Reading Acts 18:1-22
18 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.
Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos
18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch
Lesson 1: Look for the Positives Acts 18:vv 1-3
Aquila and Priscilla –
2 amazing characters Paul meets when he first arrives in Corinth. They had been homeless refugees from Rome – presumably new Jewish Christians who were victims of Antisemitism, driven out by Emperor Claudius c. AD 49 after Jewish persecution of the new Christian “sect” in the city (this incident is corroborated by Roman historian Suetonius + 2 other ancient sources)
Devastating – Did they give up? No they Looked for the positives.
Settled down in Corinth, used their tent-making (and by inference leather-working) skills, offered accommodation to Paul, became his co-workers in the Mission (v.18, See Romans 16:3-4)
Antony and Lucy at UDP
A Modern-day Aquila and Priscilla!
At the Bible Study Group in George Heaney’s house in 2019 Antony described being driven out of his home when he was just 11 years old, when Government bulldozers demolished their informal settlement. With his mum and 6 brothers and sisters they were made homeless for several months – living on some waste ground. Antony’s comment: “Lucky enough, it didn’t rain once!” – he looked for the positives!
Moved to Kayole – Lucy looked for the positives and helped set up the Tujisaidie “Lets help each other” Community Centre School.
It began as a Nursery and is now a Primary School with over 350 children.
Lucy is a key leader, and like Priscilla, although she lived in an extremely small temporary shack, offered hospitality taking children into her home, along with her own 7 children. Over the years she has fostered over 20 children in this way!
How do we react when we hit difficulties?
Has the Pandemic caused you anxiety or suffering?
Have you been hit by unexpected trouble?
Is there any way you can look for the positives? Can you reach out to help others?
Cf Paul’s teaching (doubtless influenced by his friendship with Priscilla and Aquila): Romans 8:28, 1 Thes. 5:18
Lesson 2: Look for a Team Acts 18: v 5
Paul, Priscilla & Aquila were soon joined by 2 more – Silas (Jewish Christian prophet from Jerusalem) & Timothy (a Christian whose father was Greek & mother/grandmother God-fearing Jews)
They brought diverse personal giftings + a wider perspective – Timothy had grown up an uncircumcised Gentile, but had good knowledge of the Scriptures (Acts 16:1, 2 Tim 1:5), Silas was a prophet of high standing in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:22, 32).
The United Parish is part of the Team
Financial support – Timothy & Silas presumably brought a financial gift from Ephesus, this enabled Paul to go full time [v. 5b]
UDP began with a Team of 4 extraordinary women – Lucy, Louise, Isabelle and Kathleen
We in the United parish are now also part of the team via CMS Ireland. This allows sharing of resources to benefit everyone.
Antony picked up ideas from his time here in 2019 – eg Baby Basics, which has become “Baby Buckets” in Nairobi – with nappies, toiletries and food being presented to young mothers in a bucket!
He also shared his skills as a football manager at the Ballyclare BB meetings.
The parish has sent financial support via CMSI – Antony has used this to buy books for the Tumaini Centre of Excellence library.
In the Ballyclare/Ballynure context we need a team to succeed – Jonny has great team with Dianne, David, Alan, Select Vestry, Leaders of Organisations, Bible Study Group leaders, but he’s looking for more helpers eg
for Street Pastors – going out on a Saturday night in Ballyclare to counsel teenagers
Francis from CAP is looking for volunteers to be trained as debt counsellors
Can you be part of the team here? How can you help? Maybe it’s by praying or giving financially?
Lesson 3: Look to God Acts 18: vv 9-11
Looking for the positives and looking to a Team aren’t enough, however. When the going gets tough we need to look to God.
In Corinth things got tough in the Synagogue (v.6) – Opposition, flack, malicious criticism, a court case (vv 12-17)!
It was God who strengthened Paul at this low point through a vision – giving him stickability and resilience.
Paul had learned how to trust God through hard times, and this was through his profound personal prayer life Cf Phil. 4:12-13, Ephes. 6:10, 18-19
Praying in the UDP
Prayer is at the core of UDP, Tujisaidie School children & staff, Lucy, Antony
In the United Parish Jonny begins the year with a week of prayer
CMSI have a monthly “Prayer Room” event by zoom on the 1st Wednesday at 1pm (see the CMS Ireland Facebook page for details).
How can you strengthen your prayer life? Do you set aside some time each day just to wait on God and to intercede for others?
Could you join a Parish prayer or bible study group, or come to the CMSI Prayer Room event?
Roger Thompson (Partnership Coordinator for Kenya, Nepal & Rwanda),