Acts 18: 1 – 17 In Corinth
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met 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. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tent-maker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’
Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshipper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptised.
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. ‘This man,’ they charged, ‘is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.’
Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, ‘If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanour or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law – settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.’ So he drove them off. Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.
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Yet again we see Paul facing conflict and rejection from many of those to whom he preaches. “But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’”
Why did the Jews of Corinth become abusive? It may have been as simple as the feeling, ‘Oh, no, not again!’ as Paul stands up in the synagogue. “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.”
What was Paul teaching so persistently and forcefully?
He was teaching that the Messiah spoken of by the Jewish Scriptures had to suffer before his kingdom could come. He was teaching that if you compared the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth against the Scriptures you found that he fulfilled every prophecy of the Messiah. He was teaching that this was God’s plan to save mankind from sin, and that it was a free gift from God.
Paul believed this message was the most important good news he could give anybody; the most important good news anybody could receive. Of course he was forceful!
In Corinth, he persisted with the Jews in the synagogue until they became abusive; until they made it perfectly clear that they rejected his message. By that point it was obvious that nothing that Paul said to them would convince them. He would have been wasting his time.
So he went next door to the house of Titius Justus and won many for Jesus.
We know the nature of Paul’s message to the Corinthians, and the urgency he felt about it, because he wrote letters to them. This is what he says in the first letter:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15: 3 – 5)
Thank you for the witness of your saints in every age. Thank you especially for St Paul, who brought your good news to the Gentiles.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.