Acts 18:1-4 sermon

Intro:

Does our job counter our Christian faith or go along with our faith? Is our faith part of our job? What do you think? Are you a Christian at work?

Listen to this:

Dr. Paul Brand was an orthopedic surgeon who chose his patients among the untouchable. With his wife, who was also a physician, he spent a lifetime working with the marred and useless limbs of leprosy victims. In fact, he transformed the way in which medicine approached the painful and often exiled world of the leper. Whereas the disfigurements of leprosy were once treated as irreversible consequences of the disease, Dr. Brand brought new hope to sufferers of leprosy by utilizing the body’s capacity to heal. “I have come to realize that every patient of mine, every newborn baby, in every cell of its body, has a basic knowledge of how to survive and how to heal that exceeds anything that I shall ever know,” wrote Brand. “That knowledge is the gift of God, who has made our bodies more perfectly than we could ever have devised.”

Philip Yancey was a young journalist when he first met this dignified British surgeon in an interview. He recalls the teary-eyed Brand speaking of his patients, describing their disease as if first hand—their unremitting suffering, experimental surgeries, and societal rejection. Many memorable conversations later, Yancey would recall the healing presence this physician was to his own crippled and weary belief in God. To Yancey, Brand represented faith and hope in action, in reality, amidst suffering and death; his belief in Christ caused him to live in a very particular way. Thus, Dr. Brand, who worked to restore the image of God in lives marred by disease, helped restore the face of God in the doubt-ridden world of a young author. As Yancey later would write, “You need only meet one saint to believe, to silence the noisy arguments of the world.”(1) Such lives are certain reminders that God is real and worthy to be followed.

Such lives also remind us that one of the key elements in considering the arguments of any truth claim is actually not an argument at all. Rather it is a question of pragmatics. Is this worldview livable? Can this philosophy be carried out? Stories of believers who are broken and persecuted but somehow beautifully alive with the hope of Christ suggest that Christianity is not only a livable worldview, but a worldview that gives meaning to life as it really is and not simply ideal pictures of life. Yet as Ravi Zacharias notes significantly, the Christian hope is not true because it is livable; it is livable because it is true. The message of Christ is a reality that can carry men and women through death and darkness; it is also a truth that compels being carried to the ends of the earth.

Now what do you think? That doctor was able to touch so many lives through his job as a doctor, but also through his faith. What about you?

We are going to look at a passage in which the Apostle Paul works a job. He takes up a job as a tentmaker and in so doing he still communicates the Gospel. I wish to look at Acts 18:1-4 and challenge all of us to be a witness in everything we do.

Read Acts 18:1-4:

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 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, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

  1. First application: I must considerate of high importance to work and work hard.
    1. As we look at this passage we notice that Paul got a job.
    2. Paul came to the booming city of Corinth and he got a job.
    3. Of course we do not need to look hard to see that Paul was a worker, we know he was.
  2. I am going to come back to the great idea that our whole lives are for service to God. Our first priority is to serve God at our job. First let’s look at the context.
    1. Notice that Paul has left Athens. I look at that and just wonder why he has left Athens. He had been in the Thessalonica before and we know he left there because of persecution. The text does not say why he left Athens. It just says that he does.
    2. It has been suggested that Paul left Athens because there was not a lot of ministry there. It seems that there were some conversions but not as many, so he moves on. (John MacArthur)
    3. Then Paul comes to Corinth. Corinth was 46 miles west of Athens and the most influential city in the province of Achaia, politically and economically. So Paul did some more traveling.
    4. Now, coming from Athens to Corinthians was like going to a Las Vegas from Washington D.C. Corinth was a major commerce city, but it had a lot of filth in it. Paul would stay there for a year and a half and there would be a lot of ministry there.
    5. To be called a Corinthian meant to be “immoral.” You did not want to be called a Corinthian women. John MacArthur writes:

In fact, the actual name Corinth became a common term. And “Corinthian” meant immoral.

If you said, “Joe over there is a Corinthian kind of guy, you meant he was immoral.” The name became synonymous with vice. To say that that woman is a Corinthian woman meant she was a prostitute, because that’s what the women did in Corinth. And the verb, to Corinthianize, meant to go a-whoring. That’s exactly what the common use of Corinthianize was.

Now, Corinth was vile to the very core. It wasn’t just the slaves or the middle class; it was the upper crust. The whole city was debased, and there were some reasons for that. It was the center of trade and travel, and sailors were going through it all the time, and caravans. And it was a fitting place for entertainment of lust.

The position of Corinth, which I just want to simply illustrate for you in a very brief way, is very interesting and put it in a position to be involved in many interesting things. This entire area in the gray or black represents the area of Greece. This is the northern part of Greece. This is the southern part of Greece.

Now, you’ll notice that the two parts are connected by a simple little strait there, and that’s only five miles wide, and it was precisely the center of that the city of Corinth existed some 50 miles from Athens. Now, Paul, all alone, finds himself in Corinth Now notice anybody at all from northern Greece to southern Greece, or vice versa, any north-south traffic, had to go through Corinth.

So the trade was constantly trafficking through city of Corinth. Another interesting thing is that it was called The Bridge of Greece, not only because of its north-south traffic, but because of its east-west traffic. Ships wanting to go, say, from the western shore of Greece to the eastern shore would not sail clear around. They would shortcut it through here.

6. So, that is where Paul is at. It seems that Paul was tired and depressed coming to Corinth. In fact, in 1 Cor. 1:2 he writes that he came to them in fear and weakness. So, it seems that he was lonely from traveling, he needed a friend. So, God gives him two good friends. Introduce Aquila and Priscilla.

  1. Verse 2 introduces this tentmaking couple and they had been banished from Rome.
    1. It appears that they were Jewish and it is likely believed that they were Christian already. Luke never tells of their conversion. It is also likely that Rome already had a church. By Romans chapter 1 tells of the world famous faith of the Roman church.
    2. By the way, Priscilla and Aquila were referenced in the rest of this chapter and in Romans 16:3; Acts 16:19 and 2 Tim. 4.
    3. So, let’s talk about this banishment from Rome. Why? How? Let me tell you what I found out, John MacArthur writes: Now, when they were in Rome, Aquilla and Pricilla and the other Jews, persecution broke out against the Jews. And Claudius shipped them all out. It’s interesting that before Claudius, Tiberius tried to do it. You know what he did? He took 4,000 Jews and sent them to a country that had the plague, hoping they’d all catch the plague and die. So they were unpopular.
    4. Following Tiberius, Claudius, in 39 A.D., banished all Jews from Rome altogether; every one of them had to go. Now we know a little about Claudius. And the reason we do is that about 70 years after the edict, it was written about 120 A.D., Suetonius wrote about Claudius. Suetonius was a historian, and he got all the information on Claudius, and he wrote about his life. And one of the statements that Suetonius makes in his life of Claudius is this: “As the Jews were indulging in constant riots – listen – at the instigation of Chrestus, Claudius banished them from Rome.”
    5. Now, Claudius unloaded all of the Jews because they were always having riots, and the riots were instigated by a person named Chrestus. Now, you know, you can go back in history until you’re blue in the face and never find anything about anyone in that area who fits the bill named Chrestus. But what is very interesting is that the Greek Chrestus is only one letter different than the Greek Christis, which is Christ. It’s only the difference between an I and an E. And what it seems to be indicating is this: That what caused Claudius to send all the Jews out was they were rioting over the issue of Christ, which indicated probably some missionaries had come there, and had proclaimed Christ again as always was done in the synagogue, and as always happened with Paul, right? A riot ensued, and the element they had accepted Jesus Christ as Messiah was set against the Jews that were unbelieving, and they threw the city into turmoil, and Claudius got uptight and kicked them all out of town. They were indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus. And you see, Suetonius thinks that Chrestus is some guy who lived then in Rome. And remember, he was writing 70 years later, so it’s easy to see how he could’ve made that simple error. They were probably rioting over the issue of Christ. And it seems to me that that kind of issue would preclude the fact there had to be Christ presented there. So therefore, there was the possibility of Aquilla and Pricilla being saved already. You see? And so they arrive over there in Corinth to ply their trade, and they’re already Christians.
    6. So, now Aquila and Priscilla have met Paul and Paul has met them and they are all Christians and they are tent makers and so they take up shop together.
    7. To be a tent maker means to be a leather maker, to work with leather. It is thought that in the Jewish synagogues they would sit near each other based off of occupation. So it appears that Paul is likely sitting near Aquila and Priscilla and they became friends. They were pew mates, as opposed to ship mates.
    8. By the way. Paul as a leather worker means that he was an artisan, he worked with his hands. This would be a job just above lower class, but below the upper class. He would be looked down upon by the upper class.
    9. So, another application: To work with your hands was considered low or base to upper class, yet Paul still did this. I must be humble in my work. I must be willing to do anything.
    10. Another application: Looking at other Scriptures we see that Paul did not wish to be a burden to anyone. I also must not be a burden to those whom I serve.
    11. In Acts 20:34 at Ephesus Paul said that his hands ministered to his own needs.
    12. In 1 Cor. 4:12 Paul references working and in 1 Cor. 9:14 he references working
    13. in 2 Cor. 11:7 Paul references preaching the Gospel without charge.
    14. In 2 Cor. 12:13 he writes about not becoming a burden to them.
    15. In 1 Thess. 2:9 he talks about working night and day.
    16. In 2 Thess. 3:8 Paul references paying for what they eat being a burden.
  2. Now, you know that Paul is now working so he cannot communicate the Gospel, right? Wrong.
    1. We see in verse 4 that he continues to reason with in the synagogues every week. That word reason means to have a dialogue.
    2. Then the Bible says that he was trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
    3. Another application for us: Paul communicated the Gospel while working. I will not be too busy to be Gospel Centric and sharing the Message of hope with others.
    4. Final application: Paul witnessed to Jews and Greeks, I will share Jesus with all.

Some applications:

Let’s review and apply:

  1. I must considerate of high importance to work and work hard.
  2. To work with your hands was considered low or base to upper class, yet Paul still did this. I must be humble in my work. I must be willing to do anything.
  3. Looking at other Scriptures we see that Paul did not wish to be a burden to anyone. I also must not be a burden to those whom I serve.
  4. Paul communicated the Gospel while working. I will not be too busy to be Gospel Centric and sharing the Message of hope with others.
  5. Paul witnessed to Jews and Greeks, I will share Jesus with all.

Close:

I know a soccer coach who is a witness. He is a witness in multiple ways, but one of them as that he is always reading, he is always learning and students come into his office and they see his books and his Bibles and maybe he is even reading his Bible or listening to a podcast. So, students have asked him questions and he has struck up conversations about Christ. That is one way to be a witness at work. I know others who work at doctors offices and they are a witness by telling people they will pray for them. I know of doctors that have prayed with patients. Praise God.

So, the Apostle Paul worked and witnessed and so must we. Our Christian life is not separate from our work. There is no separation from the sacred and the secular.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

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