Corinth- A City of Corruption

From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2001

Corinth was a large city in the first century with a population estimated at 200,000 people. Today, the population is only about 50,000. Interestingly, modern Corinth is located about five miles from the ancient city. But why was the city so big then and not now? The main reason was its geographic location. Corinth was located on a land bridge, which is a small strip of land that separates two bodies of water. This bridge is located in the center of Greece. So, if you lived in southern Greece and needed to sell some goods in northern Greece, you would have to travel through (or very near) Corinth. Even ships were carried over the land bridge because of the short distance. As a result, Corinth be­ came a large commercial center.

A second attraction was the number of temples located in and around the city. Historians claim there were twelve in all. One of these was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Her temple was situated on a hill about 500 feet above the city. In order to worship this goddess, men participated in immoral acts with “priestesses” devoted to serving Aphrodite (there were approximately one thousand of these priestesses). Because many of these travelers did not believe in God, their moral standards were lower than those of Christians. Although many of them were married, they believed they could justify their actions because they were attempting to please Aphrodite. Thus, “Corinth” became a word in the Roman world that signified inappropriate relationships between unmarried people.

Another important temple was the one dedicated to Apollo, located in downtown Corinth. Known to the Romans as the god of music, light, truth, and healing, his most important task was making sure the Sun rose and set every day. According to mythology, he would harness four horses to his chariot and drive the Sun across the sky, and in his spare time he taught men medicine and practiced archery.

Amazingly, even Christ had citizens of His kingdom in this city of corruption. We learn about these people in Acts 18, and from Paul’s letters to them, which we know as First and Second Corinthians. In his epistles, Paul encouraged Christians in Corinth to be strong, and to be careful how they associated with their immoral neighbors. He was concerned that their faith might become weak be­ cause they were spending too much time with these friends, fearing some might return to a wicked lifestyle. We can see this when Paul wrote in 1Corinthans 15:33 that “evil company corrupts good habits.” But, Paul also wanted them to be a good influence on non-Christians .We need to take Paul’s advice. We should not accept our friends’ immoral actions as being acceptable. God has told us what is right and wrong. Yet, we constantly need to be a good influence on our friends, so they can learn to love and obey God, too.


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