David Couchman
David Couchman is the Director of Focus and the producer of the 'God: new evidence,' 'God and the Big Bang,' 'After Life?' and 'Jesus Myths' video series. More...

Digital Evangelism blog

The synagogue in Corinth visited by Paul in Acts chapter 18

Ruins of ancient Corinth
Photo: BiblePlaces.com

 Corinth was one of the largest cities of the ancient world, and a center for trade and commerce. It had a strategic position between the Corinthian gulf and the Saronic gulf, and had two harbours. Ships from Asia came to Cenchrea, on the Saronic gulf. Ships from Europe came to Lechaeum, on the Corinthian gulf.

So Corinth was on a major trade route between Europe and Asia.

Its population has been estimated as in the region of a quarter of a million people. As a port city, Corinth became famous for its vice. In fact, one ancient writer coined the term 'to Corinthianize', meaning to engage in immorality. It was also a center for all kinds of idol worship.

Paul first visited Corinth on his second missionary journey, and his visit is described in Acts chapter 18 verses 1-17. The church that he planted there was one of his largest and most successfull. He subsequently visited the city again, possibly several times, and wrote at least three letters to the church there, two of which are preserved in our New Testament letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians.

Acts chapter 18 verse 4 says that each Sabbath while he was in Corinth, Paul went into the local synagogue, trying to persuade the Jews there of the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Acts chapter 18 even mentions two particular rulers of the synagogue by name - Crispus and Sosthenes.

Synagogue inscription from Corinth
Photo: BiblePlaces.com

It is not surprising that a city as large and multi-cultural as Corinth had a Jewish synagogue. However, in 1898, archaeologists discovered an inscription from ancient Corinth, carved in a large block of limestone, which appears to come from the doorway to a synagogue. This particular inscription probably dates from the fifth century, that is, some hundreds of years after Paul was there.

The limestone inscription above is evidence that there was a significant Jewish population in ancient Corinth.

Other evidence has also been discovered, including these Menorahs carved on top of a column, dating from the late Roman period.

Menorahs
Photo: BiblePlaces.com

Back to 'Real people: real places'