Stand Firm, Stay Strong: There’s Work to Do

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament book of Acts—the account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus—as it was written and recorded by the physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (Because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be. Upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Cripsus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (1 Corinthians 18:-11).

 

            “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaea, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O y Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things” (Acts 18:12-17).

 

            “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cencrhea: for he had a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; but bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:18-23).

 

            “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the thigns of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:24-28).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the account of the apostle Paul journeying unto and entering into two cities with whom he would write epistles to. As you come to the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will encounter the apostle Paul journeying and coming unto the city of Corinth which was indeed one of only two churches whom the apostle would write two distinct epistles unto. What’s more is that if you continue reading the words which are presented in this passage of Scripture you can and will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Ephesus which would contain a body of believers which he himself would pen an epistle to. What’s more is that the church within the city of Ephesus would indeed see the likes of the apostle Paul, the apostle John, Aquila and Priscilla, Timothy and others who would be faithful ministers and stewards unto it. Not only this but the New Testament gospel narrative and at least the first epistle written by the apostle John would indeed be written unto the congregation of saints which was present in the midst of the city of Ephesus. In addition to this both epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy would be written unto one who was entrusted to be a faithful minister before and unto this congregation. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words and language that is found within this chapter for within it we come face to face with the apostle Paul and his companions coming unto two of the most prominent cities within what is not only modern day Greece but also modern day Turkey. The city of Corinth would indeed be present in the modern day country of Greece while the city of Ephesus would be in what is now called the nation of Turkey. Here within these two cities the apostle Paul would indeed preach the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus as there would in fact be men and women who would believe on Jesus and who would come to the faith of Him within their hearts and lives.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book and I am absolutely gripped and captivated with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the journey of the apostle Paul unto the city of Corinth. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that it would be in the city of Corinth where the apostle would further experience the resistance and opposition of the Jews against the word, against the name and against the gospel of the Lord Jesus. This of course is nothing new to the apostle Paul for the apostle Paul would experience direct opposition from the Jews which were present in many of the cities whereunto he journeyed and traveled. The apostle Paul would indeed venture unto various cities and towns throughout Syria and throughout what is considered modern day Turkey and Greece. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when the apostle Paul would journey and come unto these cities and towns there would indeed be those among the Gentiles who would receive the word and name of the Lord Jesus while many of the unbelieving Jews would move with envy and engage in persecution against the apostle Paul. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to this and how absolutely incredible it is for here within the city of Corinth we find the apostle Paul experiencing tremendous persecution and affliction from the Jews and yet how despite his being sent forth by the brethren from Thessalonica and Berea to escape the treachery of the Jews he would be instructed and commanded of the Lord to abide and remain in this city. In fact the Lord would appear unto the apostle Paul in the night by a vision and would not only instruct him to not be afraid but to to speak and to not hold his peace. Moreover the Lord would also declare unto the apostle Paul that He was with Him, that no man would set on him to hurt him and that He had much people within the city.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am reminded—not only of the experiences which the apostle Paul had in the various cities in which he journeyed but also the words which he would write unto the Corinthian saints in both epistles which were sent unto them. In order to truly understand the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter I am absolutely convinced we must needs carefully consider and examine the resistance and opposition the Jews presented against the apostle Paul in many of the cities whereunto he traveled and journeyed. The apostle Paul would indeed travel and journey unto various cities throughout Syria, throughout Macedonia as well as throughout Asia teaching and preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this being said, however, it is imperative that we recognize and understand that in virtually every city whereunto the apostle Paul and his companions journeyed he would indeed experience tremendous resistance and opposition from the Jews toward and against him. This is something we must needs understand for when the apostle Paul experienced the resistance of the Jews which was present in the midst of the city of Corinth he would not only shake the dust off his feet but he would also declare that from that time on he would indeed preach the gospel unto the Gentiles only. The apostle Paul had witnessed and experienced the tremendous opposition of the Jews in virtually every city whereunto he traveled and journeyed and coming here to Corinth he would experience the same affliction, the same resistance and the same persecution as his own countrymen could not accept the word, the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in the chapters which preceded this eighteenth chapter for within them we encounter and come face to face with the tremendous persecution which the apostle Paul would indeed experience from the Jews which were present in many of the cities which he would journey and travel unto. When the Lord Jesus spoke unto Ananias prior to his coming unto Saul in the city of Damascus and laying hands on him and praying that he might receive his sight and the Holy Spirit He would also speak unto him of the great and many things the apostle Paul would suffer for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That very one whom Saul heard was the one whom he was persecuting would be the very one whose name he would suffer many things in many cities. In all reality the apostle Paul knew and recognized that he must through many trials and many tribulations enter into the kingdom of heaven and knew that the Spirit bore him witness that bonds and afflictions abode him in every city whereunto he would travel and journey. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those cities whereunto the apostle Paul would journey and come unto and how much—if not a vast majority of the persecution he would experience would indeed come from those who were of the same heritage and lineage as him. What’s more is that we first see and witness the resistance and persecution of the Jews toward and against the apostle Paul in the city of Damascus as he would immediately begin preaching and teaching the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus. It would be there in the city of Damascus where the Jews laid in wait for him and watched the gates seeking how they might kill and put him to death.

 

            There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the pattern and progression of the resistance of the Jews for the more you read the New Testament book of Acts the more you will find that the very ones unto whom the word and gospel was intended to come first would be the very ones who would reject, resist, despise and even blaspheme against it. You cannot read the New Testament book of Acts without encountering and coming face to face with the absolutely wonderful and incredible truth surrounding this resistance and opposition of the Jews and I am convinced that if you want to truly understand the words and language that is found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book concerning the time the apostle Paul would spend in the city of Jerusalem there is a great need for you to turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the previous chapters concerning the resistance and opposition of the Jews. The city of Corinth wasn’t the only city whereunto the apostle Paul and his companions would come unto where he would experience the resistance and opposition of the Jews toward the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus. In virtually every city the apostle Paul journeyed he would experience tremendous opposition and resistance from the Jews. What’s more is that as if the persecution of the Jews wasn’t enough there would also be the legalism and religion of the Jews that would need to be contended with as was evidenced in the fifteenth chapter. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the previous chapters of this New Testament book:

 

            “And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Acts 9:23-31).

 

            “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:42-52).

 

            “And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, they were aware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lyaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: and there they preached the gospel” (Acts 14:1-7).

 

            “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been death. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned against to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perna, they went down into Attalia: and thence sailed to Antioch, from when they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples” (Acts 14:19-17).

 

            “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:1-5).

 

            “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apolonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received:and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go” (Acts 17:1-9).

 

            “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:10-15).

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul teaching and preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in each and every city he entered. This is of great importance and significance when seeking to understand the apostolic and missionary journeys he would engage in for in many of the cities whereunto he traveled he would indeed experience much opposition and resistance from the Jews toward the gospel which he preached. The apostle Paul would first enter into the synagogues of the Jews and would reason with them that Jesus must needs suffer many things, be crucified, be raised from death to life and that He was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. What we find in the New Testament book of Acts is something truly incredible for in virtually every city where the apostle Paul would teach and preach he would experience the resistance and opposition of the Jews as they would not only blaspheme but would also contradict the word, the name and the gospel he preached unto them. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the reality of this resistance and opposition of the Jews toward and against the apostle Paul. What’s more is that this resistance and opposition toward the apostle Paul wasn’t merely against him but was against the word, the gospel, and the name of the Lord Jesus. The Jews’ resistance and opposition wasn’t merely about the apostle Paul himself but had at the very heart and center of it unbelief, a hardness of heart, envy and being likened unto their fathers who resisted and rejected the prophets whom the living and eternal God had sent unto them.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome. It would be in chapters nine through eleven of this New Testament epistle we find and see the resistance of the Jews and their blatant and fragrant rejection of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that while Jesus did indeed and did in fact walk upon the earth as the Word which was made flesh it would be the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the chief priests, the elders of the people and the religious system that would reject and despise the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John reveals and demonstrates how the Jews not only persecuted Jesus but also sought to put Him to death. You cannot read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not come face to face with the tremendous resistance and opposition of the Jews to the person of the Lord Jesus and how on more than one occasion they sought to kill and put him to death. Oh this is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the Jews’ rejection of and resistance toward Jesus while He was in the flesh and how even after He was raised from death to life and ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven they would continue this resistance and rejection—albeit not a rejection of Jesus Himself in the flesh but rather to and against His word, against His name, against His gospel and even against those who would preach and proclaim any of it. What would indeed begin with the religious and political leaders being angered and offended with the apostles preaching the name of the Lord Jesus in the city of Jerusalem would eventually transition and exploded into a full resistance and rejection of the Jews toward the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:

 

            “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt then say unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art tho that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness; because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrah. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Simon a stumblingstone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 9:14-33).

 

            “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of OGd. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith sp eateth on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:1-21).

           

It is clear from these two chapters found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome that the Jews—those to whom the covenant, the promises, the blessing, the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the Temple, circumcision and the like—were those who resisted and rejected the gospel of the Lord Jesus. The very one of whom the covenant, the promises, the blessing, the sacrifices and the like pointed to and spoke of was the very one whom they would reject and despise. The more you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more you can and will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the resistance and rejection of the Jews toward the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It wasn’t enough for the previous generation (so to speak) to resist and reject Jesus who had come in the form of physical flesh and blood but now they were resisting the word, the gospel and name of the one who had previously been rejected in the flesh. This is something we must needs pay close attention to for when you think about and consider these words you must needs recognize that the Jews didn’t merely reject Jesus in the flesh but they also rejected the word, the gospel and the name of Jesus as it was being preached and taught by and through His spiritual body which was present upon the earth. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of this for when we come to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Corinth where he would find a certain Jew named Aquila who was born of Pontus and who had come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudia had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. Aquila and Priscilla would depart from Rome and would come unto the city of Corinth which was a port city in what was then considered Macedonia but today is considered the modern nation of Greece.

 

If you take the time to read the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that the apostle Paul would come unto Aquila and Priscilla because he was of the same craft for by their occupation they were tentmakers. The eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book begins and opens up with the apostle Paul coming unto Corinth where he would indeed find a fellow Jew together with his wife with whom he would abide and work. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words presented in this passage of Scripture for there in the midst of the city of Corinth the apostle Paul would indeed commit himself—not only to the work of the ministry but also to ordinary work. This is something that is truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it for not only would the apostle Paul give himself unto the work of the ministry of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but he would also give himself to the work of every day life. The apostle Paul didn’t come unto Corinth expecting handouts or expect anything from others but would himself work that he might provide for himself. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for there in Corinth I would dare say the apostle Paul not only preached the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but would also labor and work among them. Stop and think about the fact that for thirty years Jesus would grow up in the city of Nazareth in Galilee and would work with Joseph as a carpenter learning the skills and trade of a carpenter. For thirty years Jesus would undoubtedly work and labor with Joseph who was supposed to be his father and would indeed give of himself to that work until the time came for Him to be publicly manifested unto the people of Israel that he might demonstrate and manifest the kingdom of heaven unto and among them. The apostles Paul would indeed come unto Corinth and would align and join himself together with Aquila and Priscilla and would work alongside them in the craft of tent making.

 

Continuing on in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find that there in Corinth the apostle Paul would reason in the synagogue every sabbath and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. Eventually Silas and Timothy would come from Macedonia and upon their arrival Paul was pressed in the spirit and testified unto the Jews that Jesus was Christ. The apostle Paul would emphatically proclaim that Jesus was indeed the Christ and it would be this declaration that would greatly offend,  incense and outrage the Jews which were present there in the midst of the city of Corinth. Luke writes how as Paul was pressed in the spirit and testified unto the Jews that Jesus was the Christ they would oppose themselves and blaspheme. The apostle Paul would indeed shake his raiment and declare unto them that their blood be upon their own heads for he was clean. Moreover the apostle Paul would also declare how that from henceforth he would go only unto the Gentiles. It would be there in the midst of Corinth the apostle Paul would indeed make a conscious and deliberate decision to preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the Gentiles only for the Jews within Corinth would not only oppose themselves but would also blaspheme against the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for just like in Iconium, just like in Lystra and Derbe, just like in Thessalonica and just like Damascus there would be unbelieving Jews who would indeed resist and reject the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jews which were present in the city of Corinth would be moved with envy, would be consumed with the hardness of their heart as well as their unbelief and would raise themselves up against the apostle Paul.

 

If you continue reading the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter you will find that after the apostle Paul had shaken off his raiment and essentially shaken the dust off as a witness against the Jews of Corinth he would enter into a certain man’s house whose name was Justus. This Justus was one that worshipped God and whose house joined hard to the synagogue. Moreover Crispus who was the chief ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord with all his house and many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized. This is something that warrants strong and careful consideration when seeking to understand the narrative of the apostle Paul in the city of Corinth for there in the midst of the city the apostle Paul indeed experience resistance and opposition, however, despite that resistance and opposition the Lord Jesus would not allow the apostle Paul to depart. If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that there in the midst of Corinth the Lord would appear unto the apostle Paul in the night by a vision and would not only encourage but also instruct him. The Lord Jesus would indeed appear unto the apostle Paul by night in a vision and would instruct and command him to be not afraid and to holy not his peace but speak—and speak boldly and without reservation and hesitation. Moreover the Lord Jesus would also declare unto the apostle Paul that He was with him and that no man would set upon him to hurt him for He had much people in that city. Oh what a truly wonderful and incredible truth is found and contained within this passage of Scripture for what we find here is an incredibly unique and powerful picture of the Lord Jesus appearing unto the apostle Paul by night to encourage, to strengthen and to uphold Him for the Lord was not willing to allow the apostle Paul to depart from this city.

 

I sit here today thinking about and writing these words and can’t help but think about the previous events which took place within the life of the apostle Paul after coming to the Lord, believing on His name, preaching the word and gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, being baptized with the Holy Spirit and reasoning with the jews that Jesus was the Christ. If you look back over the history of the apostle Paul within this New Testament book—beginning with his time in Damascus—you will find that whenever resistance and opposition would rise up against him for the sake of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus he would either be sent forth from those places by the brethren or would himself depart. Time and time again within this New Testament book you will find the apostle Paul departing from those cities and places whereunto he came unto preaching and teaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the ninth chapter and see the apostle Paul being sent forth by the disciples and brethren when persecution, resistance and opposition rose up against him. There were multiple examples of this incredible truth as the disciples and brethren would indeed send the apostle Paul forth from those cities whereunto he would journey when strong opposition and fierce persecution would rise up against him for the sake of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There were countless times when the apostle Paul would indeed be sent forth from the midst of those cities and towns—particularly and especially when there were threats against his very life.

 

What we find here in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book is a powerful transition and shift within the life of the apostle Paul. Whereas in previous cities which he entered he would be sent forth from the midst of them by the disciples and brethren when persecution would rise up against him he would not experience the same thing here in Corinth. Here in Corinth we read of how the Jews opposed themselves and blasphemed in the midst of the preaching and teaching of the apostle Paul concerning Jesus of Nazareth. In the midst of this resistance and opposition of the Jews we find the Lord Jesus appearing to him by a night—the first time we read of the Lord Jesus appearing unto him outside of the encounter which Paul had with the Lord on the road to Damascus. Scripture does not reveal nor does it suggest—at least not as of yet—whether or not the Lord Jesus had appeared and spoken unto the apostle Paul during those times. Actually as I am sitting here thinking about the appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the apostle Paul I can’t help but think of the testimony the apostle Paul gave after he had been seized and come upon by the Jews in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. When giving his defense the apostle Paul would speak of and reveal how the Lord Jesus would indeed appear unto him while he was in the midst of the city of Jerusalem declaring unto him that they would not receive the word and gospel which he preached. The Lord Jesus would appear unto Saul first while traveling on the road to Damascus, the Lord would appear unto Saul again in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, the Lord would appear again while he was in Corinth, the Lord would appear again unto the apostle Paul while he was in Caesarea, and we know of another time when the Lord would appear unto the apostle Paul which he interestingly enough he would describe in the second epistle he wrote unto the Corinthian saints. Consider if you will the following accounts of the appearing of the Lord Jesus unto the apostle Paul beginning with the very first time He would appear unto him on the road to Damascus:

 

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shine round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (Acts 9:1-9).

 

Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. And also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The god of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:-16).

 

I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews: which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought as thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly made against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, LordA? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:1-23).

 

And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of the martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:17-21).

 

Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).

 

And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome” (Acts 23:11).

 

Each of these passages presents us with a powerful picture of different times within the lie of the apostle Paul when the Lord Jesus personally came to him and sought to encourage him in the work whereunto he had been called. It is absolutely impossible to miss and lose sight of the language that is contained in these passages of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the beautiful encouragement the Lord Jesus delivered unto the Lord Jesus. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it helps us to understand times within the life of the apostle Paul when he was instructed and encouraged to stand, to abide and to remain right where he was knowing the Lord was with him and had a work to do. There were other times when the apostle Paul would indeed be brought forth from certain towns whereunto he had come unto because of the vehement persecution and opposition toward and against him. The more you read the New Testament book of Acts the more you will encounter the activity of the Lord Jesus in his life and how the Lord Jesus would indeed provide a great amount of encouragement, strength and support. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the words which the apostle Paul used in the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. There is not a doubt in my mind that we must needs pay close attention to the words presented here in this passage of Scripture for within the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul seemed to speak of and mention the struggles, the conflicts, the afflictions, the suffering and the tribulations he experienced on a continual basis. The Lord Jesus made it perfectly clear that the apostle Paul would indeed suffer many things for the sake of His name and that with that suffering would be a witness—a witness unto the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Oh it was indeed true the apostle Paul would be a witness unto the Gentiles for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus, however, it is also true the apostle Paul would suffer a great many things for the sake of the word and name of the Lord Jesus.

 

If there is one thing that strikes me when reading the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it is how the apostle Paul would indeed experience resistance and opposition from the Jews, however, the Lord Himself was not willing to let the apostle Paul depart from this city. The apostle Paul might have been sent forth from Damascus, he might have been sent forth from Jerusalem, he might have even been sent forth from cities such as Thessalonica and even Berea, however, when it came to the Corinthian city the Lord would not allow him to depart. In all reality I would dare say the living and eternal God had a great work to be done in this city and had much people in this city and it would require patience and perseverance on the part of the apostle Paul. Oh there is something truly captivating about the words and language found within this passage for whereas the apostle Paul had indeed experienced places where he would find himself coming up against opposition and resistance and would be sent forth that would not be the case here in Corinth. I would not say the apostle Paul ever ran or fled from the cities and places whereunto he had journeyed and preached the gospel, however, what I can and will say is that the Lord Jesus was not willing to allow the apostle Paul to depart from this city. What makes this truly captivating when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that there have been and there will be times within our lives when we find ourselves coming up against a tremendous amount of resistance, persecution, opposition and affliction and the Lord Jesus has not called nor released us to move forth from that place.

 

I sit here today thinking about the words presented in the eighteenth chapter and I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with the fact that the Lord Jesus was not willing to release the apostle Paul from the city of Corinth nor from the people he had been called to preach the gospel to. The Lord Jesus Himself declared unto the apostle Paul that He had much people in the city which means there was a great work which he had indeed been called to. With much people would indeed come much labor and it was precisely because of this the apostle Paul was not permitted nor was he released to depart from the city of Corinth. Oh if there is one thing I can’t help but wonder is whether or not there were ever times when the apostle Paul grew tired and weary in the midst of the struggles, in the midst of the conflicts and in the midst of the tribulations and afflictions he faced on a regular basis. The apostle Paul knew that he must needs suffer many things for the sake of the name of Jesus, however, I have to wonder if that automatically meant that he never grew tired and weary of the struggles he faced. What about you? Have you ever grown tired and weary in the midst of the struggles you faced? Have you ever become fatigued in battle? Have you ever found yourself in a place where you aren’t sure whether or not you can continue going on in the midst of the affliction, tribulations and suffering you might be experiencing? Has there been a time in your life when it seemed the pressure was too great and too much for you to handle and you felt as though you were going to crack, and fold and buckle under the weight of it all? There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the apostle Paul did not experience times within his life when he was simply tired and weary from the conflicts, the struggles and the tribulations he would face. Was there ever a time when the apostle Paul simply experienced fatigue as he would find himself under the tremendous pressure of the suffering which he had been called and ordained to experience?

 

I read the words found in the eighteenth chapter of this particular book and I am captivated with and by the fact that the Lord Jesus would appear unto Paul—and not only appear unto him that He might encourage him but also that He might instruct him to continue laboring among this people. This is something which might be incredibly interesting to consider when reading the words for as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find that Timothy and Silas would come unto Paul while he was present in the city of Corinth. It was after Silas and Timothy came unto Paul there in the midst Corinth the apostle would be pressed in the spirit and would begin earnestly declaring Jesus as the Christ. It would be as a direct result of this the Jews which were present in the city would blaspheme and oppose themselves in the midst of the city against the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for in addition to wondering if the apostle Paul ever grew tired, weary and fatigued in the midst of the affliction and struggles he faced there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Silas and Timothy ever experienced this. Is it possible that Silas and Timothy ever experienced fatigue and tiredness in the midst of the conflict and struggles which they witnessed as a result of the preaching and teaching of the name of the Lord Jesus. I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and know that by this time Timothy would have witnessed the beating and imprisonment of Paul and Silas in Philippi and Silas and Timothy would also witness the tremendous opposition and resistance of the Jews which were present in both Thessalonica and Berea. Silas and Timothy would now come unto the apostle Paul in Corinth and it would indeed be much of the same story as they experienced in other cities. This is something worth recognizing and paying attention because it calls and draws our attention to the reality that there are times when not only can and will conflict arise within our lives for the sake of the gospel but we can and will be called to remain and abide in the midst of it. This is something which is entirely evidenced in the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle unto the Corinthian saints as it was within this epistle the apostle Paul would indeed write of his conflicts, struggles, afflictions and suffering. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth, eleventh and twelfth chapters of this second epistle:

 

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be Mande manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the thigns which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:7-18).

 

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

 

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:23-33).

 

It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing” (2 Corinthians 12:1-11).

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the truth that is found in the eighteenth chapter of this book. There is a great need to pay attention to the words which are contained here for the apostle Paul would spend a year and six months—a full year and a half—laboring among the Corinthians as he would preach the word and gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would indeed labor in the physical and natural sense as well as in the spiritual sense as he would not only demonstrate a commitment to working with his hands but also working with his heart and his spirit as a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for within this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul being instructed of the Lord to remain and abide in the midst of the city of Corinth. The Lord was not going to release the apostles Paul from the city while there was still a great work—namely preaching and proclaiming the word and name of the Lord Jesus. This is something we must needs realize for there are times within our lives when despite the tremendous amount of persecution, the tremendous amount of suffering, the tremendous amount of affliction the Lord cannot and will not release us from that place. Even though we might feel tired, weak, weary and even fatigued in the midst of those trials, troubles, tribulation and struggles the Lord appears to us and declares how His grace is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to as it brings us face to face with the truth surrounding the Lord Jesus providing us with the strength, the support and the encouragement we need to continue to persevere in the midst of that which we have been called to do of the Lord as His faithful ministers of the gospel.

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