The toughest of times call for the best of friends. Paul is taking on a whole new challenge in going to Corinth with the Gospel, the city known for its obsessions with paganism worship, sex, money and power. What would they want with the message of a crucified Lord who calls people to leave those idols and follow Him? Good question. Thereagain, what place is ever going to be ‘likely’ to respond to Christ, with His totally countercultural Gospel?
Paul begins where experience tells him is wisest, settling in with good friends, and then setting out to the place of at least initial interest in his message, the synagogue (vv.1-4). With reinforcements comes a stronger push to preach to the Jews, until opposition forces them out (vv.5-6). But opposition isn’t always God’s sign to move on; sometimes it just means that a new strategy is called for. Paul keeps on watering the seeds of interest, this time in a gentile home, and the church is born (vv.7-8).
A principle we see throughout Acts is that Satan vies to keep up with God’s work. As the Gospel grows, so does opposition to it. So also, though, does God’s encouragement for the workers. Paul is told by god that His peruposes in election stand, even in this pagan city (vv.9-11). There’s no evangelist like a good old Calvinist who gets his encouragement straight from passages like this: heaven will be full, because God has chosen people from the least likely places to discover saving grace in Christ. And yes, persecution hots up, but to God’s praise it is unexpectedly dampened down by the indifference of the local proconsul (vv.12-17).
One of the worst mistakes leaders make is to think that they don’t need others, and can do it all themselves. Paul treasures all of his friends, and is always eager to work with them. Priscilla and Aquilla do an outstanding job with the zealous Apollos, bringing him to a real understanding of the truth as it is in Jesus (vv.24-26). He in turn takes up the gospel baton, ministering with wisdom and courage. And so the Kingdom spreads; because it must, and because we must always, always keep on speaking.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord, thankyou for this wonderful chapter of hard, wise work, real Gospel fruit and many lessons for me in my calling to witness for Jesus. Please keep the Devil from making me lose heart. Please keep me hard at Your work, encouraged by Your promise that You have many You want to save. Amen.