The ideal of the Corinthian was the reckless development of the individual. The merchant who made his gain by all and every means, the man of pleasure surrendering himself to every lust, the athlete steeled to every bodily exercise and proud in his physical strength, are the true Corinthian types: in a word the man who recognized no superior and no law but his own desires.*
Corinth was known as:
• A major port city
• A wealthy city
• A sexually immoral city (prostitutes were welcomed and honoured at civic functions)
• A place of ruthless business dealings
• A place focussed on the development of the individual
• An athletic city – they hosted the Isthmian Games in both the year before and the year after the Olympic Games and their patron goddess was the goddess with “buns of steel” (she was known as Aphrodite of the Beautiful Buttocks).
• A rebellious place – their first law was to pursue their own happiness; other laws were just good suggestions.
I thought how much the ancient Corinthians and modern Vancouverites had in common.
1 Corinthians 7:30-32 says,
Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God's work. Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away. In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life.
God inspired these words and is reminding us even today that our first concerns must not be about ourselves, our wealth, whether we should or should not marry, or sadness or happiness. Our first concern must always be about doing God’s work. It’s not about me.
*R. St John Parry, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Cambridge University Press, 1926; The Cambridge Greek Testament). As quoted in Leon Morris, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Intervarsity Press, 1985), 19.