If you have been unable to attend the adult Sunday classes, you have been missing something special in the story of the early church. We just finished with Paul’s trip to Athens (Acts 17) and will review his trip to Corinth (Acts 18) this Sunday. The cities were very different in their reaction to Paul’s message.
ATHENS was a sophisticated city. There you would find Mars Hill where Paul would attempt to introduce Yahweh as the god they had an altar to, but did not know. You would also find the Parthenon, the temple of the goddess of war and wisdom. The Temple of Zeus, the king of gods, was on Mount Olympus. All of the Greek gods were present in Athens. To the Athenians, Paul was interesting. They listened to him in the Areopagus, just as they would listen to any philosopher. When Paul talked about the resurrection, many dismissed him. He stayed in Athens only a few days, made a few followers such as Dionysius, Damaris (both women), and others, but apparently left with no established congregation.
CORINTH was established in 400 BC by the Greeks, destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, and rebuilt by Julius Caesar in 46 BC as a Roman colony, which means it was to be “just like Rome.” It was a highly decadent city which housed the Temple of Aphrodite where one could worship the goddess of love by having relations with one of the temple’s 1000 prostitutes. Corinth is where Paul found Priscilla and Aquila, who were already Christians and tentmakers like Paul. Paul and the others were able to establish a church there. Two major letters by Paul (1st & 2nd Corinthians) give evidence of their activity. Paul stayed in Corinth 18 months before moving on to Ephesus.
So, what was the difference between Athens and Corinth? The Athenians were focused more on debating philosophies than in seeking truth, whereas the Corinthians appeared willing to listen and give serious consideration to the message of Christ. Even with all their city’s worldliness and depravity, they gave serious consideration to the risen Savior. Apparently, the heart that is willing to listen intently will be melted and embraced by the love of the Savior.