Encouragement Along the Way
– When Paul arrived in the city of Corinth after preaching to the intellectual pagans in Athens the constant strain of ministry had taken its toll – Paul was weak and fearful! (1 Cor 2:3)
– In this condition of weakness, God encourages His servant in five ways:
I. Encouragement from Fellowship
1) Aquila and Pricilla (aka ‘Prisca’)
- Christians from the Church in Rome
- Ordered to leave Rome due to an Edict from Claudius in AD 50: “Since the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, [Claudius] banished them from Rome.” – Suetonius
- Shared the same trade as Paul – Tentmakers
2) When we are feeling discouraged, one of the best places to turn for help is the body of Christ!
II. Encouragement from a Clear Conscience
1) Opposition and persecution didn’t change Paul’s core message: “the Christ was Jesus” (v. 5)
2) There is great freedom and encouragement in having a clear conscience before God even if the message we herald is rejected by men (v. 6)
III. Encouragement from Spiritual Fruit
1) A good report from Silas and Timothy (v. 5, cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-9)
2) The Gospel advances in Corinth against all odds!
- Conversion of Crispus and his family
- Establishment of a self-sustaining Church in the ‘sin city’ of Rome
IV. Encouragement from the Spirit
1) At a Critical Moment Paul receives a special reminder from the Lord
- Do not be afraid
- I am with you!
- I have work for you to do here: calling my elect people to repentance and faith!
2) In the wake of this encouragement Paul remains in Corinth for a total of 18 months!
3) Are you immersed in Scripture and attentive to the voice of God as He speaks by His Spirit through His Word?
V. Encouragement from ‘Common Grace’
1) Paul’s ministry is attacked by the Jews on legal grounds
- Judaism enjoyed tolerance in Rome as a religio licita (approved religion)
- So long as Christianity was viewed as a sect of Judaism it enjoyed Imperial Protection
- Paul’s Jewish opponents were trying to get the secular authorities to view Christianity as an illegal religion!
2) Gallio unwittingly advances the gospel by refusing to intervene in a religious dispute
- Paul doesn’t even need to open his mouth in self-defense!
- Paul’s opponents begin to fight among themselves – but sometime later even Sosthenes is converted! (1 Corinthians 1:1)
3) God’s Kingdom is not political, but God’s common grace often works through the secular authorities He has put in place – Remember to pray for secular authorities – 1 Timothy 2:1-4