Message – God seeded a church in pagan Corinth
God seeded a church in pagan Corinth
Now Corith was the roman capital city of Achaia, which will be important later on.
After Athens, Paul went to Corinth!
Now Corith was the roman capital city of Achaia, which will be important later on.
“(1) After this Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.
(2) There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome.
Paul approached them, (3) and because he worked at the same trade, he stayed with them and worked with them (for they were tentmakers by trade).
(4) He addressed both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade them.”
I have had people who leveled an accusation at me that I was attempting to persuade them as if that were a bad thing or a questionable motive.
If someone does that, simply affirm that they are right, otherwise there would be no point in the discussion.
So if you are going to speak for Christ, do so by the power of the Spirit with the intention of persuading others to believe!
This is what Paul even said about his time with the Corinthians as he recorded it in his letter to them.
Let’s read it…
“(1) From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother, (2) to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
(3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
(4) I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus. (5) For you were made rich in every way in Him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge – (6) just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you – (7) so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(8) He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(9) God is faithful, by Whom you were called into fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(10) I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose. (11) For members of Chloe’s household have made it clear to me, my brothers and sisters, that there are quarrels among you.
(12) Now I mean this, that each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.”
(13) Is Christ divided?
Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he? Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul?
(14) I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, (15) so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name! (16) (I also baptized the household of Stephanus. Otherwise, I do not remember whether I baptized anyone else.) (17) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless.
(18) For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (19) For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.”
(20) Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish?
(21) For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. (22) For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, (23) but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. (24) But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
(25) For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
(26) Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. (27) But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.
(28) God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, (29) so that no one can boast in his presence.
(30) He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, Who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, (31) so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
“(1) When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God.
(2) For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling.
(4) My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.
(6) Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing.
(7) Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory.
(8) None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (9) But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
(10) God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
(11) For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
(12) Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God.
(13) And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.
(14) The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(15) The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. (16) For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
A word on the city and people of Corinth
Corinth was a mixture of New York, Los Angeles and Los Vegas.
It was an intellectual society, very wealthy and morally corrupt.
The phrase “live like a Corinthian” was a colloquium which carried strong sexual meaning.
A modern museum of Corinth has displayed a wall filled with crafted items shaped like genitals offered to their gods (most notably aphrodities) in supplication for healing rampant venereal diseases.
Whenever a Corinthian was depicted in a play they were represented as drunk.
It was in this type of worldly culture that a Church sprung up. It explains why this church had so many issues.
They are shown to have, at times, morality problems, doctrine problems, church government problems, spiritual gift problems, church service problems, and authority problems. Yet They are carried saints and God told Paul that He had many people in that city.
“(5) Now when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul became wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
(6) When they opposed him and reviled him, he protested by shaking out his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am guiltless! From now on I will go to the Gentiles!”
(7) Then Paul left the synagogue and went to the house of a person named Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.
(8) Crispus, the president of the synagogue, believed in the Lord together with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard about it believed and were baptized.”
This was a profound advantage. Synagogue in Corinth was run by a Jewish believer and was immediately next door to where Paul was staying! Also Paul acknowledged in his first letter to the Corinthians that Crispus was one of the very few people he baptized. [1Cor. 1:14]
“(9) The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night,
“Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, (10) because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
(11) So he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
(12) Now while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews attacked Paul together and brought him before the judgment seat, (13) saying,
“This man is persuading people to worship God in a way contrary to the law!”
(14) But just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews,
“If it were a matter of some crime or serious piece of villainy, I would have been justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews, (15) but since it concerns points of disagreement about words and names and your own law, settle it yourselves. I will not be a judge of these things!”
(16) Then he had them forced away from the judgment seat.
(17) So they all seized Sosthenes, the president of the synagogue, and began to beat him in front of the judgment seat. Yet none of these things were of any concern to Gallio.
(18) Paul, after staying many more days in Corinth, said farewell to the brothers and sailed away to Syria accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.
He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because he had made a vow.”
It isn’t clear what kind of vow this was but the interesting thing is that a more recent study of this passage suggests that for linguistic reasons the “he” in this verse is not Paul but Aquila, making Aquila the one whose hair was cut. It is likely that this was at the completion of a nazarite vow – See Levites, Laws & Nazarites.
Later in Acts 21:23, Paul may have shaved his head as well in a display of adherence to the law but this passage is actually most likely referring to Aquila.
“(19) When they reached Ephesus, Paul left Priscilla and Aquila behind there, but he himself went into the synagogue and addressed the Jews.
(20) When they asked him to stay longer, he would not consent, (21) but said farewell to them and added, “I will come back to you again if God wills.”
Then he set sail from Ephesus, (22) and when he arrived at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church at Jerusalem and then went down to Antioch.
(23) After he spent some time there, Paul left and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”
Apollos the teacher
“(24) Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures.
(25) He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John.
(26) He began to speak out fearlessly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.
(27) When Apollos wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace, (28) for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.”
Remember that I told you that Corith was the Roman capital of Achaia, and so Apollos was heading for the region which included Corinth.
We know that he taught and had no small impact on the people there, for Paul rebukes the Corinthians for pitting the importance of those who ministered to them against one another rather than focusing upon Christ.
“(1) So, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but instead as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. (2) I fed you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready. In fact, you are still not ready, (3) for you are still influenced by the flesh. For since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like unregenerate people? (4) For whenever someone says, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” are you not merely human? (5) What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us. (6) I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. (7) So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth. (8) The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work. (9) We are coworkers belonging to God. You are God’s field, God’s building. (10) According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds. (11) For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – 1Cor. 3:1-11
This in fact is almost certainly the exact time Apollos visited Corinth, during which time he built upon the foundation Paul laid since in the next chapter Apollos’ visit to Corinth is mentioned.
This is also why I call Apollos a teacher rather than an apostle. There is NO proof that Apollos was an apostle but quite a bit against that possibility. One in particular is that rather than start a new work, which is what apostles do, he was watering the seeds Paul had planted or to use the other metaphor employed by Paul, Apollos was building upon the foundation Paul had laid.
If you remember, the foundation of our faith was laid by the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles.
In fact, as we just read during our “Thru the Bible” session this past Wednesday night, as we finished up Isaiah, we read in Revelation how the foundations of the New Jerusalem or the bride were the 12 apostles of the Lamb.
“(1) While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples there (2) and said to them,
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
(3) So Paul said, “Into what then were you baptized?”
“Into John’s baptism,” they replied.
(4) Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, (6) and when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. (7) (Now there were about twelve men in all.)”
There are many interpretations of what actually happened here, but one thing is nearly for certain is that the passage requires a special rule of translation which we do not understand because ANY follower of John the Baptist had almost certainly heard of the Holy Spirit.
Not only does the Old Testament mention the Spirit of God, but John is well known to have proclaimed that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
It is suggested that this was simply linguistic shorthand for not knowing about the Spirit’s presence (Luke 3:15-18).
Gill suggests that what was here meant was that they knew about the Spirit and that He was promised to be sent but that they did not know He had been sent already. The Ethiopic version, to avoid the difficulty of the text, renders it, “we have only heard that there was an Holy Ghost”.
There is also the difficulty of if these were true believers or not, prior to Paul’s explanation.
Many believe, since they were called “disciples” that they had to have known Jesus since if they had meant “disciples of John” the text would have said so.
This is possible, but it seems odd to me that when Paul told them that John baptized unto repentance and that they should believe on the One Who was to come after him, namely Jesus – they were immediately baptized in the name of Jesus. One would think if they had already heard that Jesus was the One John prophesied about, they would have already been baptized when they believed. At any rate, they clearly did not know the Spirit of God had been given.
This would not have been difficult since many knew of Jesus’ resurrection who MAY NOT have been among those who waited in the upper room in Jerusalem when the Spirit was given 10 days after Jesus’ departure.
It has also been suggested that this may be one of the ways in which Apollos needed further clarification and learning which Aquila and Pricilla provided to him.
Regardless, we know that there is a clear and subsequent experience with the Spirit of God following salvation and in this case it does not say they were baptized in the Spirit like what happened in the upper room in Jerusalem but that the Spirit filled them.
“(8) So Paul entered the synagogue and spoke out fearlessly for three months, addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God. (9) But when some were stubborn and refused to believe, reviling “the Way” before the congregation, he left them and took the disciples with him, addressing them every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.”