From Athens, Paul traveled west about 40 miles to Corinth.
In those forty miles, Paul has traversed the span from so-called ‘cultural enlightenment’ into cultural depravity.
In those days, Corinth was the center of wickedness and debauchery in the known world. You could easily compare Corinth to Las Vegas in our day – except Corinth was worse.
Corinth was located on the narrow isthmus of land between the two seaports of Cenchrea and Lechaeum. Sailors crossing the Mediterranean Sea would stop at one of those ports, (depending on whether headed east or west,) and traverse across the isthmus through Corinth on the way. (A canal was later dug across the isthmus.)
Corinth also became a center of wicked pagan religion involving sexual practice. The Temple of Aphrodite was located there, and though it was already in ruins by the time Paul arrived, the practice of prostitution during pagan religious worship lived on.
It was in this wicked city Paul remained 18 months, teaching and preaching the Word of God. (How interesting it is to contrast Corinth to Athens. At refined Athens Paul was in and out before Silas and Timothy could even arrive. At Corinth, the capital of wickedness in the world, Paul stayed a year and a half.)
It was at Corinth Paul first met Aquila and Priscilla, who would become trusted ministry partners and friends for the rest of Paul’s life. Aquila and Priscilla had recently fled from Rome, as Emperor Claudius had demanded all Jews leave Rome or be killed. It was one of the initial waves of persecution against the Jews – and then Christians – which the Roman empire became known for until the time of Constantine over 300 years later.
We get insight into Paul’s lifestyle at Corinth. Not only does he find Aquila and Priscilla to be good and faithful friends, he also finds them to be good fellow workers. They were tent-makers, and so it seems was Paul. They began to work together, and you can be sure Aquila and Priscilla learned much of Christ from their days spent working alongside Paul. (Workplace ministry is some of the best ministry!)
(Later in this same chapter, we see Aquila and Priscilla taking the great orator Apollos under their wing and more fully informing him of the Christ they learned from Paul. Wonderful stuff.)
What we have known of Paul before is he was a brilliant practicing lawyer, a legal expert in Jewish law, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a man capable of intellectual greatness. How fascinating now to see him take up such a common form of work to support his needs while living at Corinth. Paul’s life exemplifies his humility in ministry. No one is beneath his dignity, and he is more than willing to work hard with his hands to support his life in ministry – as well as his using his work to DO ministry for Christ.