Corinth was a major city of Greece. It was on a peninsula at the southern tip of Greece. The land at this point was only about five miles east to west. Bordered by two harbors on either side, all traffic north and south passed through the city. It was known as the lookout, the guard, the eye of Greece. Made up of Greeks, Romans, Jews and adventurers who dwelt in business transactions during the day and parties in the night clubs by night, the city was a pleasure-made city. The goddess of fertility, Aphrodite, had her temple here. It was home to the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games. It was to this sophisticated city that Paul came to spread the gospel.
Paul was apparently discouraged when he came to Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:3). He had been run out of the three previous cities where he had ministered – Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. In Athens he had seen little success. In Corinth he was facing a proud, intellectual, busy and immoral populace. Silas and Timothy had remained behind in Macedonia to minister, so he was apparently alone on this part of the trip.
God met Paul’s need. He appeared to Paul in a vision and assured him of His presence and His protection (Acts 18:9). He led Paul to the path of two believers, Aquila and Priscilla (husband and wife team), who were also tentmakers like Paul. Expelled from Rome along with all the other Jews by Emperor Claudius, they had just recently arrived in Corinth. Paul was able to live with them and work alongside of them to provide for his needs. Later Timothy and Silas joined him, bringing news of the strong faith of the believers in Thessalonia.
Strengthened by God, Paul remained in Corinth for 1 1/2 years with great success in sharing the gospel. The chief ruler of the synagogue became a believer along with a great number of Gentiles. The Gentiles of that time were often attracted to the Jewish religion, especially the well-to-do women. They lived in an immoral world that gave no rights to women. Thus, they found great security in a religion of high morality.
There were wealthy converts also. Gaius was Paul’s host (Romans 16:23). Erastus was the chamberlain (treasurer) of the city. Chloe was probably a lady of extreme wealth with business interests in both Corinth and Ephesus (1 Cor. 1:11).
But it appears the majority of believers were average people who came from very sinful backgrounds. Paul clearly says, “…not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called: But God has chosen the…base things of the world and the things which are despised…” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Evangelism and Discipleship
- Paul left Athens where his reception was unproductive to go to another area to preach the gospel.
- Matthew 10:14 – And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
- Matthew 7:6 – Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
Paul found and developed people.
- Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and teach (make disciples of) all nations.
- 2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Ministry vs. Secular Labor
- Minister should be supported in his labor.
- 1 Corinthians 9:13 – Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar. Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
- Bottom line: word of God must be given.
- Acts 4:20 – For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
- 1 Corinthians 9:16 – For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me, yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
- Like Jesus, Paul was in the house of God on the Sabbath.
- Paul “reasoned” – presented sound, thoughtful, logical points, answered and settled questions in a reasonable way.
- Paul “persuaded” – prevailed, urged, induced, pleaded, begged, sought to move and bring about a change of heart and mind.
- 1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify (set apart) the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
Sharing the Gospel May Bring Rejection – Requires Effort
- Paul was “compelled” (sunecho – to grip tightly – describes affliction of pain or fear, being held fast). The love of Christ leaves us no choice but to live our lives for Him and share the gospel with others.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14 – For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus, that if One died for all, then all died.
- Paul was rejected. When the message we share is rejected, we are not to give up. We are to simply try another person. Rejection does not feel good – but we must press on and share with others.
- Matthew 10:12-14 – And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
- Acts 13:51 – But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium
The Lord Will Always Encourage His Servant
- Do not be afraid.
- Do not keep silent.
- I am with you.
- No one will harm you.
- There are others on your side.
- Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
- Isaiah 43:1-3 – But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall the flame scorch you.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
- Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:6; Psalm 28:7; 2 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 54:17