Paul’s ministry in Corinth is his biggest success up to this point in Paul’s missionary career. The Romans founded a colony on the site of ancient Corinth in 44 B.C. The new city of Corinth was populated by freed slaves (Strabo (8.136) cf., Appian (Hist 8.136)). Socially this means that the new population has been given freedom, a fresh start, and the opportunity to advance far beyond what they might have hoped for as slaves.
The town was laid out in the Roman style, completely ignoring the layout of the old city, although the forum follows the outline of the old agora. The cardo (main street) cut through the old city. All of the architecture and design reflected the Roman style, not Greek. Even the Greek temples were “modernized” after the fashion of the Romans, including an imperial cult temple overlooking the forum. The foundations of the temple were higher than the other temples, even that of Apollo. The settlers were making it clear that Corinth was to be a Roman city, loyal to the Empire rather than the memory of the Greek city of Corinth.
The buildings for the Isthmia Games were done in a Roman style and Roman games were added to the Greek contests. The first Isthmian Games of New Corinth were held sometime between 7 B.C. and A.D. 3. in honor of L. Castricius Regulus, who had re-built the athletic facilities of Corinth. Regulus offered a banquet to all the inhabitants of the city to honor the games. These games are important to an understanding of the problems of the Corinthian letters since the games were not simply athletic events. They were dedicated to the gods, the chief of which was the Roman Emperor Nero himself. It was in the A.D. 50’s that the city of Corinth was honored with an Imperial Cult center. This is a major factor in Paul’s arrest and hearing before Gallio.
It is the combination of the games and imperial cult that put enormous pressure on the Corinthian church. The whole city would have participated in the banquets honoring the Roman Emperor, the elite of the city would be invited to the most important banquet honoring the Emperor as a god. There are both political and spiritual aspects to consider in refusing to attend this meal or social events like it.
The city of Corinth was an important cosmopolitan city in the middle part of the first century. It was economically stable, attracting a wide range of businesses from all over the Empire. Paul established the church in this city for this very reason. Once Christianity takes hold in Corinth, the local churches themselves can continue the mission of spreading the gospel throughout the region. Yet of all of Paul’s churches, this one seems to have had the most difficulties assimilating Christianity and their culture. For this reason Corinth is probably the church of the New Testament that is most like the modern church.
In choosing as one of his main missionary centers a city in which only the tough were reputed to survive, Paul demonstrated a confidence oddly at variance with his protestations of weakness. Corinth, however, offered advantages that outweighed its dangers. In addition to excellent communications, the extraordinary number of visitors (Dio Chrysostom, Or. 37.8; Aelius Aristides, Or. 46.24) created the possibility of converts who would carry the gospel back to their homelands. In contrast to the closed complacency of Athens, Corinth was open and questioning, eager for new ideas but neither docile nor passive, as Paul’s relationship with the Christian community there amply documents (Murphy-O’Connor, ABD 1:1138)
What are the potential implications for modern mission strategy? Paul targeted one of the most modern of the urban centers in the world at the time. Should this speak to where we plant churches? How we plant churches?
46 thoughts on “Acts 18 – Corinth in the First Century”
why do you believe that the imperial cult was a major factor in Paul’s arrest and hearing before Gallio? I believe that the food shortage of 51 contributed to the tensions between the Jews and the Christians and led to the arrest of Paul and the beating of Sosthenes. See my presentation here: http://members.shaw.ca/rfellows/Site/Sosthenes.html
Richard, I am not sure I did say that the imperial cult was a factor in Paul’s arrest. I was trying to describe the types of pressures on the Gentile members of the Corinthian church — the games and imperial cult being the most obvious given the revival of the Isthmusian Games just prior to Paul’s arrival. I think this is likely more of a factor in why the incestuous man was not forced out of the church than for Paul’s arrest.
Although, now that I type about it for a few minutes, it could be that the accusation that Paul was advocating another king besides Caesar dogged him wherever he went. What possible charge could the Jews bring against Paul to a Roman official other than rebellion against Rome? (I refer you to the charges in Acts 17 in Thessalonica, for example)
I am very glad you brought up this point in relation to modern mission strategies. We encountered this same issue on the mission field in Tanzania. Our original strategy was to reach the villages, then work toward the cities. However, in a less-developed nation where education is a valuable and coveted treasure, the people from the villages were rejected by the people in urban areas. People in the city could not imagine that any good ideas could come from the village. Even pastors who had been educated were rejected because they came from the village. By changing our strategy to reaching the urban centers first, we found that the people in the surrounding villages were more open to the gospel thinking that all the good new ideas come from the city. I think the same concept was true in Paul’s time. It had to be far easier to reach the villages from the city, because that is the natural flow of ideas.
I never really thought of it that way. When I think of missionaries, the first thing I think of is people going out into the middle of nowhere, out into the little villages in the middle of the desert, living in little huts, and preaching to the people in the village. It never crossed my mind that people in the city aren’t going to be receptive to those coming from outside the city because they are uneducated. It makes complete sense, but it isn’t something people hear a lot about. I appreciate Zach’s experience because it is something that we can learn from also.
When it comes to modern missionary strategies, I think this is a good example to follow. The point that cities have more people combined with the fact that people in the city will typically have more means for reaching less developed living areas makes this a logical strategy.
However, I heard in one of my classes that America is something like the 5th largest mission field. How does that apply to this idea. The fact of the matter is, there aren’t a lot of villages in America that need to be reached. The more rural areas are typically the places with stronger church families. Small towns are places where the Body of Christ flourishes with community. I’m not saying that the Body of Christ doesn’t flourish in the cities, but it seems obvious to me that the cities probably aren’t going to be the epicenter for reaching the rest of the United States. They have bigger churches which send people to other countries, but what about America?
I thought what Zach said in respect to Paul’s missionary strategy and his own experience in Tanzania was very interesting. I had never thought about Paul going to the big cities for that reason. We talked about the big cities being a place of concentrated people, and that there are a lot of people coming in and out of the city therefore spreading the gospel outwards. But I had never thought of the fact that if he had gone to the smaller villages that even if the people coming into the city preached about it it would not have spread to the city because people would not listen to ideas and supposed knowledge from someone in the country, a place of lower education. This adds new light to Paul’s missionary strategy and what we can learn from it in modern mission.
The nature of the city and the circumstances of Paul’s life must be taken into account with regards to the missionary strategy. “Corinth’s streets were thronged with merchants and industrialists, Romans, Geeks, Jews, Syrians, and Egyptians, drawn together by the hope of money.” (Morton 341). Although Paul initially went to the synagogue, he had an equal emphasis in reaching the Gentiles. Paul desired to reach every person possible. “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” (Romans 1:14). (Also I Cor. 9:19-23). Ultimately, Paul’s missionary strategy was accomplished with the establishment of new churches. The church in Corinth consisted of essentially Gentile converts. This would require an extended amount of time for teaching the Corinthians so that they could understand the implications of Paul’s message on their lifestyle. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians demonstrate the difficulty that they had in understanding the maturity in love that Paul had desired for them. The Corinthian community would need to be taught the significance of the gospel for daily life and continue growing in the love of Christ. This would prove a difficult task that would involve a long period of time (a year and a half and much more). So with regards to the people he was reaching, more time would be necessary. It is interesting that Paul normally spent little time in one area, however, at Corinth and Ephesus, two of the largest cities of the time, this changed. Naturally with more people, more time would be needed. But the idea of focusing modern church planting strategy on cities is brilliant, the need to reach as many people as possible would seem most logic in urban centers.
I think that we can look at Paul’s example as a good example to follow. Cities are a good place to plant churches because there are so many people. The bigger the city, the more people that there are going to be to minister too. But I still think that is not the only place that we should plant churches. We need to also realize that those who do not live in cities also need to be ministered too. I think that we have to go where God calls us. He is going to call some of us to go to the city, but he is also going to call others to go to the country to minister to those. We also have to go where the need is great. If you have a city where there are a lot of churches and they are good churches, than it might not be a good idea to go to that city; go to a city that does not have a lot of Christian influences in it.
I really apprecite Zach’s comment, because he has actually experienced what we are talking about. Of course I agree that this would be an effective way to plant churches. I think that today we may try and plant a church in a more rural area becuase it might be easier. There might not be so much business to deal with. But in reality these people need Christ too. Recently there has been a church plant in our area. I haven’t been there, but Brandon Clahassey was involved in helping set it up, and continues to help run the church. Some of you might have heard of it, it’s call The Edge. They target more of the modern culture. From what I understand this is kind of like a “rokin'” church if you know what I mean. I know that this chruch is going to reach people that the church I go to would not be as effective to. I think that sometimes we think these “kind of people,” would be harder to reach, and maybe decide to go the easier way. Paul preached in a city where there were many different kinds of people. As he reached these different people, they would be able to reach people that maybe their neighbor would not be as effective to.
Again, interesting comments.
I think that the city becomes the “prime place” to plant a body of believers, because it seems to me that cities are the hardest places to minster to, but result in the greatest of impacts starting within the city, then expanding outward. Some great examples come to mind – Mars Hill Seattle, Mars Hill Grandville, KCC Kentwood, Wellspring Jenison, Calvary Church Grand Rapids, Resurrection Life Grand Rapids, Trinity Baptist Arizona, Saddleback California, Joel Osteen’s Church in Texas, etc…
I have here listed a ton of bigger, better known churches, but I could easily argue for the impact some smaller community size churches have in their respective communities. It seems that a ton of people + jobs = good place to begin a church that has the BEST chance to grow and impact the world in which it has direct influence.
In my own experience, my dad is the pastor of a laotion speaking church in Santa Ana, a place heavily influenced by the hispanic community. The church which i thought had NO impact on the hispanic community, is actually pretty active there. There was a point in time where the congregation of 150 were all gone on a retreat for a month, and when we came back, we had letters asking where we were and if we had found a different place to meet. It was reaffirming to the church to know that there is impact and influence even though we don’t know it.
All that to say, the POTENTIAL influence within the city is what I think Paul saw also. Who knows, I could definitely be very wrong, but I think this post just reveals my heart a little bit – and that I’m a city boy, from California. YEAH!!!!
Moses, I agree with you that the city is one of the best areas to plant churches and to impact people. The apostle Paul made it an emphasis to go to the city to reach people. His mission was to reach the most lost as possible. The city does have the most potential to reach the surrounding communities.
however, I do have to ask you a question about the churches you were referencing to. Where you joking a bit when you referenced to Joel Osteen’s church in Texas? I am sorry but I have heard a couple of his sermons and heard of his reputation and seen his books and even played his game (which I would agree with a random review online in which it said that after playing the game “you just feel dirty”), he preaches the wealth and health gospel. In one of his sermons he references to Eph 1:4 in which he twists what the text says to say what he wanted!
This is not a good example of a big church that is effectively reaching the world for Christ. It seems that it is a bit more focused on the person rather than God. However, it is a good example of an organization reaching a lot of people in a city, whether or not we agree with the message.
But this is beside the point. The city is one of the best ways to reach people for Christ. The city is where the most people are and they are often the most receptive to new ideas as already stated.
Good comment, Moses, although I am with Brent on the whole Osteen thing. I think there are some places that are more conducive to the mega church, Mars Hill in Seattle perplexes me since I would not have identified Seattle as a prime location for a mega-church (sorry Seattle people, but it’s true.) suppose huge numbers are the only way to quickly measure “impact on the community,” but we all know that the bigger the church the more likely people drive quite a distance to get there.
We could get into the whole “mega church” vs. “cell group” sort of debate, since it is unlikely Paul could have conceived of a local church with 500, let alone 5000 attenders in one service. Which would impact a community more, 100 churches of 50, or one church of 5000?
Ha, definitely knew that one would be a tension one [Joel Osteen].
Not that this is a part of the post, but just clarifying. I don’t support necessarily what he is doing, but I’m just stating his effectiveness and impact in that community and around the world, whether good or bad [positive or negative]. One could argue wether or not he says he is preaching Christ, but… then it gets even stickier… but anywho…
I have yet to see if Paul really had a strategy or not. From scripture it really seems that he is only doing the best he can with what he has as he is pulled along by the Holy Spirit. I think too much emphasis has been put on Paul and not enough on the leading of God.
“It was economically stable, attracting a wide range of businesses from all over the Empire. Paul established the church in this city for this very reason.” (P. Long)
Paul did establish a church in Corinth and it probably did use the many travelers and stable economy to further the Gospel, but that’s not why he established a church there. God lead him to Corinth to establish a Church in that city. In our Biblical studies I do not think we should forget our theology. God is the one ultimately in control here, and just as he used different authors styles to influence their writing of Scripture so does God use different peoples styles to influence their evangelism.
Paul is apparently a big city kind of guy, God used that to reach the big cities. Paul also was good with the Gentiles, so God used that too. It was Paul’s surrendering of his talents and gifts that allowed God to use him to build a Church in Corinth.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) Just as Zach said, the mission planned to reach the villages first but the Lord determined that they must go first to the cities.
Moses M. said this: “It seems that a ton of people + jobs = good place to begin a church that has the BEST chance to grow and impact the world in which it has direct influence.” However good and dandy that might be, God is in the business of “choosing the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; the weak things of this world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) It almost makes me wonder if this works in reverse- that God doesn’t use the strong or the wise as much as He does the foolish things and weak.
As awesome as it was that a Church formed in Corinth, it struggled! What everyone has been saying is that it is such a ‘brilliant’ plan, but if it hadn’t been for the work of the Holy Spirit it would have flopped. Even then it took some major rebuking.
As Paul himself said to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 1:30: “It is because of Him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus.”
Dude, way to put things into perspective! I agree that often Paul seems to become a revered saint portrayed with pen in hand as he takes time out of his busy schedule to write to his struggling churches, the light of heaven slowly flowing in from the east and Jerusalem…
And they completely neglect the fact that it was God who created the Church and set up this age. I wonder if we couldn’t find Paul’s body, wrap it in copper wires and power a city with how often he might just be turning in his crave over all the people who missed the whole point of Jesus as Messiah! The church is often so caught up in our Dispensation way of thinking that we can’t see anything else in the text! 1 Corinthians 2.2 has been described by many as the heart of Paul’s preaching, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Sounds like Paul had Christianity nailed without the “isms” and “ologies” that so often lose the lay person. He just walked and talked Jesus. Demonstrating to them the Messiah in everyday life.
Most definitely a great great reminder of the person who ultimately leads.
My question to you is – how does that change all these books by people i.e. Purpose driven church who gives a method of how things came about? I think we’re onto something here.
Caleb said, “So with regards to the people he was reaching, more time would be necessary. It is interesting that Paul normally spent little time in one area, however, at Corinth and Ephesus, two of the largest cities of the time, this changed”.
Maybe another reason why Paul stayed longer in these two particularly large cities,Ephesus and Corinth, was because it took more work to make an influence on the people of the big cities where their lifestyles were harder to change in respect to Christianity. P Long mentioned that, “this one (Corinth) seems to have had the most difficulties assimilating Christianity and their culture”. There were political and social and spiritual ramifications to not attending the games or banquets. Because of this they may have needed more guidance and encouragement from Paul in order to get to the point where he felt comfortable about leaving them.
I would agree with most of what everybody has said in their replies. I would agree with Ben that we have to remember who was leading Paul wherever he went (however, I feel I would do so in a milder tone 😉
I do believe though when people are looking at Paul they do not leave out the Holy Spirits guidance I believe they take it as something that was always there leading him and therefore does not need to be mentioned every single time Paul is.
Zach’s point was a nice breath of fresh air on this topic. It is nice to see some first hand experience in a post to show how missions strategies from 2000 years ago can still work. IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT.
However I firmly believe the absolute best mission strategy is the one God places on ones heart (I think Ben would agree).
To add on to what josh said. I would say that conviction of the heart through the Holy Spirit is a powerful way to enhance one’s desire and drive for ministry. Would you think that Paul’s history and background could influence or perpetuate this statement?
Pretty much in agreement with the whole group here, the targeting of large urban centers is brilliant strategy for church planting. In the Grand Rapids metropolitan area, there are 800,000+ people with well near 450 churches, the largest of which, which is only a handful of local ‘mega’ churches, see upwards to 15,000 attenders (Mars Hill). You can also factor in the constant commute that many workers within the city make from farther locations, you know places like Dorr or Allendale where the racial diversity is practically zilch. And the beautiful thing could be, and hopefully often is, is that the thousands of church attenders within the metropolitan area are influencing the commuting co-workers, un-churched neighbors, and so on.
The only problem that I have is that while strategically these large urban centers are simply the right choice, those outside these areas cannot be ignored or forgotten. Somebody has to be trained and go out to the boondocks and minister to those really small towns that don’t get out or around much. I’m not sure if this was brought up in previous discussion nor am I saying that we are doing this, just merely pointing out that a one dimensional plan of missions/outreach is simply not good enough so let’s start with the urban centers but let’s not stop there.
Great discussion, and I agree with most of what has been said. Thanks for the reality check, Ben. As I was reading about strategies, and reaching the most people, and modeling after Paul, I couldn’t help but wonder – how many missionaries in our modern era organize their efforts in anything like Paul’s style? The closest comparison I can see are the circuit riders of the 19th century. It’s true that Paul established a church in Corinth, a major city and cultural center. It’s also true that he established churches in much smaller cities. What he didn’t do – and most of our missionaries today do do – is establish HIMSELF in a city on a semi-permanent basis. So if we’re looking to Paul for hints on missionary strategies, maybe it starts with his mobility…and his absolute refusal to be the foundation of any church’s faith or ability to last (see I Cor. 1 and 3).
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
For those interested in Corinth this is a good tool for understanding the ancient site.
Thanks Jared, this looks like a handy guide.
Here is a link for US readers, Jared’s goes to the UK site:
Thanks – it’s very handy having just used it on site! Written by those working for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (Corinth base) which has been involved in the digs there since 1896. This is the 7th ed, completely rewritten with a good site map. ASCSA has a whole series of large tomes reporting on the digs including a centenary volume published in the early 2000s.
I just bought Corinth and the Athenian Agora guides. Thanks for pointing these out, I will likely now go broke searching out the rest of the series.
As you mentioned, this was Paul’s biggest “success” as far as ministry so far in his journeys. I really liked when you said, “In Corinth, this gave the slaves a new sense of freedom, a new start in life, and opportunities to advance.” With most good things there do come implications. Most people have heard the quote, “What comes up, must come down.” I believe that this applies here. For example, this was such a high point in history and the people may have had the tendency to take this for granted. As you mentioned, Corinth was a very stable city. They had nice places and it was well established. This would be easy to take for granted.
Your question at the very end of your post really intrigued me and got me thinking. Even though Paul did target one of the most popular modern urban centers, I do not think that this should affect how or where we plant churches. We are called to witness. The church is the body of Christ. Most of the time when people think of church; they think of a building. That is partially true, but we don’t have that without the body of believers that make up the congregation.
Our Christian mission is to spread the gospel. I believe that one way to do this is to plant churches. This is a great way to spread the gospel. Everyone is called to do something and the way they do things may be different than someone else’s. For example, I believe that my way to witness is through athletics. This is through my actions and through preaching the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Other people will have different professions, but they will have the same goal. But, as believers, we all are the church.
Paul worked strategically to plant churches, one specifically that was successful was in Corinth. I find it interesting to think it was a place of fresh starts, freed slaves, different architectural styles and new hope. It also was a place that held entertainment, specifically games and banquets. This brought many people to visit and live. This new church Paul planted was set up for success in many ways and is known to be the closest to the modern church. Some potential implications for modern missions strategy would be those that attend events, there would be a good flow of people, giving lots of opportunities. The thriving business would help to keep the church economically stable. As well, people could come with the hope of starting fresh in life and be connected with others that felt similar, connecting them to being reborn in Christ. Also, the idea that those who did visit, could continue home and spread what they heard. It’s interesting to think this modern church be called an urban center. A place to come together for those in need of support, encouragement or relief. I think it should speak to where we plant churches. Jesus’ ministry was not about helping those like the Pharisee’s who had the knowledge and laws, rather he spoke to criminals and the outcast. We should be focused on reaching those who have not heard, this typically is the cities, not neglecting the less populated areas, but providing in an area of greater needs.
Corinth provided new opportunities for people. People were looking for a fresh start. Introducing Christianity in this large city would help to grow God’s Kingdom, the good news was just what people were looking for. God gave Paul this opportunity in Corinth and it turned into one of Pauls largest churches. This should be an indication to us that large cities are great places to plant churches. People in large cities are often looking for new things, trying to find new hope, why not build upon what they are already looking for. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, multiple times Paul had to address problems within the Corinthian church, but it was definitely worth it to help people become disciples of Christ.
I really like how you tie Paul’s growing church in Corinth with real world. When Paul went to preach in Corinth there wasn’t any signs of churches in the city. But just by preaching God’s word people began to become curious and believers in the word which eventually grew the city to be one of the largest churches that Paul has. Specifically in the U.S this is a little different because a lot of people are aware of Christianity but they see it as a judgmental party. I think by continuing to share God’s word through community actions and events to show God’s love and work this will make people curious and want to learn more. Similar to the growing church in Corinth.
The city of Corinth in the ancient world is quite similar to many of our modern cities in that it was devoted to the surrounding culture of the time. The Roman culture was infused in every part of the Corinthian lifestyle. Their religion, architecture, and economy were all part of Rome; in a sense. Paul’s teaching at Corinth broke the seemingly uniform culture and instead presented an entirely new culture to the citizens of Corinth. Those that heard Paul’s teachings and sought to follow Christ had the difficult task of breaking away from their previous ways of living and following the new culture. The struggles of the Corinthian church are well documented in Scripture; showcasing the difficulty of following Christ in a pagan society that one once belonged to. The failures of the Corinthian church should be a warning to those of us wishing to plant churches in our culture. First off, don’t expect people to just get it automatically. It took time for the Corinthian church to find its footing in its new faith. The temptations of their former culture beckoned them to revisit old habits and practices that they were often unaware of were not appropriate in the Christian faith. Secondly, those planting churches must be careful about how they present the gospel. Far too often the gospel is presented in a way that does not require anything of those hearing the good news. “Believe and be saved” is often presented with little explanation of guidance. To those coming out of culture into the Christian faith, we must take the time to guide and direct their understands so that their faith might mature.
I remember briefly looking at Corinth at a Sunday evening Bible study and the analogy that someone said was that “Las Vegas is the modern day Corinth”. So many times missionary’s go to South America or other areas because of the nice weather or whatever. I believe the most important strategy for a missionary is to go where there is a need. Corinth clearly had a need for the Gospel to be preached. There are so many Asian cultures, middle eastern cultures and carabean cultures who go about life pretty casually however there culture is so different than ours and the level of sin that is committed shows that there need for the Gospel is just as important as those who live similar lives as us but don’t know Christ. The sinfulness of an area shouldn’t scare us away but instead inspire us to share the power of Christ Jesus to give us permanent joy, peace and happiness that nothing in this world can fulfill.
The city of Corinth is unique mix of people, beliefs, and Roman ideals. Naturally, the location of the city added to its trading capability. As a result, Corinth was an economically strong and wealthy city. Many people did business there, making this location a great area for Paul to spread the gospel. As people believed the gospel, they would return to their home town and share with their communities, spreading the good news. Strategically thinking, Paul may have stayed in Corinth knowing that he could potentially reach many more people in this city than others. Furthermore, the city was rich in spiritual matters. Making the soil for the gospel rich and ready for the seed of the gospel. I do not necessary think we should totally base our church planting location wholly from Paul’s placement. People need the gospel everywhere, however, when you are one of few sent missionaries, such as Paul, you would want to have the most impact for the time spent, thus Corinth was a great option.
I agree with you on the point you made where maybe we shouldn’t base our locations on Paul’s placement specifically, but more so we need to keep reminding ourselves that no matter where everyone needs the gospel. I like how you described what Paul probably felt about wanting to make as big of an impact as he could where he was being called to. That right there is a great example for Christians to follow.
This blog post does bring up an interesting point that Paul specifically targeted one of the biggest urban centers at the time in the city of Corinth. To answer your question though about if this tactic by Paul in going there and how that should speak specifically to where we as Christians today should go to and speak. As far as how we plant churches though, I think that we should be the same as Paul did it. Churches need to be planted wherever there is a need. Building them in larger cities would be the safer option as there are a number of people around to reach out to and who will be receptive to God’s word. By starting churches in larger cities, you build the possibility of those learning God’s word and taking it out into smaller areas. These smaller areas will be more of a challenge, but often this is where God’s word is needed the most. As Christians, we just need to not be so afraid of going to these kinds of places to where there is a need. I mean, we are called to go out and make disciples and love one another as ourselves, so it should be a no-brainer really to go out and do what Paul did.
I think that Paul going to Corinth can be used as modern missions strategy. He went to the place that was very lively and growing and there were lots of different people with a lot of different beliefs. Also there were many people coming in and out the city because the businesses were thriving so the city attracted many people from the outside. I think that it was good strategy to go preach in this city because there were many people there that he needed to reach that needed to be saved.
When I think about a comparison for this city it would be like choosing to go preach in Las Vegas vs coming to west Michigan to preach. I’ve never been to Las Vegas but the reputation that it has sounds comparable to how Corinth was during this time. West Michigan obviously has people that need to hear about Jesus and be saved but West michigan is known for having a church on every corner. A place like Corinth would be much more worth Paul’s time to work as a missionary than other places.
Rome had an immense impact on the culture and formation of Corinth. I wonder if it is because of this that Paul’s ministry grew. Or was it in spite of it? Were the Corinthians so inundated by Rome’s strong grip that the novelty of Paul’s message attracted more followers than it otherwise would have? Paul’s citizenship is yet another factor.
With its large population, cosmopolitan area, and volume of visitors, Corinth was the ideal place to start the spread of the
The Bible does not tell us about Paul’s decision to go to Corinth though, like is other travels, it is certain to be of God or at the least allowed by him.
As one of the most important cosmopolitan city which is literally the intersection to ever cultures, ethnicity, and subgroup in that period of time, whereas various people were attracted by the beauty of the Roman cultures manifest itself the great diversity in the city of Corinth. It fair to say that, Corinth is a great place for business, commerce and trading, not so much of a place of religious. Not to mentioned the church, even a Greek city like Corinth, its arts, cultures, and old way were modernised into within the Roman cultures because of its cultural trend I assumes. Also, I guess, adopting to the Roman culture will be like being culturally relevant, and a person identity seem to be define by the sort of culture that they hold. Secondly, Corinth was like Las Vegas, or Pattaya, Thailand were its is best known for pleasure, under-age sex, alcohol consumption, cheap foods, and giving an honor of the Thai cultures which is Buddhism. It is the modern city of Corinth of our time, even Christian missionary are not dare to go there, because of its sinfulness of the city. Paul main intention was to plant the church in such a diverse city so that the gospel will be spread to all various people, but the reality is the cultures had more influences on the Church which lead to many pagan worship, idolatry, sexual immorality and it was also a center of cults. I think there’s nothing wrong with planting a church in a city like Corinth, however, in a city like Corinth, the church need to train and put the most mature elders to take care its members. It seem to me that the elder and leader in the Corinth church seem to lack spiritual responsibility.
Would you agree that Paul brought the SAME message to this congregation that he brought to every other church of the Lord? If Corinth was to follow the ONE pattern that Paul brought to every church (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17), then Paul would have taught not only this congregation about the head cover but all the “churches of God.” Many people think Paul’s message about the head cover was just cultural. This is a fallacy and simply assumed. Culture does not change scripture, scripture changes culture (or at least it should if it is in conflict with God’s instructions. Scripture does not state anything regarding culture as being a reason for this instruction, but actually points to divine reasons within the text (vs. 3,7, 8-9, 10, 16). The symbols in chapter 11 (head cover, unleavened bread, fruit of the vine) are age-lasting because Paul’s reasons are age-lasting.
When Paul came to Corinth it was the most modern-day city within the first century. Meaning that it was not an old Greek city, like most cities. This city went through a lot of changes and had a lot of different mindsets. I think that when Paul started churches within Corinth it shows that churches can be anywhere in the world, even if the cities are different or more developed. This being said It was extremely hard for Paul to get people to come to Christ just due to the different things happening around the city. I think that even if things are hard it doesn’t mean that this shows the effect where we plant churches today. These are the kind of places Christians should be planting churches, because of the different kinds of struggles and all of the different religions that are there. I think that when Paul kept pushing through and saw the few people that confessed that they believed in Christ it gave Paul hope within the city of Corinth. One example of a modern-day mission strategy was to just start spreading the word to those around them. Like talking to the owner of the synagogue, because Paul went there on every sabbath preaching the word of the Lord. Going out and preaching or even just talking to people is a big example of a modern-day mission. This is one of the most important ways to get the word out, go to the place where you know people will be. Paul knew that people who had faith would go on the sabbath, and he meet them there. We need to meet people from where they are coming from.
After reading this blog post and the assigned readings, I have come to think that Paul’s mission to Corinth tells us that it can be strategic to target major urban cities in the world, where people from diverse backgrounds and cultures are brought together. These cities provide opportunities for evangelism and church planting, as well as for sending missionaries to other regions. However on the flip side, the challenges of ministry in the in these situations should not be underestimated. The cultural, political, and economic pressures in modern urban centers can be tough and the church may face difficulties in assimilating Christianity with the local culture. The presence of other religions and worldviews can pose a significant challenge to the gospel. This led me to think that having a strategy for your ministry is important in many was. A few examples are understanding the culture, social dynamics, and religious landscape of the city and work to find creative ways to communicate the gospel to people from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, church planting should be done with a long-term vision, focusing not only on immediate growth but also on the development of mature, self-sustaining churches that can continue the work of evangelism and disciple-making in the region. Overall, the example of Paul’s mission to Corinth highlights the importance of contextualizing the gospel in the modern urban world, while being aware of the challenges and opportunities that come with such a mission.
For Paul to run around preaching the gospel and not have any strategy to his mission work would be a little silly. Paul had to have some sort of strategic thinking when preaching like he did in the major urban city of Corinth. Major urban cities can hold different cultures and religions. For Paul to be able to preach in a place like this, he recognized his preaching strategy would have to change. Just like how pastors may switch up their preaching to fit their audience if they move from one church to another across the country or world. There must be some sort of economic, political, and or social understanding of an area where Paul would preach and establish a church. The churches in a major urban city like Corinth must have faced a lot of pressure on the culture surrounding the church and its community. It would be essential for Paul to adapt to the cultural context of the people he was trying to reach. Paul had spent a significant amount of time in Corinth. He was able to build a relationship with the people and build a foundation of believers. Paul had an understanding that if a church and community of believers was going to thrive, he would need to focus on building a long-term relationship with these people of Corinth. Mr. Phillip Long shares in the blog post that Corinth was economically stable and attracted many businesses. If Corinth continued to attract more people, cultures, and customs, then more people could be exposed to the church. When planting churches, Paul took an approach and used strategic thinking, cultural understanding, and long-term relationships that we should use today.
I came into this blog post already having a vast knowledge of the economic context, social concerns, and religious backgrounds of Corinth from researching it and reading articles about it for my paper coming up. In the ancient Roman world of Corinth, you would automatically recognize that they were known for their economic prosperity as well as their worship of the greek gods in the temples of Apollo and Aphrodite. Their Isthmian games were made to honor the greek gods but imagine these games just like the Olympic Games of today’s time. The Olympic Games draw in many visitors every year they are held similar to the Isthmian games, many visitors came to Corinth to experience the games. With as many visitors as they gained throughout the Isthmian games, merchants would line up their stations along the walls of the games which drew in customers helping the economy stay standing firm. Looking at the religious background of Corinth when Paul arrived looks a little different. There were many different ethnic groups present in Corinth, Greeks, Romans, Jews, and other smaller ethnic groups. There weren’t any Christians, however, Paul evangelized to many Corinthians while being there for a whole year and a half. Researching Corinth and the context behind the time period when Paul was there helped me understand the background and context of the two Corinthian letters and why Paul wrote them exactly.
Something interesting to consider when toying with the strategy of planting a church in Corinth is the potential impact. Corinth had great opportunity to grow and their proximity to others would allow for influence. One of the first questions that comes to mind is, how many people would be impacted by the church? Corinth is a great geographical location for a church. It was influential politically and economically (Long). Polhill (2008) explains that Corinth was the most influential city of the province of Achaia. The amount of people coming and going from Corinth point to the potential impact of a church in that location; the church would affect not only its local community, but also the communities where people visit Corinth from. Once Christianity is established and accepted, Corinth would have the potential to spread the gospel in a much faster and more effective way than other churches—mainly because of location.
However, despite the potential for sizable growth and spread of the gospel, it makes me wonder if my initial question is the right one. Should we really be asking how many people the church is impacting, or focus more on the quality than the quantity? Megachurches aren’t just popular because of the message of Christ; people like to feel part of something bigger. How can we reach people and offer them a true experience of Christ and true faith while our focus is elsewhere? Clearly, I don’t think Paul chose Corinth purely out of strategy. Paul followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and Corinth was chosen for a reason.
Looking at your question you posed at the end. I think that what Paul did was a genius move and one that was definitely Spirit led. Corinth was a huge city filled with lots of different business from all over the place (Long, 2023). If you want something to spread fast then you go to the place that has the best broadcasting. For us today that would be something like a big news outlet or even our own social media if it catches on can create a massive impact. If Christians are to follow in the way of the Lord one piece that is to share the Gospel with many. In fact the Bible says that we are to be witnesses to the earth (Acts 1:8). What better way for believers to do this than how Paul was led to at Corinth. Today we have an incredible amount of information being spread around the world in mere seconds. If we miss out on sharing on these social media sites and other means on the internet simply because it is secularized them I think we are missing the point. We need to be the light that the Bible so often speaks on. There are real people behind the profiles online and on the other side of articles. We need to take advantage as much as we can. Using the secularized parts of media and transforming them for a Christian purpose, that is how Paul did it and that is how we can do it now.
When I think of missionaries and people going to spread the gospel, I think of what I have encountered and experienced in my own life, which have been mission trips to Kenya and Haiti to small villages. It seems that this is where a lot of mission trips are focused, but it does make sense to target more populated and busy areas as we see Paul do here. As for where and how we should plant churches today, I think that we should be planting them wherever they are needed the most but planting them in larger cities has the best chance of saving the most lives in the long run. Especially if we act as Paul did and plant them in a city that is well traveled and visited by outsiders, that then if saved will more than likely bring back the good news they have heard to wherever they are from, leading to even more lives being saved. It is our mission as Christians to save as many others as we can and planting churches is one of the most effective and important ways that we can do this.