Strengthening the Disciples
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 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. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, perhaps more than to anyone else
Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, who had come to Corinth from Rome (Italy)
Luke points out that this was because Claudius had commanded Jews to leave Rome
One of many examples where Luke mentions historical facts that were current events at the time
One more of the many reasons we know that we can trust the authenticity of the New Testament
They abode together because they were of the same occupation
they were tentmakers
there were very few “full time ministers in those days”
they were not doing the work as a career, to make a living, but rather as their calling to fulfill their purpose
they “worked with their own hands to support the ministry”
How different the church has become today
when it is quite normal, even expected, that people will not work in the ministry unless they are paid (with money)
How very different this is from the virtues and values that led these men to work to earn money that could be used in the ministry
What if we had the same sense of purpose today as Christians?
It is unfortunate that so much of American Christianity has given way to what I call pseudo christianity -
where they “purpose” of your faith is to “get” things that “you” want
Your success, your happiness, your wealth, your health, your family, your etc. etc.
It has become rare for me to meet someone whose faith has actually cost them something
even rarer to meet someone who has “suffered for their faith
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. 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. 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. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, 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. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
“They opposed themselves”
He understood, as we should, that when people oppose the truth of Jesus, they are actually doing so to their own hurt
They are opposing the only thing that can save them
Yet, people do this very thing, even fighting to continue in the sin that is actually destroying them
Paul chose not to waste time trying to force the people to be saved, who knew the truth yet rejected it
instead, he went on to the gentiles
we are the gentiles - thank God for Paul’s decision
So Paul entered Justus’ house, who lived next door to the Synagogue
Then the ruler of the Synagogue also got saved (Crispus)
Often the people that seem to be rejecting you today, will come to you tomorrow, if you don’t give in
In fact, many times they don’t come to their senses until they see that you really will live on with Jesus without them
Consider the prodigal son
Yet so many people do exactly the opposite of the son’s father/ The compromise their beleif’s in order to include the one’s who won’t repent. Or worse, change the message to just save everybody.
We are not the author, we are the messengers.
And 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.
After a year and a-half, Paul had trouble again with people ringing him before the court
We shouldn’t be surprised when people try to use the government to squash Christianity today
In fact, it should only make you more sure of your faith when you see unreasonable men goin to such length to attempt to silence the truth: If it were just a fable, why would they do so much? No one is trying to stop people from wishing on a star.
So Gallio refused to hear their case, and Paul was set free. But not before they beat the ruler of the Synagogue
After this, Paul stayed “a good while”
Then finally, he took his leave and went to Syria, and then to Ephesus, where he “reasoned” with the Jews
“reasoning” is a gift that God has given us
If a person is willing to use sound reason, and fairly examine the evidence, they will come to the knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospel
In fact, no one ever “reasoned” themselves into atheism. The evidence is just too overwhelming
On the contrary, when reason leads us to the truth of the gospel, there are many people who do not like that truth, and so they reject it based on emotion, or fear, or anger, or sin. When this happens, they must fabricate an alternate truth
This alternate truth is something that people will stop at nothing to adapt and sustain in order to “suppress the truth”
Yet, even when someone does have all of the “facts” of the truth, and comes to understand that God is who He says He is, that is still not enough to save them.
Just as no one ever “reasoned” his way to atheism, no one can “reason” themselves to salvation either
Reason alone is not enough to save you
We must come to Jesus by faith
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Only through faith can we actually receive this salvation
I understand with my mind, but I believe in my heart - and I trust that Jesus Christ has died for me, and rose again
By faith, I believe, beyond reason. Reason confirms what I believe, yet what I believe is so much more than reason alone
no eye has seen, no ear has heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man
Yet God has revealed it by His Spirit - this is received through faith
When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 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.
Here is a major turning point in the story of Acts, and Paul’s life
He decided to return to Jerusalem in time for the feast - probably the passover
“by all means” Paul was driven to be there - part of His purpose, even though his friends wanted him to stay
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.
So he left Ephesus, went on to Caesarea, then to Antioch, then all over Galatia and Phrygia visiting the places he had been and the churches they had planted on his way
So he left Ephesus, went on to Caesarea, then to Antioch, then all over Galatia and Phrygia visitingt he placees he had been and the churches they had planted on his way
Although he was determined to go to Jersualem, he had to go through these places on the way
So, he took the time to “strengthen” the disciples as he was passing through
What if we chose to live our lives that way?
You can “strengthen” people around you even as you pass by
While you are working at your job, learning at school, playing on a team
just about everything you do, you can be “strengthening” others as you do it. And sometimes, others will strengthen you
Let’s count how many ways we can be “strengthening people this week
“strengthen them in their faith
in their fears
in their suffering
in their needs
in their burdens in their doubts
in their joy
in their success
in their confidence
in their prosperity