The Apostle Paul: I Corinthians. Part 1.

But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Corinthians 16:8–9)

While the Apostle Paul ministered in Ephesus, he took the opportunity to write to the church in Corinth. The epistle in question is known as I Corinthians.

The letter was named for the city of Corinth, where the church was located. With the exception of personal epistles addressed to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, all of Paul’s letters bear the name of the city, or region, where the churches addressed existed.

Pauline authorship of I Corinthians has been universally accepted by the church since the first century. First, the apostle claimed to have written the epistle (1:1, 13; 3:4–6; 4:15; 16:21). Second, this epistle has been acknowledged as genuine since A.D. 95 by Clement of Rome, who was writing to the Corinthian church. Other early Christian leaders who authenticated Paul as author include Ignatius (c. A.D. 110), Polycarp (c. A.D. 135), and Tertullian (c. A.D. 200).

As indicated by today’s text, the epistle was most likely written in the first half of A.D. 55 from Ephesus (16:8–9, 19) while Paul was on his third missionary journey. The apostle intended to remain on at Ephesus to complete his three-year stay (Acts 20:31) until Pentecost (May/June) A.D. 55 (1 Cor. 16:8). Then he hoped to winter (A.D. 55–56) at Corinth (1 Cor. 16:6Acts 20:2). His departure for Corinth was anticipated in his writing (1 Cor. 4:19; 11:34; 16:8).

The city of Corinth was located in southern Greece, in what was the Roman province of Achaia, c. 45 miles west of Athens. This lower part, the Peloponnesus, is connected to the rest of Greece by a 4-mile-wide isthmus, which is bounded on the east by the Saronic Gulf and on the west by the Gulf of Corinth. Corinth is near the middle of the isthmus and is prominently situated on a high plateau.

For many centuries, all north-south land traffic in that area had to pass through or near this ancient city. Since travel by sea around the Peloponnesus involved a 250-mile voyage that was dangerous and obviously time consuming, most captains carried their ships on skids or rollers across the isthmus directly past Corinth. Corinth understandably prospered as a major trade city, not only for most of Greece but for much of the Mediterranean area, including North Africa, Italy, and Asia Minor. A canal across the isthmus was begun by the emperor Nero during the first century A.D., but was not completed until near the end of the nineteenth century.

More to come.

Soli deo Gloria!

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