Church Planting In Corinth
Book of Acts Chapter 18
The Apostle Paul had a clear understanding that God had raised Christ from the dead in order to call all people to repent.
Those in Berea had been willing to hear the gospel with an open heart.
Those in Athens were mostly just curious and had no respect at all for the preaching of the Word.
But even there some did believe and were saved.
But Paul was now Corinth. Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. The old city had been destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, but Julius Caesar began to build the new in 46 BC.
BUT, even in the time of Jesus, the new city of Corinth was a commercial center and already had a reputation for immorality.
So let’s begin:
Act 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
Act 18:2 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.
As I said Corinth was a very prosperous and very immoral commercial center and was just south of Athens and Corinth also had a very large Jewish colony.
Priscilla and Aquila had apparently become Christian believers while they had been in Rome but Claudius Caesar had demanded that all Jews depart from Rome and this probably included all Christian converts, Jew or Gentile.
*****Act 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
It was the custom of the Jews to bring up their children in some trade and the Apostle Paul normally tried to provide his own material needs in order not to give occasion for complaint by the churches where he was preaching.
Paul did not want his support to interfere with the beginning of any new church and Paul might have gotten some support from the church but it was in the form of love offerings and “not because he had made a request for it”.
*****Act 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Paul lived and worked with Aquila and Priscilla six days a week but every Sabbath day he witnessed in the Jewish synagogue.
We should also notice that some Gentiles were also at these synagogues.
The two words we should notice in this verse are “reasoned” and “persuaded”!
The apostle Paul took the Scriptures of the Old Testament which they had, and “reasoned” or proved to them that Jesus Christ was the Messiah they were waiting for to come.
And when they were “persuaded”, Paul would show him how to be saved by preaching the salvation by the Cross to them.
Paul would then teach them of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and how to be washed in His “blood”!
*****Act 18:5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
When Silas and Timothy had returned from from Macedonia, they also had brought about support from some of the churches and this allowed the Apostle Paul to preach full-time again.
We find this proof in the Scriptures:
1Th 3:6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
2Co 11:9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself
Php 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
Here we see the importance of supporting our missionaries “in every way we can” so they can devote full time to the preparing and the preaching of the “Gospel” of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Everyone agrees that Paul was a great Christian and a great church planter but Paul could not do all these things alone. He much needed the support from the church but also from his friends, it was good to be rejoined by Timothy and Silas.
Our missionaries need to hear from us as much as we need to hear from them and they certainly need our encouragement!
But this also holds true as we witness day by day!
We need to encourage each other in the work of the Lord!
We all know that it is not easy to be a Christian in this evil world and God never said it would be!
But God promises to always be with us!
There could never have been a church in Corinth if it were not for “the devotion and service of many different people” and the zeal of the Apostle Paul for the lost.
We must all have a zeal for the “lost” because such were some of us before we came to know Jesus!
***Act 18:6 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.
We can see that those that attended this synagogue in Corinth did not have a problem with hearing the Apostle Paul one day a week.
Satan did not mind that too much either, BUT when Paul started preaching seven days a week, Satan stirred up these people again.
Again we see that not everyone believed but Paul said they were “opposing themselves”.
By shaking his garment, Paul was saying to those of this synagogue that they had, had their opportunity and they may not get another one.
Today we might say that Paul was washing his hands of this situation such as Pilate did at the trial of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul never stops witnessing to the Jews BUT he did begin to spend most of his time witnessing to the Gentiles.
To have blood on your hands means that you are to blame for your own judgement!
This means that you had the opportunity to be saved but you turned it down!
They had been under conviction but had rejected the Holy Spirit!
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1Pe 2:10 [Which in time past were not a people], but are now the people of God: [which had not obtained mercy], but now have obtained mercy.
These people have been called out of darkness but they had refused to come to the light!
You see when we have been obedient to witness the truth of God, then those that choose to ignore God’s truth have their blood on their own hands!
*****Act 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.
Just when Paul needed a friend, there was one next door to the synagogue named Justus.
Paul still stayed with Aquila and Priscilla but he began a house church in the home of Justus which also shared a wall with the Jewish synagogue.
*****Act 18:8 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.
Crispus would have been the man that directed all the services at the Jewish synagogue and also the caretaker of the building.
No doubt as he continued to hear the preaching of the gospel by the apostle Paul he believed AND with his conversion his family also came to the Lord.
We know what we read the book of Corinthians that Crispus was one of the few people that the Apostle Paul baptized himself.
Paul’s ministry would have an impact on the entire city of Corinth. When Crispus was saved along with his family many other Jews took notice along with Gentiles and many were saved.
But, this also stirred up the opposition against the Apostle Paul.
And Jesus, who had said to us all: “I will never leave you or forsake you” came to the Apostle Paul in a night vision.
*****Act 18:9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
Act 18:10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
Jesus Had already appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road, we read about that in Acts Chapter 9.
We know that the Lord had also appeared to the Apostle Paul while he was in Jerusalem and we will read about that and Acts Chapter 22.
We know that the Lord will comfort the Apostle Paul again when he becomes imprisoned in Jerusalem in Acts Chapter 23 and again when he is imprisoned in Rome.
We can see that the Lord will comfort us with His presence but we let’s not miss these promises He made to the Apostle Paul.
Paul was promised that he could not be hurt while he was in Corinth!
But more important the Lord promised that there will be many souls saved in this city.
We already know that Paul had washed his hands with these people!
We can actually see in this verse the omniscience of the Lord and we know that God knows all things!
God already knew that many of these lost Corinthian’s would be saved by the preaching of the gospel by the Apostle Paul.
God had already regarded them as His own people even before they had become believers.
The Holy Ghost had already been very busy in this evil city of Corinth!
*****Act 18:11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
So Paul stayed in Corinth for 18 months teaching the word of God among God’s people.
This church in Corinth was not made up of many mighty and noble people as Paul wrote in the book of 1st Corinthians but it was filled with sinners saved by the “grace” of God.
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!
It is believed by most Bible scholars that it is during this period of 18 months that the Apostle Paul wrote the two letters to the church of the Thessalonians.
*****Act 18:12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,
History tells us that Gallio at one time was a minister to the Emperor Nero, BUT at this time he was pro-counsel of Achaia under the Emperor Claudius.
It is during the time of this man Gallio, that the unbelieving Jews found that Rome had declared Christianity to be an illegal religion.
So, they broke the law by attacking Paul and forcing him to go to court.
Paul was a Roman citizen and he was prepared to defend himself at this time but that became unnecessary.
*****Act 18:13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
These Jews tried to convince Gallio that Paul was persuading men to worship a God that was contrary to Roman Law. In other words Paul was preaching a new and unlawful religion. Rome did show some tolerance to various religions in order to keep the peace and this included Judaism.
*****Act 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:
Act 18:15 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.
As a proconsul Gallio had more power than what we would call a governor and these Jews may have requested that Gallio ban Christianity as an illegal religion. They also insisted that Paul led people to worship contrary to Roman Law.
They were astonished that Gallio classified their dispute as an internal Jewish issue and refused to judge this matter.
This decision from such a high ranking Roman set a precedent that was followed by Roman provincial governors for several decades. Rome allowed a tolerance for Christianity!
*****Act 18:16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.
Gallio cleared the court room and this did not set well with these Jews!
Again Satan lost the battle!
*****Act 18:17 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.
Sosthenes had become ruler of the synagogue when Crispus had converted to Christianity.
When Gallio rejected the complaint of the Jews this gave these pagan Greeks an excuse to beat Sosthenes because they too hated the Jews.
What we do know is that Sosthenes later became a Christian and a leader in the church in Corinth.
The proof of that is 1Cor1:1.
None of these things impressed Gallio and he stayed clear of these religious squabbles but this also meant that Christianity was at last recognized by Rome as a religion, and not just some offshoot of Judaism!
*****Act 18:18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
After this Paul stayed a good while in Corinth before he decided to return to Antioch in Syria.
For some reason Paul decided to take a vow.
It is not likely that this was a Nazarite vow!
It was probably some vow that Paul would make when he was facing difficulty or danger.
But once this vow was made, then Paul had 30 days to get to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice to end the vow!
This is according to the Jewish historian Josephus.
This would explain why Paul was in such a hurry to leave Ephesus and we will see this further when we get to chapter 21.
*****Act 18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
Luke does not tell us how long Paul was in Ephesus but it had to be a very short time.
*****Act 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
Act 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
These Jews were receptive and wanted Paul to stay, but Paul had to get to Jerusalem to complete his vow and after that he would return to Antioch to make a report of his second missionary journey.
We will see that Paul will keep this promise in chapter 19.
*****Act 18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
After Paul had landed in Caesarea, he went to Jerusalem to greet the church and complete his vow and then he returned to Antioch of Syria.
*****Act 18:23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
We do not know how long Paul was in Antioch before he began his third missionary journey, but he began by visiting the previously established churches.
It was on this visit that Paul explained the weekly tithes to the Churches and teaching also the support of the missionaries for the spreading of the Gospel.
*****Act 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
And, we see that Luke does not give us a lot of details until we get to Ephesus.
Ephesus was the capitol of the Roman province of Asia and many of these people were Greeks from Athens.
It is in Ephesus where the great Temple of Diana was located. This Temple was at one time considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world.
Apollos was a Jew who had been born in Alexandria Egypt.
Apollos was taught very well in the Old Testament.
It was in Alexandria that the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek. This is what was called the Septuagint and it is said that 70 men did this work over a period of 80 years.
So, Apollos was schooled in this book!
*****Act 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
Apollos had a clear understanding of the coming of the Messiah from the teachings of John the Baptist which was all about repentance.
Apollos did not have know the “Gospel”!
Apollos did not know the truth of being washed in the blood of Jesus!
*****Act 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
The ministry of John the Baptist was an important part of God’ plan!
John was sent to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ and even after his death, he was still doing this through men like Apollos.
John had taught the baptism of repentance but not the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Apollos knew about all the promises of the scriptures and of John the Baptist, but he did not realize their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What Apollos taught was not wrong it was just incomplete!
*****Act 18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
Act 18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
Once Apollos understood the “Gospel” he became a mighty preacher like Paul.
And, Apollos went on to Corinth and continued to establish that church.
It is in Corinth that we find some later who worship the preacher more than they did the Savior.
We will learn more about Ephesus next week.