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The Scriptorium

Fear Not, Stay Put, Speak On, Don't Worry

What He said to Paul, He says to all. Acts 18.5-9

Corinth to Antioch (2)

Pray Psalm 125.1, 2.
Those who trust in the LORD
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

Sing Psalm 125.1, 2.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!
Like the hills surrounding safe Jerusalem,
Christ surrounds His Church and holds her in His mighty Hand!
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Read Acts 18.1-11; meditate on verses 5-11.

Preparation

1. Who joined Paul in Corinth?

2. Who spoke to him in a vision?

Meditation

Paul and Silas having arrived from Macedonia (v. 5), and the team was back to full strength. The Jews in Corinth opposed and reviled Paul as he testified to them that Jesus is the Christ Paul (v 5). He knew when he’d worn out his welcome, but he didn’t leave without a word of warning about the judgment of God (v. 6). Paul determined to go among the Gentiles in Corinth, and to symbolize that, he changed his residence (v. 7). This is not a slight to Aquila and Priscilla; rather, it was a tactical move. Having left the synagogue, where he had a platform for speaking about Jesus, he needed a place to meet with Gentiles, and so the home of a Gentile would have been a more agreeable venue than that of a Jewish couple.

This was a good move – conveniently enough – since Justus’ home was right next to the synagogue (in case any Jews might want to wander in). Paul’s leaving shocked certain members of the Jewish community. The ruler – the chief elder – of their synagogue, Crispus, apparently became persuaded of the Gospel and went with him (v. 8).

Many began coming to faith (v. 8). Paul doubtless began to worry about this, given what had happened in previous cities. But the Lord Jesus appeared to Paul to encourage him in his ministry, which would continue in Corinth for a year and a half. Note the Lord’s commands: Fear not, stay put, speak on, don’t worry. Jesus had many in Corinth who were among His people – elect, but not yet saved. He willed that Paul should continue seeking those lost sheep until enough had been gathered to ensure the ongoing work of Christ in Corinth was not only launched but established as well.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The order of these verses is significant. Paul, who had been reasoning with the Jews (v. 4), felt compelled by the Spirit, Silas and Timothy having arrived, to testify to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 18.5). Evidently, he had not done this so far. The Jews reacted poorly, and something seemed to have snapped in Paul’s thinking about his ministry. He said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads” (v. 6).

Whereupon the ruler of the synagogue, with all his household, believed on the Lord (Acts 18.8). The very people Paul “shook off” now became believers.

I once heard a radio show about people caring for their injured or otherwise disabled loved ones. The premise was that sometimes overwhelming love gets in the way of the best care. Seems counter-intuitive, I know. But when you think about it, sometimes we don’t do or say the hard things because we care too much.

So I am wondering about Paul: Could it be that his love for the Jews was hampering his message to them? Was his “reasoning” merely interesting and non-objectionable? After all, it was only after the arrival of Silas and Timothy that Paul seems to have unloaded the truth about Jesus being the Messiah. Was his Sabbath reasoning with them perhaps merely academic? (Acts 18.4) Was he withholding the warning, “Your blood be upon your own heads” (v. 6) out of love? I’m not judging Paul; I’m merely wondering.

Many of us have loved ones who are not believers. Because of more than “brotherly love and concern” we are grieved in the extreme for their souls. What if we were able to lay this all on Jesus? What if we were willing to “shake off” the human worry and trust the very able Lord Jesus to bring them to Himself? It does seem that once Paul, in his heart, put the salvation of the Jews in another category, things happened (Acts 18.8). His fondest hopes began to be realized when he removed his overt care and trusted the Lord for the results.

Again, just wondering. But here is what I know for sure: God cares more for our loved ones than even we do
(1 Pet. 5.7). Shake off the worrying about them, and put on trust in the Lord. Let’s claim this Word for them:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3.9).

Maybe backing off and trusting, like Paul did, could be just what they need to come to Christ?

For reflection

1. Do you think it’s possible to love a lost one so much that you hold off telling the whole Gospel to them? Explain.

2. Paul’s message to the Jews in Corinth was sharpened by the arrival of Timothy and Silas. Do you have a prayer partner or mission partner to encourage you in working your Personal Mission Field? Could you benefit from having one? Explain.

3. How would you describe the state of the ongoing work of Christ in your life at this time?

Let us not despair concerning any place, when even in wicked Corinth Christ had much people. He will gather in his chosen flock from the places where they are scattered. Thus encouraged, the apostle continued at Corinth, and a numerous and flourishing church grew up. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 18.7-11

Pray Psalm 125.3-5.
Ask the Lord to protect His people from wickedness and to redouble their efforts in seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of the Lord. Pray for God’s peace to be on you throughout this day and on all those who serve Jesus throughout the world.

Sing Psalm 125.3-5, 1.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
Wickedness shall rest not on this holy land;
sinfulness shall never come forth from their hand. 
Trusting in the Savior, firm in His caress,
Ever shall His favor on this holy city rest.
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Lord, do good and care for those upright in heart.
All who turn to evil shall from You depart.
Sinful men may increase, on their way to hell!
Save Your people, let your peace abound in Israel!
Refrain

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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