Second Journey Corinth
Series: Pauline Letters
Acts 18:1-18 ESV
Numbers 6:1-21 (Nazirite Vow)
Romans 16:3-4 ESV
I Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV
I Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV
We learn when Paul left Athens he traveled to Corinth. While there he connected with Aquila and his wife Priscilla who are mentioned several times in the New Testament. Paul came to rely on them and he cherished their love and friendship.
In Acts 18:1-2a we learn, “Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.”
The wording used in Acts 18:1 is interesting. In the Koine Greek the word for found is ‘heurisko’
which means to find especially after searching. So…why was Paul intentionally searching for another Jew? Was it because he was Jewish and he wanted to make a connection with someone who shared the same origins?
Or did the Lord tell Paul or give Paul a desire to find another Jew with the intention of connecting Paul with Aquila?
I tend to believe that was the case. There have been times in my life when God has led me specifically to other believers because He knew they would bless me and I would bless them. In the case of Paul and Aquila not only were they both Jewish, they were both tentmakers.
In addition to that, we are also told in Acts 18:2a that Aquila and Priscilla were expelled from Rome because they were Jewish. We can conclude that the Lord was also looking to bless Aquila and Priscilla because they were being persecuted by the Roman Emperor Claudius Caesar who ruled from A.D. 41-54.
In Acts 18:2b-3 we learn that Paul, “went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.” The meeting of Paul and Aquila and Priscilla was a perfect fit for Paul and they became very good friends and companions. For those reasons we can consider their meeting to be an intentional and purposeful act by the Lord.
I’ve said before that I met a dear friend when I first moved to a new church in a new town. We were new staff and the first Sunday a long line of women came to speak with me after the service. Every woman in the line told me they just knew we would be the best of friends except the last woman in line.
She told me she would love me and she would pray for me daily but I might want to consider not being her friend. I laughed and I asked her why. I’ll never forget her response. She said, “well…I have a bit of a reputation for being a rebel.”
I laughed out loud and I said to her, “as a matter of fact, so do I.”
That was the beginning of a forever friendship. A few years ago she went to be with the Lord. While I miss her terribly, I know that someday we will be friends through all eternity.
When I think of Paul and Aquila and Priscilla, I think that’s the kind of bond they had.
In Acts 18:4-10 we are told how Paul spent his time. “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
And that’s exactly what Paul did! The vision from God told him he was on the right track and he was doing exactly what God wanted him to do in Corinth.
We know from Acts 18:11-17, “he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” And he drove them from the tribunal. And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.”
Because Gallio refused to act as judge in this matter; Paul was allowed to continue his work. God protected him!
As Paul’s time with the believers in Corinth came to a close we learn in Acts 18:18 that Paul returned to Antioch and then he sailed to Syria and he took Priscilla and Aquila with him. “After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.”
It is believed that the vow referred to the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6 where we learn that a vow was taken for a specified time period and during that time the hair was not cut. When the time was over the person taking the vow cut his hair (shaving his hair) and it was offered to God in a special ceremony (Numbers 6:1-21).
Later Paul wrote to the church in Rome (Romans 16:3-4) to “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.”
In I Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul reminded the brothers and sisters in Christ when he wrote to then from Ephesus, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Paul’s message to them was clear, simple, and genuine. Paul’s Song of Love from I Corinthians 13 is a clear declaration of the love of God in Christ. It is found in I Corinthians 13:1-13 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
I Corinthians 13 is a beautiful piece of writing…and is probably one of the most recognized chapters in the New Testament.
Spiritual Practice: Love
Ponder Paul’s Song of Love and consider what it means to you.
In God, Deborah