8/07/11 Acts 18:1-11
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
TEAM FISHING IN CORINTH
For the most part the Roman Empire accepted and gave legal status to the Jewish faith. Apparently, to maintain public order, Emperor Claudius in 50 A.D. banished Jews from Rome. Perhaps the news about Jewish Jesus had caused an uproar in the Jewish community there. One Roman historian wrote, “As the Jews were indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] banished them from Rome.” Many think he mistook the Latin name Christos for a common slave name, Chrestus.
How did God use this in His mission plans for Paul (18:1-2)?
In Corinth Paul met two wonderful believers, a Jewish man named Aquila and his wife, Priscilla. Catacomb inscriptions hint that Priscilla was from a prominent Roman family. The husband and wife team worked, like Paul, as tentmakers. “Tentmaker” is another way of referring to any kind of work with leather. Paul teamed up with them to finance his outreach work each Saturday at the local synagogue. Paul, like all trained Jewish rabbis, did not accept money from his students. He earned a living in the other profession for which he’d received training.
2. Why did Paul make a living as a tentmaker (18:3; 2 Corinthians 11:7-9)?
The New Testament mentions Aquila and Priscilla six times. Today’s section tells that they were from Rome (18:2). They relocated their base of operations to the metropolis where Paul was working later, Ephesus (18:18–19). They trained Apollos, a believer from Africa, to be a pastor (18:24–28). They hosted a church in their home (see 1 Cor. 16:19). Still later they apparently returned to Rome (see Rom. 16:3–5).
How did Paul’s work emphasis change after Timothy and Silas came to him (18:5; see Philippians 4:15-16)?
In world-class Mediterranean cities of that time there were Jewish enclaves. The high moral standards of the Old Testament attracted non-Jews. They’d visit Jewish synagogues and hear readings and explanations of the Old Testament. That’s how they learned about the only real God, the Triune God. While they might never become members, this “in-between” group of non-Jews shared the Jews’ faith, but not all their practices. Jews called them “God-fearers.” Titus Justus (8:7) was one of these. His first name seems to be Gaius(Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14).
What was the usual pattern of publicity, acceptance, and rejection in metropolitan areas Paul worked, including Corinth (18:1-8)?
Originally, the Jewish community in a locality elected leaders with the right qualifications to be part of their Board of Directors or elders. In time, however, these positions seem to have become hereditary. Jews in Corinth asked Crispus to step down from his Board position. It seems the cause of his dismissal was his newfound sympathies for Christians and his beliefs that Jesus was the Messiah.
What happened to another Board member, Sosthenes (18:17; 1 Corinthians 1:1)? What effect might these two conversions have had on the Jewish community?
When God opens doors, the enemy tries to close them. There are times when we close the doors on ourselves because we get discouraged and quit.
How might Paul have felt about the beginning of his work in Corinth (18:6)?
Jesus had already appeared to Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1–6; 26:12–18) and also in the temple (Acts 22:17–18). Jesus would encourage Paul again when he was in prison in Jerusalem (Acts 23:11) and later in Rome (2 Tim. 4:16–17).
What prompted Jesus to specially appear in southern Greece to Paul (18:9-10)?
Jesus assured Paul that no one would hurt him and that he would bring many sinners to the Savior. Jesus promised, “I have many people in this city” implies the Bible teaching of God’s pre-selection of believers. It’s unclear whether Paul stayed another 18 months, or whether the total time he spent in Corinth was 18 months. This is second only in length to his two to three years in Ephesus (19:10; 20:31).
How did Jesus meet the commitment He made to Paul (18:11)?
God’s Work relies on a critical support network. Jesus Himself made His reassuring presence known to Paul. Jesus provided significant leadership by bringing Aquila and Priscilla to Corinth. He brought financial support from northern Greece – and influential former leaders of Corinth’s Jews.
1. What steps can a church family take to ensure their spiritual leaders can devote themselves to the study and sharing of God’s Word?
2. What missionaries do you have a financial partnership with? What difference would it make if other Christians refused them support?
3. How does Jesus use His personal encouragement to support us in our work for Him?
4. How does this section connect to Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23? What’s the connection to Isaiah 55:10-13?