Saturday, January 28, 2023

2023.01.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 18:18–23

Read Acts 18:18–23

Questions from the Scripture text: After Paul completed his year and half in Corinth, where did he go (Acts 18:18)? With whom? What does he do where, and why? To where does he come in Acts 18:19? Whom does he leave there? Where does he go? With whom does he dialogue? What do they ask him to do (Acts 18:20)? How does he respond? What does he want to do (Acts 18:21)? What does he promise for when that is over? Where does he land (Acts 18:22)? What does he go up to Jerusalem and do? Then to where does he go down? What does he do in Antioch (Acts 18:23)? Then where does he go (repeating stops from his first missionary journey)? Doing what? 

What is the apostle Paul doing when he’s not church planting? Acts 18:18–23 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the apostle Paul set an example of edifying and encouraging all of the known churches at the time, that all might be unified in Christ. 

When the apostle’s year and half in Corinth are completed, the apostle bids farewell to the brethren. The mention of Cenchrea probably indicates that he is the founder of that church where Phoebe was a servant (cf. Romans 16:1), and that the ministry at Corinth had borne fruit in the region and not only in that city. 

It seems also that Silas and Timothy stay back, with the mention of Priscilla and Aquila going with him (Acts 18:18) until they part ways upon arrival in Ephesus (Acts 18:19). The Greek of Acts 18:18 allows for it to have been Aquila who had taken the vow and had his head shaved, but we will find later that even Paul has not given up so much of the ceremonial law as he should have (cf. Acts 21:23–26). 

At any rate, he is on his way back to Syria, and there the city of Antioch (cf. Acts 18:22), which was his sending church. But he continues to dialogue with Jews at synagogue (Acts 18:19), perhaps being put in mind of them again by the completion of the Nazirite vow and by his arrival in a new location. Amazingly (for it is amazing, after his general treatment by the Jews on this missionary journey), those in Ephesus actually wish for more of this instruction. 

But it is perhaps even their response that has stirred up this one who loves his brethren according to the flesh to wish to have opportunity to minister to a great many of them in Jerusalem, when the population there would swell greatly, and there would be people there from every nation under heaven (Acts 18:21, cf. Acts 2:5). 

Here, the large-hearted apostle is an example of a man full of the Spirit. For, his interest in souls goes in all directions: not only to the throng and church (cf. Acts 18:22) in Jerusalem, but also to the Ephesians (to whom he promises to return), and to the churches of his second missionary journey. To these, he returns on his way back, that he might further strengthen them, as he had done with the churches at the end of his first missionary journey, Acts 18:23 (cf. Acts 14:21–22, Acts 16:6). 

Here, we may see that one in whom the mind of Christ is being formed will care for all saints in all places, and will do good to however many the Lord will enable and permit him (cf. Acts 18:21). As the mind of Christ is formed in you, dear Christian, you will care more and more for believers around the world. And, you will be seeking to strengthen those among whom the Lord places you in whatever ways that He permits you.

Among what saints has the Lord placed you? What opportunities do you already have for strengthening them that you are not taking up? What further opportunities might you produce, God enabling you? What place do saints around the world have in your thoughts and prayers? What else might you be able to do for them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for Your church, which You are building for Your glory. We thank You that Your saints are precious for Your sake, and even in themselves by virtue of their union with You. Grant unto us to love and serve them in every way that we can, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP87 “The LORD’S Foundation Has Been Set” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

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