PAUL CAME TO CORINTH
Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. 5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
Acts 18:7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. 9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
What an amazing time this was in the history of redemption! So many human souls are dispersed from their former places to converge upon this city at this time! Truly we see the Apostle Paul’s message to the Athenians on Mars hill to be in action here. Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For these are all brought here at this place and time to have the day of their gospel visitation! (Lk. 19:44).
The Apostle Paul comes here to Corinth at this appointed time. And therefore the focus of the scriptures are presently upon him here. Antioch and Berea, Thessalonica and Lystra, Derbe and Philippi and all the other cities that this apostle has visited are at this same moment in time going about their daily affairs as ordained by the Lord. But the focus of gospel appointment are here exacting themselves upon the Apostle Paul at Corinth. Peter and Jerusalem are still actively pursuing their assigned paths. The Apostle John is being used of the Lord wherever he is, but again, our focus is here at Corinth.
Notice all those dispersed from their previous dwelling places by the sovereign hand of the Lord! Of course there is Paul! Then Silas and Timothy arrive as seen in verse five. Aquila and Priscilla and thousands of Jews are driven from Rome by the Emperor Claudius, so they have been timely send there ahead of Paul to set up their business of tent making. Of course they have no idea that this is their prescribed course in order that this apostle may both have opportunity of their fellowship and join with them in their business.
Can you imagine walking down a street in Corinth and seeing a tent makers shop, entering therein, and seeing Priscilla greeting you at the counter, and two Jewish men in the rear with their needles and other tools, stitching tents together? And one is Priscillas husband, the famed Aquila, Paul’s helper in Christ Jesus: (Rom. 16:3), and the other is the great Apostle Paul himself? They are sitting at their work places, communing on the things of the Lord, cutting and stitching, minding both their craft and their faith! Be very careful, dear Reader, lest you minimize today’s provided benefits for your soul.
Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
So here hath been dawning Another blue day: Think, wilt thou let it Slip useless away?
Out of Eternity This new day is born: In to Eternity At night will return.
Behold it aforetime No eye ever did: So soon it forever From all eyes is hid.
Here hath been dawning Another blue day: Think, wilt thou let it Slip useless away?
Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881)
There is also another soul gathered here by the sovereign providence of the Lord. He is not a religious figure, but a political one. He is Gallio (Verse 12), the pro-council assigned here by Rome. And of course, there are the Jews of the established synagogue, some of whom will resist the gospel in this day of its presentation to them, while others will not only move next door to Justus’ house for their religious practice, but will also move from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light!
And we are not without more fuller understanding of the personal feelings and thoughts of the Apostle Paul, than here Luke conveys in this Book of Acts. For Luke lays out the historical events most clearly for us, but he does not tell us of a most important beginning that will have great effect on us and our bibles! For it is at this time that the Apostle Paul begins to write his epistles, – his letters to the various churches he had established.
So! A great dispersion of humanity, some involved in our present account, some are not. Some are involved in religion; some are involved in politics, and some involved in business. But all are to be held accountable for God’s coming near them with his glorious gospel.
And now let us see just how this apostle was feeling in these circumstances as recorded in his first letter to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
THEN SPAKE THE LORD
It is amazing that the Lord spoke directly to the Apostle Paul, instructing him to Be not afraid, BUT SPEAK, hold not thy peace: (v.9), but then in verse 14 we read that when Paul was about to open his mouth, he was interrupted by the Roman Pro-council, Gallio, and never allowed to speak a word! But what we realize is that Paul did continue there in Corinth a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (v. 11). So he did have an effectual opportunity to preach, without hinderance, in this way benefitting from the Lord’s effectual command to “speak.”
And in reading what the Apostle was “about” to address, we see it was not the preaching of Jesus and the resurrection, but it was to answer the false charges that the unbelieving Jews had just leveled against him before the Roman court. And in this we see that the Lord would have Paul’s voice to be used in proclaiming the glorious gospel of Christ, but not in the defense of himself against such vicious slander by mean-spirited religionists!
These Corinthian Jews did not word their inditement against Paul as cleverly as did those in Thessalonica. For those had said that these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (Acts 17:7). But what these in Corinth charged him with was, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. But this was a Roman court and not a Jewish council! Therefore the Lord God, sovereign as he is over the very tongues of all mankind – Proverbs 16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. – by this, caused the Apostle Paul never to have to utter one syllable in his own defense!
First, the Lord did this by giving Gallio the understanding that these Jews were not speaking of the Roman law, and therefore nothing forbidden therein. Here are his words: Acts 18:14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: 15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. 16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.
Secondly, we pick up on some anti-Semitism in his attitude. For we read in verse two of this same chapter that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: And Claudius was the Roman Emperor and therefore Gallio’s boss! So Gallio would have picked up on it that neither Rome, nor his emperor had any particular affection for the Jews. He expresses an attitude both in his recorded speech to them, and in his driving them out of his presence, that he felt them to be a troublesome bother, for whom he reveals no patience!
The Lord God does not originate evil! James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But both Satan and evil, are servants of God! Satan is God’s devil! All creatures, angelic, demonic and human are servants of God, but all are not the sons of God! Therefore this attitude of hatred for the Jews is used of the Lord to cause the gospel to have further benefit to the souls of Corinth.
Looking at verse seventeen – Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things. – we can readily see that the population at Corinth fully understood that the Roman government (the “beast”) was not going to side with the Jewish religion (the “Whore”), against Christianity! Therefore opening up to Paul and the other ministers of the gospel a full year and a half of unhindered preaching of the glorious gospel.
And in publicly beating Sosthenes, they put him into the Apostle Paul’s ‘support group,’ so to speak. For Paul had been publicly beaten in Philippi. (See Acts 16:22-23). And listen to the very first verse of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian church: Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, My! My! Look who followed Crispus, the first ruler of the synagogue into the kingdom of life and light! Now he, like Paul could truthfully state, … I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. (Gal. 6:17).
Now let us return to that business of Gallio’s anti-Semitism. For we must see that although God did not prevent it being lodged in his heart, in order for his gospel to go forth in a powerful way, it most certainly was not in the Apostle Paul’s heart! For he was not opposed to any person of the Jews! He was opposed to the blindness and sinfulness in their number that prevented them from coming to worship Paul’s Lord and Master. You only have to read these words of the apostle in order to perceive this!
Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
And now read some of his instructions to the churches: 1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
We must be careful in our day, as there is a strong spirit of prejudice and spite for other races and religions among those strongly insisting that they are conservative christians! Yet they will not submit to the ‘powers that be,’ which are ‘ordained of God,’ and are called ‘God’s ministers’ (Rom 13:6). Nor do these proclaimed ‘christians,’ have any heart for the poor, but actually despise them. These attitudes clearly show that they are not truly born of the Spirit! And the Lord God himself says that is the inditement he shall level against them as he separates them from him on the last day! Matt. 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: God have mercy on lost church members!
Pastor Gene Breed