Tag Archives: Isthmia

Did the Apostle Paul attend the Isthmian Games?

Within the past two weeks the Olympic torch was lighted at Olympia, Greece, amid political disruption. Important games were held by the Greeks at Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, and Isthmia. Isthmia is located just a few miles from ancient Corinth, near the modern Corinth Canal.

The Isthmian Games, conducted biennially in honor of Poseidon, were second in importance to the Olympics. Discoveries at Isthmia have included starting gates for the races. Professor Oscar Broneer, who excavated at Corinth, indicates that Greek athletics had become corrupt and degraded during Paul’s lifetime [like professional sports in too many places, perhaps?]. Broneer suggested that Paul was present during one of these athletic festivals (Biblical Archaeologist, Feb., 1962; Acts 18). Here is a photo from Isthmia.

Isthmia, near ancient Corinth, was the site of athletic games in honor of Poseidon. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Paul made many references to athletic contests, especially in the letter to the church at Corinth. There are references to the races, and to boxing in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The victor’s crown at the Isthmian Games was made of wilted celery! This makes Paul’s reference to a “corruptible crown” come to life, doesn’t it (1 Corinthians 9:25)?

Note of Explanation. You may wonder how I could upload photos of Isthmia but not of those taken in the past few days. This post was already uploaded from home a couple of weeks back. Since I am still limited here I wanted to share this with you. And, the next tour is Steps of Paul and John.