As you know Paul stayed in Gaius’s house during his later time in Corinth. Gaius has been very gracious to put us up in his house while we “gem” 1 & 2 Corinthians. It is a magnificent house, large enough for all of us to stay there. He has a large number of servants to care for us. I am sure you will enjoy the stay here. You won’t leave because the accommodation is not to your liking.
Gaius’ house is a villa that was originally a Roman country house built for the upper class during the Roman Empire. It is lavishly decorated with mosaic floors and frescoes. It is sited in the cool hills with a view of the sea above the Gulf of Corinth. While here and preparing for you to come I took a photo with my camera to give you an idea of the view from our lodgings.
This villa of Gaius offers cool lodgings in the heat of summer. The Romans had houses which could be suitable at all seasons. There are a series of porticos along the front, some rising up in porticoed tiers to an altana at the top that would catch a breeze in the evenings. When you want to we can go up there and enjoy the fresh sea breeze. We may have our morning or evening Gems studies up on the roof patio. It is large enough to hold us all. While you are here you will certainly not be too hot even though the temperature during the day is a warm 28 degrees.
I assume we will be here at Gaius’s for a while. It will take a long time to work our way through both 1 and 2 Corinthians. You will not be cold at night or when the temperatures fall. Gaius’ house has a hypocaust which is an ancient Roman system of central heating or under floor heating. The word literally means “heat from below”, from the Greek hypo meaning below or underneath, and kaiein, to burn or light a fire. The floor has been removed to reveal the empty spaces through which the hot air would flow. Spaces were left under the floor and inside the walls so that hot air and smoke from the furnace can pass through these enclosed areas and out of flues in the roof, thereby heating but not polluting the interior rooms. Ceramic box tiles were placed inside the walls to both remove the hot burned air, and also to heat the walls. The rooms requiring the most heat were placed closest to the furnace, so the heat could be increased by adding more wood to the fire. It is labour intensive to run a hypocaust as it requires constant attention to tend the fire, and is expensive to fuel. If you get here before the others you will be able to choose your room according to the temperature you like.
Gaius’ villa features a complex floor mosaic in the entry way, which rises to a high atrium. Just inside the door there is a large earthenware jar with two handles close to the neck and filled with water. This was known in the Jewish and Christian homes as the vessel of honour. Often there was a small drinking vessel there too. The water for that was ladled from the vessel of honour. The vessel of honour held clean water for both the purpose of drinking when guests first arrived, but more importantly to provide the water for washing the feet, its prime purpose.
Gaius’ villa is largely self-supporting with a farm, an olive grove, and vineyards. The Romans prided themselves on the self-sufficiency of their villas, where they drank their own wine and pressed their own oil. An ideal Roman citizen was the independent farmer tilling his own land. Gaius is one of those. He has a large number of staff to take care of the house and run the farm and take care of the olive grove, orchard and vineyard. He grows enough of all the basic foodstuffs to provide for our consumption. You will be treated here to olives with your salads and a range of meat along with the finest wine. Enjoy your stay.
Go now and find your room and settle in. I trust you have had a chance to read 1 and 2 Corinthians through a number of times before you came here. Don’t forget to look for the connections with the book of Acts and watch for the content through the Corinthian letters which show us the nature of Paul’s contact with the Corinthian church. It will help you understand both books. Have fun, see you in the dining room for dinner at 7.00 pm; turn right at the bottom of the stairs, you can’t miss it.
God won’t trust long-term blessings to short-term people.J. Snyder
Getting to know God is not the end of life but the BEGINNING of it. “My purpose is to live life in all its fullness”.Rick Warren