Paul in Corinth (1)
Pray Psalm 147.15-20.
He sends out His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes;
He casts out His hail like morsels;
Who can stand before His cold?
He sends out His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.
He declares His word to Jacob,
His statutes and His judgments to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His judgments, they have not known them.
Praise the LORD!
Sing Psalm 147.15-20.
(St. Anne: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
His Word to earth runs to and fro to carry out His will;
He brings the rain, He sends the snow, and none can keep Him still.
His Word He to His Church bestows—His promises and Law.
No other nation God thus knows: Praise Him with songs of awe!
Read and meditate on Acts 18.1-4.
1. Whom did Paul meet in Corinth?
2. Why did he stay with them?
These four verses remind us that God is at work in many ways to accomplish His purposes. We begin with the work of Paul. Coming from Macedonia (Philippi and Thessalonica), Paul stopped briefly in Athens, where he continued his work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus (Acts 17). He came to Corinth probably for two reasons. First, it was a bustling commercial center, so he could expect many opportunities to talk with people about Jesus. Also, it was a seaport, and Paul was thinking about getting to Jerusalem by the feast. Corinth would be a good place to find passage.
Second, we see the work of God in history, as He sovereignly moved Priscilla and Aquila from Rome to Corinth in advance of Paul’s arrival (v. 2). The king’s heart, Solomon reminds us, is in the Lord’s hands; He turns it as He will (Prov. 21.1), and He willed to have this couple in Corinth before Paul arrived. Not only were they a most hospitable couple, but God had given them a work Paul knew well, so he could join them, thus supporting himself and bolstering their revenue (v. 3), and they could join him in his work of furthering the Gospel. These three together demonstrate the truth that the work we’ve been given to do is greater than the job at which we work.
Finally, we circle back to Paul and his work of talking about Jesus (v. 4). He went to the synagogue every Sabbath, where he taught and answered questions; and, Luke tells us, he managed to persuade “both Jews and Greeks” to believe in Jesus. Here is the beginning of the Church in Corinth, and the work of God is over, under, and through it all.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
All God’s people have work to do in His Kingdom, work that far outweighs the job we do to put food on our tables. In fact, to God, the job, although beneficial for us and for our families and communities, is practically irrelevant. Aquila, Priscilla, and Paul were all tentmakers by trade, but were followers of God supremely.
In Paul’s writings, he reminded his readers that they were precious in God’s sight and were bought at a price—Jesus left His heavenly home to live on earth for thirty-three years, loving others, suffering persecution, experiencing a heinous death, and separated from God while carrying all the sins of mankind into hell—that costly price.
He also encouraged them to “remain with God in that state in which [they were] called” (1 Cor. 7.23, 24). In other words, it is not necessary for any person to change their gainful employment upon becoming Christians (the exception being careers breaking the Law of God in any way, shape, or form).
And if God wants us to pursue new careers that He chooses for us, then He is quite capable of making that clear. For example, God changed Paul from his work of being a perpetually mean and haughty religious zealot tentmaker, to His humble and loving servant. Or Moses and David were called out of being herdsmen to being a deliverer and king. God has His reasons and His plans for each of us. As He said to Samuel during the calling of David: “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16.7). And He liked David’s heart. Ours must be as pleasing.
It is good for us to remember that Paul, the greatest theologian of all time, was a tentmaker by trade. Although honorable work, it lacked in the glitz and riches department, yet he gobsmacked all with his genius.
And he was such an authentic follower of The Way, that he was able to write, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11.1).
God’s work is the most important work we will ever do. And daily, to be ready for it, we must be in His Word and prayer. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2.10), while also being doctors, trash collectors, lawyers, cleaners, teachers, tentmakers, housewives, pastors, landscapers, writers, chefs, soldiers, fire and police persons, theologians, government workers, musicians, artists, and a zillion other necessary works.
Always remembering: “The work we’ve been given to do is greater than the job at which we work.”
1. How would you sum-up the work God has given you to do? What does it include?
2. How do you seek the Kingdom and righteousness of God in all your work?
3. How has God used your work to encourage other believers in theirs?
Paul, after countless journeys, despite such great wonders, stayed with a tentmaker and sewed skins. Angels honored him and demons trembled at him, and still he was not ashamed to say, “These same hands served my needs and those who were with me.” John Chrysostom (344-407), Catena on the Acts of the Apostles 18.3-5
Pray Psalm 147.1-11.
Give thanks and praise to God for all who do His work. Pray that He will use you in your work today to advance His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Sing Psalm 147.1-11.
(St. Anne: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
Praise God, for it is good to sing loud praises to the LORD!
With joy our songs of praise we bring to God and to His Word.
The LORD builds up His Church and He His people gathers in.
The broken hearts He tenderly repairs and heals their sin.
He counts the stars, He knows the name of every chosen soul;
His pow’r is great, and great His fame Who understands us whole.
The humble God exalts above; the wicked He casts down.
Sing thanks to this great God of love; let songs of praise abound.
He brings refreshing rain to earth and feeds the beasts so dear.
He puts in man’s strength naught of worth, but loves those who God fear.
T. M. and Susie Moore
The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.
Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.
And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.
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, available free by clicking here.