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The Scriptorium

Trouble in Corinth

There's always trouble somewhere. Acts 18.12-19

Corinth to Antioch (3)

Pray Psalm 53.5, 6.
There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When God brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Sing Psalm 53.6, 6.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
The wicked flee in shame; their ways our God rejects.
Renew Your people in Your Name with great effects!
Let great rejoicing sound once we renewed have been,
and let salvation’s Word resound from us again!

Read Acts 18.1-17; meditate on verses 12-17.

Preparation

1. What happened to Paul?

2. How did the judge respond?

Meditation

It was inevitable. Those who could not silence Paul by reason or reviling, decided to turn the instruments of government against him (vv. 12, 13). We see this in every age, including our own. We should not be surprised when people try to force Christians either to conform or be silent by appealing to civil government.

Paul was about to explain himself (v. 14), but Gallio, being a true Roman magistrate, recognized at once that this was a religiousmatter and should be settled within the religious community (v. 15). The Romans allowed all kinds of religions in the Empire, as long as all participants, regardless of their sect, remained devoted to the emperor. Each sect had its own forms of discipline; Rome only got involved with civil matters.

The problem as the Jews saw it, of course, was that Paul was still preaching right next door! (v. 7) So, since they couldn’t get at Paul, why not beat up one of their own? (v. 17: I take “all” in v. 17 as referring to the Jews, not the Greeks. “Jews” – also “your”, “yourselves”, and “them” – are the only plural antecedents in this passage, and “the Greeks” is not in the original text.) Why Sosthenes? Perhaps because he was leaning toward, if not already supporting, Paul in his mission. Perhaps as a warning to other synagogue members. That beating seems only to have strengthened Sosthenes in his faith and determination to follow Jesus together with Paul (1 Cor. 1.1). 

We might be inclined to think that Paul was not a very good witness for the Lord, since everywhere he went, folks got upset and tried to bash him. But this is exactly what Jesus told us to expect, and Paul certainly understood this would be the case. Nevertheless, he was undeterred in his witness, and the Lord took care of him, even though the ongoing work of Christ meant he must suffer indignities, hostility, and even violence.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
For all the claims that there is no God (Ps.14.1), people get mighty upset about Someone Who doesn’t exist.

That’s the thing about Jesus. If you believe that He exists, and that He rose from the dead, just as He said He would (Matt. 28.6), then you must also believe the other things that He said. And those things have great bearing on your personal life and how you live it. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14.6).

So unbelievers must strive very hard to expunge the reality of Jesus Christ. It has always been thus.

It is interesting to note that there is not much violence associated with Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, or the tooth fairy. Though they are joy-bringing phenomena, they have no power. Life and death are not in their wheelhouse.

But Jesus. What we do with Him is The Issue of all time.

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?”
“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,
when His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (Ps. 2.1, 11, 12)

There will always be “trouble in Corinth”. But when we put our trust in Jesus, He will be with us as we stand with Him, believing in Him, the great I AM.
“I AM WHO I AM.” (Ex. 3.14)
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (Jn. 8.58).
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (Jn. 11.25).
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14.27).

There is indeed a God. Worship Him (Acts 18.13).

For reflection
1. Why do some people get upset about being encouraged to believe in Jesus?

2. Their aversion to the Gospel can make us reluctant to share. How can we overcome that reluctance?

3. How can believers help one another be more consistent in their witness for the Lord?

No crime had been committed against Rome. Gallio considered Christianity to be a Jewish sect. Because Judaism was an established religion in the Roman Empire, this “sect” was not in violation of Roman law. Gallio had his bailiffs drive the accusers out of his presence. Once again the sovereign hand of God preserved the life of His faithful servant. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Note on Acts 18.14

Pray Psalm 53.1-5.
Pray for Christians around the world who are experiencing persecution. Pray for safety and boldness for them, and that God would work in their tormentors and many would come to faith in Jesus. Pray for the unbelievers in your Personal Mission Field, and ask God to let you bear witness to Jesus today.

Sing Psalm 53.1-5.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God at all!”
Corrupt are they in whole and part, unjust and small.
Not one of them does good; God sees their wicked ways.
None understands the Word of God or gives Him praise.

Have all these wicked men no knowledge of God’s grace?
The Church they hate with passion and seek not God’s face.
Lord, strike their hearts with fear, where fear was not before.
And scatter all who camp so near Your holy door.

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.
Books by T. M. Moore

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