Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Corinth (Acts 18)

Some notes:
  • Aquila and Priscilla were tradespeople like Paul. They worked with leather. It was another natural point of contact Paul could make in a new city.  He could connect with the synagogue and he could connect with leatherworkers. For a number of reasons--not least his Roman citizenship but perhaps also his comments about stooping to work with his hands--Paul probably was more of an owner of the business back home than a skilled laborer by social location.
  • The Roman Historian Suetonius mentions the conflict over "Chrestus" in Rome around AD49. My hunch is that many Christian Jews were kicked out of the city (it doesn't seem logistically likely that all Jews were). This would have left the Roman church predominantly Gentile in make-up for several years. Some think this is the crisis to which Hebrews 10 refers (I don't). I think it supports a primarily Gentile audience for both Romans and Hebrews.
  • Same pattern as throughout Acts. Goes to synagogue, gets kicked out. But at Corinth, he seems to have some very significant converts to maintain the mission. Again, I wonder if Acts emphasizes this theme as an implicit explanation for why God allowed the Romans to destroy Jerusalem.
  • Paul stays there the longest period yet, at least a year and a half.  Who knows how many side trips he took while he was there! 
  • His time there may end with an appearance before the proconsul Gallio, who was in Corinth around 50-52. As usual, Paul ends up in trouble with the law. Acts doesn't connect his appearance before Gallio and his leaving of the city but we can at least wonder if he was "urged" to leave town after his trial. Acts arguably downplays such connections, as at Damascus.
  • Paul has shaved his head, presumably in preparation to visit the Jerusalem temple. Acts wants Paul to appear devout in his Jewish law-keeping (cf. Acts 21:24).  In this aspect, again, it gives a different impression than Paul himself gives. Our impression of Paul's own law-keeping is that he would have done something of this sort for political reasons, to peace make with Jerusalem.
  • Paul, Priscilla, and Aquilla head for Ephesus, either kicked out or otherwise. 

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