27 May 2020Acts 18:1-16
Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife, Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome … Every Sabbath (Paul) would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks. (vs. 1-2, 4)
Psalm: Psalm 48:9-13
How amazingly fast the gospel spread – in these verses we read of Athens, Corinth and Rome, along the north side of the Mediterranean Sea, while Aquila and Priscilla had come, via Italy, from Pontus (in present-day Turkey) and, later, Silas and Timothy would arrive from Macedonia. No doubt, the Roman Empire with its roads, military presence and far-reaching colonial expansion had much to do with this. "All things work together for good for those who love God", as Paul observed to the Christians in Rome (Romans 8:28) – travelling had become both easier and safer.
It is clear, however, that those who had become captive to the gospel met with considerable opposition, not least from Jewish communities in various parts of the empire. Paul took the strategic step of moving from the synagogue to the home next door –and the result was astounding. People both from the Jewish community and from the wider Corinthian community became captive to the gospel. Vastly encouraged, Paul stayed a significant time with them, consolidating this young and growing church with teaching. But this did not last, further opposition drew in the local authorities – who wanted nothing to do with the issues.
There is much here to learn about matters of mission and witness to the gospel: be strategic; offer good teaching; be ready for further opposition; expect indifference from wider society. When I was much (much!) younger, I was an ardent Girl Guide. The motto of the Guiding movement is ‘Be Prepared’ – it is an excellent motto for Christians in a disinterested world.
- Reflect on a time when it was desirable for you to make a radical change in your way of working – did it work well for you? Why or why not?
- How do you respond to opposition – with reason and argument or not?
- How were/are you ‘prepared’?