“Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.’”
Paul and his companions had been traveling from city to city and town to town; sharing the gospel, making disciples, and planting churches. They spent relatively short periods of time in each of these places until Corinth; we read, Paul remained there for a year and six months. Corinth did not seem to be one of the easier places for ministry. Scripture tells us the Jews were hardened to the Gospel. Paul and his companions faced persecution in the form of threats, arrest, and beatings. Later we read, even the gentiles who responded to the Gospel were very carnal; and Paul had to use cunning to ensure that they learned to trust Christ and not men. Yet, with all this, we read that Paul remained a year and six months pastoring this young and growing flock. What were the things that enabled him to remain, while facing such difficulty?
First, I believe Paul remained in Corinth because of the call of God. When first responding to Christ, Paul surrendered his life saying, “Lord what do you want me to do?” Jesus responded by declaring that Paul was a chosen vessel, one that would be sent to share the Gospel. In his times of discouragement, Paul could always look back to the call of God on His life. Have you ever surrendered like that? Have you taken your life and committed it completely to the care of Christ? When you do, you will find He has a purpose for you. He will begin to use you to impact others for the Kingdom of God.
Second, the companionship of Aquilla and Priscilla, no doubt, largely contributed to Paul being able to persevere in Corinth. We read, that while working together, a friendship was formed. The friendship was built on mutual love for Jesus, and a desire to serve Him. I have found the strongest, and most encouraging relationships, are the ones that are developed around serving Jesus together. This requires that we get involved in serving the Lord.
Third, the coming of Silas and Timothy seemed to energize Paul. He may have felt somewhat alone in the daunting task of sharing Christ in such a large and worldly city, but when his friends arrived, his faith was revived and he went out with a new-found boldness to share Jesus. Again, godly companions, who serve Christ, will encourage us to keep going when times are tough.
Finally, it was the promises of God that encouraged Paul. In the heat of the difficulty, he heard a great promise from the Lord. Although a handful of people had responded to Christ, there were so many who had not. That can be very discouraging for someone wanting to serve the Lord; until the promise of God arrives, “I have many in this city.” Although Paul and his friends could not see who would come to Christ, Jesus could. He promises Paul that many will turn to Him.
Sometimes, in order to see people won to Christ, all we need is to endure. The end result will be, those who we least expect, will in fact, surrender to Christ. If you are discouraged take some time to get alone with Jesus. I believe He has a promise for you, a great and precious promise that will encourage you to continue.
Questions for Acts 18
- We find out Paul’s professional trade, a tentmaker. He worked through the week, and on the Sabbaths, he was doing what?
- The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, what was the Lord’s encouragement to Paul?
- The Jews of Corinth brought Paul to Gallio wanting him to judge Paul. The outcome here is not what usually happens with Paul. What did the Greeks do?
- Paul cuts off his hair in Cenchrea and takes a vow, a Nazirite vow. This is a vow of full commitment to God; your head is shaved for 30 days and you do not eat meat or wine. Has the Lord ever asked you to make some drastic changes in your life? Have you been faithful to those commitments?
- Apollos, “eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures” yet didn’t have the complete truth. Notice how Aquila and Priscilla handled this. The correction came as they took him aside and explained to him the lack. We often stand and point a finger with the attitude “I am right and you are wrong”. If you find yourself thinking this way, ask for God’s forgiveness and ask Him to teach you to be gentle in your approach to people. Read Philippians 4:5.