Summary: To establish that God has people in every city - and needs our help to call them unto salvation. We are reminded not to trust in our skills in preaching - but in the power of the gospel of Christ to save.
1. Paul’s Troubled Entrance
2. Paul’s Trusted Exhortation
3. Paul’s Triumphant Exit
1. In our lesson today we will be discussing, God’s work in a city that is wholly given to idolatry and sexual immorality. Paul arrives in the city of Corinth and is taken away by what he witnesses. Corinth was a thriving city and great in commerce. It is similar to the many cities in the State of California. Some have called the books of Corinthians first and second Californians. The city of Corinth was called the “eyes of Greece.” Nearly 150 years before Christ it was destroyed by the Romans. It was later rebuild by Julius Caesar and became the metropolis of Achaia. It was therefore an important commercial center. It was in such a center of activity the apostle Paul planted the seed of the gospel and established a great congregation.
2. First, we will discuss Paul’s troubled entrance into the city. After leaving the city of Athens, he travel some 50 miles to the city of Corinth. While traveling to the city his spirit was truly down. He found no fruit in the city of at Athens. After the preaching on Mars Hill, there were only a handful of men and women who followed him after his mentioning of the resurrection of Christ in his address. He was press in his spirit and determined to go there after a perceived failure in his work in Athens. After entering the city he became even more despondent. The apostle experienced a troubled entrance into the city.
3. Secondly, we will notice Paul’s trusted exhortation while in the city. “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. This text clearly points out that God is working in the life of his ministers. It took this comforting message from the Lord to enable the apostle to begin his work in the city of Corinth with confidence. We should remember that “God calls things that are not; as if they are,” because He is in charge of all things, Romans 4:17. The apostle would experience great success as a result of his encouragement from the Lord, after this night. During our hour of doubt, despair and discouragement, our Lord will provide the exhortation needed for our success.
4. Lastly, we will give attention to Paul’s triumphant exit from the city. Paul labored in the city of Corinth one year and a half. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the life and conduct in the gospel would be sharply contrasted to the sinful lives of those in this city with its pagan immoralities. During this time he would write two letters to the Thessalonians. He will leave the city after establishing the church at Corinth amidst great strife and hatred of the Jews. He would turn to the Gentiles and find success. Luke would write: “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with his entire house; and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized,” Acts 18:8. Let us notice our first point: Paul's troubled entrance into the city.
BODY OF LESSON
I PAUL’S TROUBLED ENTRANCE
A. Paul like many other servants of God sought to do the Lord’s work. We recently, discuss the “good and honest heart.” We learned preachers and teachers are charged to sow the seed of the word of God. We do not always know the kind of soil into which the seed falls. God calls us to sow the word, not to grow the plant. “We can plant and we can water; but it is the Lord that giveth the increase,” 1 Corinthians 3:6. The word increase, Gr: auxano i.e., to grow and increase, become greater. The same word is used regarding John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. “And the child grew (auxano) and wax strong in the spirit…,” Luke 1:80, 2:40. It also indicates the work of God through his word. See Acts 6:7, 12:24, and 19:20. “So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase,” 1 Corinthians 3:7.
B. Paul waiting in Athens. Luke writes: “Now, while Paul waited for them Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, but he saw the city wholly given to idolatry,” Acts 17:16. The apostle was greatly disturbed about the conditions he observed in the city. Because Silas and Timothy were left back in Thessalonica he didn’t have the support he needed; nor the encouragement necessary to face this great challenge. They that had accompanied Paul to Athens were charged to return to Thessalonica and command that Silas and Timothy should come and join him in Athens with great speed. Paul was seeking for support and encouragement as he faced this tremendous challenge.