“And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” Acts 18:3
Actually, there are a lot of things going on in my mind in the Scripture this morning. But that’s not unusual for a lot of things to be going on in my mind simultaneously. But here, today, they all have to do with coming together for one goal. What’s that goal? Coming to know You, Jesus, coming to believe, and then making You, Jesus, known to others.
Paul has left Athens and now he has come to Corinth. In Corinth he “finds” this man, who happens to be a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. But what brings him to “find” this couple? Well, I think the first thing Scripture says is his “Jewness.” I think a second feature is his experience of persecution. Aquila and Priscilla had been commanded by the ruler Claudius to leave Rome because they were Jews and there had been this “big stink between the Jews and this belief over somebody named “Chrestus.” (That’s from Roman historical records. Wonder if that’s “Christ” to us?) So, they have a couple things in common with Paul here. But it doesn’t stop there. Paul is a tentmaker by trade. Guess what? Aquila is a tentmaker by trade.
So, it just worked out for Paul to live with them and for them to work together and for them to attend synagogue together. But I do have one question. Were Aquila and Priscilla believers at this point? We may never know. But whether they were or whether they were not, imagine the impact Paul’s life had on theirs. Imagine the impact of his daily walk and his daily sharing of his knowledge of the Lord and his sharing of Scripture in and out of the Synagogue. And imagine his realness in that he was the same man preaching as he was when he was tentmaking or walking or eating. Imagine that testimony before Aquila and Priscilla.
I guess I can’t help but wonder why they wouldn’t have been identified as brethren if they were already brethren at this point in the story. And I can’t help concentrating on the power of the word “abode.” I can’t help but think that “abiding” makes all the difference. I mean if Aquila and Priscilla were believers already, why did Paul need to wait for Silas and Timotheus to arrive, before he could fully respond to the “pressing in the spirit” to testify to the Jews that You were the Christ? Were they part of the Jews that the Holy Spirit was compelling him toward?
Well, I won’t know until You, Lord, tell me, or Aquila and Priscilla tell me one day in eternity with You. But thank You, Lord, that You at whatever point, drew them to You. And thank You that through Paul’s submission to You, You drew Justis, who was a God worshipper living next to the synagogue, to You, and Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue and all his household to You, as well as many of the Corinthians.
But how was Paul able to do this? Maybe it all started with his willingness to commit and abide with these people of Corinth. Maybe it all had to do with his willingness to really get to know them, to really work with them, I mean, right alongside, and to partner with them where they lived.
Now we know the custom of Paul to go to the synagogues first. And we saw him do that here. And of course some came to believe and some of the Jews rebelled. But the Lord speaks to Paul in a vision and tells him not to be afraid but keep speaking the truth because He’s got his back and He’s got it all under control. And the Lord adds “I have much people in this city.” Do you realize that the Lord said that before the people even knew they were His? God knows and will draw out His own. And He will protect His own and give them the effectiveness they need to reach their brethren to be. But it takes more than abiding in the city.
Before Paul could have any effectiveness in abiding in Corinth, first Paul needed to abide in Christ. But he was effective in Corinth and in these other places because he had come to fully abide in Christ. It’s that same truth for any of us. You, Lord, said “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me….If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you…If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” (John 15:4, 7, 10)
Paul first and foremost had placed his trust in You, Lord. His life was all about his relationship with and in You. You were His springboard for every decision he made. His abiding in You determined where he chose to abide in his physical life. It determined everything, who he stayed with, what town he traveled to, what food he ate, how long he preached in a synagogue, where he spoke, what he spoke, how he worked, whose lives he invested in. He was so sensitive to You that Your intensity flowed through him. See that word for Paul being “pressed in the spirit”, that “sunecho”, was like the idea of being so possessed by the Holy Spirit that You were one in thought and intense desire. And what always came out of Paul? Your Word, Lord. Wherever Paul went, he shared the Word of God and the truth of Jesus. He didn’t just tell of the testimony of Christ but of the Scripture that pointed to it. Always. And, he lived by the heart of Your commandments.
What are Your commandments? Are they just the direct commands You give to us in Scripture? Or is it any command that You give to us through the Holy Spirit, by Your voice, that agrees with Scripture? Because wasn’t Paul’s first command from You “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.”? What a wierd command, “Go and wait.” But thank You, Lord, that Paul obeyed. What about me? Will I obey every command?
I guess what I’m seeing this morning is that abiding makes all the difference in what I believe and in who will come to believe. Jesus invested everything in me. Ought I not invest everything in others as He leads? Whatever Jesus invested in Paul, he invested in others, and others were continually drawn to the Lord. This Aquila and Priscilla became missionaries with Paul. They abode with others and invested their lives in others. Because they had something worth investing, this Jesus who had invested in them!
Paul had done such a good job abiding with them and investing in them that they took up that opportunity the first chance the Lord gave them. In Ephesus they heard this Jew from Alexandria, Apollos, sharing the Scripture mightily. Now he knew some of the truth of the Lord up to the baptism of John. He was speaking the truth he knew. So Aquila and Priscilla went to him and declared the rest of the truth to him so he had the complete story. And because of their obedient investment in this young man, he was equipped by the Lord to be used to “mightily convince” the Jews by publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
I suppose sometimes I feel like I severely lack. I wish that I could see lots of people coming to know the Lord through what I share with them. But maybe it’s a very valuable gift to be so sensitive to the Spirit’s leading that we can see that one that needs to know just a little more and that we get to share that needed truth. Because maybe the Lord needed to use someone to get that other someone where they needed to be so that they could be used for the saving of many. Thank You, Lord, that first, Paul was sensitive to see the value in Your eyes of Aquila and Priscilla, who maybe just needed more of You. And thank You, Lord, for Aquila and Priscilla’s sensitivity to see the value in Your eyes of Apollos. And thank You, Lord, that whether You grant us to save many, or to encourage one that will save many, You value each of us.
Lord, I had no idea until Apollos, that this is where You would lead today. But thank You so much. I needed to hear that. I’m so glad that believing isn’t a one time deal. That every day we can come to believe more deeply as You reveal Yourself more deeply to us. I don’t even know how to sum things up today, Lord. Except to thank You for reminding me of my value in You today and every day. Because it’s not just about the value of a new believer or an old believer, but it’s just about the value of believing and abiding in that belief. It’s all about each of us just being sensitive to You who makes us sensitive to others. Just keep reminding me that my life isn’t about me, it’s about You and those that You are investing Yourself in around me through me. Lord, You are doing amazing things. If I just stop and think about the people around me that You are giving me the opportunity to invest You in, wow! Thank You for every single one You give me the opportunity to invest You in. May they do great exploits through You, Lord!