Teaching Series
Sunday—Culture Makers: The Commoners

Series: Advancing
Message: Culture Makers: The Commoners
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jessyka Albert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Acts 18:1–17 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: When I think of Paul, I have only a vague sense of the Bible character who seemed so enthusiastic in the work of spreading the good news about Jesus in the church’s first generation and who wrote the majority of the New Testament. But these verses present glimpses into Paul’s life and ministry that question certain assumptions I tend to make about his character. Here are a few facts about Paul:

  • He was primarily a minister/evangelist to cities, with Corinth being the largest city he had worked in up to this stage of his ministry. It was an urban, cosmopolitan environment, a center for business, and it included people of many faiths and ethnicities. As such, it was also an important center of influence.
  • We often hear about Paul working as a tentmaker, but we should stop to think about what that meant. It was hard physical work with leather, ropes, and perhaps other heavy materials. This would have meant tired muscles, sweaty bodies, the smells of leather and other materials of the craft. He would have worked in the marketplaces of cities, perhaps interacting with other tentmakers and customers.
  • He rarely worked alone. In these few verses, we find him making friends with Aquila and Priscilla, awaiting the arrival of Silas and Timothy, basing his work in the home of Titius Justus, and working with the whole household of Crispus. Paul built connections with people wherever he went and was never a solo act.
  • While he travelled a lot—especially for someone of his time—Paul also spent significant amounts of time in key places, in this instance, working in Corinth for 18 months (see verse 11). We might be tempted to read the highlights in Paul’s newsfeed while skipping over these kinds of details. He wasn’t a hit-and-run evangelist, but took time to develop deep relationships and teach new believers about Jesus over an extended period of time. This was important for the sustainability of the new believers and their communities after he was no longer with them.

Like many “saints” of the Bible, the reality of Paul’s life and ministry was not so much the stuff of stained-glass windows. Instead it was a story of mission and faithfulness in a busy city, in a crowded marketplace, amid hard work, real people and growing community. That’s where the mission of Jesus happens.

Recalibrate: What most catches your attention in these details of Paul’s life and ministry at that time?

Respond: Pray for a sense of mission that can be felt and seen in your everyday life.

Research: Using a Bible or regular encyclopedia, read about the history of Corinth and what the city might have been like at the time when Paul ministered there.

Nathan Brown is a writer and editor at Signs Publishing in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. He has written numerous books; his most recent is Engage: Faith that Matters.

Put your hand on your child’s tummy and feel them breathe in and out. Let them do the same to you. Count your breaths together. Each breath is a gift of life; use it to love your world.

Hold your hand up to your nose and feel the breath come out. Take several big deep breaths and see how long you can hold your breath before you breathe out. How many breaths do you take in one minute? Every breath is the gift of life; do something good with yours today.

Do you ever feel pressure for your walk with Jesus to look a certain way? Maybe you feel like you need to wear specific clothing to church or carry a physical Bible with you instead of the one on your phone. What does Paul’s ministry teach you about a walk with Jesus?

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