After these things (Paul) left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, 3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. 4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the [a]Christ. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them (Acts18:1-11)
There are a number of points to make from this phase of Paul’s missionary journeys, one being vastly more important than the rest (the clue’s in this post’s surprising title).
- As the apostle made clear in his letters, he wished to be a financial burden to no-one and earnt his keep as a tent-maker, sharing his business activities in Corinth with fellow Jewish convert Aquila. He had been exiled with his wife Priscilla from Rome under the Jewish expulsions instigated by Emperor Claudius (r. 41-54AD), albeit far worse was to follow for Christians under his successor Nero.
- As has been the case up to this point the focus of Paul’s preaching was in the synagogues “trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks” (v4). Many were hostile but not all – the leader of the synagogue, Crispus believed along with many other Corinthians and (as always) they were immediately baptized (v8)
- The Lord exhorted Paul to continue in spite of hostilities “for I have many people in this city” Who might they be one might ask? It is those of God’s children who are to be been given to Christ. As He prayed to His Father: “I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of this world. They were Yours but You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your word (Jn17:6). This pertains to the mystery of predestination and its context within the broader providence I am outlining. Likewise, the final point:
- Paul warns the Jews hostile to his message: “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (v6) But why should Paul not be clean (i.e. innocent, having a clear conscience) if he brought such a message of salvation to the Gentiles and the Jews had NOT rejected it? Was not such salvation envisaged for all? As I hope I have already demonstrated, that was not the case: “For as a result of the Jews’ rejection, salvation has come to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy” (Rom11:11). This was not a matter of protocol or order it was to be a transfer of privilege with respect to the future heirship of God’s Kingdom. That is an eluded mystery that has the profoundest eschatological implications – considered in detail in The Little Book of Providence (free PDF HERE)