1 After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, 2 where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, 3 and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. 4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to preaching the word and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6 When they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 So he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole household. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized. 9 The Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 He stayed there a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them. — Acts 18:1-11
When a Man Reaches Men, a Movement is Born
We were moving, again. At this point, we had moved almost a half-dozen times, and this thirteen-year-old boy would move another a half-dozen times in the subsequent fifteen years. But at that age, it was the end of the world. My friends were going to be relegated to a distant memory. After my freshman year of high school, my family and I moved from the urban melting pot of Washington D.C. to the mid-western suburbs of Minneapolis.
The culture shock was overwhelming, and the difficulty of finding friends wore me down well into my junior year. Even the one or two neighborhood friends I did manage to make were inaccessible in a school four times as populated than the one I left. Suddenly, however—through one friendship made with the right person—my world was opened to an abundance of friends who would eventually call our home the weekly place to gather for laughter, stories, and roasting hot dogs around a bonfire.
In much the same way, Paul entered Corinth with fear and trembling, for it was a town of overwhelming greed, idolatry, and promiscuity. Where could Paul begin? Much like my experience, it was going to take time, prayer, and diligence to evangelize in such a hardened city. Then Paul met a married couple who owned a leather/tent-making firm. It was there that this abundantly educated man would humble himself to the task of working with his hands. This would have been demeaning in Roman culture, but it served to differentiate him from the greedy, deceiving preachers of false doctrine the Corinthians would have distrusted.
Paul understood there was no such thing as “secular work” for a disciple of Christ (a carpenter Himself). All work is honorable when it is used for the work of evangelism and joyfully submitted to the Lord’s will. This work supported Paul’s ability to minister to the Jews when they congregated on the weekends.
About the time the Jews were growing frustrated with Paul, he received the support of his apprentices Timothy and Silas. They brought evangelistic support through their ability to proclaim the gospel to the Jews, and they supported Paul with offerings from their ministry journeys.
When Paul eventually grew tired of trying to make disciples of the Jews in the synagogue, he was able to find hope through the help of a key individual. Although the priests and religious followers of the synagogue resisted the gospel, Paul baptized and discipled the leader of the synagogue. Through this convert he reached an entire family, thereby catalyzing the growth of one of the largest churches in the first century.
As one man, Paul was stretched thin supporting his own ministry, working to find the catalytic disciple, and to shepherding the disciples he made. But the Lord was faithful to His promise that through diligence, teamwork, and producing disciples who multiplied by making more disciples, one of the most corrupt cities in that day eventually contributed to a movement that would reach out to the entire world with the gospel.
- Do you truly believe your work is significant and opportunistic for Kingdom advance?
- How can you utilize your workplace to establish connections for the purpose of cultivating gospel conversations?
- Much like Corinth, no matter how “secular” your workplace is, God has been preparing the hearts of those catalytic disciples around you. The harvest is plentiful. Begin to pray that you would be a willing and equipped laborer, sensitive to find that key person through your diligent prayer and love of your neighbors.
- Despite being one of the most educated men in his day, Paul knew loving God and his neighbors would mean demeaning himself to “lower” work. Please pray for your own humility and eternal focus, so you will never be “above” an opportunity to serve.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.