The Gospel Comes to Corinth
After a short stay at Athens, Paul travels west about forty-six miles to Corinth, the most influential city in the province of Achaia. Corinth was a cosmopolitan mix of religions and cultures. The city was a great commercial center which every two years hosted the Isthmian Games, in honor of Poseidon. In Paul’s day, multiple temples dotted the city. These included one to Asclepius, the god of healing and to Aphrodite. The latter came with a large number of temple prostitutes. The city was known for its gross immorality. (I Corinthians 6:9-11) “Do you not know that the unrighteous well not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” NKJV This is the next stop on Paul’s second missionary journey.
Text: Acts 18:1-17
I. Paul Meets with Aquila and Priscilla Acts 18:1-4 “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.” NKJV
· Paul finds Aquila and Priscilla who had been expelled from Rome by Claudius, the Roman emperor. They were apparently already Christians who had a Jewish background. This couple is mentioned in several of Paul’s epistles and would later be instrumental in converting Apollos.
· Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers like Paul. During the beginning of his work in Corinth, Paul supported himself, possibly to model a good work ethic or maybe as a matter of principle.
· While tentmaking, every Sabbath he would be found in the synagogue reasoning with and trying to persuade the people, no doubt, about Jesus Christ.
· By examining Paul’s inspired writings, we see that a person preaching the gospel may be supported by his own means. (I Thessalonians 2:9) “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.” NKJV (II Thessalonians 3:7-9) “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. NKJV He also may be supported by the ones to whom he ministers. (I Corinthians 9:6-11, 14) “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’ Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if few reap your material things? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” NKJV Or he may be supported by others than those to whom he is working. (II Corinthians 11:8-9) “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you, and in need, I was burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. (Philippians 4:15-16) “Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.” NKJV
II. Paul Meets with A Tense Situation Acts 18:5-11 “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus us the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.’ And he continued there a year and six month, teaching the word of God among them.” NKJV
· Paul had apparently sent Timothy and Silas to visit the Macedonian churches [Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea]. When they returned, they brought financial support for Paul’s ministry. The arrival of Timothy and Silas prompted Paul to write First Thessalonians.
· Paul testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But he met with opposition and so disassociated himself from them. He wanted them to know that they were in condemnation. He had done his part. (Ezekiel 33:1-9) “Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel, therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” NKJV
· But there is some fruit from his preaching. Crispus is personally baptized by Paul. (I Corinthians 1:14) “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,” NKJV
· God tells Paul, “Stop being afraid.” Apparently the apostle Paul was overwhelmed with fear. Note I Corinthians 2:1-3. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” NKJV God tells him why that he should stop being afraid. So Paul stays there for a year and six months and writes Second Thessalonians.
III. Paul Meets with A Judge Acts 18:12-17 “When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, ‘This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.’ And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.’ And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.” NKJV
· Gallio was proconsul, chief judicial officer. Corinth was the capital of Achaia.
· Paul being brought before him on religious charges was a very important event.
· The Jews argued that Paul should be punished by the Roman government. Gallio’s judgment was that questions of religion were outside his jurisdiction. Teaching and following Christian doctrine did not violate Roman law.
We learn from Paul’s actions that we need to trust God and not give up. Keep asking people to attend church services; keep handing out tracts; keep telling others about our website. There are some who will respond.
May 22, 2016
Acts: Lesson 38 Acts 18:1-17