“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met 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 went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Acts 18:1-4
Paul left Athens of his own accord. For once, he was not run out of town! He traveled to Corinth around 50 A.D.. Corinth was a prominent and prosperous city located in the crossroads between the eastern and western portions of the Mediterranean with seaports on either side of the isthmus. The people were pluralistic. They embraced many gods and followed the practices of cults. However, Paul encountered a fellow Jew in Corinth by the name of Aquila, a native of Pontus (located in northern Asia Minor bordering the Black Sea). His wife’s name was Priscilla. Both of their names give a possible indication that they were freedpeople. Aquila and Priscilla had only recently arrived from Italy when they made their acquaintance with Paul. Most likely, they left Italy under the order of Claudius to leave Rome in 49 A.D. If they were freedpeople, however, Aquila and Priscilla could have chosen to leave Rome voluntarily and not under an order. Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla shared the common livelihood of tentmaking. Most scholars lean towards this livelihood actually as one of leather working and not the use of cloth.
Until Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul would have had to work to support himself. His free time, therefore, would have been conversing on the Sabbath with the Jews and Greeks in the synagogue. Upon Silas’ and Timothy’s arrival, Paul would be freed to devote himself entirely to preaching and teaching about Jesus. They would work to support Paul in their common endeavor to spread the gospel message.
“When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But 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 to you. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, 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
Opposition did arrive and became abusive. Paul found himself once again in protest against the resistant Jews to the message of Jesus and a redirection of his focus to the Gentiles. In a twist of interest, Paul physically does not have to travel far to bring the message of Jesus to the Gentiles; he only had to step next door to the home of Titius Justus. Paul taught and preached to those who wanted to learn and hear what he had to say. This passage also records the notable addition of Crispus, the synagogue ruler, himself, as a convert along with his entire household. Additionally in 1 Corinthians 1:14-16, Paul writes; “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)” Many believed and were baptized in Corinth while Paul resided there.
“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” Acts 18:9-11
After a period of time had passed, Paul heard from the Lord in a nighttime vision. We might consider this message as a dream vision. God instructed Paul to be bold for Him. He wanted to make sure that Paul shared the message with all he encountered. God additionally told Paul that he wouldn’t be harmed or attacked. This specific mention by God warms my heart because I find it a reminder that God knows my worries, fears, and struggles that I have in serving Him. These verses must reflect Paul’s struggle as well with all he had already endured in serving God. Paul remained in Corinth for 18 months teaching the Word of God and obeying the directive God had given him.
Questions to Consider
- Why did Paul feel confident that he could remain in Corinth longer than any of his previous locations?
- Many scholars consider Paul’s trade to be leather working rather than tent making. Does this designation change my perception of Paul or his trade? Why or why not?
- What are some reasons why Paul would want to join Aquila and Priscilla in their work?
- How can I be of service to others who are trying to do ministry work for God? What are some ways that I can make their work easier?
- Do I believe God speaks in dreams? Have I ever experienced God speaking to me in a dream? How?