Paul and Corinth: The Chronology

1. During his second missional journey, Paul arrives in Corinth about 51 A.D and stays with Aquila and Priscilla. He is in the city for 18 months and establishes the church there (Acts 18: 1-28; I Cor. 3:10 & 4:15). Paul leaves Corinth and settles in Ephesus (Acts 18:18).

2. Some months later, Paul acts on information he receives and writes to the Corinthians to warn them of immoral associations (I Cor. 5:1). This initial letter, which has not survived, is often called “the previous letter” (I Cor. 5:9).

3. Several years later, Chloe and others from Corinth visit Ephesus (I Cor. 1:11) where Paul lives for three years during his third missional journey. They provide him with an oral report regarding divisiveness, immorality, and other issues within the church at Corinth. Some members have even challenged Paul’s authority. A letter is later sent from the church at Corinth to Paul seeking his guidance regarding worship and interpersonal relationships.

4. Upon receiving both the oral and written reports, Paul sends Timothy to Corinth (4:17) to remind them to adhere to the truths they have already received. Paul then begins to write the letter known as First Corinthians toward the end of his three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31 & I Cor. 16:8).

5. Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus arrive in Ephesus asking Paul for solutions to the problems in Corinth. The apostle answers these questions in the latter part of First Corinthians (16:17). When this letter is complete, he sends it back to Corinth with Titus (II Cor. 7:13).

6. Paul receives additional bad news regarding the church in Corinth, either from Timothy or someone else. He pays them a brief personal visit then returns to Ephesus (II Cor. 12:14 & 13:1). 

7. Hoping to further resolve their problems, Paul writes another letter to Corinth, which he deems “severe.” It is no longer extant. (II Cor. 2:4 & 7:8).

8. Shortly after Paul dispatches this “severe letter”, and after the uproar at the theatre in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-20:1), he departs for Macedonia. There Titus arrives with good news regarding the effects of First Corinthians upon the congregation. The church at Corinth has recognized Paul’s authority regarding disciplinary matters (II Cor. 2:6).

9. After receiving this report while in Macedonia, Paul writes a fourth letter to them which is delivered by Titus. This letter is known as Second Corinthians, in which Paul defends his apostolic authority, and vindicates his calling, his character and his conduct.

10. Paul soon revisits Corinth and stays three months (Acts 20:3). It is possible Paul makes a fourth and last visit to Corinth at some point between 63 and 65 AD before his final arrest and martyrdom.

Maxim of the Moment

God will bless the man who blesses his wife.