Welcome to Expound, a verse by verse study of God's Word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Book of Acts, Chapter 18, and displayed behind me is the wonderful panorama of this city that we're going to be studying in this chapter tonight, the city of Corinth. And I'll be explaining a little bit about this city that's behind us. Let's have a word of prayer together.
Lord, for most of us, the New Testament is familiar territory. We have spent a lot of time learning the stories of Jesus, the stories of Peter and John, and then Paul, and this story, in particular, written by Luke, as he integrated his own life with that great apostle. And he tells us the story, because he wants future believers to know what happened when the message of Jesus Christ left Jerusalem and penetrated Asia, Asia Minor, Galatia, the Mediterranean Isles, Macedonia, Greece, all the way to Rome, and how that message, that single act of a savior on a cross, risen from the dead, changed the lives of cultures. Men and women were never the same.
And I pray, Lord, that for us, that we would not be the same people as we encounter the story from scripture about Paul in the city of Corinth. I pray we would get insight, Lord, into how to talk to people, how to represent you, how to stand for you in a culture that is not sympathetic, in fact, is opposed to the truth of the message we bear. Give us, Lord, hearts to learn, minds to know, and wills to obey. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I've discovered over the years that most cities develop slogans that they put on their brochures, usually brochures that the chamber of commerce produces to advertise the city, to get people in it. And over the last many years, Albuquerque has had its own slogans, not always that impressive in my opinion. The previous slogan of the city of Albuquerque used to be, "Albuquerque, it's a trip." That could mean a lot of different things. And in my old vernacular, that was not a good thing.
And then the recent change to the city's slogan of Albuquerque is, "Albuquerque, change your perspective." And that's the slogan of the city. Now I don't know if Rome, or if Athens, or if Corinth had slogans. I'm going to suggest a slogan that Corinth did have. And I'll share with you what that is in a little bit.
But before Paul was at Corinth, he was at the city of Athens. And I suppose if the city of Athens would have had its own slogan, it would be simply, man is great, because they believed and they taught the perfect man, the perfect specimen of humanity. They idealized that and even worshipped that. In fact, there was a philosopher centuries before the New Testament, who coined a phrase in Athens that man is the measure of all things. His name was Protagoras.
Protagoras believed in the ideal humanity and believed that all things must be measured by mankind. Man is great. Man is the measure of all things. Paul comes on the scene in Athens. And his slogan not is man is great, but God is great. And it's a message they had never heard before, because they had so many gods and goddesses. They didn't know which one to worship at any given time. In fact, Paul made note of the fact that they were a very religious bunch.
He said, "I perceive in all things, you are very religious. I even found an altar with the inscription, 'agnosto theo,' 'to the unknown God.' Him, I proclaim to you." And he began to tell the Athenians how great God is, that God is the creator of all, that God is the sustainer of all, that he is the ruler of all, and that one day, he will be the judge of all. That sums up Paul's message to Athens.
And he says the one by whom God has appointed for judgment to take place is a man named Jesus Christ. So he introduces the man to Athens, the perfect God man. And he says the proof that this was the man is that he was risen from the dead. He died, but he got up again. Now that was foreign to the Athenians. They didn't like the idea of a Resurrection. Most of them denied the idea of a body having much value at all. In fact, the idea was to escape from your body at one point.
But Paul reminds them that God will judge the living and the dead through this one man. Then Paul moves from Athens to, now in Chapter 18, the city of Corinth. Now a few things about the city, and as it's displayed behind me. And it's just ruins that you see today. Let me tell you a little bit about this city. The city was the provincial capital of a region in ancient times known as Antakya, Antakya.
Now Antakya today does have boundaries, a little bit different configuration. But it's one of the modern provinces of even modern Greece. But in that time, it was different than Greece. It was next to it, but it is on a peninsula. And it is called the Peloponnesian Peninsula. So you see a picture of it. So can you see Athens? Can you look at the map and find the little red dot that said Athens?
And then if you move to the left, you see a little circle, which represents a little neck of land. And then this almost looks like an island, though it is connected by that neck of land. And that is a peninsula, essentially, a large peninsula. Part of that is Antakya. And the chief capital city of that region is Corinth.
Now I'm going to throw another word at you, because it is the word of that peninsula. That is the Peloponnesian Peninsula. Say that five times fast. The Peloponnesian Peninsula or the Peloponnesus, that is that large land mass that is ancient Antakya. It says Greece in the picture, because today it is modern-day Greece.
You can see that if you were a sailor, it would be difficult, go back to the map. It would be difficult to sail from one side to the other. And if you look at that circle and then you look at the square that represents a larger cut out of that circle, you see that red line going across it? That's the neck of land that connects Greece with Antakya or the Peloponnesian Peninsula.
And that little neck of land represented by the red line is 3 and 1/2 miles across, 3 and 1/2 miles. So go back 2,000 years. You're on a boat. You're on the left side of that big peninsula. And you stop right there. And you want to get to the other side, because on the other side of that is going to be the area of Corinth, and Cenchrea, and then you can go up to Athens. It's not far at all. You can see Athens from Corinth.
So to sail around that landmass, that's 200 miles. And in the ancient vessels of those days, that's dangerous navigation. Your boat could sink. If there is a storm, if it's the wrong time of the year, it's dangerous. It's like sailing around the Cape of Good Hope. And so sailors didn't want to do that. So you had one of two choices. A, sail around it, 200 miles. Or go over land. So what do you mean go over land?
Well what they did in those days is they would lift the ship out of the ocean, put it on rollers, empty it of its cargo, transport the cargo on top of slaves or animals, and put that boat on rollers, and roll it over land 3 and 1/2 miles. You could do one of two things, sail around it 200 miles or save yourself 296.5 miles and just take it across. So most of them opted to do that.
Now right in between those two points is the city of Corinth. It was large. In fact, it was larger than Athens. In fact, it was, get this, 20 times the population of Athens. So Athens might have been this great intellectual center, and it was. This great philosophical center, and it was. But Corinth was on the main route, north and south, and east and west. And so Corinth commanded a large population, 20 times the size of Athens, or a population during New Testament times of about 200 plus thousand, 200,000 residents. It was quite large.
One of the things we're noticing about Paul as he travels from place to place is his preaching style, his approach. It's not the same way. It's not always hand on shoulder, look in the eye, do you know Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life? He didn't have a canned approach. He tailors his witness to his audience. So in Philippi, to the Philippian jailer, he preached Jesus as the personal savior of the individual, saying, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved and your family."
When he gets to Thessalonica, he preaches Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Jewish scripture. He is the Jewish Messiah. He's in the synagogue at Thessalonica. And there are Jews gathered. And there are non-Jews, but those who are interested in God. And he preached reasoning from the scriptures that this Jesus is the very Christ.
When he gets to Athens, completely different approach. He begins generically with God and works his way down to man, saying God is creator, sustainer, ruler, and judge. Now in each place that Paul stops, he's getting wearier and wearier. I just want you to keep that in mind. I'll reference that again. But that's an important thing to know. By this point in his second missionary journey, he's becoming discouraged.
I mean, think about it. He has tried to go from Galatia, to Bithynia, and to Asia. And in those two places, it tells us the Holy Spirit did what? Stopped him. Didn't let him go. Said, no, close the door. So he's not knowing where to go, first time that ever happened. He's at Troas. He gets a vision of a man from Macedonia saying, come over and help us. He goes to help them. There's not a man there. There's not even a synagogue there. There's just a few women at the riverside.
So he goes, all right, here goes. And he starts talking to them. And one of them, named Lydia, responds and gives her heart to Christ. She opens her heart. I love that phrase, opens her heart to the things spoken by Paul. So that's one. Things go from bad to worse. A riot breaks out in town. Paul gets arrested. They beat him up. They throw him in the inner dungeon of a Philippian prison.
The darkest hour of the night, he starts singing praises to God. An earthquake happens. The chains fall off Paul and Silas. The doors swing open. The Philippine jailer is about to kill himself. He says, "Don't kill yourself." The guy says, "What must I do to be saved?" "Believe in the Lord Jesus. And you will be saved and your household." He gets saved and his household. They believed. They're baptized.
So now there's two and three, that's his wife, and a few children. So there's a few believers now. But in each place, he's tailor making his witness. So that's all leading up here to Corinth. Now let me just throw something else out at you.
So they put the boats on rollers. And they rolled them over land. Let's go back to that picture. Now you would think that the easiest thing to do was to just dig it out and build a canal. I say easiest thing to do, but, really, it's solid rock. So digging solid rock canal for ships to go through was quite a feat.
Julius Caesar had that idea. He was the first guy to come up with it. Hey, let's build a canal. Let's connect them, so you don't have to bring your boats over. Well the guy that started the project in 67 AD was Caesar Nero. He started it. He actually took what Julius Caesar said and goes, I'll do that. He was a megalomaniac. He thought he could do anything. So he started it.
It didn't get finished until 1893. It did get finished. And now you'll see a picture of it. That's an aerial view. And you can see the canal that connects the mainland of Greece with the Peloponnesian Peninsula. Say that out loud.
I just wanted to hear you say it. So there is the Corinthian Canal. And I've stood there many times on that south end, and I've looked at it. Look down, you can see that all the way out to the sea. So that was the connection.
Now a little bit more about Corinth. Corinth had a reputation for a number of things, some good things, some not so good. First of all, they had a reputation for their bronze works. Did you know that there were two doors in the temple at Jerusalem that formed a gate 75 feet tall known as the Beautiful Gate? Does that ring a bell? The Book of Acts, there was a man who was laid at the Gate Beautiful every day.
Now the reason it was called the Beautiful Gate, you know why? Because it was beautiful. Very good. Yeah, it was made out of Corinthian bronze, 75 feet tall. It was also known as the Nicanor Gate. And so it came from Corinth. It was known for its bronze works.
Corinth was also known for its architecture. To this day, people talk about Corinthian architecture, Corinthian columns, Corinthian pillars, a certain style of architecture with the name Corinth. So even to this day, Corinth still has a reputation.
Third, Corinth was known for its sports. There was a set of games every year called the Isthmian Games, that was second only to the Olympics that took place just outside of Athens. Oh, that's a word I wanted to bring up, isthmus. Do you remember that word in school? Did your teachers ever teach you what an isthmus is?
It's the hardest word to say. But an isthmus is that. It's what we showed you in the map, the Peloponnesian Peninsula or, really, isthmus. It's that little neck of land that connects that big landmass to the mainland. So because it was in Corinth on the isthmus, they were called the Isthmian Games. Tough words.
The biggest thing that Corinth was known for, above brass, and architecture, and sports, was its immorality. When you wanted to tell somebody that he was a debauched individual, you would call him a Corinthian. A Corinthian meant he was from Corinth. But if you said, you know what, John acts like a Corinthian, that's saying John is really loose in his morals.
If you were to say, that woman acts like a Corinthian, you meant she was a prostitute, a harlot. In fact, the term [GREEK], the Greek word to corinthianize, means to be morally debased. In the Greek plays, the Greeks had comedies and tragedies. They dressed up. They had all sorts of productions for a number of things. When somebody played a Corinthian, they always acted drunk.
It was so bad that the city's slogan, not developed by the city, but it was developed by writers after that, said this, "Not every fellow can afford a trip to Corinth." And that was a direct reference to a specific activity that took place in this city called prostitution. It was known for it. What made it worse is it was religious prostitution.
Now you see the screen behind me? You see the hill in the background, sort of cut off? That is a hill, the very famous landmark, called the Acropolis or the Acrocorinth. And on top of that hill was at one time, and still today the ruins of, the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love. And that temple housed 1,000 priestesses, prostitutes, harlots.
And every night, they would come down from their temple, make their way down into Corinth, and ply their trade, and because it was on the main crossroads, and there were so many visitors, it was the place to pick up women. You'd pick up a priestess from the Temple of Aphrodite. That's how they got their revenue, largely for the city that is on the screen behind me.
So I'm giving you that, because it's going to help you when you read the Book of 1 Corinthians. In fact, maybe this will help, as I read to you 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, a very familiar passage. In verse 9 he says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?" Now he's writing to the Corinthians, the Corinthian Christians, the believers in the city of Corinth, the city that you see in the screen.
"Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, those who have sexual relations before marriage, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, those that have sexual relations with somebody else, other than their spouse, after marriage, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God." Now watch this. "And such were some of you."
He's writing to people who used to do all those things. This is what you guys used to be like, he writes to them. "Such were some of you." But, here's the good news, "You were washed." That's salvation. You were cleansed. "You were sanctified." Set apart by God. "You were justified." Accounted as righteous. "Before God, because of his son, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the spirit of God."
So he is writing to a group filled with people in a church who came from that culture. That's what they used to live like. That's the city of Corinth. Now with that as a background, we get to Verse 1, finally.
"After these things, Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus." Pontus is a little area up by the Caspian and Black Sea. "Who had recently come from Italy with his wife, Priscilla." Cute couple, cute names.
Hi, I'm Aquila. Hi, I'm Priscilla. Oh how cool, your names rhyme. You guys are just awesome. And it says they came-- they're in Corinth. They have left Italy. And here's why, because Claudius, that's the emperor, had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. And he came to them, that is Paul, came to Corinth and, in particular, Aquila and his wife, Priscilla.
"Because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them." Just moved right in with them. "And worked. For by occupation, they were tentmakers." [GREEK], that's the Greek word, or [GREEK], the singular. Now what that means, it's translated tentmaker. But [GREEK] literally means leatherworkers. When you say Paul was a tentmaker, yeah. But literally, he was a leatherworker. And tents were made of leather, but sometimes they were made of the hair of animals, the wool of sheep or goats.
Now that was Paul's trade. Why was that Paul's trade? Well he was Jewish. And every father, who was Jewish, taught his Jewish sons to have a trade, especially if they were rabbis. If they were rabbis, you would teach your son he needed a trade, because there will be times in your life, young rabbi, when you'll need to work for yourself, not in ministry, but just secular work. You need a trade, so you can go from place to place and teach and have freedom to minister. But you have your own job.
There was a saying among the Jews about fathers saying, fathers who did not teach their sons to work, taught their sons to steal. Work was regarded very highly. The work ethic was regarded very highly. And if you know anything about Paul in regard to his writings on work, he also had a high work ethic. In fact, he said, if there's somebody among you who doesn't work, don't let them eat.
He himself was a hard worker. And while he was ministering in the gospel, some of the times where he went, he was not supported by churches. He was a [GREEK], a tentmaker, a leatherworker. Now do you remember what city Paul came from?
Tarsus. Thank you. You can just yell it out if you know the answer. And Tarsus was in a province-- anybody know the name of the province? Harder question. Pastors, come on. Cilicia. It was Tarsus of the area of Cilicia. Cilicia was famous for a product called, listen, cilicium, which was the black hair of black goats with which was harvested to make tents.
So Paul, being a tentmaker, worked with leather and with animal fur, animal hair, to make tents. Now I bring this up because I think Paul employs this thinking when he writes to Timothy and he says that we ought to be rightly dividing the word of truth. Do you remember that phrase? Rightly dividing study to show yourself approved, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The word rightly dividing means to cut a straight line. And it was a word used in tentmaking. It meant that you cut a straight line in a panel of leather or a patchwork of cloth to make panels to make tents. Cutting a straight line. So this idea, this motif shows up in Paul's writing. That was his occupation. That was his trade. So he could go anywhere and find the Guild of Tentmakers and get a job.
Something else that is also helpful, did you know that in synagogues people sat in particular locations? We just sit wherever we feel like sitting. But did you you know in ancient synagogues, there were men on one side, women on the other side. But men sat according to their professions, bricklayers in one section, tentmakers in another section, those who work with pottery, those who are artists. They all had their different sections.
So if Paul was to go into the synagogue when Aquila and Priscilla were there, he would have probably sat next to them, same occupation. That's probably where he met them. Going into the synagogue in Corinth, he met these two, Aquila and Priscilla. And they become friends. Now they become friends for life. I commend to you, not now, but look it up later, Romans Chapter 16 where he mentions Aquila and Priscilla.
By the way, usually it doesn't show up with the husband's name first. Usually in scripture, more times than not, it is Priscilla first and then Aquila. I'm not going to tell you why just now. I'll tell you why in just a minute. But what I want to make is this point, they became lifelong friends. He speaks of them as fellow workers in the gospel, who risked their necks for the sake of the gospel. So they become some of Paul's closest compatriots in ministry, and lifelong friends, and ones that he writes about on a number of occasions.
Now Verse 2 mentions an event that happened that you need to know of. It says that they had moved, Aquila and Priscilla, to Corinth because they came from Italy when Claudius commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. And he came to them. History tells us there was a riot that broke out in Rome, by which the emperor expelled and then banned all the Jews from Rome. That is if you are Jewish, the synagogues were emptied.
Anybody who had an enclave of settlements of Jews were all moved out of Rome en masse. They were banned. History shows that to be true. Here's what's interesting, a historian by the name of Suetonius says a riot broke out in Rome, because of a Jew named Chrestus. Now listen to the spelling, C-H-R-E-S-T-U-S, Chrestus.
Now the problem is, when you look in ancient history, you look in antiquity, you can't find anybody named Chrestus of any notable value or of anybody who started a riot. There is no record of it. So most scholars believe that that was a Roman way, a mispronunciation, of Christus, Christ, and that an evangelistic underpinning, underground, groundwork, underswell was breaking out in Rome. And it happened among the Jews. And the non-believing Jews rioted so strongly that the emperor just said, all the Jews out, and that it was over evangelism of Jesus Chrestus, Christ.
And they didn't know that Jesus was a guy who was from Judea or died outside of Jerusalem and then rose from the dead. They didn't know anything about him. So they just said, some guy named Chrestus. But it was probably over a riot that broke out over the name of Jesus Christ, as many Jews came to faith in Christ.
Now it gets even more interesting. And I know I'm taking up a lot of time. And I really, really think I'm going to get through one or two chapters. It never happens. But I always think you want to know as much as you can possibly know. So OK, good. And we can always pick it up next time. And we will.
I believe that Priscilla and Aquila, though one was Jewish, Aquila, the husband, Priscilla maybe Jewish, maybe not. We're not told. I have an interesting theory about her. I'll tell you in a minute, I told you. But evidently, both of them were saved before they met Paul, which means there was a church. There was a group of believers in Rome before Paul ever went to Rome. Paul did not start the Church in Rome.
He writes to the Romans before he ever went to Rome. He writes to the believers in Rome, the Church in Rome. And he says, someday I hope to go to Rome. But he had never been to Rome, though there were Christians in Rome. Well how did that happen? You ought to know the answer to this. Pentecost. Somebody said it. Who said that? Good job.
So at Pentecost, there were Jews from all over the world that heard the witness of Peter. Many of them were saved, because of the revival that broke out in Jerusalem. And those Jews who came for the feast went back home. Many of them went home with the gospel in their hearts. And they preached to other people. Well now the Jewish people are banned from Rome.
It doesn't mean there's no more Christians in Rome, because there's gentiles who are also Romans that are still in Rome. But the Jews are expelled. And that's why Aquila, Mr. Aquila, and his wife, Miss Priscilla, are now in debauched, sin city, Corinth to start their new shop, their tentmaking shop. And Paul shows up in town and goes, I know how to do that. That's my trade since I was a kid.
And in the synagogue, they maybe started telling Paul, there's this guy we believe in named Jesus Christ. And Paul said, you believe in him? So do I. And they hit it off. They became close friends.
And so Verse 4, "And he reasoned." There's that word again. It keeps showing up. That's Paul's style. He was a thinker. He reasoned Jewish scripture with Jewish people. He made a reasonable case for the Christian faith. He reasoned in the synagogue every, what, day? No, every Saturday, once a week, Sabbath, every Sabbath.
Why didn't he do it every day? He worked. He was a tentmaker. He's cutting leather. And he's cutting cloth. And he's making panels for tents. And he's selling them. Why? Because he has to make a living. Now somebody would say, what a waste. Not to Paul. He saw it by the will of God.
Now later on, without complicating the story, Silas is going to come from the churches of Macedonia. Not only will they encourage him, they're going to give him a gift of money. Basically saying, Paul, guess what? Your tentmaking days here are over. You've been given generous support from these churches. You can go into full time studying of the scriptures, which he does.
But at first, he believed that he should show that the gospel was not any financial endeavor. So he worked. And I love this style, because I remember when I told my pastor in California, I want to go start a church. In fact, I'm 23, wondering why it hadn't happened yet.
And you know what he basically told me? He told me this years before that, though, when I was 20. He said, get a job. I go, what do you mean, pastor, get a job? He said, get a profession, get a trade, learn something that you can take anywhere you move. If the Lord moves you to be a church planner, you don't have to start a campaign. You don't have to get your support. You can go out, and just get a job, and see what the Lord does, which is exactly what I did.
I went to school for radiology. I transferred that to Albuquerque. I worked in local hospitals. I had an office across the street downtown. And then I started a Bible study on the side. That grew into a work that was evidence to me that was God's calling for my life. But I didn't want to presume that. And so I got a job. Paul got a job. And he's working as a tentmaker.
But it's Saturday, so he's in the synagogue. And he's reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath. And he is persuading, and the better translation would be, he hoped to persuade or he sought to persuade, both Jews and Greeks. Question, what are Greeks doing in the synagogue? You should know this by now.
In every synagogue, there was a section in the back for God-fearers. God-fearers could be gentiles who were interested in the Jewish God, but they hadn't made full conversion by the ritual of circumcision and a few other things. But they were God-fearers. So they were believers in God. They're just not completely sold out.
"When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit. And he testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ." It gave him just the boost he needed, maybe a little discouraged. But when his friends come, he gets encouraged. And he goes back to testify. And notice these words in Verse 4 and 5, reasoned, persuaded, and testified. You know what that tells me? That primarily, principally, Paul was a communicator. That was his gift. That was his calling. He was a teacher and a preacher. That is, he explained and reasoned truth to people so they could grow. And he proclaimed or preached the gospel to them.
And by the way, that is what a pastor ought to be, primarily, a pastor-teacher, a preacher-teacher, one who knows the word, knows doctrine, and teaches people, and persuades them, and instructs them, and testifies. And one of the things that alerts me in every new generation of preachers is how subtly some skew away from teaching the Bible. And I told you before, I asked J Vernon McGee, one of my all time heroes, who's been in heaven for years, died in the 80s. One of the last churches he spoke at was our church. And I said, Dr. McGee, why don't more pastors teach the Bible? And he said, because they are lazy. I've said that a lot, but I just love saying it the way he said it. They're lazy.
And churches have become more pep rallies than what they ought to be, prep rallies, where you prepare people to live life. And how do you prepare somebody to live life? Not just exhort them, come on, praise, come on, worship, come on, God is good. But show them how, instruct them how, teach them how. Proclaim, teach, instruct, persuade, reason, testify.
But Verse 6, now when you do that, you can expect some fireworks. If you're going to be testifying that Jesus is the Christ in the synagogue, this is to be expected. But when they opposed him and blasphemed-- this happens everywhere Paul goes, some believe, some don't. And those that don't, believe pretty rabidly, pretty hostilely. Those who believe, believe. But those who don't, don't with vengeance. So they opposed him. And they blasphemed. And so notice what Paul does. This is very interesting. This guy's a firecracker.
So it says, "He shook his garments." Can you imagine him doing that? Shaking his garments saying, "Your blood be upon your own heads. I am clean. From now on, I will go to the gentiles." Whoa. That was quite a day in the synagogue. They never remember a Sabbath like that before.
Now he's using an Old Testament terminology, an Old Testament phrase. "Your blood be upon your own heads." That's used a few times in the Old Testament. It speaks of, you bear the responsibility for your own actions. Ezekiel speaks about not testifying to a generation and that generation's blood being on your heads, he says to the prophets.
You remember the Jews who said, crucify him, crucify him? And they said, his blood be upon us and our children, the Jews cried, who cried, crucify him before Pontius Pilate. So Paul shakes his garments, an interesting gesture. You know that when Jews would leave gentile territories, they would shake the dust off their sandals. They would just beat their sandals against a rock before crossing the line into Jewish territory, making the statement, I don't want to bring your gentile dust to Jewish holy ground.
And so Jesus said, shake the dust off your feet if they don't receive you. Now shaking the garment off in the synagogue is giving that idea back to them. You guys shake the dust off your sandals, because you don't want to defile Jewish territory. I'm shaking this Jewish dust off my garment so that I don't bring your defilement anywhere else. I'm going to the gentiles, he says. He probably started a riot that day.
"From now on, I'm going to the gentiles. And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus." Pause on that name, because people in those days had three names. And he is probably the same guy mentioned in 1 Corinthians as Gaius, Gaius Titius Justus.
His name shows up in a few different places. But here it's just called Justus. "So they entered the house of Justus, one who worshipped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue." So it's like, quick, get out of the synagogue. Go into that guy's house.
Can I give you a principle? It will happen no matter what. If you testify that Jesus is the Christ like Paul did, and he got hostility, if you do that, you will get hostility. Jesus promised that. He said, they're going to beat you. Your family is going to hate you. If you really embrace me and live wholeheartedly for me, you're not going to get along with people in the world, in the world's system. If you're really living the Christian life, there's going to be opposition.
Or if I could even boil it down to more of an irreducible minimum, discipleship like this or apostleship, if you will, like Paul does here, apostleship will bring hardship. Discipleship brings hardship. Or apostleship brings hardship. Those two ships sail together. If you are sent out, that's apostleship, if you say, I'm going to let God use me and be sent out. I'm going to tell people at work, at school, in my family, when I go on vacation, in the store. I'm going to be a vocal witness. That's apostleship. I'm going to get sent out.
The other ship that will sail with you is hardship. You're going to get flack. If you want everybody to like you all the time, don't witness. In fact, don't be a Christian. If you're OK with not everybody loving you, but you want just the love of God and the family of God is enough for you, be a Christian with all of your heart, because going to heaven is always better than going to hell.
But apostleship brings hardship. I was so excited to move to Albuquerque and start a church. I just couldn't wait. It was so good. I'm a 20-some-year-old kid, so naive. My wife and I are married. This is going to be awesome. First year we start the church, a group of witches band together to pray our demise. A whole set of different covens got together. I heard this by-- there was a witchcraft convention in town. And they heard about us and the growth of this Bible study into a church. So they were all grouping together to-- I don't know who they're praying to, the devil? To see our church fail.
God takes that stuff very seriously as you know. Then a few years later, a group of satanists called the church and made threatening phone calls to our secretaries. I finally got the ringleader on the phone. He said he was a satanist. And people take this very seriously about our church. With evangelism, you're out winning souls to your religion.
And he said, we're going to come and burn your building down to the ground. And I remember my reaction on the phone. I laughed at him. And he didn't like that. He goes, why are you laughing? I said, well I'm laughing because our building is largely metal. Before we had this drywall skin on it, it was just a metal skin and a metal frame. And there wasn't much else to it.
So I laughed, and I said, it's going to take something to get this thing to burn. He didn't like that. I said, will you meet with me? He decided he would do that. I met with him over here at a local restaurant just down the street. And in a couple hours, led him to Christ. I had him come over to the church. And I said, now I believe you're saved. And I believe you want to be an honorable man. And the first thing I want you to do is come over to our church office and apologize to all the secretaries that you made those threatening calls to. He said, I'll do it.
So he's next door. Boy, I'm really taking my time here. "Out of the synagogue into the house of Justus, one who worshipped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of this synagogue--" Does that name sound familiar to you? When Paul writes 1 Corinthians, he said, when I was with you, I didn't baptize anybody there in Corinth except Crispus, and Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. They were the only ones I remember baptizing, because, here's why he said, Christ didn't send me to baptize. He sent me to preach the gospel, not in the wisdom of words, but in the power of God.
Now I have a question for you. If Paul believed in baptismal regeneration, the doctrine that says you have to be baptized to be saved, do you think he could have written those words in 1 Corinthians, Christ didn't send me to baptize but to preach the gospel? If he believed that you have to be baptized in order to go to heaven, he would have said, I baptize everybody and their pets, because I believe the only way you can get to heaven is by baptism, for Christ did send me to baptize. That's not what he wrote.
He believed in baptism. He did baptize people. But in Corinth, he only baptized a few. But one of them is named Crispus. And he, according to Verse 8, was at one time the ruler of the Jewish synagogue. He believed on the Lord with all his household. There it is again. He and his family believed and were saved. And Paul baptized him. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
Now I believe something happened. Something came to a head between Verse 8 and Verse 9. And that's because of the vision, the appearance, the words that Jesus has to give Paul here at Corinth. I mentioned he was weary, right? Verse 9 says, "The Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision." Here's the words of Jesus. "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent, for I am with you. And no one will attack you to hurt you, for I have many people in this city."
Paul was weary. Paul was weak. Paul had been alone in Athens. He came to Corinth, mostly alone except for Luke. He was weary. He was fearful. You say, Skip, are you making this up? How do you know that? Because in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 2, he said this to the Corinthians, when I was with you, I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. So that makes sense, right? If I say Paul was fearful, Paul was weak. He admitted that. I trembled. I was weak. I was afraid. Why was that?
Well keep in mind the events that have happened to him so far, no man of Macedonia, a few women, one lady responds. He gets beaten up. A few people respond, but that's not a robust start in Macedonia. Then he goes over to Thessalonica, and he preaches there. And some believe, but largely the Jews disbelieve, and they riot against him, and they persecute him, and drive him out of town.
So he goes to Berea. And he has some success. And he loves them, because they're more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, because they listened to what Paul says out of Jewish Old Testament scripture, then search the scriptures daily to see if these things are so. But by the time that happens, the Thessalonians hear that he has gone to Berea. The angry Jews leave Thessalonica, persecute him in Berea. So he has to leave Berea.
Then he goes to Athens. His spirit is provoked within him. Remember what says that? He looks at all the idols in that city. He preaches, not much success, a little bit. A notable Areopagite gets saved. That's notable. That's important, but it wasn't mega fruit. Now he's in Corinth, a very sinful, debauched city. He's weary. He's weak. And in fact, he may have been physically ill, like he had been in Galatia. And he admitted that as well.
So all of that is playing against him. And he's weary. And one of the reasons he is weary is perhaps-- again, when you go through the Book of Acts like this, it really helps to have read or to read, after this, 1 Corinthians or 2 Corinthians. You'll get an idea. He says, when I preach the gospel to you, the gospel is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. That's what he says to the Corinthians. The Jews were stumbled by a messiah who dies. Their messiah is a hero. He's not going to die on a cross. That stumbled them.
To the Greeks, the idea of a dead resurrected Savior was, the word in Greek, moron, foolishness. It means you're a moron. You've got to be an absolute moron to believe that. So he is getting pushback, resistance. And he's getting weary. Maybe he thinks, I'm leaving town. This is not a great second missionary journey. It might read good in the Bible, but it doesn't feel good. I'm tapping out.
So at just the right time, the Lord comes and encourages him. And he says, "Do not be afraid." Now last time I checked, you don't need to say that to somebody unless they are afraid. You don't tell somebody who's very confident, type A, everything's going to go good, I'm positive, don't be afraid. Don't worry, I'm not. That's absolute redundance. It's unnecessary, meaningless words. You only say that to people who are afraid. So angels show up to people. They get afraid. The angel first says, don't be afraid.
So Paul was afraid. And he said, I was with you in fear. He's weary. "Don't be afraid, but speak. Don't stop speaking, but speak and do not keep silent." Now in Verse 10, he makes three promises to him. Here's why you should be bold, Paul. Here's why you should not be silent, Paul. Here's why you should keep talking, Paul. Number one, I promise you my presence, he says Verse 10, for I am with you.
When you're alone, and somebody comes with you, it's quite an encouragement. When a friend is there with you, chaplains know what this is when I say the ministry of presence. You just show up. You don't even have to say anything. You just show up. And you just sit with that person in grief. And your presence will encourage them. Jesus said, I promise you my presence. I am with you. What did Jesus say before he ascended? Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. One of the names of the Messiah is Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
One of my favorite scriptures, Isaiah, Chapter 41, Verse 10, fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you by my righteous right hand. I'm with you. I promise you my presence.
"Second, I promise you my protection, for I am with you. And no one will attack you to hurt you." Well that's great to hear, because he's probably afraid. There have been threats against his life. I've had threats against my life on a number of occasions. Jesus said, I'm with you. And I'll protect you. Now let me just be quick to say, that's a great promise. It is not a blanket promise. It is not a promise God will always give you all the time. How do I know this? Because God didn't protect Paul when he was in Lystra, and he got beat up. And they thought he was dead. They stoned him with rocks. And they thought he was a dead man.
The Lord will not protect Paul at the end of his life when he gets beheaded on the Ostian Way in Rome for his faith. But for this moment, at this time, God says, I'll protect you. Jesus said, I'll protect you. No one's going to hurt you. Just talk. I'm not done with you yet, Paul. Don't be afraid. I'm with you. I'll protect you.
The third thing he promises, "I promise you my plan. I am with you. No one will attack you to hurt you." Watch this. "For I have many people in this city." Really? Last time I checked, there's not many. I'm kind of it. And I met this couple who got booted out of Rome. They're two and three. Oh yeah, Timothy showed up, Silas. OK, that makes five. I have many people in this city. What does that mean? He's speaking about unbelievers, who are Christians in the making. They're on the way to become Christians.
God is speaking, Jesus is speaking out of his foreknowledge and election. He has chosen many in that city for salvation. Now they are not saved yet, but they will be. But you need to keep speaking for that to happen. You keep speaking, and they'll believe. I have many people in this city. I'm believing for Easter that God has many people, more people in this city, who will come to that sunrise service and then to services afterwards, who are essentially God's people. Maybe not yet, but they will be.
Before it happens, he speaks out like it's done. The Bible says God knows those who are his. He is speaking in his foreknowledge and with his election. I have many people in this city. You talk, Paul. They're going to get saved. Could be your family members. You invite them. Could be your friends. You invite them. Don't come alone. Bring a friend. Bring an unbelieving friend. Give them an opportunity to hear the words of the gospel.
"Many in Corinth would believe, for I have many people in this city." Now when you get to the Book of Romans, Chapter 16, he writes Romans from the city of Corinth. And as he's writing, he's naming many believers by name, eight of them by name in Corinth. In that chapter alone, he greets many more, who are in Rome, that he says, say hi to them for me. But he mentions eight believers, by name, in Corinth. But he says, greetings from, listen to this phrase, the whole church.
So many people in that city will be saved and comprise the whole church eventually, as Paul writes to them. "And he continued there a year and six months teaching the word of God among them." So 18 months, longer than he's been anywhere else so far on a missionary journey. It will not be his longest stint. His longest stint will be in the city of Ephesus. But the second longest stint in any given town is here in Corinth. He's there 18 months, from the fall of AD 50 to the spring of AD 52. If I'm placing it correctly, that's around the 18 months that he spent in Corinth.
So he is there. Why? Because Jesus told him, don't shut up. Keep talking. There's many people in this city. So he's waiting around for the fruit. And he saw the fruit. Now I mentioned Aquila and Priscilla. And I'm overtime, but should I tell you why-- OK. So Aquila, the husband, Priscilla, the wife. Usually, though he's mentioned here as Aquila then Priscilla, usually, more times than not, Priscilla's mentioned first not Aquila. Why?
There are a couple of reasons. Somebody might say, well he was henpecked. But that's probably not the reason. Probably the reason is A, he was Jewish. And she was not Jewish. That is, she was a gentile. And she was a gentile, who was a prominent gentile, one who was a prominent gentile in Rome. So she was a woman of gentile status. And because she was known so well, her name comes first. That's a possibility.
The other possibility is that they were both Jewish. But she was more spiritual in that family than he was. She was more involved in the church. She knew the word more. She had exhibited faith in good works. And she was just known in a spiritual context more so, so that in the context of the writings of Luke to the churches, in church history, she is mentioned first.
Which one is which? I absolutely have no idea. It's one or the other. We're not told. So where scripture is silent, we are silent. But I just thought I'd throw that out.
Father, we thank you for this time that we spent together. Thank you, Lord, even though we covered just a few verses, and I intended to go through the whole chapter. How blessed we are, Lord, in considering this incredibly unique individual. We're going to meet him one day. We're going to be able to be with him, and see him, and talk to him, and be edified by him as he tells stories that we don't even know about, and we tell him our story, and we share those great epics of faith.
Lord, until then, may we be inspired by this man, and by these men, and by these men and women, even the ones we just mentioned. Priscilla, this dear woman of faith, and Aquila, this cute couple, who were tentmakers, but you used them, Lord, to turn a sinful city into, at least in some parts, a sanctified and saved city.
Thank you for the time we could spend together poring, digging, uncovering, unpacking these verses of scripture. In Jesus' name, Amen.
For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.