Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Walk Through Corinth

My classes are in full swing and I am treading water just as fast as I can trying to stay afloat.  For some reason (I think it was the hope of actually graduating some day) I decided to take 2 classes this semester.  That may have been a logistical error on my part, but I have to say I am enjoying them both and LOVING one of them!  

This semester I am finally taking the type of class I have been hoping to take all along - a  book of the Bible.  For 14 weeks (technically 12 more) I will be studying 1 Corinthians, and I cannot tell you how much I have learned in just 2 short weeks.  In the first 3.5 hour lecture we covered 3 whole verses!  It is a pretty in depth class.  

Though my time is short I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to share with you what I am learning.  So I thought we might be able to do a little mini bible study, right here!  It is as low of a commitment as your going to find, just read the blog (whenever I get a chance to post or whenever you get a chance to read), read a short passage of scripture, and think about what it might mean to you.  That's it!  So go get a cup of coffee, a soda, or your drink of choice, grab your Bible and pull up a chair.  

To get a little background on 1 Corinthians it is helpful to look at Acts chapter 18 first.  This will cover the time Paul was in Corinth (he spent about 18 months there) building the church he would later write a few letters to.  So pull out your Bibles or go to http://www.biblegateway.com and read Acts 18:1-22 (this will be the longest passage of the whole study I promise!!!!)

During the 18 months Paul was in Corinth he worked as a tent maker with Aquila and Priscilla you may (or may not) recognize their names, but they will come up again so try to remember them!  When Paul wasn't making tents he was at the synagogue trying to persuade the Jews and the Greeks.  The synagogue is where people went to pray and for religious teaching.  It was where city records (birth, wedding, death certificates) were kept.  It was a central meeting place.  This is not where people went to make sacrifices or atonement, this is not where they necessarily carried out any of the mosaic law.  It was more a place of debate and teaching, a place to see and be seen.  

Paul's ministry picked up once Silas and Timothy joined him.  Although a few Jewish people, even a couple of Jewish leaders like Crispus the leader of the synagogue (whose name will come up again) converted to Christianity, by and large the Jews were unreceptive to Paul's message so he turned to the Gentiles in Corinth.  And the church started to grow.  

In fact the church started to grow SO much that the Jews got a little worried and the new synagogue leader (since the old leader Crispus was now a Christian) Sosthenes (remember that name too) brought Paul up on charges in front of the proconsul (the Roman authority in Corinth).  The judge however threw out the charges and Paul was allowed to go on teaching.  The Jews, so mad that Paul walked off scot free, started to beat their own leader Sosthenes!

Some time after that Paul, Aquila and Priscilla all left Corinth for Syria and eventually Ephesus.  It is during his time in Ephesus that we think he wrote the letter we know refer to as 1 Corinthians.  

So real quick turn in your Bible to 1 Corinthians (promise it will be short - I am only going to talk about 1 verse!)  and read verse 1.  "Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother."  Recognize the name?  Sosthenes?  As in Sosthenes the Jewish synagogue leader who attempted to have Paul tried in a Roman court?  He is now Paul's brother?   Really???

We have no way of knowing definitively if this is in fact THAT Sosthenes.  But the only time his name is mentioned in 1 Corinthians is right here.  It is almost like his name alone will give Paul and his letter some authority.  We might not know exactly who he is, but I guarantee you the Corinthians did!  Just for arguments sake let's say this IS the same guy.  The 2nd leader of the Jewish Synagogue in Corinth that Paul converted, along with many others.  It starts to make more sense why the Jews were so upset with Paul, he was doing some serious damage to the religious culture.  Clearly Paul was influential in Corinth and it is no wonder then that his letter would be received as something to pay heed to.  

Ok, that's is it for now, I have to get to studying.  But until next time (whenever that might be) think about this.  Who in your life is influencing you? And are they influencing you in the right direction?