the time of his arrival and that others have heard of it. I also think that it is possible that Peter went to Corinth to go check out Paul’s ministry. Like someone checking out another person’s business to see where they are going correctly and where they might need some pointers and to get some advice himself.