An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-One

Corinth was a thoroughly pagan city

The Temple of Apollo was there, along with the temple to Octavia and a sanctuary to the god of healing. At the outsets of the city stood a huge temple to the god Poseidon. The most significant temple in Corinth, however, was the massive temple of Aphrodite perched on the hill above the city. A thousand sacred prostitutes operated out of Aphrodite’s temple. This played a large part in the city’s reputation – it was the “sin city” of the ancient world like Las Vegas is to North America today

The reputation of the city for licentiousness even made it into the Greek language. The Greek word for “fornication” is Corinthiazomai which means “to act like a Corinthian”. Throughout the Roman Empire calling a girl a “Corinthians girl” meant she was a prostitute. If someone was diagnosed with “Corinthian sickness,” it meant the patient had venereal disease. Immorality was an accepted and celebrated part of their culture. In the temples of Corinth, drunken orgies and visits to prostitutes were considered to be acts of worship. So Corinth was not just a pagan city – It was a place of depravity and debauchery. It was a center for the hard-core lost

In that wealthy, immoral, pagan worship center, the gathering place of the world, God chose to build an apostolic regional center that would influence and impact the entire country. And through the tourist trade and commerce – influence and impact other parts of the empire

Let’s see how God established this fourth apostolic center…

The apostolic center in Corinth was established by Paul, the apostle, during his second apostolic journey. Paul set out from Antioch and was ministering across Asia Minor, but when he arrived at the port of Troas, God spoke to him in a dream. The Spirit of God told him to leave Asia and cross over to Macedonia. So, Paul boarded a ship heading west. It was a momentous journey. On this short sail from Troas to Macedonia, Paul crossed the dividing line between Asia and Europe. The Gospel came to Europe at the Macedonian city of Philippi

In Macedonia, Paul planted churches in three cities: Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea

It is interesting to see how Paul planted churches. A lot of people think it is a hard and complicated thing to plant a church. Paul had a different philosophy to this important ministry. Paul would come to a town, win a few concerts, and start a church. The whole process could take as little as a month. Then he would go on to the next town. He would, of course, stay in touch with each church either by letter or in person. And, team members in Paul’s ministry would also go to these churches and help them to be healthy and growing

How do you plant a church so quickly?

He would start, most times, in the synagogue. The “core group” in the churches Paul planted was usually Jewish. These were people who already knew the Scriptures – the Old Testament. They knew about the one true God. They just needed to meet Jesus and they were ready to go. Adult Jews already knew how to conduct worship services in their homes. They did it every Friday night at Sabbat. Paul’s new converts took that format, repeated it on Saturday night and called it “church.” Most homes in the ancient world were built around an open courtyard of at least 20 square feet which would easily hold 20 or 30 people, so they didn’t have a problem finding facilities. When one house filled, the church multiplied to two houses. As believers were equipped to minister in the power of the Spirit they experienced rapid growth.

So, it was not a complicated thing to start a church. Paul planted churches this way in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. Then he moved south through Greece until he got to Corinth.

In Corinth Paul did something different

In Corinth Paul did more than just plant a church. He began in the synagogue as was his practice. Even the leader of the synagogue was saved. And, a new church was formed. But in Corinth Paul did not just set up the church and move on. In Corinth, he established a training center, and for a year and a half he taught and trained the new believers

What was Paul doing? We will see next time