"After Athens, Paul went to Corinth. That is where he discovered Aquila, a Jew born in Pontus, and his wife, Priscilla. They had just arrived from Italy, part of the general expulsion from Rome ordered by Claudius. Paul moved in with them, and they worked together at their common trade of tent-making. But every Sabbath he was at the meeting place, doing his best to convince both Jews and Greeks about Jesus." Acts 18:1-4 (The Message).
Paul was a nomad but he certainly was no bum. He had no mission board behind him and no monthly stipend to depend on. He was not ashamed to get his hands dirty to take care of his own needs in the course of his mission. He had not only received a rigorous religious training but he had also learned a skill as a tent-maker, which came in handy to meet his needs and to give him credibility in his ministry.
Having done what he could in Athens to sow the seeds of the gospel, he left behind another small group of believers and moved on to Corinth. God was always one step ahead for him on his journey. Aquila and Priscilla, like-minded fellow-Jews, were already in Corinth and ready to give him a home for as long as he needed to be in the city. They were obviously His provision for Paul during his stay there.
No doubt Paul paid his way during his stay in Corinth and probably used his opportunity to "chat" the gospel to his host and hostess. There is no indication that they were believers when they moved from Rome. To all intents and purposes, the gospel had not yet reached Rome unless through some traveller who had spoken about Jesus in the capital city during a visit there.
At this point Paul confined his preaching to the Sabbath at the local synagogue. During the week he and his hosts worked together on their tent making, forging close ties of friendship and love that lasted a lifetime.
We have travelled with Paul since his pre-conversion days and walked with him through the shattering experience of a personal encounter with Jesus and the days that followed. He was a man just like us. He made his mistakes, misjudging John Mark, falling out with Barnabas, and had to change his mind in the end, but he was also a man of extraordinary courage and perseverance. Never did he renege on his commitment to follow Jesus and to carry out His commission.
Corinth was a particularly wicked city, as we glean from Luke's story and from Paul's letters. The infant church tolerated unacceptable behaviour among its members, probably because it was woven into their culture and they thought nothing of sexual perversion, drunkenness and factions within the church.
No doubt Paul needed to spend an extended period of time with them to teach the church the standards of godliness demanded by their new life. They had no background knowledge of the Scriptures and it fell to Paul to instruct them painstakingly in the ABC's of the gospel; hence the home of these amicable Jews to provide a base for him to operate.
Corinth must have been a learning experience for Paul as well. He learned to be a gracious guest as well as a loving and caring pastor of a church growing in the heart of "Sodom". He needed patience, tolerance and perseverance to guide the believers away from their old lives of self-indulgence and debauchery to the newness of Christ-indwelt children of God.
We will read Paul's letters to this church with new understanding when we recognise what he was up against in this city of Satan. God had provided an oasis for him in Aquila and Priscilla's home and a skill which he shared with his hosts. With that as a jumping off ground, he was able to live out and minister Jesus to the new believers there.
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