Tag Archives: Isthmian Games

Corinth, where Paul stood before Gallio

Corinth is one of my favorite places to visit. I think that is because it plays such a prominent role in the New Testament story. Paul first came to Corinth on his second journey, after visiting Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea in Macedonia (now northern Greece), and Athens in Achaia. Another reason I enjoy going here is becaue we know the names of so many people associated with the city: Chloe, Aquila, Priscilla, Crispus, Gaius, Apollos, Stephanos, Erastus, et al.

Luke’s historical account is recorded in Acts 18. Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, natives of Pontus, who had been expelled from Rome because of a decree by the Emperor Claudius. There was success in the work at Corinth as individuals heard the gospel of Christ and were baptized.

But there was also opposition. Soon, the Jews brought charges against Paul and had him brought before the proconsul Gallio.

But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.” And he drove them away from the judgment seat. (Acts 18:12-16)

The Gallio inscription, now exhibited in the museum at Delphi, provides the date for the time when Gallio was proconsul. This, in turn, helps us build a chronology for Paul’s ministry. Based on this information we generally think of Paul entering Corinth in the fall of A.D. 51, and leaving in the spring of A.D. 53.

Our photo shows the “judgment seat” (Greek, bema) in the agora (marketplace) at Corinth. The Acrocorinth is the mountain in the background. The Temple of Aphrodite stood on the Acrocorinth in New Testament times.

Earlier I have written two posts on dealing with Corinth. Check here for Did the apostle Paul attend the Isthmian Games?, and here for The Corinth Canal. We visited both sites yesterday.

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.