Standing before Gallio

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Corinth was our first stop on our three day trip. I anticipated this as being one of my favorites because of the strong biblical ties the ancient city had at one time. As a Greek city Corinth thrived during the sixth century B.C., trading throughout the Mediterranean area and becoming a large city. However, in 146 B.C. the Romans came in a completely destroyed the city - razing it to the ground. For 100 years no city stood until in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar realized the importance of controlling the isthmus and he issued the construction of Roman Corinth. Corinth was built in a key spot: two ports and the acrocorinth was one of the best natural acropolis. He then settled many retired military men there to populate the area. Once again Corinth quickly became a popular, bustling cosmopolitan and by the time Paul arrived it was close to 100 years old. Unfortunately, the city was free of spirit and had become a place for all sorts of entertainment. The word "korinthiadzo" was created - meaning to fornicate. In comparison to today, Corinth was Las Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas all compiled into one city. The Temple of Aphrodite sat atop the Acrocorinth, and the 1000 temple prostitutes that lived there worked in the city below. That coupled with the amount of people that would come to town for the Isthmian Games and one can only imagine the state of the city when Paul arrived.

The first stop in the ancient city was the theater. The highlight of the theater is the Erastus inscription which can be found on a stone tablet in the ground. Most believe this is the same Erastus who was one of Paul's companions and an important city official. He commissioned and paid for part of a road and the inscription recognizes this. It is an important find in this theater that was turned into an arena by the Romans. There is also a reference to a Sosthenes, but it's most likely not the Sosthenes that Luke records being beaten.

Waling through the ancient agora we saw the Glafki fountain (which the Romans didn't destroy because they needed the water) and what remains of the Temple of Apollo. This temple is different than many of the others we've seen for multiple reasons. First of all, it was constructed of limestone, not marble. Not only that but the columns are all monolithic (formed from one stone) instead of being composed of many parts stacked atop one another. We saw ancient refrigerators and starting blocks. It was easy to imagine all the shops and merchant houses that would have lined the open middle court.

One of the greatest sights and experiences so far on the trip was standing before the bema in the agora. This is the same spot where Paul would have stood as he faced Gallio. We reread that portion of Acts and we spent a few moments to reflect on the importance of where we were. By no means would we worship or venerate Paul, but it is quite an experience to stand there and reflect on the how Paul took a stand for Christ no matter what was going to happen to him. It's a real sense of peace to know that not long before Paul would be dragged before Gallio, God had promised to him that he would protect Paul. We sang It Is Well and said a prayer as we stood there. It was an incredible experience.

The museum there contained the basic Greek pots and interesting things that all the museums seem to have. There was also a sphinx and 2500 year old fish scales. Terra cotta gutters still retain their original paint job, and I now know where the term "venereal diseases" comes from. Another important find in Corinth was an obvious Jewish menorah relief and an inscription containing the word synagogue. This just further shows that a synagogue did exist in Corinth.

After we visited the ancient agora and sites on ground level we drove half way up the acrocorinth. Then we all piled out of the bus and began a strenuous climb to the top of the fortress. Much of the wall still remains and a castle keep sits nearby as well. The view from the top is incredible as you can see for miles upon miles. On a clear day we would have been able to see Athens across the gulf.

Ancient Corinth was one of my favorite sites we have visited thus far. I think this is because it has so many biblical ties, making more appreciable to me. We spent a lot of time in the ancient agora - where Paul and members of the early church there would have spent some of their time. Of course I loved standing in front of the bema as well. Unfortunately, I don't think everything we've seen has fully set in yet. I'm not sure it will until I get home sometime in the future. I'll probably be sitting in a Bible class and it will all come flooding back to me. I guess that's okay too.
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