5/18/09

Acts 18:1-17 – Jesus Comforts & Encourages

Acts 18:1-17 – Jesus Comforts & Encourages

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 18:1-17
The title is drawn from Christ’s words to Paul at a point in his ministry we he was afraid and frustrated.

1) WHAT WAS PAUL DOING?

Verse 6 - And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

This is not the first time the Jews opposed and reviled Paul.
Reviled is elsewhere translated derided and blasphemed – the idea being they spoke evil of Paul.
This sentiment is further captured when the Jews accuse Paul in verse 13 of, “persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
In essence, the Jews were characterizing as evil the very truth the law taught – a truth they would not acknowledge.
Our previous lesson on the Thessalonian Jews can give us insight into why they would do this.

Short history of Paul’s interactions with the Jews:
Acts 13:45 & 50 – Antioch in Pisidia
45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.

Acts 14:2 – Iconium
2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them…


Acts 14:19 – Lystra
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.

Acts 17:5 – Thessalonica
But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.

Acts 17:13 – Berea
But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.

Acts 18:12-17 – Corinth
From today’s text the Jews made a united attack on Paul.

What’s up with the garment shaking in Verse 6?
Verse 6 - And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

The Jews’ reviling and opposition led Paul to make this emphatic declaration.
To gain insight into its meaning, we will look at some other examples.

Acts 13:46 & 51 – Antioch in Pisidia
46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.

Matthew 10:14-15 – Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Luke 9:5 – Lukes account of Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.

Luke 10:10-11 – Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

So what was Paul saying to the Jews?
He spoke the truth to them – Jesus is the Messiah and only He saves.
And he bears no responsibility because he was obedient to speak the Gospel and declare to them the Special Revelation of Jesus Christ – he did his job.
Remember, he had shared with the Jews for 3-4 years now.
And to demonstrate that they are now under the Judgment of Jesus Christ, he shook out his garments and told them that their blood is on their own heads.
Shaking out the garments was something Jews typically did with Gentiles, so the fact that a Jew was doing this to a Jew was both insulting to them and underscored the depth of feelings Paul had about their rejection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus and the prophet Ezekiel sum it up nicely.
Matthew 7:6
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Ezekiel 33:9
But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

2) WHAT WAS JESUS DOING?

Acts 18:9-10
9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

Jesus words comforted and encouraged Paul in three ways:
He assured Paul that he would not be physically harmed while in Corinth.
Paul, however, knew that there would be a physical price to pay for his obedience.
Jesus had often discussed in the Gospels the cost of discipleship and in Acts 9 said Paul would suffer.
Given the history we just discussed, this assurance of not being harmed was an enormous comfort.

He also assured Paul that his speaking would not return void.
How is it that Jesus could give Paul this assurance?

He also assured Paul by telling him, “I am with you.”
This is the ultimate comfort and encouragement for Paul.

What does "I am with you" it mean?
Joshua 1:5 & 9 – Gods message to Joshua at his succession of Moses
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you…. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
We see that 2 ways God’s presence manifests itself is that He will not fail us and He will not forsake us.

2 Timothy 4:17-18
17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Paul’s own words, this presence of God indicates there will be a future reward; Paul was safe for eternity.

And most importantly, the word With means in the company of – it is a marker of association.
Jesus is a person as well as our Savior.
There is a relationship to be had with him, He is not just one to have faith in, to understand, or to have a knowledge of.
A.W. Tozer says we are to experience God not just positionally but actually.
When Jesus says he is with us, it means we can have a relationship with him just like we have with your _____.

The reason Paul needed comforting and encouraging was that he was compelled to unashamedly share the Gospel.
And this obedience put him in a position of physical danger and being rejected.

Do you speak the Gospel as you should?
What is it we are afraid of?
How can Jesus’ encouragement to Paul encourage us?