Thursday, December 6, 2007

Acts, Chapter 18

The recurring theme of Acts has been God accomplishing many things when human strength fails. Each chapter in this book supports this theme because of the adversity that those, especially Paul, faced wherever they went. Chapter 18 is another example of that. On the surface it looks like the same tale we have heard before, but there is a bit of a difference because for the first time, someone from a human perspective comes to Paul's aid. Once again the Jews were after Paul because he was spreading the gospel that they did not want to hear, but in Corinth he receives a manner of defense from the powers in Corinth since they actually saw the argument for what it was: a difference of opinion and not a matter of state.

5When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 7Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. – Acts 18:5-8

This is an important split because from here we see Paul concentrate almost exclusively on the Gentiles. Sure, he would not shun those that were Jews if they decided to believe in Christ, but this is where he reached his limit with exclusively going after them because of their attitudes toward him. Much like anyone dealing with a bully that constantly tormented them for almost no reason, Paul finally decided to wash his hands of the matter. We know that he was called to spread the message to the Gentiles anyway. While there are numerous Jews throughout the world, they are just a small part of the number of people on the planet. Therefore it is important that the message be spread to the Gentiles as well since they far outnumber the Jews, yet are still in need of salvation. Paul then made it his life's work to spread the word of Christ to them, and, because of his writings in the New Testament, his efforts echo through the centuries.

9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." –Acts 18:9-10

Is there anything better than encouragement directly from the Lord? Imagine how frustrated and angry Paul had to have been at this time. We don't know this, but what if he was ready to give up right then and there? Once again the strength of the Lord prevails when human weaknesses threaten to overcome. As we see over the next few verses, God delivered on his promise as Paul was not attacked over the next year and a half. When he was attacked, God provided protection in the form of Gallio.

14Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." 16So he had them ejected from the court. – Acts 18:14-16

Gallio saw the matter for what it was, and that was a difference of opinion. It was an argument of words that the Jews were upset about because it did attack the very foundations of their faith, but that was the point of Christ's life. Of course He was going to shake things up because He was the Son of God. It is from this that Paul gathers more strength for his mission, and we can be thankful today that he gave every ounce of himself to fulfill that mission.


  1. What is the limit of your own strength and how does God extend it for you?
  2. What is the importance of a synagogue leader coming to Christ?
  3. How does God use secular leadership today to help His followers?

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