Conflict in Corinth

KEY VERSE: “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” —Acts 18:9,10


SOON after Paul completed his wonderful witness in Athens on Mars’ hill (Acts 17:16-34), he departed for Corinth with the purpose in mind to establish a church there. Here he met two who were to be loyal and faithful co-workers in the Gospel. The Apostle Paul supported himself on his missionary journeys by plying his trade as a tentmaker. And it was while working at his trade that he met Priscilla and Aquila who were also tentmakers. They were Jews who had been expelled from Rome by Claudius when he issued a decree against all Jews.

And as was his custom, Paul, upon his arrival in Corinth, immediately began to preach the Gospel in the synagogue where he persuaded both Jews and Greeks. Later, when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul seemed to be filled with additional zeal, and was “pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 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.” (Acts 18:5,6) From this point forward he no longer preached in the synagogue, but rather stayed in a house owned by a man named Justus. This man apparently believed the Gospel and his house was advantageously located “hard to the synagogue.”—Acts 18:7

It is probable that the apostle continued to live with Aquila and Priscilla, and only used the home of Justus as a meeting place. This circumstance might have given the Jews who desired it an opportunity to continue hearing the Gospel message. Included among the Jews who did so was the chief ruler of the synagogue, with all his family; and many afterward were received into the church and were baptized, both Jews and Gentiles.

It appears from the context of the subsequent verses that the apostle became greatly discouraged by the very intense and vicious opposition from the Jews, and the very lax and dissolute character of the Gentiles. In addition there was undoubtedly an awareness of his own insufficiency and many infirmities. But the Lord came to him with the encouraging words of our Key Verse, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city.” (Acts 18:9,10) These must have been very encouraging words to Paul, who had suffered so much at the hands of the Jews and other opposers. It is also interesting to note the Lord’s words that he had many people in that city. Just as in Macedonia, the Lord had taken notice of the heart condition of some. He knew that they would respond when hearing the Gospel message, and he was encouraging Paul to engage in its witness.

The apostle stayed in Corinth for one-year-and-a-half, during which time, with the Lord’s help, he developed a very large and flourishing church. Then we read, “When Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the Law.” (Acts 18:12,13) Just as Paul was about to answer the charge, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: 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. And he drove them from the judgment seat.” (vss. 14-16) With this the tables turned on the Jews, for the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat, and Gallio did not prevent them.

In this experience Paul had the assurance of the Heavenly Father’s overruling providence working in his behalf, and notwithstanding the extreme enmity of the Jews, the Apostle Paul abode a considerable time longer in Corinth, instructing and encouraging the brethren. In due time he took his leave and sailed into Syria, and took with him Priscilla and Aquila. When they came to Ephesus he left Priscilla and Aquila apparently to carry on with the ministry there, but Paul continued on to Caesarea and Antioch. After that he went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order to strengthen all of the disciples.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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