Introduction: Leaving Athens, Paul arrived in Corinth 1
1 After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.
Athens = intellectual capital of the region/ancient Mediterranean world
Corinth = political capital, cultural capital, financial capital. Geography: located in the narrowest part of Greece, between the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Culture: Much wealth, much opportunity, much immorality, host of the Isthmian Games every two years.
Big Question: What can we expect if we seek to bring Christ into our city? Answer: If we intend to bring Christ to our city, we will need to find true companions to share life with, we’ll need to stick to a Christ–centered message despite rejection, and we can expect to see a vibrant, growing, diverse, multi-cultural community of God’s people.
I. We need to have COMPANIONS if we are to bring Christ to our city. 2-3
2 And he found a certain 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.
A. We are not meant to live our faith in isolation.
B. Paul found people with whom he shared things in common, like Aquila and Priscilla…
1. They shared a common homeland. (Pontus, Asia Minor)
2. They shared a common religious background—Judaism.
3. They shared a common trade—tent makers. Probably in Corinth for the same reasons, to make money sewing and repairs tents for tourists at the Isthmian Games.
4. They shared a common experience of being evicted from a city because of their religion.
C. The growth of their relationship: Life-long friendship in ministry with Aquila and Priscilla. (Ephesus, Rome, etc.)
Application: We must have quality, long-standing relationships with Christian companions if we are to sustain a life-long goal of reaching people for Jesus in our city. We will most likely enter into these relationships through the routine, normal events and circumstances of life—so we should always be alert!
II. We’ll need to stick to an exclusively CHRIST-CENTERED message if we are to bring Christ to our city. 4-6
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 Christ. 6 And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles.”
A. The Christ-centered message: Jesus is the only hope of every human being in the world! Believe on Him and finds forgiveness, life, and hope!
Cf. 1 Cor 1 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. = Paul didn’t cater his message to make it more pleasing and reasonable to the city.
Cf. 1 Cor 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. = Paul purposefully limited all of his teaching and preaching to the facts of the death (and resurrection) of Jesus Christ.
B. The resulting conflict: hostility and blasphemy/insult. As we’ve learned in the other cities of Paul’s journeys, when the gospel pushes against the privileges and interests of a group, that group will push back against the gospel!
C. The decision of Paul: Withdrawal from the synagogue, immersion into the culture of Corinth—the Gentiles.
Application: The message that we’ll share with our city will only be the gospel of Jesus Christ—and we will not share any other message as if it were the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is very tempting to design a type of “gospel” that will not alienate us from others, and that others will not criticize or scorn. But to present anything other idea or action as a means of salvation is a terrible thing to do–only faith in Jesus alone can save!
III. We should expect a distinct COMMUNITY to form—the church! 7-8
7 And he departed from there and went to the house of a certain man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8 And 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.
A. The process: Hearing, believing, being baptized = all active verbs. Literally. “As they continued to hear the message of Jesus there was a continuous stream of Corinthians believing in Jesus and identifying with Him and his church by being baptized.”
B. Who made up this new community of God’s people, the church of Corinth?
…God-fearing Greeks, like Titius Justus
…Jews, like Crispus (former leader of the synagogue!)
…Paul, Silas and Timothy
…Aquila and Priscilla
…many Corinthians =
…Erastus, the Treasurer of the town (2 Tim 4:20)
…Phoebe, who lived in nearby Cenchrea (Rom 16:1-2)
…Stephanas (1 Cor 1:16),
…Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Cor 16:17)
…Sosthenes (1 Cor 1:1)
…and a great number of people whose lives were changed, and changing–as they joined this new, grace-filled community of God in the city of Corinth = 1Co 6: 9 …fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. = People with all sorts of hang-ups and sins and problems started showing up at this church in Corinth! They did not show up to church perfectly resolved, completely improved, never-again-to-relapse, etc., but they came as they were–needy, eager, and hopeful.
Do we every find ourselves grateful that these types of folks are NOT in our churches, when we should be frustrated and deeply concerned that very few of them ARE with us?!?! Why aren’t more drunkards, thieves, homosexuals, etc., flocking to our churches to find hope and healing, and why doesn’t it bother us that they aren’t here?!
Application: When a Christian keeps sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, we can expect that people will hear, believe, and be baptized into the faith. As this happens, we should fully expect that our community—this church—will continue to attract a widening array of different kinds of people from different kinds of backgrounds—all seeking to learn more, go deeper, and live out a life in Jesus Christ.