“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you…” (Acts 18:9-10)
There is a lot of drama in this chapter! God’s people at different levels of maturity, with different ethnicities and religious upbringings, learning different interpretations of what He wants and what the Bible says. Some taking Jesus seriously while others don’t. Hot emotions, harsh words, synagogue splits, dragging God’s family to court. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The nascent Church in Korinthos had to navigate all of this as well as staying on the good side of a governor dealing with an influx of political refugees. But they weren’t alone. God communicated clearly with some of them, when to be silent and when to argue. He also sent them seasoned teachers, seminarians, and ministry teams. They helped one another serve, like how Apollos engaged with the dissenters when Paul couldn’t anymore. Refugees turned their exile into a missionary movement. All because God was with them; and He’s still with us today.
Around the year 0050, Paul & Luke arrived in Korinthos (Greece) during their second missionary circuit. They moved in with Jewish-Italian tentmakers Priscilla & Aquila, who had settled there as refugees from Rome. Paul worked alongside them making tents and spending weekends preaching in the local synagogue to Jewish people and Gentile converts. He told them Jesus is the Messiah they’d been waiting for, and shared teachings from the Church in Jerusalem.
Silas & Timothy came from Macedonia to help Paul minister. So many believed the good news that the Jewish people who dissented became outraged and treated Paul abusively. Paul got frustrated, so he pivoted to preach to the non-Jewish people in the city, and many believed in Jesus! The Lord personally told Paul to keep preaching despite his fear, because the Lord and His people would take care of Paul & his team. So they continued preaching for a year and a half. The Jewish group, upset with Paul, kept brooding until Sosthenes, their leader, took him to court. But Governor Gallio dismissed the case immediately – proof that the Lord was protecting Paul.
In time Paul and his ministry team left Korinthos, bringing Priscilla & Aquila with them. First they stopped in nearby Kechries (Greece) so Paul could perform the ritual for a solemn promise he had made. Then they sailed east to Ephesus (Selcuk, Turkey), where they stayed for a short time to preach to the Jews. They wanted him to stay longer, but he left in hope that he could return to teach them more. Saying goodbye to Priscilla & Aquila, Paul and his team sailed southeast to Kesariya (Israel), and then traveled by land to Jerusalem to visit the Apostles and other Christians there.
In 0052, Paul & his team set off on a third missionary circuit. Leaving Jerusalem, they headed north to Antakya (on the border of Syria & Turkey) where his home church was located. After a time, they continued west through Turkey while stopping at Tarsus (his hometown), Kerti Hoyuk, Kilistra, Konya, and Yalvac. He had ministered in these cities before, so it must have been good to visit friends in the young churches.
During this time, a Jewish-Greek from Egypt named Apollos went to Ephesus (Selcuk, Turkey). He loved God and had solid theology, so he preached in the Jewish synagogue what he had learned from John the Baptist. But he hadn’t been in Jerusalem to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so Priscilla & Aquila welcomed him to their home and taught him more about God’s work through Jesus. When Apollos was ready to be a missionary leader, they sent him to help the Christians in Korinthos. There were still Jewish people firmly opposed to Jesus, so Apollos tackled their arguments in public debates by showing how the Holy Scriptures prove Jesus is the Messiah. And so the Church kept growing….