Thursday, March 7

One Building, Many Builders

18 After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, 2where 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, 3and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. 4He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks.

5When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to preaching the word and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6When they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7So he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole household. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized.

9The Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11He stayed there a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them.

12While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the tribunal. 13“This man,” they said, “is persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”

14As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or of a serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews. 15But if these are questions about words, names, and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of such things.” 16So he drove them from the tribunal. 17And they all seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal, but none of these things mattered to Gallio.

18After staying for some time, Paul said farewell to the brothers and sisters and sailed away to Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. He shaved his head at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19When they reached Ephesus he left them there, but he himself entered the synagogue and debated with the Jews. 20When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he declined, 21but he said farewell and added, “I’ll come back to you again, if God wills.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.

22On landing at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church, then went down to Antioch.

23After spending some time there, he set out, traveling through one place after another in the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

24Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. 25He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. 27When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers and sisters wrote to the disciples to welcome him. After he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

Act 18:1-28 (CSB)

This week as we travel with Paul on his second and third missionary journeys, Luke focuses less on Paul, and more on the places and people he encounters along those journeys.

Today, in Corinth and Ephesus, we meet Priscilla & Acquila and  Apollos.

In Corinth, Paul meets a couple who became foundational to the establishment and growth of the early church, Priscilla & Acquila. This husband/wife duo were Jewish believers from Rome who had been expelled by Emperor Claudius. Because of their shared faith and shared trade as tentmakers (or leatherworkers), Paul actually moves in, and the three live, work and minister together.

Paul values and trusts their contribution so much that he not only takes Priscilla & Acquila with him when he leaves Corinth, but he also then entrusts them with the fledgling Ephesian church when his time there ended. Paul is an itinerant preacher, and while his letters reveal a deep concern and love for all the people and churches he planted, his calling was not to stay and pastor a community. Priscilla & Acquila exemplify how qualified, mature believers would lead, teach, equip and shepherd individual churches after Paul’s departure. Paul did not leave these infant communities in the hands of recent converts; instead, Acts and Paul’s letters are full of mature believers who started as traveling companions and were later left in or dispatched to places Paul had ministered.

Priscilla’s & Acquila demonstrate their guardianship over the Ephesian church when they instruct Apollos. Apollos was a highly skilled speaker with a deep knowledge of Scripture and passion for Jesus, but his message about Jesus was immature and incomplete. Priscilla & Acquila do not publicly confront or shame Apollos, but they also do not allow him to continue to teach an incomplete Gospel. Instead, they teach and mentor him privately, and then, recognizing his gift, send him out.

Apollos eventually ends up in Corinth where he unintentionally creates conflict between Paul and the Corinthian church. Apollos spent more time with the Corinthian church and was a more skilled speaker than Paul, and some Corinthian Christians began to divide themselves according to whether they followed Paul or Apollos, most preferring Apollos (read 1 Corinthians for the full story). Even though the Corinthians were dividing themselves between Paul and Apollos, no conflict ever existed between the two men; in fact, Apollos didn’t want to return to Corinth because of the dispute (1 Cor 16), and Paul remained a full supporter of Apollos and his ministry (Titus 3:13). The problem arose because people started identifying their faith and practice with a human leader instead of Jesus.

From his conversion until his death, Jesus remained the only thing to Paul, for, as he wrote, to live is Christ. While Acts focuses on Paul’s extraordinary travels, works, and trials for the sake of Jesus, he was not the only one who preached the Gospel, traveled the known world, and risked their lives for the Gospel. Luke focuses on Paul because he was his traveling companion; Luke had first-hand knowledge of Paul’s stories. But even Luke provides a glimpse of the ever-broadening reach of the Gospel. He names a plethora of men and women who spread throughout the Roman world—and beyond—with the message of Jesus. Acts is not the complete history of the early Church, but rather a microcosm of the Church in the world. And if we are followers of Jesus, we are another part of that same story.


Reflection

Paul mentored others not to be just Christ-followers, but also to be leaders and teachers, pastors and preachers in their own right. In turn, those leaders mentored and discipled others. And when those who came after him experienced success that surpassed his, Paul was not jealous and did not seek to take credit. Healthy communities develop mature disciples and preach Jesus; they do not form factions around personalities or programs. How are you and your gifts being developed to serve Christ and His Church? What are you doing to disciple and mentor others in their faith, so that they might become mature believers?

Prayer

Lord God, help each of us to recognize our value and calling in Your Kingdom. Surround us with people who will mentor, teach, equip, and encourage us—and eventually send us out. Then, as we become builders ourselves, may we always remember that we do not build any foundation other than that already laid—Jesus Christ. In His holy and saving name, Amen.

Pick Four More Activities

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  • Listen and Worship.

  • Pray a Psalm.

  • Read a Book.

  • Retell the Gospel to Yourself.

  • Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.

  • Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.

  • Memorize a Verse.

  • List Five Things You're Thankful For.

  • Encourage Someb

Megan NessonComment