“They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila” (Acts 18:19).
In our last visit we began to see a new strategy develop in the mind and heart of Paul. He had seen churches grow and flourish in rural areas and moderately sized cities. Now he was in Corinth, the largest city of Eastern Europe. If the church could become strong in this city with its many challenging demands and dangers it could be a catalyst to reach the surrounding region. This was a great idea, but would time prove it strategically valid?
He went on to implement the same strategy in the city of Ephesus.
The competing cultural forces in the city of Corinth seemed to infiltrate the church in a relatively short period of time after Paul left. This is evidenced by the problems Paul addressed in his first letter to the church there: petty divisions, sexual compromise, taking disputes to secular courts, lack of love for one another especially during love feasts, pride in using spiritual gifts, and even questions about main points of the faith, such as the promise of resurrection and eternal bliss.
Wanting to reach their own culture with the message of freedom through the Gospel they tended to “dumb-down” the clear message to make it more palatable to the community’s lifestyle. In doing this they began letting the cultural norms become the basis for their own behavior. In the case of someone committing incest they allowed uncritically what even the pagans frowned on. Such behavior led to questioning even basic beliefs, like the resurrection.
In his letter Paul worked hard at correcting these corrupting influences and to restore the redemptive mission of the church.
Beware, to not “dumb down” the Gospel in an effort to reach more people.