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Persistence

I must be persistent and faithful. I must reason with others every chance I get. My job is to persuade as many as I can. It isn’t always easy, but I must keep on. There is no good time to stop.

God’s goal for me is to keep on keeping on. As I learn and grow as a disciple (aka learner), my ability to persuade by the power of the Holy Spirit increases.

After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks. | Acts 18:1-4 (Christian Standard Bible)

Dr. V. Raymond Edman used to say to the students at Wheaton (Illinois) College, “It’s always too soon to quit!” And Charles Spurgeon reminded his London congregation, “By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.”

Corinth, with its 200,000 people, would not be the easiest city in which to start a church, and yet that’s where Paul went after leaving Athens. And he went alone! The going was tough, but the apostle did not give up.

Corinth’s reputation for wickedness was known all over the Roman Empire. Thanks to its location, the city was a center for both trade and travel. Money and vice, along with strange philosophies and new religions, came to Corinth and found a home there. Corinth was the capital of Achaia and one of the two most important cities Paul visited. The other was Ephesus.

When God opens doors, the enemy tries to close them, and there are times when we close the doors on ourselves because we get discouraged and quit. As Paul ministered in Corinth, the Master Jesus gave him just the encouragements that he needed to keep him going, and these same encouragements are available to us today.

Paul came to Corinth following his ministry to the philosophers in Greece; and he determined to magnify Jesus the Messiah and the Cross, to depend on the Holy Spirit, and to present the Gospel in simplicity. There were many philosophers and itinerant teachers in Corinth, preying on the ignorant and superstitious population; and Paul’s message and ministry could easily be misunderstood.

One way Paul separated himself from the “religious hucksters” was by supporting himself as a tentmaker. By the providence of God, he met a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla, who were workers in leather as was Paul. Jewish rabbis did not accept money from their students but earned their way by practicing a trade. All Jewish boys were expected to learn a trade, no matter what profession they might enter. “He who does not teach his son to work, teaches him to steal!” said the rabbis; so Saul of Tarsus learned to make leather tents and to support himself in his ministry.

Were Aquila and Priscilla believers at that time? We don’t know for certain, but it’s likely that they were. Perhaps they were even founding members of the church in Rome. We do know that this dedicated couple served most faithfully and even risked their lives for Paul. They assisted him in Ephesus where they even hosted a church in their home. Aquila and Priscilla were an important part of Paul’s “team” and he thanked God for them. They are a good example of how “lay ministers” can help to further the work of Jesus. Every pastor and missionary thanks God for people like Aquila and Priscilla, people with hands, hearts, and homes dedicated to the work of the Lord.

Paul lived and worked with Aquila and Priscilla, but on the Sabbath days witnessed boldly in the synagogue. After all, that was why he had come to Corinth. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, they brought financial aid, and this enabled Paul to devote his full time to the preaching of the good news of Jesus. What a joy it must have been for Paul to see his friends and to hear from them the good news of the steadfastness of the disciples in the churches they had planted together.

Everyone agrees that Paul was a great apostle and a great missionary evangelist, but how much would Paul have accomplished alone? Friends like Aquila and Priscilla, Silas and Timothy, and the generous believers in Macedonia, made it possible for Paul to serve the Master effectively. His friends, new and old, encouraged him at a time when he needed it the most.

This reminds us that we should encourage our friends in the work of the Master. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “God evidently does not intend us all to be rich or powerful or great, but He does intend us all to be friends.” “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of the Messiah” is the way Paul expressed it. Humanly speaking, there would have been no assembly in Corinth were it not for the devotion and service of many different people.

Sources:

  1. Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Ac 18:1–28). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 474–475). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.