Skip to main content

The Erastus Inscription... What does it mean?

When I rented a motorcycle and drove to Corinth from Athens, I had no idea how easy it was to get lost in the city of Athens. The fact that driving in Athens is a complete nightmare aside, the people I rented the motorcycle from told me the day before I was going to rent the motorcycle that I would definitely have a GPS unit on the bike. When I arrived to pick it up, they said they didn’t have any more GPS units available.
Lucky me.
So, having burned the image of the country of Greece into my mind before traveling there, I figured my graciously enduring wife and I could make it to Corinth with moderate ease.

Here is the tiny rented motorcycle with 88,000 miles on it.
Corinth is located west of the great city of Athens exactly 86.8 kilometers (53.9 miles). Knowing this from the map in my head, I figured I would use the sun to get there. If I found a main highway I would keep the sun in the left of my scope of vision (because it was close to noon), and I would be driving west, toward Corinth. Once I kept seeing signs that said “To Corinth,” I knew the worst was behind me… for that part of the journey at least (On the way back to our home in Athens, we didn’t have the sun anymore, which knowing the right highway was helpful, but once you’re in the city without GPS again, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack). In any event, I was thankful to God for a beautiful, sunny day on the way to Corinth (and that we safely made it back home).
After getting off the motorcycle and stretching, I eventually found and went to the information booth where there were pamphlets available in all sorts of different languages. I asked the lady in the booth, in English, where the Erastus Inscription was located, and although she spoke perfect English, she had no clue what I was talking about.
The Erastus Inscription is an ancient inscription found on the pavement among a bunch of ruins about one minute’s walk due north from the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth. I found it after doing some hunting, because clues to its precise location is not easy to find. We were the only people among the ruins in this area, possibly because tour guides do not know what is there so they just point to “some more old ruins” for the tour groups.

The lonely ruins near the Erastus Inscription.

They are missing out. The Erastus Inscription is highly significant. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, during his second missionary journey, came from Athens to Corinth and stayed there for at least a year and a half (see Acts 18:11 and 18:18). One benefit to Paul staying in Corinth was that people would come to Corinth from other distant parts of the ancient world. To avoid going the whole way around the country (for instance, from Venice to Athens) in a sailboat, where dangerous winds and rocks would destroy the boat, the sailors would travel over the thinnest part of land in Corinth, called the isthmus, moving the entire ancient vessel via the Diolkos, which was almost like a railway, to the opposite sea port (where the Corinthian Canal exists today). Thus, they would avoid what could be days’ worth of sailing, and possible death.

The Erastus Inscription with Acrocorinth in the background.
With people from all over the ancient world traveling through here, in order to save time, money and lives, Paul must have seen this as a great strategy for getting the gospel to the gentile world. In any event, his stay in Corinth would eventually cause him to meet some of the locals. One of the locals was a man named Erastus, who was clearly “the city’s director of public works” during the first century A.D. (See NIV Romans 16:23). Erastus apparently wanted to be voted into this position, and made pledges during an election to pave the area in between the nearby plaza and the theater (Garland). After being voted in, he wanted to make it obvious that he keeps his promises, so he had an inscription engraved in the stone slab that was laid at the edge of the pavement. It reads in Latin:


The ancient inscription means in English, “Erastus laid this pavement at his own expense, in appreciation of his appointment as aedile.” Since the Corinthians embraced the Roman customs, this was probably the reason it was written in Latin rather than Greek. Also, oikonomos is the Greek equivalent that Paul used in Romans 16:23 to describe Erastus of the Latin aedilis, both meaning the same thing, which is basically the maintainer of public buildings in the city.
There are other mentions of Erastus as well. One can be found in 2 Timothy 4:20, where Paul is telling Timothy that when he left Corinth, Erastus stayed there in Corinth, which makes sense, because of the occupation of Erastus. He needed to stay there if he wanted to keep his job. Also, in Acts 19:22, the author of Acts, Luke, explains that Paul sent Erastus with Timothy to Macedonia, which gives the reason why Paul felt the need to explain to Timothy where Erastus was.

The Erastus Inscription

In sum, Paul was in Corinth with Erastus, writing to the Romans. The significance of this lies in the fact that there is a stone slab in Corinth with Erastus’ name on it, giving strength to the argument that the New Testament writers have proven themselves to be historically reliable, not only for the books that Paul wrote, but also the books that Luke wrote, since he clearly records Paul's journeys accurately. The New Testament mentions the maintainer of public buildings, Erastus, from Corinth, and in the ancient ruins of Corinth, we find today, the stone slab dated uncontested to the first century, with his name and occupation on it.

The upper left star is the location of the Erastus Inscription, The bottom left is the museum, the bottom right is the Bema, the judgment seat, where Paul was judged by Gallio in Acts 18:12-17. The top right star is a good place to park, if you rent a car or motorcycle from Athens. Just make sure you have GPS.

Feel free to reply or ask questions to this post, or on the A&E facebook page.

Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus

© Nace Howell, 2022

Garland, David E. 1 Corinthians: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2003) 11.


Popular posts from this blog

Joseph Smith had the same Demon that influenced Muhammad

What does Islam have in common with Mormonism? Seriously, the similarities are uncanny. Like human beings, demons are creatures of habit . The Bible does not tell us much about them, but from what it does tell us, we can learn a lot. Jesus reveals to us some things about their behavior: When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first… [1]   Jesus clearly knows that demons have typical behaviors. He has seen it many times before. He lets us know that a typical behavior for a demon is that home is where the heart is . When your house crumbles to the ground, you move to a new one. Likewise, when a person dies, the demon is f

Sharper than Any Two-Edged Sword: The Integrity of the Bible is Second to None

The Bible, in comparison to other religious texts specifically, is the absolute truth. People sometimes assume that the Bible cannot be true because there are so many other options of biblical interpretation as well as so many other options of religions that claim to have sacred texts. With such availability, one often assumes that we cannot possibly know which religion is true, if any at all. The arguments in this article will discuss some of the issues directly concerning the veracity of the Bible in comparison to other supposed, sacred or holy writings, and will establish the idea that the qualities of one sacred text does not necessarily mean that the next sacred text in line has those same qualities. Finally, there will be a discussion on truth, discerning the idea of relevance, and a brief ethical discussion of whether or not it is morally correct to explore the truth claims of other religions. Ultimately, this article as a whole will seek to answer the question, “How can the Bib

“I don’t have a religion, I have a relationship.”

Many people make this claim, but why do so many run from the label of religion? To define religious and religion is not an easy task, because there isn’t really a consensus on what precisely, a religion is. Why is there something rather than nothing? Because something transcends us. A practical understanding of when one is called “religious,” is that it means that this person is devoted to their beliefs about that which transcends them . [1] So also, a religion is a system of practices that reflect belief and understanding of one’s worldview; specifically, this system focuses on the relationship between the human element and the spiritual element. It seems that the word religion is being understood as an insult in today’s language. This probably comes from newer generations coming up through the works and seeing the problems that religions of the world create and do not want to have any association with something that places their relationship with Jesus in the sa

What is a Cult?

There are many ways to answer this question, because there are many facets to the question itself. Often when we hear the word,  cult , we think of something bad, or downright evil, based on our own experiences which possibly came about through watching the Children of the Corn [1]  or something to that nature.  Sociologically speaking, a cult is “a religious or semi-religious sect or group whose members are often controlled or dominated almost entirely by a single individual or organization.” [2]  This lens of understanding is different than a theological perspective, or even an anthropological perspective.  Anthropologically speaking, a cult is any religious belief system that has its origins in another established religious belief system. If you picture an upside-down tree, for instance, the trunk of the tree is the lineage of a religion through time, and the branches that stem off of that trunk are the cults of such a religion. From this perspective,  Mormonism  is a  Christian cul

All Bark and No Bite: A Book Critique of Dan Barkers, "godless"

As I read through Dan Barker’s book, “ godless ,” I became more and more heartbroken as the pages turned. Barker explains that he was, at the early age of fifteen, on fire for God. In chapter one, he recalls that he came from a Pentecostal background and admits that at a revival meeting he attended was “spirit-filled… intense, bursting with rousing music and emotional sermons.” [1]  It seems that right off the bat, that his experience was only based on emotion. This is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. Jesus said,  Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and be

Tibetan Buddhism and the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

In the Flathead Indian Reservation located in the Rocky Mountains in Montana, in the middle of a considerable amount of farm land, lies a Buddhist sanctuary, known as The Garden of a Thousand Buddhas. The Buddha Garden represents the three vehicles of Buddhism: Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. The Garden is Tibetan in culture, and is owned by Ewam International: Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, which is basically a franchise of Buddhist Dharma centers scattered throughout the world, but are primarily found in the United States and Asia. The Garden takes around either twenty minutes or forty minutes to walk around the entire Garden, depending on which path through the Garden one desires to take. Buddhism, across the board, holds to what is known as the four noble truths, which are: first, the idea that suffering exists; second, that we suffer because we are attached; third, the way to stop suffering is to release the attachment to things; and finally, we release the attachment by f

What is Classical Apologetics?

You may have heard of the phrase,   Classical Apologetics , from studying under people such as, William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Norman Geisler, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, B.B. Warfield, and others, and perhaps you wondered what it means.   Classical Apologetics is one method of doing apologetics… I personally like to think that it is classical for a reason. Some other methods of doing apologetics are first,  Presuppositionalism , which is that a person presupposes that God exists, and that the reason that a person does not believe in God is because he does not believe the Bible is the word of God. The issue is that from an unbeliever’s perspective, this is circular reasoning. It emphasizes revelation as opposed to reason.  Another method of apologetics is  Evidentialism , which is essentially to follow the evidence where it leads and using this evidence to support Christian claims. Sometimes people refer to it as being a subtype as Classical Apologetics, essentially being the second s

Identifying Self-Refuting Statements

Aside from sin, post-modernity is likely the most prominent disease in the human mind today ( Some   might even argue that Post-modernism is sin). Post-modernism is, in a nutshell, the idea that everyone has his or her own truth. It is found in many   cultures and worldviews , including tribal, new age, atheist, eastern religions,   Baha’i , and such, but is also found in   individuals’ thinking   in discussions regarding subjects like abortion (e. g. Roe v. Wade), Homosexuality, religion, politics and just about every other area of life. Learning how to detect them in conversations will help you and your conversation partner get to the truth.     A Self-Refuting Statement is a truth-claim that does not sustain its own weight; It fails to meet its own standard.    A Few Simple Examples to Start :   “ I cannot speak a single word in English .” This is simply a test for you to see the error in such a statement. How does this statement fail under its own weight? For one thing, If someone

Using Apologetics and Hermeneutics to Bridge the Gaps of Culture

If every culture is, in and of itself, salvifically hopeless, then one’s hope in Tribal culture, Asian culture, American culture, Viking culture, or any culture, is hopeless. Culture cannot save us.       1.       All cultures in and of themselves are salvifically hopeless.        2.       There are people who place the fullness of their identity in their culture       3.       Therefore, those people who place the fullness of their identity in their culture are salvifically hopeless.  Because a culture can completely change from what it began as, it can therefore not be timeless (given enough time, change in a culture is inevitable). If something is removed from that culture, or added to it, it is a different culture altogether, much like the Ship of Theseus. Winfried Corduan writes,  By the term  diffusion , I mean the distribution of cultural items apart from people changing their place of residence, e.g., by trade or imitation… On a more serious side, we see the global spread of ce

Does God Hate Certain Persons? Is there Any Truth to “Love the Sinner, but Hate the Sin?”

In an article from July 30, 2013 (I know, it’s old… ), John Piper teaches that God hates certain people. The problem with this is that there are  inconsistencies  in the mind of the person (usually a Calvinist) who believes this, and even Piper in the article recognizes the inconsistency but tries to pass it off as a paradox. “He hates — now here is the paradox — and he loves at the same time.” [1]  The problem is that it is not a paradox, but simply a contradiction.   Let’s look at some different texts from where the belief that God hates certain persons likely came…    Psalm 5  Give ear to my words, O Lord;     consider my groaning. 2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,     my King and my God,     for to you do I pray. 3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;     in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch. 4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;     evil may not dwell with