After Paul left Athens and came to Corinth he was busy preaching and teaching the word of God. He had Timothy and Silas to assist him in this work as well as Priscilla and Aquila with whom he was staying.
Paul's custom was to enter the synagogue on the sabbath and reason with the Jews concerning Jesus being the Christ or messiah prophesied about by the Old Testament prophets. Things clearly and often got heated as he spoke the words of the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is evident it was no different in Corinth as anywhere else.
On one occasion it had clearly gotten so heated that Paul left the synagogue in frustration and annoyance as the Jewish leaders reviled and opposed him. We see this in verses 6-7.
6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue.
Despite this opposition though, it is clear that The Lord had a great work for Paul in this region and city and the Corinthian church grew stronger over time.
Speak to my People
The Lord made it clear to Paul that He had many people in this area. After he had been there a little time the lord appeared to Paul in a vision instructing him what he was to do in Corinth. We see the words that were given to Paul in verses 9-10.
9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
The Lord showed quite clearly that there many people who would make a decision and come to Jesus in this region and He wanted Paul to continue to speak the word boldly, holding nothing back.
One of the underlying messages we see here too is that although Paul was speaking to the people, ultimately it is the Lord's work and He is in charge. No man can save another man. Only Jesus saves and as we see here, the people who were to come to Jesus in Corinth He calls “my people.”
It is important we recognise this for the people in Corinth did not, as we see later in his first letter to the church at Corinth. They had become divided and were not all putting Christ in His correct position at the head of the church, but were establishing factions within the church. Look at what it says in 1 Corinthians 1:11-13.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
The divisions needed to be broken down because in the end all Christians belong to God in Christ Jesus. And it is no different to day for the factions still exist and there is sometimes animosity between factions. Consider all of the many denominations and sects of the Christian church today with their different variations of belief and you will understand what I mean and what Paul was trying to break down.
The important thing for the church then and now is that they have unity of mind and are united in the same mind, beliefs, faith and doctrine in their pursuit of the truth in Jesus Christ. It was a problem back then and it is a problem today.
The Lord's Protection
The second thing we see from the vision Paul received from The Lord is that He would protect Paul as he spoke the word to the people. In verse 10 Jesus said, “I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you.”
The Lord does protect His people doing His work. In fact He protect all of His people keeping them safe in man different ways.
Does this mean nothing bad will happen to his people and His ministers? Far from it! Even Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel as he showed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.
23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one-I am talking like a madman-with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
We know also that all of us will be tempted, tested and persecuted for the sake of the word. But in spite of all of those things He has said that he will protect His people. In Hebrews 13:5 he says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And Paul also said in spite of all the sufferings he went through that it was never so much that he was destroyed. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 he says,
8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
So regardless of what the world or the devil throws at us we have a protection in The Lord that the rest of those who do not believe do not have. We all suffer in this world, but The Lord protects His people so that they are not destroyed by the trials and tribulations of this life.
We see the protection The Lord gave to Paul in Corinth as an attack on him was raised by his opponents through the courts. In verses 12-16 the protection of The Lord is clearly seen.
12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal.
A Lesson For Today
It is no different for us today. When we make a decision to stand on the side of The Lord we will be persecuted, opposed and attacked. But we also have the same promise of protection from The Lord for He has said that He will be with and protect His people.
We can take comfort knowing that whatever is thrown against us, The Lord will be there and will not allow us to be overcome. His promise of protection will ensure that we can take whatever is thrown against us and come out conquering as we stand in our faith.
As the bible tells us in Hebrews 13:5-6,
“…he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
And in the words of Paul in Romans 8:37-39,
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing can overcome the power of God and his protection for His people. This does not mean we will not suffer and will not go through hard times. Those things are necessary as we learn to stand in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit as we navigate the problems of this world. But nothing can overcome us when we stand in the faith we have in Jesus Christ. Not even death for then we leave this place of suffering to be with The Lord.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Adem Kader)
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