Wednesday: Arrival in Corinth

Acts 18:1-18 contains two major intersections with secular history. The first is the expulsion of the Jews from Rome during the reign of Claudius (Acts 18:2). Information from extra-biblical sources locates this event in A.D. 49. The other major intersection is the mention of the proconsul Gallio (Acts 18:12). Because proconsuls in Corinth were appointed for one-year terms, information from inscriptions and other data accurately dates Gallio’s term of office to a.d. 50-51. Critical scholars often doubt the historicity of the book of Acts, but there are many casual references such as these that confirm its picture of history.

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Timothy must have traveled from Thessalonica to Berea with Paul and Silas (Acts 17:10, 14,15) after their expulsion from Thessalonica. He then briefly joined Paul in Athens, and was sent from there to Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:1, 2). There he joined up with Silas (Acts 18:5) and eventually journeyed to meet Paul in Corinth. First Thessalonians must have been written from Corinth shortly after Timothy’s arrival. Paul knew what people were thinking in Achaia, where Corinth was located (1 Thess. 1:7, 8), and in 1 Thessalonians he was responding to information brought to him by Timothy (1 Thess. 3:5, 6).

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2. What’s Paul’s main point in this passage? What do we learn from these verses about Paul’s missionary strategies in Athens and Corinth?

Paul must not have been satisfied with the outcome of his encounter with the philosophers of Athens, for in Corinth he decides to take a more direct approach to the Greek mind. In doing so, he does not reject the idea of “meeting people where they are,” for he clearly promotes such an approach in the same letter (1 Cor. 9:19-23). What he demonstrates in Athens and Corinth is that the process of meeting people where they are is not an exact science; it requires constant learning and adjustment. Paul did not take the same approach in every city. He was very sensitive to changing times, cultures, and circumstances.

Read again the passages for today. How is the main message there relevant to us today, when the “wisdom” of the world so often clashes with the “foolishness” of the Cross?



Wednesday: Arrival in Corinth — 4 Comments

  1. In Athens when Paul addressed the philosophers there he started at a point they were familiar with, creation and religion. That is something we all should do, meeting people where they are. However, he ended with the resurrection of the dead which they obviously thought was insanity. To the disciples the resurrection was extremely important which was Paul thought also, "For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1 Cor 15:16-17 NKJV) but that is something that doesn't win souls. What it does is to build faith that we are indeed saved but to the Greeks it was bad philosophy according to their way of thinking which they promptly rejected.

    As Ellen White in the pamphlet "Redemption: or the Teachings of Paul, and his Mission to the Gentiles" (8Red), starting with page 60 so well said:

    "Here he adopted a different course of action from that which had marked his labors at Athens. While in the latter place, he had adapted his style to the character of his audience; and much of his time had been devoted to the discussion of natural religion, matching science with science, logic with logic, and philosophy with philosophy. But when the apostle reviewed the time and labor he had there devoted to the exposition of Christianity, and realized that his style of teaching had not been productive of much fruit, he decided upon a different plan of labor in the future. He determined to avoid discussions of theories and elaborate arguments as much as possible, but to urge the doctrine of salvation through Christ upon sinners. In his epistle to his Corinthian brethren, he afterward described his manner of laboring among them:"

    What Paul learned at Athens is that while he was able to back those philosophers into an intellectual corner from which they could not escape it only won arguments not their hearts. Only the love as seen in the cross can do that. As Jesus said, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (Jn 12:32 NKJV). Paul put it another way, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8 NKJV). It wasn't the fact that he met them where they were that caused the failure but that he failed to center his discourse on the cross where the love of God shines brightest. That is why Paul told the Corinthians, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-2 NKJV)

  2. The lesson is so edified when Paul shares his weakness that all the knowledge he obtain has no salvation to save man from their sins. The point is that lifting Christ Jesus draws man to god.

  3. I total agreed with the way Paul bring the Message of God across. He first looked at the culture and the way of life of the people of Corinth. We also need to change our strategy to bring the gospel around. We need to change the status quo of bringing the gospel across to different cultural and ethnic background.

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