Thursday 01 June 2017

Bible Book:

“Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers. Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks.” (vv. 2-4)

Acts 18:1-16 Thursday 1 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 17


While Athens was an intellectual centre of the Roman Empire,Corinth, also in Greece, was a great commercial hub, and so Paultook a different approach. According to his usual practice, hefirst sought out the Jewish community and quickly met Aquila andPriscilla, banished from Italy under the edict of Emperor Claudiusaround AD49 (v. 2). The Roman historian, Suetonius, tells us thatthe Jews were expelled because they were causing disturbances "atthe instigation of Chrestus", which seems to mean Christ. It ispossible, therefore, that Aquila and Priscilla were alreadyChristians when Paul met them, and that he found in themcolleagueship in mission as well as in trade. Luke tells us thatPaul's trade was in the cloth industry - since tents were made fromleather it is not quite clear from the Greek whether Paul was atentmaker or a more generic leather-worker (verse 3). In any case,Paul worked to support himself and only engaged in part-timemissionary activity, preaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath(verse 4). In this situation, local colleagueship seems to havebeen important to him in establishing himself in the community.Probably Silas and Timothy brought funds from the new Christiancommunity in Macedonia, as their arrival seems to have freed Paulto work full time as a missionary.

As in other places, Paul encountered resistance and hostilityfrom the Jewish community, but this opposition in Corinth seems tohave significantly shaped the future of Paul's ministry. In shakingoff the dust of the synagogue (verse 6), Paul followed Jesus'advice to his followers to know when to leave and not to wasteregrets on those who are not ready to hear the Word (Luke9:5; 10:11). Paul went further, however, saying,"'Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent" (v. 6). Luke mayhave included this colourful statement to justify Paul'ssignificant turn away from the Jewish community to the Gentiles.This heightens the significance of the moment as a turning point inPaul's ministry, as it is in Corinth that he is endorsed asmissionary to the Gentiles.

This endorsement comes in three forms. First, he got results!"Many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and werebaptized" (v. 8); that this included the official of the synagogue,despite the strength of animosity between Paul and the Jewishcommunity, is supposed to emphasise the success of his mission.

Second, he was encouraged by God in a dream (verses 9-10) andthird, he was not condemned by the Roman authorities (verses14-16). This last may seem a slim endorsement, but in fact it ishighly significant. In refusing even to try Paul, the proconsul,Gallio, who ruled the province on behalf of the Roman Senate, wasgiving tacit permission for Christian mission in the Roman Empire.This was certainly no great victory or vindication, but it was afree pass for Paul's future mission.

To Ponder

  • How helpful is it, like Paul, to become embedded in thecommunity in order to share the love of God? How might you do thatboth individually and as the church?
  • How do you discern when to stop pursuing a particular projector leave a particular place? And how might you make a goodending?


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