Paul in Corinth (Acts 18)
Welcome to Lesson 17 in your Bible Study of Acts. In this lesson we want to take a closer look at Acts 18 and Paul’s ministry in Corinth.
Paul’s stay in Corinth represented the last stop in the apostle’s second missionary “journey.” I use quotes to signal that “journey” doesn’t quite describe what took place.
This is because in coming to Corinth, Paul was essentially relocating and establishing another missionary base from which to preach the gospel. After all, he spent 18 months in this important city (18:11) so it wasn’t just a stop on the way home from his missions trip.
City of Corinth
The city of Corinth was prosperous based on its strategic location along the commercial routes running both east and west.
As you can see from the map below, Corinth was located on the small isthmus of the Pelopponesian peninsula. Ships traveling by sea would land on the isthmus, unload their cargo and transport it across land where another ship would continue the commercial voyage by sea. This option was much easier than navigating around the great peninsula with all of its attendant dangers.
This strategic location made Corinth a major metropolis, one which was multi-cultural, multi-religious, sensual and of course quite wealthy. The fact that the Corinthian church was soliciting prostitutes in the temples was not that surprising (1 Cor 6) nor was the fact that the Corinthians thought they were wise in their own knowledge (1 Cor 1-4).
Paul and Priscila and Aquila
In Corinth, Paul met two Jewish-Christians named Aquila and Priscila. According to Acts, they had been expelled from Rome when Emperor Claudias had expelled all Jews from the city.
According to Seutonious (12 Cesars), this occurred in 49 A.D. This allows us to date Paul’s time in Corinth around the same timeframe and gives us an important marker by which to fix Paul’s missions trips and even the date of some of his letters.
Read Acts 18:1-3, 18, 26; Rom 16:3; 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19
- What did Aquila and Priscila do for a living (18:2-3)? Why did Paul choose to work alongside Aquila and Priscila rather than seek funds from the church (see Acts 20:34-35; 2 Thess 3:8)?
- What facts do we glean about Aquila and Priscila from the Acts 18, Romans, 1 Cor and 2 Tim passages? Note their travels and where and how they ministered.
- Describe Priscila and Aquila’s work with Apollos. What did they accomplish with this man? Who is Apollos and what role did he play in the New Testament church? (See Acts 19:1; 1 Cor 1:12)
- One of the questions raised by Paul’s ministry of self-support is “should ministers today be bi-vocational? What answers would you give to this question? Should pastors / ministers work part-time to support their ministries? What are some of the pros and cons of Paul’s approach to self-sufficiency? How would your church be different if ministers worked part-time in order to be self-supported.
Roman Officials and the Legality of Christianity
During his time in Corinth, Acts narrate that certain “Jews” rose up against Paul and brought him before a Roman official.
- What was the charge that was brought against Paul? Would you consider it a political, legal or religious matter?
- What was Galio’s pronouncement regarding the charge?
- Can you think of other places within Acts where Paul is brought before Roman officials? What were the verdicts in those situations?
- What do these successes and triumphs communicate about Luke’s purpose in Acts or about the advancement of the gospel?
- How might these triumphs affect your approach to suffering for the gospel’s sake or your approach to sharing the gospel?