From Ephesus to Corinth

Below, overall map of this leg of Paul's third missionary journey

Map of journey from Epesus to Corinth

About 56 AD -  Paul took leave of the believers in Ephesus and set out for Macedonia and Achaia (Greece), intending to make yet another visit to Corinth. Acts is very brief in describing this part of his journey:

"He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece."

Rather than sail directly from Ephesus to Corinth, Paul probably took the land route northward to preach at the important city of Alexandria Troas, where, on his second missionary journey, a vision urged him to take the gospel to Macedonia. Possibly at this time or earlier a church was started in Troas, because later in this journey, he returned and spoke at length to the believers there before heading for Jerusalem.

Below, ruins of the harbor at Alexandria Troas

Alexandrea Troas harbor

Paul seems to have made a prior arrangement to meet Titus in Troas with a report from Corinth on the effectiveness of a “severe letter” sent from Ephesus:

"For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you." (2 Corinthians 2:1-4)

While anxiously waiting for Titus, Paul took the opportunity to preach in Alexandria Troas. When Titus didn’t arrive as planned, Paul set sail (as on his second journey) for Macedonia, retracing a major leg of his second missionary journey. From Neapolis he followed the Via Egnatia through Philippi to Thessaloniki. 

Little is known of Paul’s activities on this leg of his journey. It was also during this time that he heard of another famine in Palestine. Again, the church in Jerusalem needed help. Everywhere he stopped, he took up a collection for the needy Christians in Judea.

Somewhere in Macedonia ― Philippi or Thessaloniki or elsewhere ― Paul found Titus, who informed him that the “severe letter” had brought the desired results. A relieved Paul sent another letter to Corinth (2 Corinthians), urging them to prepare for his impending visit and addressed the infiltration of the Corinthian church by false teachers who challenged Paul’s integrity and authority as an apostle.

From Thessaloniki he seems to have continued on the Via Egnatia to its western terminus at Dyrrachium in llyricum (also called Dalmatia; modern Albania) on the Adriatic Sea (reference in Romans 15:19; nothing recorded in Acts):

"By the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ."

From Illyricum Paul revisited the small congregation at Berea, then passed through Athens to Corinth, his ultimate goal.

This, his 'sorrowful' visit to Corinth, would be his third and he stayed three months, during the winter of 57-58 AD, when ships did not regularly sail the Mediterranean.

Below, remains of the Temple of Apollo, with the Acrocorinth beyond

 Acrocorinth and Apollo temple at corinth


Paul probably wrote his letter to the Romans at this time and it also gave him a chance to see first hand if the problems — the sexual laxity, the divisions among the Christians (some of whom said they were for Apollos, some for Cephas  (Peter), some for Paul, some for Christ — addressed in two letters (later called 1st and 2nd Corinthians) had been resolved.

Finally, the shipping lanes reopened and it was time to head back to Jerusalem with the famine relief aid, by now a considerable sum. A sea voyage would have been quicker, but Paul learned of a plot by the Jews to kill him. Corinth's eastern port of Cenchrea was a good place for his enemies to detect him as he boarded a ship; the money he was carrying was n a temptation for theft as well. Instead, he decided to retrace his steps back through Macedonia.

Journey from Corinth to Assos