Sources for information on Corinth:
Corinth was a port city with two harbors. In the 1800s a canal was cut through the city to allow ships to pass from one side to the other. It was an ancient city with a combined Greek and Roman culture. This made Corinth a strategic location for the spread of the gospel. Many people passed through Corinth on the way to other places. The links above provide different perspectives on Corinth at the time Paul would have lived there. The diversity of the city resulted in a church with many challenges. Paul only spent extended time in two cities during his missionary journeys. One of those was Ephesus and the other was Corinth. In this chapter we find Paul doing what he regularly did when he came to a new city. We are also introduced to some introduced to some interesting people who play significant roles in the growth of the early church.
1. What might have attracted Paul to Corinth?
Seaports were always attractive places to share the gospel. It was very likely that some converts would be traveling through and would carry the message to other parts of the Roman world. There is also a significant Jewish population in Corinth and this provides Paul with a starting point for his ministry there.
2. What was Paul’s vocation?
We sometimes think of Paul as a lawyer due to his identification as a Pharisee. He certainly was very familiar with the law, but his real vocation was tent maker. Paul was not unusual. It was expected that Jewish men would have a trade or skill that they would use to support themselves and their family.
3. How did he use this to spread the gospel?
Paul didn’t set up shop in a warehouse somewhere and then hire someone to sell his tents in their store. It is more likely that he joined Priscilla and Aquila in the marketplace where the were able to show their work to everyone who passed by. It would be typical for them to talk to people as they worked, and this provided many opportunities to talk about Jesus.
Just yesterday I went to the grocery store in the small town near where we stay on the coast. I had never experienced this before, but a man stopped me in the produce department and proceeded to share his thoughts on the fires and power shutdown we had recently experienced. I have often witnessed these kinds of conversations between locals at the market. It is a gathering place for people who live in this area and that makes it a great place to pick up on the local news.
1. What was Paul’s approach to spreading the gospel?
Paul’s typical approach was to teach in the synagogue on the Sabbath. His stature as a Pharisee from Jerusalem would have made him an honored guest, at least until the leaders of the synagogue figured out what Paul’s real message was. Paul always shared with the Jews first if there was a Jewish presence in the city where he was living.
2. How did Silas and Timothy help?
We are not told exactly what they did, but it would seem that Silas and Timothy performed some sort of work to provide for Paul and themselves. Their presence provided Paul with emotional and physical support.
3. Who are among Paul’s first converts?
Many of the Jews rejected Paul’s message, but the leader of the synagogue and his family accepted Paul’s message. This family would have provided a strong leadership base for the new church being formed in Corinth.
4. How do these people respond to Paul’s message?
They believed and were baptized. They believed the gospel message. They were separated from God by sin. God sent His Son to earth to show us His love and how to live. Jesus died on a cross and shed His blood to provide us with forgiveness of our sins and bridge the separation that existed between us and God. Then Jesus rose from the dead to demonstrate that He was who He claimed to be.
We are also told that they were baptized. Baptism was for forgiveness of their sins and as they were being baptized, they reenacted the message of the gospel. (see Romans 6) Baptism was the mark of identification for all who believed in Jesus.
1. How does God provide for Paul?
God provides Paul with protection. He provides this security for Paul and direction on his mission. so that Paul can focus on sharing the gospel and reach all those who are open to receiving it.
2. What does this enable Paul to accomplish?
This enables Paul to focus on sharing the gospel and reach all those who are open to receiving it.
1. What do the Jews attempt to do to Paul?
They attempt to silence him by taking him to court to have him arrested.
2. How does the government official respond?
The proconsul has no interest in religious matters. Rome allowed people to worship as they pleased if they were not creating a disturbance. This will not always be the case. There will come a time when refusal to accept Caesar as lord will result in severe persecution. The proconsul does not consider the Jew’s case to worthy of his time and drives them away.
3. How do the Jews react to this response?
They react with violence toward one of their leaders. It is interesting how often the Jews turn to violence when they can’t get their way. The beating did not upset the proconsul’s sense of order enough for him to respond in any way. Since the mob was hurting one of their own and presented no threat to Rome, what they were doing was of no consequence.
1. What does Paul’s vow tell us about him?
Paul was very Jewish. Vows were a serious thing for the Jews and taking a vow was common. Vows were also marked by some physical change. Some vows were for a lifetime, but most were for a short time. We are not told what Paul’s vow was, only that he made one and it would have been obvious to anyone who saw him.
2. Where is Paul going?
He is going to visit both Jerusalem and Antioch before beginning his third missionary journey.
3. What does he do along the way?
Everywhere Paul goes he continues to preach the good news. He would also be sharing with the believers what God was doing in the other places where he had been. This would have been very important in Antioch as that church was the one that commissioned him.
4. What is his new mission?
His new mission is to return to the places where he has started churches to strengthen those believers. As we read through the next few chapters of Acts we also discover that Paul was collecting money to be taken back to Jerusalem to share with the believers there who were struggling through a famine.
1. Which scriptures did Apollos have great knowledge of?
Apollos was an expert in what we identify as the Old Testament. He grew up in a place of great learning and must have taken his Jewish heritage very seriously even though he grew up in Egypt.
2. Where did Apollos learn about Jesus?
It is likely that some Jewish believers returned from celebrating Pentecost in Jerusalem and brought the message of Jesus to Alexandria. This apparently stirred Apollos to begin looking for Jesus in the Old Testament. He would have found Jesus all through the Old Testament scriptures and what he found he shared with others.
3. What character quality did Apollos demonstrate in his relationship with Priscilla and Aquila?
Apollos was teachable. He was a great teacher and he was still willing to be taught by a couple of tent makers. This quality is especially rare among those who are very learned.
4. What is Apollos’ gift?
Today we would call Apollos and apologist. He was someone who could enter a debate and make clear arguments for Jesus being the Messiah. He was very skilled in debate.
5. How did he use his gift to help the church?
The early church was constantly under attack from the Jews. This makes sense because Christianity was a real threat to the Jewish way of life. Every time Apollos won a debate he encouraged his fellow believers to continue in what they believed.