Summary: The background of Corinth, the character of the city, Paul’s association with the Corinthian church, reasons to study 2 Corinthians, and an examination of the salutation, 1:1-2.
ANOTHER VISIT TO CORINTH January 13, 2008
Series: 2 Corinthians- Strength through Weakness
Introduction- How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?
Charismatics/Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.
Presbyterians: None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.
Roman Catholic: None. Candles only.
Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change.
Episcopalians: Two. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks.
Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.
Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.
Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Church wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring bulb of your choice and a covered dish.
Lutherans: None. Lutherans don’t believe in change.
Amish: What’s a light bulb?
Established Bible teaching church that is over 20 years old: Ten: One to actually change the bulb, and nine to say how much they liked the old one.
This is a humorous way of illustrating that there are many different and various Christian traditions… are they all equally valid, just different strokes for different folks… or are there substantive differences??… it is beyond our scope to evaluate each of these today, but we can say with absolute certainty that the apostle Paul did not tolerate simply any expression of Christianity… in fact, large portions of the NT deal with the refutation of false teachers and their distortions of the gospel…
And we see this very clearly in the book of 2 Corinthians, and we are beginning today a new study in this book… throughout this book Paul is defending himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ… and defending his message… and as he does so, with great humility, it provides us with the certainty of apostolic truth/message, as well as an exemplary model of character under attack…
We have already looked at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (April 05-Oct 06)… so as we begin this new study, I thought it would be helpful to go back to Corinth to look again at the Corinth of biblical times.
History and location (Bible intro. 101)
Map of Paul’s journeys
Map of Greece
• flourished as a major Greek city from the 8th century BC until its destruction by the Romans in 146 BC… killing most of the Greek male population and selling the women and children into slavery. The site then lay desolate, although not totally deserted, for one hundred and two years…
• In 44 B.C., shortly before his assassination, Julius Caesar decided to establish a Roman colony on the site
• prospered more than ever before and may have had as many as 800,000 inhabitants by the time of Paul. It was the capital of Roman Greece, equally devoted to business and pleasure, and was mostly populated by freedmen and Jews… but a third of the population was slaves.
• Corinth was a strategic city in the spread of the Gospel… location on the isthmus put it on a main trade route… its prosperity was a magnet for people from all over the eastern Mediterranean who came to work in its flourishing manufacturing, marketing, and service sectors. This influx of people provided increased opportunities to preach the gospel to those who would perhaps carry it further into the world as they traveled elsewhere… all the more reason for Paul to stand up against the false teachers and fight for the purity of the Gospel.
Life in Corinth
We would find a city and a culture not unlike ours in America today… we would find economic prosperity, religious diversity, and moral debauchery... one writer: Corinth is the L.A., New York, and Las Vegas of today, all in one city...
(I only want to give you information that is helpful in understanding the epistle... and there are several factors that help us understand the church at Corinth of the first century)
• Economically- Corinth at this time was prospering wildly... it’s strategic geographical location fueled its growth... it was a commercial hub... a cross roads of cultures
• Socially- because of the economic growth, it attracted people from all over the world... east and west... largely Roman, but from all over... cosmopolitan... because the city was relatively new, there was no established aristocracy... people were clamoring to achieve status and honor... there was “a zeal to attain public status, promote one’s own honor, and to secure power.”... the dominant cultural value was achieving prestige and status... in addition was the Greek heritage of philosophy, rhetoric and the pursuit of wisdom about which they took great pride.