Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ministering in Corinth: Thursday after Trinity 2

And he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled byt he Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles"...Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things...Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the bretheren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 18:4-6, 17, 24-28).

To read the entire passage, please click HERE.

Everywhere Paul goes, he preaches Christ. This is in keeping with his calling as an Apostle of Christ. This is what he has been called to do. All through the book of Acts Luke writes that, whenever he entered a town, Paul went to the Synagogue and reasoned with the people there on the Sabbath. Paul’s efforts were successful, not because he was a good lecturer, but because he was delivering to the people the Gospel, which is a means of grace. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died on the cross and took the punishment for your sins in your place and, because of what he did, you are reconciled to God. Elsewhere Paul writes to the Romans, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” So, faith, rather than being something which you decide to do, is a gift given to you. Faith is kindled in you by the working of the Holy Spirit. The means He uses to kindle that faith, establish it, and make it grow, is the preaching of God’s Word.

Not everyone to whom Paul preached, however, welcomed his preaching. Not everyone was converted. Many of the people in many of the synagogues argued and fought with Paul. They sometimes threw him out of the town, beat him, tried to have him arrested and thrown into prison, and tried to kill him. They did all this because Paul explained to them from the Scriptures that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and that Jesus was the Christ. These evil things happened to Paul, they happened to people who listened to Paul and were converted, like Sosthenes, and they may happen to us as well.

Why did they react this way? Why were they not converted by the Holy Spirit? We are not told this in Holy Scripture, so we cannot guess. We know from Scripture that God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Jesus tells us this constantly. We also know from Scripture that not everyone will believe. This is a contradiction that we can’t figure out because Scripture doesn’t explain it any further. Where the Scriptures speak, we speak. Where the Scriptures are silent, we must remain silent. It is our part, as Christians, to repent of our sins and to thank God for the gift of faith he has given us. And, as Paul, Sosthenes, Pricilla, and Aquila did, we are to minister to those around us, in accordance with the vocation into which God has called us, trusting in God to bring the increase in accordance with His will.