Summary: There is no doubt that when Paul arrived, alone, in the sinful city of Corinth, it was a little bit of a shock. Worn down, lonely, discouraged, he needed the provision of God.
Passage: Acts 18:1-17
Intro: When we read Acts, we get a picture of Paul in our minds.
1. we picture him striding powerfully from one rejection to another, brushing off the effects of this beating or that imprisonment.
2. but here in Corinth, it seems to have caught up with him.
3. many miles on foot, run out of four cities that we know of, imprisoned once, stoned nearly to death once.
4. ridiculed in Athens, terms used by philosophers = “seed picker”, basically what we might call a “dumpster diver”
PP dumpster diving photo from the web
5. and now he comes, alone, to the wicked city of Corinth, 200,000 promiscuous people enjoying the worship of Aphrodite and various other gods.
6. add to this the burden of the consistent rejection of the Jews, and we can see why Paul wrote the following…
7. seems to have reached an apex here in Corinth.
9. Paul was struggling! Let’s see how God provides.
I. God’s Provision: Providing Partners.
1. certainly Paul’s loneliness made his other situations seem worse.
2. but first God supplied Aquila and Priscilla, fellow Jews, fellow tentmakers, and at some point, fellow believers.
3. they had been tossed from Rome by Claudius, along with all other Jews.
Il) historian Suetonius wrote: “As the Jews were indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus, he banished them from Rome”
4. not at the instigation of Christ, but over the interpretation of Jesus Christ
5. so they were provided to give Paul a job and some companionship.
6. then Timothy and Silas arrived, and brought a gift from the Philippians.
7. so provision of Timothy and Silas to help support, but also this gift from his far-away partners, the Philippians
8. this provision of partners was wonderful, certainly would lift Paul’s spirits.
9. if I’ve learned one thing in 25+ years of pastoring, it is that you cannot do it alone!
10. partners in ministry are absolutely the gifts of God!
11. serving, giving, praying, supporting, befriending, encouraging, ministering side-by-side.
Il) anyone who says, “look what I did” is blind.
12. thank you for your partnership in the ministry.
II. God’s Provision: Overcoming Fear with a Call to Faithful Obedience.
1. it may not be clear in the description, but Paul was anxious.
2. in fact, check this out:
3. he was probably nervous because of past history.
4. preaches to the Jews, rejected by majority, goes to Gentiles, Jews get riled up, cause a riot, he is forced out.
5. so far in Corinth, that’s what was happening.
6. so he is expecting any minute for the riot to start, and in Corinth it would be a doozy.
7. so God, knowing his fear and recognizing the sin it would produce, came to Him in a vision.
8. “Don’t be afraid”, because fear will cause you to take a wrong path.
9. rather than “cutting and running”, keep on preaching, the very thing that has gotten you in trouble before.
10. this is so consistent in the Word of God
11. the answer to fear is obedience that comes from faith!
Il) Jesus is our greatest example of this. “If it be your will, let this cup pass…yet not what I will, but what you will.”
12. more and more in U.S., we are experiencing the fear tactics used by people trying to shut up preachers, especially from speaking to moral issues.
Il) prop 107 supporters have to assure us pastors that we will not jeopardize our tax-free status! That’s as bad as death in America!
13. are you afraid? Anxious? Find God’s will in the matter and do it.
III. God’s Provision: Limiting Resistance.
1. so Paul kept on preaching, and people were getting saved.
2. even the synagogue ruler, Crispus, and his whole family, got saved, v8
3. at some point, the Jews got together to mount the usual attack in court.
4. took it to Gallio, a very new procounsel who might be expected to side with them.
5. very short hearing.
6. I believe that he was taking his cue from Claudius, who as well did not care to become involved in a religious dispute.
7. so he tossed the case, and as we might say, “with prejudice.”
8. little extra-curricular activity after the gavel came down.
9. God had a plan and a purpose, and because He had plenty of people He was going to save in Corinth, He needed to limit resistance to the message and the messenger.
10. here’s one thing we can learn from this: that God is sovereign over everything, including resistance to the gospel.
11. if resistance suits His purpose, it happens.