THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH - VOLUME 1 : by Philip Carrington, Archbishop of Quebec. Published by the syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1957. Katapi edition by Paul Ingram, 2013.


| HOME | |< | << | Map3: The new Pauline missions A.D.49-50. | The disagreement over Mark | Silas and Timothy | The new Pauline mission, A.D. 49 | The journals of Luke | Paul in Macedonia | The church in Thessalonica | Questions from Thessalonica | The catechism of holy love | Athens | Corinth | The Corinthian church | Gallio, A.D. 52 | >> |

|110 Map 3: THE NEW PAULINE MISSIONS, A.D. 49 – 50.

|111 NOTES ON MAP 3:

The right-hand bottom corner shows the base from which the new Pauline mission went out; it was Antioch with its expansion into Cyprus and Cilicia, and through either of these into the Galatian cities of Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Barnabas takes Mark and goes to Cyprus, which Paul thereby abandons. He takes Silas and goes overland to the Galatian cities, where he picks up Timothy.

He finds himself on the great highway from east to west. He is forbidden to go on to Ephesus, or to turn north into Bithynia, which is thus abandoned to other evangelists. He comes out at Troas to the north-west. He finds Luke. He breaks out of the oriental area into the true Hellenic world: Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth. At Corinth he founded a new base for evangelization. He was joined by Christians from Rome, Priscilla and Aquila, who were fugitives like himself.

Relations between Rome and Corinth were very close; the coming of Aquila and Priscilla from Rome to Corinth; Paul writing his Epistle from Corinth to Rome; Hebrews in some way linking the two cities; Clement writing an Epistle from Rome to Corinth; Soter and Dionysius exchanging letters in the next century.

The western expansion is in sight now.


Immediately after the Jerusalem council, Paul and Barnabas resolved to visit their churches in Galatia and deliver the decisions of the council; but a serious difference of opinion ended in their parting company. It concerned Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, who had been their assistant when they left Antioch on their first mission, but had parted from them at Perga of Pamphylia and returned to Jerusalem. Paul felt that he could not accept his services, and so the two cousins went off to Cyprus where they had family connexions, leaving the Galatian field open to Paul. It was approached through Cilicia, where he had family connexions.

Luke is now approaching the point at which he has immediate personal knowledge; and when we consider how careful he has been to pass over disagreements among the Christian leaders, we find it hard to understand why he allows this one to come to the surface. He does not conceal the fact that Paul was not satisfied with Mark, and we know from our reading of Galatians that he had not been pleased with Barnabas either. The storms of controversy had not completely subsided. Something occurred which Luke felt could not be entirely omitted even if it did seem to cast a slur on Mark. Why did he feel obliged to mention it at all? Possibly to make it clear that the situation was no worse? There may have been impressions abroad which he thought should be corrected? It is one of the many indications that Acts was written not long after the events with which it deals in its second half.

Barnabas and Mark are not mentioned again in Acts; but Mark came back again into the Pauline orbit about ten years later. When |109 Acts was written, he was a well-known figure in the church. Some reference to him would be required, but fuller explanations were not necessary.


Paul now adopted Silas (or Silvanus, as he is also called) as his colleague in the ministry of the gospel. He was one of the Jerusalem prophets who had stood by him in the great controversy, and was mentioned in the conciliar letter. He was an influential man about whom we would like to know more. We find him later on collaborating with Peter.

They began by visiting Cilicia. Paul had been born in Tarsus of Cilicia, and had preached the gospel there before taking up work at Antioch. This is another point about which we would like to know more.

Cilicia was a base from which he could reach his Galatian churches. The great arterial highway ran west from Tarsus, through a narrow defile in the Taurus Mountains, and on into the highlands of Asia Minor. Persian armies had marched westward along this road earlier in history to attack the Greek city-states. Greek armies had marched eastward to humble the Persian power. Roman armies had followed in their train. It was the historic communication overland between East and West, by which oriental commerce and oriental religion made their way to Rome. It now became the life-line of the Christian gospel in its western expansion.

Paul and Silas took this road and made a visitation of the Galatian churches. In Lystra, where Paul and Barnabas had been taken for gods and Paul had nearly met his end, they found a young man who was willing to accompany them in the place of Mark. This was Timothy. He was a studious young man and the offspring of a mixed marriage. His father was a Greek, but his mother Lois and his grandmother Eunice were devout Jewesses who had embraced the gospel. He had studied the 'sacred letters' of the Jewish faith, that is to say the Old Testament literature, but he had not yet been circumcised. Paul agreed lo his being circumcised, it says in Acts, 'because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek'. Critics have detected an inconsistency here, and not without reason; for Paul and Silas were promulgating the decision of the apostles and elders, |112 which dispensed Gentile Christians from such observances. But Timothy was more of a Jew than Gentile, and Paul was surprisingly ready to adapt his policy to circumstances, if it seemed necessary, in order to promote the gospel. He found it hard to defend this apparent inconsistency. 'To the Jews I became a Jew', he wrote later on to the Corinthians, 'in order to win the Jews.... I became all things to all men in order to save some'; and again' Circumcision is of no force, and neither is uncircumcision, but a new creation.' It was probably necessary to him at this stage that his staff should be in good standing as Jews, but his action is surprising, and Luke feels that it requires an explanation.


From the East-Phrygian part of Galatia, Paul and his companions passed into western Phrygia. The main road led westward into the province of' Asia', terminating at the great sea-coast city of Ephesus, which was the natural objective; but as they were passing south of Mysia, a mountainous region in western Phrygia, they were ' prevented by the Spirit' from continuing any further in that direction, or from turning northward into Bithynia. ' The Spirit of Jesus would not allow them.' These promptings of the Spirit were the most real thing in their lives, and they could not disregard them. They continued their journey in a north-westerly direction, and came out at Troas on the Aegean Sea near the Bosphorus. There a positive indication was given to them. Paul had the famous dream in which he saw a man of Macedonia, who said, ' Come over into Macedonia and help us.'

'Immediately', we read in Acts, 'we sought entrance into Macedonia.' We are reading now the introductory material to the second part of Acts, which is very different in tone and texture from the first part. Its scene is laid in the cities of the Aegean Sea, and above all in Ephesus. Its hero is Paul, whom it ultimately takes to Rome. It bids farewell to Barnabas and Mark; it introduces Silas, or Silvanus as he was called in the west; it introduces Timothy and Luke. Three of these men appear together with Paul in Rome ten years later, and send affectionate messages to the churches of western Phrygia, the very region where Paul is now prevented from preaching. Two of them appear in Rome with Peter in the Epistle which he addressed to Christians in Asia Minor. It would seem that a local interest is being served in these introductory |113 passages, which answer such questions as these: Why did Paul pass by Phrygia? Why did he not strike northward into Bithynia? Above all, why did he not press onward into Asia, and set up his headquarters in Ephesus, thus saving valuable years, during which others were at work there?

The city of Ephesus plays the same part in the second half of Acts as that of Caesarea plays in the first half; and the author has it in mind from the beginning of his narrative; but it was not in the purpose of God, he intimates, that Paul should have gone there at once. He was led onward by the Spirit to Troas, and so into Macedonia and Achaia.


The use of the word 'we' in the text of the Acts at this stage indicates that we are reading a portion of a journal or report, written by a travel-companion of Paul. This document was the work of Luke himself, who now appears for the first time. Luke and Timothy were destined to become Paul's closest friends and remained faithful to him to the end. Luke is the 'beloved physician' and Timothy is the 'true child', his own son, not only in the evangelistic ministry, but also in his love and affection. A new chapter in his life is opening up. Six or seven years of ceaseless labour were to follow, in which he would build up a circle of churches round the Aegean Sea and work out his mature philosophy of evangelism and church-building.

The word 'we' appears in the narrative as far as Philippi. It does not occur again until the journey to Jerusalem six years later.


We inferred from a close study of the documents that the apostles had run into persecution during their mission to Galatia, because the gospel had been construed by the authorities as a political movement. This impression is confirmed by the records of the evangelization of Macedonia; persecution, political conflict and apocalyptic vision appear in close connexion with one another. These topics are handled with considerable restraint by the author of the Acts; he is anxious to show that the gospel was not a political movement, and that the civil authorities did not accept this description of it.

|114 The apostles found themselves on much more foreign soil when they landed in Philippi. The northern part of Greece, which was called Macedonia, was the birthplace of Alexander the Great, but it was regarded as 'barbarian' by some Athenian intellectuals. Philippi, which was named after Alexander's father, was now a 'colony', that is to say a Roman military settlement, governed by Roman magistrates on Roman lines. There were not many Jews there. The apostles found a 'house of prayer' by the side of the river, where a few Jewish ladies, or ladies interested in Judaism, welcomed them. Amongst these was a successful business-woman named Lydia, whose house became the headquarters of the church. Paul and Timothy wrote a letter to the Philippians ten years later which mentions some of the women who were prominent in these early days. These and other facts dispel the legend that Paul had some antipathy to women; he had friends among women, and knew how to make use of their gifts in church work.

There was a dispute with a local pagan priesthood over a prophesying girl, and Paul and Silas were dragged before the magistrates, beaten and imprisoned. The charge made against them was political. They were teaching customs which it was not lawful for Romans to accept. A curious point now emerges; both the apostles possessed the Roman citizenship, which should have made them immune from such summary treatment. The magistrates are said to have admitted their error, but the apostles left the town, taking Timothy with them. Luke, apparently, was left behind.

They preached in the synagogue at Thessalonica for three months, with the usual results. The Jews incited the mob to bring pressure on the authorities. The charge this time was that they were defying the laws of the emperor, and proclaiming a new king, whose name was Jesus: 'The men who are upsetting the world have come here', they said. Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, and Rome; and now Macedonia; it looked like a world-wide conspiracy.

The mob attacked the house of Jason, where the apostles had made their headquarters; but they were not to be found. They made good their escape to Berea, where the local Jews treated them with respect, and took their appeals to scripture seriously; but Thessalonian Jews followed them up, and it was thought wise to get Paul out of the way. He was shipped off to Athens by himself, where Timothy paid him a |115 visit to keep him in touch with developments. « There are minor discrepancies between Acts and the Thessalonian Epistles with regard to the movements of Silas and Timothy. From Athens he went to Corinth, where Silas and Timothy rejoined him. It was from Corinth that they wrote the Epistles to the Thessalonians.


These Epistles shed a bright light upon the inner life of the new-born church, which had gone through persecution after the departure of the apostles such as the Judaean churches had suffered from their compatriots. They had been warned that it would be so.

The conversion of the Thessalonians is described in a brief but pregnant phrase; they had turned from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he had raised from the dead, even Jesus who saves us from the wrath to come. It is a fully apocalyptic credo, very different in tone from the spiritual fervour of the Epistle to the Galatians; but it was a theology for a time of persecution; and it must be remembered that Silas, the Jerusalem prophet, was a co-author of these Epistles, which contain pieces of apocalypse which seem to have originated in the first flush of the prophetic movement, some ten years earlier, in the time of Caligula. These prophetic utterances had been delivered to the Thessalonians during their period of evangelization.

The apocalyptic passages in the New Testament are such things as dreams are made on; they are great hymns sung or chanted in the heat of the moment; they are brilliant pictures painted in passionate words. The glowing faith in Jesus as God's Son projected itself into a future, when his glory would become manifest to all. The prophet used old literary material for his purposes; he introduced the trumpets and cloud and fire of Mount Sinai, because these were part of his native speech; he spoke of angels because he was familiar with angels; and he wove such concepts with absolute creative freedom into his vision of things to come. It would be stupid to take such a vision as a matter-of-fact prediction of future events. Prophets seldom predict. They imagine, they interpret, they bless, and they curse; they have hopes and dreams; and their visions of the future are their own heart's desire in the form of a dream.

When an artist designs a stained-glass window, he fills it with angelic |116 forms, and golden rays of light, and shining vestments and crowns and trumpets, because these are the language of his art; they have value for him because they express his ideas; ideas of such daring and beauty that ordinary words cannot do them justice. The hymn-writers do exactly the same. The congregation gazes at the window, and sings the hymns, and is lifted up into another world. Rather in this way the gospel brought with it an accompaniment of apocalyptic which was actually a kind of poetry or art. It expressed non-dogmatically a sublime hope about the future. It was not intellectually fixed, or nailed down to one interpretation or another. It was in a fluid state. Each prophet or singer could use it for his own purposes, and remould it nearer to his heart's desire.

These inspired poems of the first Christians expressed two deep convictions; their total faith in God Almighty through Christ, and their unconquerable hope of the immediate victory of the Christ and his saints. This indeed is what the words faith and hope meant to them. It is important to realize that these convictions were not eschatological in the sense in which the word is often used. They did not imply a violent ' end of the world', including a universal resurrection, a final judgement on all souls and eternal destinies in heaven or hell. These apocalypses were quite separate from all that. It is precisely because they were non-eschatological (in this sense) that intellectual difficulties arose. Everything in them was at close range; it was visualized as taking place within this present world-order, and within the life-time of the present generation.

The advent of the Son of God in the immediate future was the counterpart and balance of his appearance in the immediate past when he was crucified and raised from the dead. The display of glory in the advent balanced the display of glory in the Resurrection; each conception irradiated the other. Without the gospel of the Resurrection, there would have been no expectation of the advent.

Here, then, is the other side of the pagan view of Christianity as a political movement which was setting up a new king. It actually did so. The hope of the glorious advent had a local and political setting. Originally it had been the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple of God, and the rule of the high priests, which the Lord would supersede when he came 'on the clouds of heaven with the holy angels'. But the whole framework had been extended since then; it included the Roman empire, and the Roman emperor himself, who had aspired to be worshipped as |117 a god in that same Temple, and so became the rival of the God of heaven and his Messiah.

There are two ways, of course, in which this kind of language could be taken. It could be a pageant or poem, symbolizing a spiritual victory of the gospel in history, which is how the author of the Revelation took it; or it could be a physical bodily appearance of the Lord in the sky for all to see. This is the way it seems to be taken in the Thessalonian Epistles. Doubtless the prophet who composed these visions felt free to clothe them in such symbols of glory as appealed to the imagination of the time, without expecting to have them taken literally; but the heart of it was the actual return of Jesus himself to his saints as their Saviour in the evil day.


The limited nature of this conception of the advent is proved by the questions which came in from Thessalonica. It was so far from being a form of eschatology that the question of the resurrection of the dead had not yet been related to it at all; and even now this question was only raised in a special form. Nor was it a theological question, it was a personal one. It had to do with the case of Christians who died before the advent. It was a serious question, and it was not settled all at once.

Silas, if it is he, answers in the idiom of apocalypse; those who died in Jesus had not lost their right to share in the advent glory; they would rise again. He boldly welds his answer into the apocalyptic vision. The trumpet is blown; the Lord descends; and they will rise from the dead. They are to rise first; then 'we who are alive' will be taken up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be for ever with the Lord. The advent of the Lord will solve all problems. There is a mixture of what we would regard as inconsistent values, the literal and the mystical, the fleshly and the spiritual, the advent vision and the resurrection hope. It is only the language of vision that holds together these contrasting elements in a unity which is fundamentally pictorial; it only satisfies the soul so long as it remains on the pedestal of vision; but it has proved an embarrassment to the more rationalistic mind which tries to operate the dream as if it were a dogma. Even as early as I Corinthians, we find an attempt to explain it or advance beyond it.

The second difficulty was also occasioned by the |118 intensity of the expectation, which had created so much excitement that some of the brethren had been encouraged to abandon their daily occupation. Such men lived on the bounty of the ecclesia, and passed no doubt as spirituals. One answer is that if they will not work, they ought not to eat; but the apostles go on to say that the advent is not coming so soon as they suppose; nor has 'the day' broken upon them already, as some assert. Some warnings had already been given on this point. There was to be a general 'apostasy' or falling away from the faith, and this would come first; and then follows the passage about the 'man of lawlessness, the son of perdition', in whom we recognized the lineaments of Caligula. The language of vision, therefore, is capable of coming to terms with history, and perhaps it is not until it comes to terms with history that Christian apocalypse can be rightly understood; and conversely it is not until we understand Christian apocalypse that we will be able to understand the early Christian view of history.

It is apparent that the language of apocalypse is not really suitable for every purpose, except perhaps in the hands of such a master as the author of the Revelation, but we are on grounds now where it is clear and strong. The' energy of Satan', that is to say the power of evil which had possessed the mad emperor Caligula, with his claim to be the god of this world, was at work. It was being restrained, it is true, under the providence of God; but a further outbreak must be looked for, 'with powers and signs and lying wonders', only to be destroyed by the Lord Jesus 'with the breath of his mouth'. In other words, the prophet correctly saw that the conflict with the empire was not over. It would be renewed in a more desperate form, and its next phase would be a contest between the divine claims of the emperor and the divine claims of the Messiah.

The apocalyptic vision is the reflexion in the Christian mind of the conflict between Christ and Caesar which appears in the Acts of the Apostles on the historical level.


It is a relief to turn to the forms of exhortation or instruction which were delivered to the converts, apparently in connexion with their baptism. They open with the word 'consecration' or hallowing, an idea which was connected with the reception of the Holy Spirit at baptism. |119 The first point in the catechism is the consecration of the body by abstaining from 'fornication', an echo of the epistle of the Jerusalem council. The brethren must learn to live faithfully together in holy matrimony. The second is the love of the brethren; for the doctrine of Christian love was based on the idea of the one Spirit sanctifying the ecclesia and uniting the saints in one body: a divine presence as real as the advent itself.

The catechism is related to the Jerusalem decree, and therefore to the Levitical Law of Holiness on which the decree is based; and especially to the magnificent nineteenth chapter of Leviticus, with its continual refrain, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy, the Lord your God'; and its supreme sentence which Jesus himself had commended as fundamental, ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

This ' neo-Levitical' catechism was the inner law and inspiration of a holy community which was separated from the world, and indwelt by God himself as Spirit; a temple of the Lord, consecrated and set apart; a circle of pure light in a dark and evil world; for God had taken his saints out of the 'evil aeon' and translated them into the kingdom of his son. This picture of an ecclesia of the saints is intimately related to the apocalyptic vision. It is the elect community which waits for the Lord.



The cities of the classical Greek culture were situated in southern Italy, southern Greece (Achaia), and the sea-coast of Asia Minor. The most famous of these was Athens, which had led the opposition to Persia in the fifth century before Christ, and had become the head of a great maritime empire. It had led the world in art, science, philosophy, poetry, and political theory, and our modern western civilization is built on these foundations, with an infusion of Christian faith or sentiment. Athens was still a centre of culture and learning, though we cannot be sure that this made any strong appeal to Paul. He was lonely, and grieved over his separation from his Thessalonian converts. Once Timothy came, and told him that they were standing firm under continued persecution; and this gave him comfort.

He walked about the streets, and was vexed by the sight of so many 'idols', by which he meant the masterpieces of Pheidias and Praxiteles and other famous sculptors. He passed by the famous altar of which |120no trace remains now, « There is an actual altar with the inscription Agnostois Theois – ' to unknown gods'. The expression 'unknown' or 'unknowable god' was in use, however. on which were engraved the words Agnosto Theo, (to an) 'unknown god'. He disputed in the synagogue, and took his chance with other exponents of religion and philosophy in the market-place. It appeared to his hearers that he had a few scraps of learning and that he was introducing new deities, Jesus and Anastasis (the Resurrection). His apologia before the world-famed Areopagus was a masterpiece of Jewish apologetic. There is no sign that he was a 'university man', and his acquaintance with Greek philosophy was not very profound. The Stoic commonplaces which he used may all have been current in the Hellenistic synagogue; they represented the kind of monotheism which Seneca was trying to inculcate into Nero in Rome; the one God, the one world, the one purpose; 'we too are his children'; 'in him we live and move and have our being'. Paul opens his address with an ironical compliment on their devotion to many deities and their altar to their unknown God; but he is not satisfied with that vague universal concept of the philosophers, and he is outraged by their bronze and marble images; he resorts suddenly to the Living God of Hebrew revelation, who has appointed a day on which he will judge the world, and a Man by whom he will judge it, even Jesus whom he has raised from the dead. It is a mistake to suppose that Paul attempted to charm the Athenians by means of their own philosophy; he only dallies with it to enhance the high contrast of his own barbarian faith. He comes very close to pure eschatology. The passage seems to imply, though it does not state, that the judgement is imminent.

They laughed at his reference to a resurrection of a dead man; but some were induced to believe. There was a man called Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, the time-honoured court before which Paul had spoken, and there was a woman of importance named Damaris. Once more Luke carefully records the local names. Such information would still be useful or interesting when he wrote.

We receive the impression that Christianity was no very strong plant in the centre of Hellenic culture; yet it would not be very long before the first reasoned statements about the new religion in the Gentile manner would come forth from Athens. Quadratus, Aristides, and Athenagoras promoted the cause of a Christian philosophy; and it was claimed that Dionysius, the convert of Paul, had been their first bishop.

Corinth |121


No reason is given why Paul 'separated himself from Athens (the word is rather a strong one) and chose Corinth as his next city of refuge. It had been destroyed by the Romans two hundred years before, and then refounded on the old site. It had become the largest and wealthiest city in Greece, and was the residence of the Roman proconsul and the seat of the government. It had two harbours, one facing west towards Rome, and the other east towards Ephesus; ships were transported overland from one to the other on rollers. It was strongly Roman in sentiment, and closely in touch with Rome. Business-men from Italy could here mix with traders and sailors from Syria, as well as from the Greek sea-coast and islands. Many deities were worshipped, and in particular the goddess of Love, who had one thousand sacred prostitutes in her service for the pleasure and convenience of the worshippers.

Paul was still lonely and in need; but he met with the greatest of good fortune. Many of the Jews banished by Claudius from Rome must have found refuge in Corinth. Among them was a Jew named Aquila, 'of Pontic race', which may mean « More likely perhaps that he was connected with the ' Pontian' family in Rome, like Pontius Pilate. that his family came from Pontus by the Black Sea. With him was his wife Prisca, or Priscilla. They were tent-makers by trade and were willing to join forces with Paul, for he was a tent-maker too. No doubt they were already Christians, the first Roman Christians of whom we know. On this slender basis Paul established himself and began to 'reason in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded many, both Jews and Greeks'.

It is interesting that the ruins of a Corinthian synagogue of this period have actually been discovered; on the stone lintel of the door were engraved these words in weak and straggling characters: sunagoge ebreon, 'assembly of the Hebrews'. There were few wise, few important, few noble, Paul tells us, among the converts at Corinth. There was no Stoic philosophy either in Paul's preaching. He was resolved to preach the word of the cross in all its simplicity. 'Jesus only and him crucified' was the burden of his message.


Early in his stay at Corinth, Silas and Timothy arrived, and he was able to devote himself more intensely to the Word. He also composed two Epistles to the Thessalonians, about whom he had received the most encouraging reports; or rather the three colleagues composed joint epistles, for we shall take quite literally the wording of the salutation which denominates all three as authors; in particular we shall look for the hand of Silas in the apocalyptic passages and perhaps, too, in the catechetical formulae. They shed brilliant light on the conflicts and exaltations of this hazardous year. Persecution from their Gentile compatriots has been the lot of these infant churches, and they were now suffering exactly as the churches in Judaea had suffered; but the apostles had warned them that it would be so.

According to the statement in the Acts, Paul had won converts in Corinth even before the arrival of Silas and Timothy and the dispatch of the Thessalonian letters. He says in I Corinthians that he personally baptized Crispus and Gaius, and as it was his usual custom to leave this work to others, it is possible that they were baptized in the period before his colleagues arrived. Crispus was the synagogue-ruler of the Jews, and his accession brought others in. The name of Gaius appears a few years later in the Epistle to the Romans: 'He is my host', Paul says, ' and the host of the whole city.' The saints at Corinth felt very much at home in his house.

Paul also baptized Stephanas and his household, and says that they were the 'first fruits of Achaia'; they had by that time undertaken the ministry to the saints. The appointment of 'elders' was mentioned in Acts in connexion with the foundation of the Galatian churches; and Paul mentions men in the Galatian churches who presided and gave instruction in the Word and were entitled to financial support. In writing to the Thessalonians he commends 'those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you'. Obviously all these descriptions refer to the same sort of officers, the 'rulers' or ministers in charge of the local ecclesia; but the word 'first-fruits' requires a special note.

Writing to the Corinthians about forty-five years later, Clement of Rome says that the apostles appointed their 'first-fruits' to be bishops and deacons for the future believers, referring particularly to what had |123 happened at the evangelization of Corinth itself, and therefore, we may infer, to Stephanas among others. It seems a little unnatural to suppose that the first convert, whoever he was, would have a claim on the ministry, or be expected to take it up, as such. The word 'first-fruit' is a sacrificial term from the Hebrew tradition, and visualizes a special portion taken from the first of the harvest to be offered to the Lord. It may simply be that the person or family among the first crop of believers who did so offer himself was spoken of as the first-fruit, and that such a self-offering was looked for. There is Old Testament precedent for the idea; when the Levites were devoted to the Temple service, they were said to have been given to the Lord by Israel as a substitute for the offering of the 'first-born', which was the equivalent of the first-fruit of the harvest in the case of a human family.

It seems to be another example of the continuation in the new Israel of the sacred order of the old Israel, on the new spiritual evangelical level. Both Paul and Clement are conscious of this continuity in the ministerial and liturgical order. Paul defends the right of apostles to be maintained at the expense of the church by referring to the precedent of the priests in the Temple.

This organization occurred of course after the separation from the old synagogue. A church was formed in the house next door, which belonged to a certain Titius Justus. It has been suggested that Gaius and Titius Justus are the same man; for Gaius Titius Justus makes a complete Roman name. Eighteen months of steady work followed. The gospel had struck root. The series of escapes from one city to another now looked like a divine plan which led the apostles to Corinth. The gospel had penetrated deep into Greece, and had formed a new centre of evangelization there, comparable to Caesarea or Antioch.

Gallio Inscription


In the year 51 or 52, a new proconsul arrived in Achaia and took up residence in Corinth; he was Gallio, the charming and cultured brother of the philosopher Seneca. The Jews lost no time in bringing Paul before Gallio, and accused him of 'teaching men to worship God contrary to the Law'; a very different matter from the popular outcry at Thessalonica that he was promoting the claims of a rival emperor. It would appear that the facts of the case were now being seen in better proportion. |124 When Gallio discovered that the law in question was the Law of Moses, and not the decrees of Caesar, he lost interest and drove them away from his tribunal. 'And the Greeks took Sosthenes the synagogue-ruler and beat him before the tribunal; but Gallio took no notice of any of these things.' The statement is a mystery, especially as some texts omit the word ' Greeks', and leave it uncertain who beat the unfortunate Sosthenes. The natural explanation is that some of Gallio's attendants administered a beating to him in the course of driving away the Jews; and this is possible, since the Romans looked with disfavour on ill-founded accusations. But there is a Sosthenes who appears with Paul three years later, when he is writing to the Corinthians; and if this is the same Sosthenes, the word 'synagogue-ruler' may perhaps have been applied to him as an official in the church; though indeed there is no other instance of this on record, churches are called synagogues here and there.

Gallio, it will be noticed, did not distinguish between Jews and Christians; they were all one to him. The Christians would agree with this attitude, and welcome it. It had been the claim of Paul all along that his Gentile converts were to be accepted as Jews. This legal decision from the highest court in the province gave protection of a sort to the Christians, and we hear no more for a while of the charge that they were a seditious organization.
<< | top | >>