Acts 18:1-11 Paul moves on to Corinth – where Silas and Timothy eventually rejoin him some months later (see Map 24).
For a year and a half (in 51-52AD), Paul stays with Aquila – a Jew from the Roman province of Pontus in Asia Minor (see Map 24) – and his wife Priscilla, who have recently fled from Rome when the emperor, Claudius, expelled all the Jews from the city in 49AD.
As they, like Paul, are tentmakers (making tents and other leather articles from ‘cilicium’, a felted goat-hair cloth originating from Cilicia, the area around Tarsus), Paul works with them in the agora – making and repairing awnings and shelters to protect people from the hot Mediterranean sun.
When Paul meets opposition from some Jews in the synagogue, he preaches next door in the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile believer.
Roman fountain in Corinth (Acts 18:7)
The ancient Greek city of Corinth was destroyed by the Romans in 146BC, but was rebuilt a century later by Julius Caesar. In the time of Paul, Corinth was a busy Roman trading city on the narrow strip of land between the Ionian Sea and the Aegian Sea (see Map 24).
It had two harbours – Lechaeum on the Gulf of Corinth to the west and Cenchraea on the Aegian Sea to the east. It made huge profits by taxing cargoes that were transported overland between the two ports to avoid the dangerous waters around the Peloponnese. The first attempt to build a canal across the isthmus at Corinth was started by Emperor Nero in c.66AD, but was soon abandoned. The present-day Corinth Canal was completed in 1893.
Modern visitors to Corinth today can walk along the Lechaion Way – a marble-paved road linking the port of Lechaeum with the city. On reaching the heart of the settlement, the road passed through an imposing Propylaion (ceremonial gateway) before citizens climbed a flight of steps leading up into the agora (market place). Here, overlooked by the bouletarion (council chamber) and the colonnaded stoas (covered walkways with shops), Paul was placed on the bema (a stone platform) before the Roman proconsul, and accused of breaking the religious laws by members of the Jewish synagogue.
The nearby Temple of Apollo was one of the few buildings that the Romans left intact when they rebuilt the city in 44BC. A stone inscription naming Erastus as the official who paved one of the city’s streets may well refer to the Director of Public Works from whom Paul sent greetings when he dispatched his Letter to the Romans from Corinth (see Romans 16:23).
Temple of Apollo at Corinth (Acts 18:11)
At nearby Acrocorinth, visitors can explore the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) on the summit of the ancient Greek Acropolis that overlooks the site of Roman Corinth. Paul critisized the popular practice of sacred prostitution found in this temple in his First Letter to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 6:15-20) and went on to describe the true nature of love in one of the most famous passages in the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
Paul before the Proconsul of Achaia
Acts 18:11-17 Paul is hauled before Gallio – the Roman proconsul of Achaia (southern Greece) – who was the elder brother of the influential Roman philosopher and dramatist Seneca, the tutor of Nero (from 49AD) and later his advisor (from 54 to 62AD). But Gallio refuses to judge Paul – a Roman citizen – on a matter of Jewish law.
During his eighteen months in Corinth (in 51-52AD), Paul writes his First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, in which he encourages the new Gentile believers to stand firm under persecution, instructs them how to lead a godly life and clears up some confusion about the second coming of the Lord Jesus.