Paul and Silas had travelled more than a thousand miles and had been away from Antioch, their home-base, for about a year, when they came to the city of Corinth in southern Greece. Paul’s visits to Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens were brief. He was an itinerate evangelist, always on the move, but as “many of the Corinthians ... believed and were baptized ... He stayed there a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:9-11).
Corinth was located in southern Greece. It was an important port city with twin ports; one on the east coast, and the other on the west coast. Ships coming from the west unloaded their cargo, moved it overland about six miles, and reloaded the cargo on other ships heading eastward. Smaller ships could be transported overland using an ingenious series of rollers. While the sailors were in Corinth, they spent their money, enriching the local merchants.
In the first-century Roman empire, loose morals and sexual decadence were common. Corinth, however, became known for its darkness, depravity, and debauchery. To “corinthianize” is to practice sexual immorality. It was in the Devil’s playground that Paul persisted in preaching the Gospel of Jesus.
As usual, Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4). “When they resisted and blasphemed ...he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next door to the synagogue” (Acts 18:6–7.)
As had happened in Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea, the jealous Jews raised an unholy stink! “While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the tribunal. ‘This man,’ they said, ‘is persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.’ As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or of a serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews. But if these are questions about words, names, and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of such things.’ So he drove them from the tribunal” (Acts 18:12–16).
Two things must have influenced Paul’s lengthy stay in Corinth. First, Paul was not alone. At Corinth, he met Aquila and Priscilla. “Since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked” (Acts 18:3).
Secondly, and more importantly, Paul persevered in Corinth because of God’s promise of protection and provision. “The Lord said to Paul in a night vision, ‘Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city’ ” (Acts 18:9–10).
As life in America continues to mirror life in Corinth, remember these twin truths. We’re not alone. Like Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:12), like Aquilla and Priscilla, others are beside to hold us up. And again, more importantly, God has promised His unfailing power, His uninterrupted presence. “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you!”