Acts 18 – Success Breeds Jealousy

After several very difficult experiences in Philippi and Thessalonica and an unfruitful visit to Athens, Paul finally experiences some good success in Corinth. After preaching in the synagogue he establishes a church that includes several key converts. Luke lists Titius Justus, a god-fearing Gentile and Crispus, the leader of the synagogue.  Both of these were leaders in the synagogue and would have been valuable to Paul as leaders in a new church. A third convert is implied in Romans 16:23 – Erastus, the “director of public works” (NIV) or city treasurer. If Erastus was a convert at this time he would have brought some wealth and prestige to the church. In addition to these converts, Aquilla and Priscilla were in Corinth and eventually the teacher Apollos

art-thou-jealous-muchPaul may have been concerned his success would breed a violent back-lash from the synagogue, as it had in Thessalonica. In fact, Paul has seen this happen before.  The normal pattern is for him to enter the synagogue and face serious persecution.  He is not afraid for his own life, in fact, he seems more than willing to suffer physically for the Gospel.

1 Cor 2:3-4 indicates that Paul was afraid his ministry was destined for failure.  He does not yet know of the fate of the Thessalonican believers, perhaps even Berea is unknown to him.  Athens likely did not result in a church.  Will Corinth go just as badly?  Yet in 1 Cor 2, Paul claims that any success in Corinth was based solely on the power of the Holy Spirit, not his own rhetorical ability.

In Acts 18:9-10 Luke tells us that Paul has a vision in which the Lord tells Paul that he will not be harmed in the city of Corinth and that there are many people in the city that are “the Lord’s.”  There are three short, related commands: Do not fear, continue to speak, and do not be silent.

If these commands reflect Paul’s mood prior to Silas and Timothy’s return, then it is possible that Paul considered, like Jeremiah before him, to remain silent and not open himself up to further persecution (Jer 20:7-12).  But like Jeremiah, Paul cannot keep the Gospel to himself, he must be what he is, the light to the Gentiles.  Even if this means he will be persecuted.  This vision encourages him to continue, since his Gospel message will be received in Corinth. He will remain in the city 18 months, Paul’s longest place of ministry since his commission from Antioch in Acts 13.

An important observation here is Paul’s success was met with increased jealousy and persecution. Paul was obedient to his calling yet he was still suffering. Why is this? To what extent is Luke describing a successful ministry as a persecuted ministry? Compared to what some modern Christians seem to think, this is the opposite of what to expect. Yet for Paul, suffering confirmed he was doing exactly what God called him to do.

46 thoughts on “Acts 18 – Success Breeds Jealousy

  1. I would agree that Paul’s ministry in Corinth started out as a success, for the first 18 months. I believe he was doing good work, and in the will of God at that time, and there was obvious good fruit produced during that beginning period.

    Unfortunately, it appears that Paul refused to stay in Corinth where God wanted him. Instead, he abandoned the church, and went to Jerusalem where God specifically did NOT want him. Paul lapsed into his old pattern, traveling around, mostly on his own, doing his own thing, accountable to no one.

    Yet, Paul never delegated any real authority to anyone else in the Church in Corinth. He never appointed or recognized another leader / pastor / or elders. (Paul didn’t practice what he preached to his evangelist helpers Timothy and Titus.) Not when Paul left the church, taking the core family with him. And not years later, when Paul had settled in Ephesus and spent 2 years teaching in his own school there (where he was “Boss” and accountable to no one.)

    When Paul wrote his two letters to the church in Corinth, Paul himself was completely in charge of all aspects of the church, as an abusive absentee leader. The church is infamous for being unhealthy – and it was – because of PAUL it’s leader, bullying and threatening them from hundreds of miles away, and never delegating authority to anyone locally in Corinth.

  2. Related to Paul writing to the church in Corinth,
    David Brainerd wrote (On April 10, 2014)

    “I do think it is largely true that the abusiveness and vitriol in Christianity from one group against another is the result of people wanting to beat each other over the head the way Paul beats his readers in the epistles, wishing those who disagree with him would castrate themselves, calling them dogs and so on. Paul knows it all, and if anyone disagrees with him, he says “Let them be accursed.” …….

  3. The Lord specifically says in the book of Acts that Paul will suffer for His name. The Lord never said doing His work was going to be easy, but it is our job to do so no matter what comes our way. We are not to be of the world, and when we are persecuted for the name of Jesus we should be happy. We are an “odd” people believing in the something that we cannot see, but it is by faith that we can conquer all of the trials that we are faced with.

  4. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul talks about suffering for the sake of Christ. The message that he and believers proclaim is from Christ, not from themselves. Some people’s hearts are veiled to the message of the gospel and therefore oppose its truth. They are blinded by darkness, which contrasts the light that Christ brings to the Lord. Therefore, if you face persecution, you can be confident that there is a reason for it – Christ. Paul knew that persecution was against Christ. If he was proclaiming the gospel correctly then he would certainly be facing opposition, for not everyone accepts it. In verse six, Paul pronounces judgement on the Jews by using a phrase that meant the responsibility of their disbelief was not him, but on their own heads. Paul had proclaimed Christ and it was their own rejection of him that festered Paul’s renouncement, not some kind of lack on his part to clearly communicate the truth of Jesus (Polhill, 2123).

  5. It is interesting the pull humanity has for comfort. We constantly try to escape situations that are uncomfortable. Because of this many American Christians equate God’s will with where they are most comfortable. They think the best people to have in a small group are those most like them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about this and challenges us that perhaps those we could learn from best are those who aren’t just like us. Paul would have had a difficult ministry to be sure. Several times he talks about his struggle to find companions that will fervently continue in the ministry with him. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, he bore the load of speaking out hard things against the masses, and did it with little to no human support. Not many would acknowledge such a call today. Discomfort seems not to be an option for the majority.

    • I like how you related it to today on comfort levels. I know that evangelism is difficult for me because of how uncomfortable I feel talking to a random stranger about it and how I feel my success is dependent on if they accept what I said or not. However, we know that is not the case. Our success, just like Paul’s, is not dependent on how we perform but on how the Holy Spirit uses what we say to “plant the seed” for God. Using that metaphor, we only have to plant it and God will make it grow–not us. So it doesn’t really matter how they react to us because they heard us. I think that Paul felt that he was successful in his ministry when he was being persecuted because the people were listening and reacting–they heard what he said and they were reacting to it. To Paul, his suffering meant that he was successful.

  6. Paul shares about the true meaning of suffering. He tells us that his suffering has lead him to be closer to Christ and be Christ like. In Philippians Paul says “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:8-9). Paul suffered because he was doing the work of God. Throughout his work he shared his faith and becomes an example to other Christians. Another thought to consider is how Paul completely puts his trust in God instead of having pride and trust in himself. I think when we are suffering in our lives we are likely to question God and ask why this is happening to us. Also we are tend to put our faith elsewhere and trust in our selves. Paul is an example of a Christian who suffered but throughout his suffering Paul fully trusted God and wanted to grow closer to him.

  7. Sometimes in the church today we have this mentality that if God wants something to happen it will happen. He will smooth out all of the rough edges and potential problems and we can just walk in and everything will work out. This is clearly not the case. Everywhere Paul goes he experiences this persecution. Will the work be successful? I think so. Will it be without trouble or persecution? No, we cannot expect this. Paul explains to timothy that if you are a Christian you can expect persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). As long as there are those who are not saved we can expect that people will oppose the gospel. This persecution is going to happen. Persecution is not a sign that your ministry is unsuccessful but rather that the ministry needs to be done since there are unsaved people in that place.

  8. Struggling and suffering for the God is something that should and will happen. Paul’s ministry is a great example of doing the Lord’s will and not just doing it for himself. It is very tempting to give credit to ourselves when someone is converted, but it is only through the holy spirit. Even though Paul knows that he will suffer for the Lord, he still wants to proclaim the gospel. This is a great example of being motivated by God’s love and for the love of people who would be condemned without having a chance to hear the good news. It is a lesson for our culture that even though evangelizing can be uncomfortable sometimes it is still worth someone’s spiritual life to be uncomfortable. Even though God is the one who ultimately saves, it is still our responsibility to share God’s love with those who are not familiar with it and being an instrument of God. My pastor preached a sermon on 1 Peter 4: 7-11. The passage talks about loving our neighbor and serving them. Even though it is hard to love those that we do not get along with, it is important to still use our words for good and not for evil because it shows the love of God. This passage is a good example of what it means to act as someone who believes in God and not just going through the motions.

  9. I actually find this to be a very interesting topic. A lot of times, you would think that when you are doing the work of the Lord, that everything would go your way. This story is a prime example of that. I feel that any type of job or responsibility is hard. When you were a child, your parents could tell you to do something and it could still be hard to do it. I say that because in being obedient to your parents, you could still suffer with what your parent tell you to do. I use that analogy because it is similar to the situation here. Just because you listen to the ones that rule over you or the authority does not mean you will not suffer. When you look through the entire Bible, almost every character had to suffer in some type of way. When we suffer, we should always remember that God is there and he will protect us, just like he did Paul in this case. In Jessica post, she stated, “We constantly try to escape situations that are uncomfortable” (Turnbough 2015). I think that is true; however, it should not be like that when you are doing the works of the Lord. A scripture that comes to mind when thinking about this story is Deuteronomy 31:6, it says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” This just shows that no matter how hard something may be that God will never leave us; he will always be there for us.

  10. I agree with Mary in that within the church today, the common mindset that people have is that if God wants something to happen it will happen. Everything will go smoothly and work out great. In reality, this is not always the case. As Christians, we are aware that we may have to suffer for the sake of sharing the gospel but are we really ready for that? Paul was obedient to the Lord and had courage and bravery when doing what the Lord told him to do. I think that Christians want an “easy” way of living instead of actually suffering for the sake of Christ. Paul talks about suffering for the sake of Christ in 2 Corinthians 4. There will be people who may not take the gospel very well because their hearts may not be open to receiving it. This may cause people to oppose the gospel and persecute all who try to share it. We must be like Paul and have courage and trust in God when things get hard.

  11. Persecution and suffering is something to expect as believers and followers of God. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” John 15:18-20. We are warned through out the scriptures of this. Even though we obey God’s calling and suffer it does not mean we like it, but because of our love for Christ and our want to serve him, as well as knowing what is to come, we serve him and suffer because he suffered for us.

  12. I think the idea of increased persecution for the good work of the Lord is something that keeps us from doing the work that needs to be done. The church needs to step up to the plate and realize that we should have joy in the persecution that we will bear while sharing the gospel. Persecution allows for a greater building up of the Body of Christ and that is something that we can see happening with ISIS but we are still scared of persecution even though we are not faced with the idea of being kidnapped and brutally killed for our faith. We are simply afraid of looking stupid or being rejected. We do not want these persecutors to kidnap our pride and cut off our egos for the furthering of the work of Christ.

  13. Sharing the gospel has always been, and will always be met with persecution. It is a fact of life that some people will reject the gospel, but just because you are persecuted doesn’t mean your ministry is unsuccessful. It simply means that there are still unsaved people out in the world, and that you need to continue your ministry as long as that fact is true. Paul was met with persecution for this very reason, there were unsaved people in the world who were rejecting the gospel. Paul knew God wanted him there, so he preached, obedient to his Lord, no matter what the consequences were. Like you said, modern Christians tend to believe that the opposite of this should happen. They read verses like Jeremiah 29:11 which say things like “My plans are to prosper you and not harm you”, and think that means that things should go off without a hitch, but why should they? Jesus suffered for his cause, so what makes us better than him that we shouldn’t have to? If you are being persecuted, it means you are making waves, and people are hearing you, even if they aren’t accepting it, and that should be taken as a success.

    • cailinjones
      You said, QUOTE:
      “Paul knew God wanted him there, so he preached, obedient to his Lord, no matter what the consequences were.”

      For the first 18 months, I agree with you.

      Do you have any biblical basis for believing that it was God’s will for Paul to leave the church in Corinth after 18 months, travel to Jerusalem, then move to Ephesus and start his own school there and teach there for 2 years, while still clinging to all the power, rights, and benefits of being the One pastoral leader of the Church in Corinth?

  14. Paul had gone through several upsets by the time he reached Corinth. Philippi, Thessalonica, and Athens all brought upon hard trials and forms of persecution. It was expected that Paul would have expected the same would happen in Corinth. In some respects, he did face trials when Silas and Timothy “opposed and reviled him” (Acts 18:6) and when the Jews attacked Paul (Acts 18:12). I think that overall, Corinth was a much more successful trip as God encourages Paul through a vision and Paul ends up staying there for a year and a half. The vision given to Paul was so encouraging because it was given to Paul at a time where he felt defeated. Polhill explains how the “Lord in a vision assured him that he would have a successful ministry in Corinth and would suffer no harm” (p. 2123). I have experienced times in my life where I feel as if what I say does not matter to anyone. Even though Paul may have also felt this way, God valued what he was saying to the Gentiles and wanted him to continue doing so for the sake of the Gospel. Even though leaders grew jealous of Paul’s influence and brought upon persecution, Paul remained adamant in sharing the Gospel. I believe Luke includes this sense of unwavering faith and action to encourage other Christians who will endure persecution for their faith to be martyred and never deny Christ no matter the cost. I think we as Christians need to evaluate our own lives and the persecution we may or may not be experiencing. If we are experiencing persecution for our faith, what should our reaction be? If we are not experiencing any kind of persecution for our faith, what should we be doing differently?

  15. The correlation between a successful ministry and a persecuted ministry typically go hand-in-hand. If we are to join with Christ’s resurrection, we also have to join in His suffering (Romans 8:17, 36). Paul realized success wasn’t based upon the worldly standards, but rather on his faithfulness to be obedient in exactly what God called Him to.
    As Christians, we can sometimes portray the gospel of Jesus as everything being perfect and a bliss, when in reality, we were promised trials and suffering. Jesus says we will be HATED because of His name (Matthew 10:22). As followers of Christ, we must be willing to go against culture, and stand up with boldness for who we know Christ to be. We will be mocked, we will be rejected, we will be persecuted, but doesn’t that show us the authenticity of our faith? Jesus was mocked, rejected, and hung on a cross, and if we share the gospel of a man who was completely counter-cultural, we should expect the same things as His followers.
    I agree with Paul, that suffering confirmed he was living out God’s calling. We live for an upside down Kingdom, where the lowly are lifted up and the prideful are taken down. We live not for our flesh, but for God. We are called to lay down our desires and pick up His. We tell people that they were born into sin and evil, and that they need a Savior. Of course people are going to be offended and jealous. It just depends on what we are living for, man’s approval, or God’s approval (Galatians 1:10).

  16. The Bible isn’t shy to talk about how those who share the Gospel will face persecution for what they believe. This is why Paul knew, “suffering confirmed he was doing exactly what God called him to do.” Paul looked back on what he knew God taught him rather than what the world was telling him.
    Modern-day Christians may believe that Paul wasn’t successful in his ministry because he upset people and that’s because those Christians are too comfortable. In the United States, we live in a place that is primarily free of the religious persecution of Christians. We never experience real physical suffering or opposition to what we believe. The most extreme stance of persecution someone may take against us is ugly comments in person or on social media. However, if we listen to more of what God is saying and less of what we are seeing we will learn we shouldn’t be so comfortable in the gospel that people aren’t saying anything to us because that means we are probably talking to the wrong people. We should be reaching to those who don’t know the gospel or have heard it and rejected it and I guarantee those people will not be silent. They will have something to say back, they will have questions, it will not be easy but that is okay because we are here to be disciples of Jesus Christ and add to the kingdom daily. Not a day should go by that we are appeasing the world by staying quiet more than we are appeasing God by sharing his gospel.

  17. It was probably really hard for Paul to go and do the Lord’s work in different places just to face persecution and feel like his visits to different areas were “unfruitful” like mentioned in the initial post. Paul was generally very hard on himself and probably dealt with some kind of mental health problem like depression. This claim is backed up by scripture such as 1 Corinthians 1:3-8 and some of his other writings reflect his struggle as well. Knowing what I do, about mental health and depression, I wonder if Paul really did have unfruitful visits to these places or if he read into things and just did not think his visit reached people the way he had hoped. I think that he probably reached far more people than he realized as a missionary during this time of growth for the church.

  18. Jesus told his disciples countless times that they would be persecuted for the gospel. Jesus encouraged them in this fact and assured that the persecution that they endured would not be a bad thing, but would strengthened through the hardships (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul, specifically, continued to face relentless persecution because he was bold in his faith and preaching and people were upset in what he had to say. Their hearts were hardened by the Devil and not open to the truth of the gospel. The Holy Spirit was with Paul through it all and strengthened him in these terrible times. Even in the book of Philippians, Paul writes this letter to Philippi from prison, where he was experiencing great persecution. In this letter specifically, Paul encourages believers and speaks about rejoicing in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4-6). If being a Christians was all ‘rainbows and butterflies’ my guess is a lot more people would be Christians. Being a Christian is hard, there is no doubt about that, but that does not mean it does not come without its joys. Being filled with the joy of the Lord and the strength of the Holy Spirit makes those hard times and persecution all worth it in the end, even if it does not seem that way during the hardships. With hardship comes grow and without growth Christian believers would never blossom into the creation God made each of us to be. Paul understood that all Christians would face trials and that is why he wrote such encouraging letters to bodies of believers across the region, that are used to encourage and inspire believers to this day and will for a long time.

  19. I had the same thought as Cassie, that the Lord told His disciples that they would in fact be persecuted for spreading the gospel. However, He did also encourage them that this persecution would breed growth in the individual. The correlation between jealousy and persecution is pretty strong. What I mean by this is, perhaps individuals are jealous of the happiness and contentment that a believer has obtained. This jealous individual wants to be happy/content, but they are either too prideful or just uneducated to pursue a relationship with God or a basic understanding of the gospel. In regards to a successful ministry during persecution, I think of a passage in Romans. Paul says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…” (Romans 8:35-40, ESV). These verses are encouragement through persecution – God will have the victory in the end. In fact, these hardships that we may endure, shape us to become the people with a purpose that God created us to be. As I have said in previous blog posts, I admire the example that Paul was to modern-day Christianity. Oftentimes, people are no longer bold in their faith. Oftentimes this is due to personal strife and hardships – people are timid in embracing the power, love, and self-control given to us by God (2 Timothy 1:7). Christians today should learn to be more bold like Paul, while at the same time embracing their own gifts to glorify God accordingly.

  20. When considering the topics of ministry and persecution, it is fair to say that they often go together with one another, and those who are Christians will often face hardships throughout their faiths. In Paul’s case, he had not been as successful as he hoped in Berea and other locations where he faced persecution. It is understandable that Paul would have doubts, especially because “The normal pattern is for him to enter the synagogue and face serious persecution” (Long). Paul was discouraged because of the constant struggle between others choosing the flesh (world) over the gospel (Holy Spirit). All throughout Acts, Paul bashed heads with many Jewish people who rejected the idea of Christ, along with some of the Romans as well. Yet, eventually, Paul is, in a way, motivated by his struggles because he knows that it is for the sake of Christ, rather than it being for his own gain (Acts 18:9-10).

    I think, today, Christians often shy away from persecution or hardships because of their faith, rather than finding purpose in it as Paul did. It is natural for man to shy away from pain or discomfort, yet, we are taught through the Scriptures that serving Christ is not a “walk in the park” and will certainly encounter hardships. Much like Jesus explained that he had no place to lay his head in Matthew 20:8, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his head…”, the same goes for those who follow Christ. While Paul is anxious, he receives a vision from God that he will be successful in his ministry and received God’s assurance (Polhill, 2123). I think that as Christians, we can look at the examples of Jesus and Paul to understand that we will face persecutions and hardships, yet we do it for the sake of Christ and can find assurance within Christ’s salvation.

  21. For Paul to suffer during his ministry was a very important message to the Christians of today. This is important because we believe that God will take everything off of our shoulders and fix everything for us when that is not the case at all. We can always turn to Him in prayer and present these issues to Him, but He will not fix it all. For Paul to be persecuted shows us that even when he had the guide of God, he was still having issues starting churches. For this to happen to Paul it should show us that we will endure hardships, but God will not take all of that away from us. Paul’s persecution in the areas that he could not start a church should be a perfect example for the young ministers to look at because they will not always be successful in every endeavor that they take on but must keep in mind that there will always be people who have not heard the Gospel which can be of motivation to them. Persecution in new ministry is not a sign that the ministry will be unsuccessful either but rather that there are still people out there that need to be saved so to stay strong is very important, just as Paul did.

  22. Looking at Paul’s ministry, I would be afraid my ministry would fail (1 Cor 2:3-4) if I were in the same boat. Paul has been through trials, turbulent times, times of persecution, but he has also been through times of praise, worship, people being saved, and gatherings of joy. I think this alone shows that there can be a correlation between a successful ministry and a persecuted ministry. As human beings, it is easy to look at life and think everything is good, but living the Christian life can be hard. As Christians, we are rejected, hated, ridiculed, and looked down upon. This is why the saying of we must join Christ in his suffering as we do in His resurrection (2 Tim 1:8).

    The article posed a question that said Paul was obedient to his calling yet he was still suffering. Why is this?

    I think a lot of people can relate to this question. As Christians, we strive to be obedient to the Lord, but we can still find ourselves bumping into hard times and trials. Following Jesus teaches us to see how broken the world is, and sadly enough, we live in this world. We are far from perfect, so we are going to have feelings of suffering. The only thing we can do is be thankful for Jesus and his mission, strive for diligence and obedience, and to see times of suffering for opportunities for growth.

  23. Paul is a great model for how we should serve God. Although he is not perfect and we understand this by knowing who he was before he knew Christ but was made pure through Christ. In this portion of Acts we see him struggling to be “accepted” with the cities but appears to not fear rejection. Paul just wants to preach the gospel but has little fear of physical persecution. Although Paul is fearful of the people’s soul at the cities. It almost seems that he is also nervous that he is not doing the will of God because there seems to be few people who are coming to the Lord. I also believe that Paul’s ego is taking a blow throughout all of the rejection he has experienced. Like any other human he is capable of getting discouraged and I really think that here is an example of being discouraged. Although he did not let hid discouragement get the best of him. We see in verses 9-10 that the Lord encourages him with a vision and the reassurance that there are many people in the city that are “the Lords”. I also think it is important to touch on you the themes of “Do not fear, continue to speak, and do not be silent”. As I mentioned before this portion of Acts appears to be a time of discouragement for Paul but God does not let him sit in discouragement but reminds him that he is not alone. It also seems as the three themes above act as a declaration of how we are to spread the gospel. Overall I am encouraged by the great faith Paul displays and wonder what areas of life am I to not fear, continue to speak and to not be silent.

  24. I believe that Paul sets a great example of what all followers of Christ should be doing, which is to continue spreading the Gospel even though we might be rejected or persecuted. Matthew 5:11-12 states, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (New International Version). As Christians, we will likely be rejected by some people because of our beliefs. However, this should not hold us back from being willing to share the Gospel and openly talk about our faith. The rejection or persecution that we might face is not against us, but against God. God calls us to continue to be a light and be different from the world so that we can spread the love of Christ and the message of the Gospel to those around us. The cost of being a disciple of Christ is that we are called to be a light in the world. Life does not become easier when we say yes to following Jesus, but through the Holy Spirit we will be equipped to persevere through challenges that we are faced with, such as rejection or persecution. Paul was obedient to his call yet was still suffering because we live in a broken and sinful world. Not everyone is going to be open to receiving the Gospel, and some people will even hate us for trying to share it with them. However, we have to keep going because God will continue to be with us and strengthen us in order to continue spreading the Gospel and expand His kingdom.

  25. I can understand why most Christians today associate pain and failure with things not going right. I believe that this is due to the way that the world operates now. Everyone’s emotions are changed because we all see each other in public or on social media and just assume every thing is all great and that no one else struggles or goes through things. So when we have something go wrong we thing prayer isn’t working or that God is trying to “punish” us for something. But as we can see through Paul , success latterly breeds jealousy no matter what it is that you are doing. And Paul understood exactly that and that’s what motivated and inspired him to stay on course teaching Gods word. Even though it had his life on the line constantly he still did it and I think that is the biggest lesson all Christians today can take from Paul. We have to just stay on our path to God.

  26. One of the things that I like to think of when having a conversation about Christians walking the faith, is like videogames. Take Mario for example. He is a hero character that you play as, and in the newer Mario games (that don’t push you in one direction), you know that you are going the right way when the enemies are spawning around you, or you hear a change of music, or you are faced with a new situation. Just like in our walk with Christ, satan doesn’t want us to do the lord’s work. He’s gonna throw stuff at you to make you either comfortable with not doing it (which is the worst, and also can be credited to our own sin and desires) or make you feel pressure or stress when doing it. Spiritual warfare is real, but to quote the apostle Paul, Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. I know that blessings come and they are so so good, but sometimes when we aren’t feeling that pushback from the world, we can take that as pride of overconfidence, when in reality, we are only doing it for the world or ourselves.

  27. Suffering itself here is likely not the sole indicator of success that Luke is trying to portray. Paul is commanded to go despite the negative experiences that he has had. Though he is promised protection. The success here to me with my relatively ignorant view, is the obedience of Paul, and the success of the Gospel in the area. Yes Paul did suffer, but he did endure it. Providing an example for those that would follow him. But another example is his obedience. He was told, so he went, even after his relatively poor experience in Athens, and apparent failure he continued on his mission when many would likely back down. Obedience in the times of suffering and failure shows Paul as an example for the ancient church, and us to follow.

  28. In this situation Paul is here to command to go spread God’s word, Paul promised protection to his peoples. I do believe success brings hate and people looking at you sideways 24/7 people probably look at Paul in such a negative light because he decided to leave his old ways and follow Jesus footsteps and do what Jesus told him to do. Paul started to get mentally locked in especially when it came to Spreading God’s word. Of course Paul took the heat for doing what he was told but he still stood solid in and embraced what he was doing instead of running from it. Everything that God told him to do he did it and and never back down from the challenges God gave him to do and that why I believe Jesus Loved Paul a lot

  29. The mentions of the success rates in Acts 18, show that all of the hard work that Paul and the other disciples are doing is working and more people are converting and listening to the different teachings that Paul and the others have done. The question that is very hard to answer is, why are bad things still happening to Paul when there is so much success and he is listening and doing what God has told him to do? I think that God doesn’t plan the bad things that happen to us. I also think that bad things also happen to people that follow God to shape us into who God wants us to be. That being said, I think when Paul was attacked and taken to Gallio, he didn’t do anything to Paul. Gallio basically called out the Jews and told them that he would have no part in it. I think that definitely was a way that God helped Paul and helped save him in that certain situation. I also think that the suffering reminds Christians that our paths aren’t going to be early, and our lives aren’t going to be sunshine and rainbows. It is hurt and pain and suffering within our lives that have Christ in them. Through Paul’s suffering comes a lot of different kinds of lessons people of Christ can learn from. I think that it is interesting that Paul saw his suffering and that he was doing something right (P. Long, 2015). Most Christians in today’s world think that suffering is us doing something wrong or that God is mad at us for doing something. In Paul’s mind, it was the complete opposite, could have been that suffering meant that others are seeing how God can work through those hard times. It could also show that if Paul was suffering then others were succeeding within Christ.

  30. When it comes to ministry, like mission work, where one is going into a new culture and sharing the gospel with a crowd that has not yet heard much, or if any about it there is a level of pushback that happens. People do not want to hear of another “religion” when they already have their own beliefs. No one wants to be informed that what they believe is wrong so for Paul to be traveling and doing this the reason that he is getting push back and physically punished is because the people don’t want to hear what he has to say. Looking at the spiritual side of things when the devil sees something that is going to expand the kingdom of God, he’s not going to just let the person easily preach the good news. Paul was a missionary that was reaching people in far away areas that would not have heard the gospel if it wasn’t for him. The reason people are jealous is because they see Paul is doing something good and our flesh doesn’t like that. Luke describes successful ministry as persecuted because when one is doing something right the devil isn’t going to let that be easy and many people are persecuted to this day for their beliefs and if not they will go through some kind of hard trials. Paul’s vision from God in Acts 18 was God re-confirming that he was in the right place, doing the right thing. Which at that time, it was what Paul needed.

  31. We can see that Paul’s success during his mission of preaching the gospel was met with increased jealousy and persecution. It is not uncommon to see the people pushing back against Paul. Paul during his mission would preach in a way that would challenge the beliefs of his audience. This caused many people to get upset and act out against Paul and his teachings. It is understandable how Paul’s audience would get upset. There is a stranger that is walking into their town and preaching against what they have known and believed their whole life. People aren’t big fans to be challenged in life, especially when it comes to their faith. So, Paul had to be careful when preaching because he faced a lot of jealousy and backlash during his ministry. We can even see in John 15:18-21, that Jesus shares with his disciples that they would face persecution for their faith. It is not easy to travel and share the gospel with people that most likely will not invite you in with open arms or an open mind. Paul’s preaching’s had also disrupted people’s business. There were some people that would possibly sell idols of fake gods. People like that wouldn’t want Paul to come in and drive away their business. Those types of people would have been difficult for Paul to preach to. Mr. Long shares in his blog post that Paul most likely thought he should silence himself like Jeremiah, so he wouldn’t have to face further persecution. This shares how troubling this would be for Paul at times. Whenever Paul would get confirmation from God like he did in Acts 18 that he wouldn’t be harmed, that must have been quite comforting. There is a common saying that when people are facing a lot of hardships in life, then they are living a Godly life. It is not easy to live a life after God’s own heart, but it is incredibly rewarding. If you aren’t facing a lot of hardships in life, then you aren’t following after God’s own heart. Paul faced a lot of persecution during his ministry as he was a man of God’s own heart.

  32. I find it so interesting how Paul’s letters reflect on his current state of mind as we see him in this part of Acts. He’s been driven out of every town he’s gone to so far, and now Corinth too seems to be starting to turn against him. Paul is at a low, alone without Silas and Timothy and the synagogue is beginning to turn against him. Yet it is when he’s at his weakest that God appears strongest. The Lord appears to Paul in a vision, bolstering his resolve in his mission. It all sounds a lot like a movie. The bad guys are closing in on the hero. But just as the synagogue is about to drive Paul out, Silas and Timothy arrive and Paul begins to preach in earnest once again.
    Not that this is a movie, mind you. The story of Paul continues to have its trials. Even the Corinthian church turns out to have a lot of problems with sexual immorality and idolatry. Even the jealous synagogue may be making a return later when Paul references the “super-apostles” in his letter of the Corinthians. Still, Paul worked through all this and became what many ministers today would call a great success.

  33. It was such a great read in Acts 18 due to the fact that Paul had a large impact on many individuals in Corinth, such as converting them to believing that Jesus Christ was the son of God. Acts 18 specifically mentions six different individuals who were mentioned as converts. This is very important because this explains how much Paul had an impact on the people in Corinth. If there were six converts known about, then there must have been more that were unknown. I personally believe that Paul was bold due to the fact that he was not scared of being persecuted walking into the synagogue. This goes to show that Paul would have done anything and even died to share the gospel with the people who were not yet saved. Just knowing how reckless and uncaring Paul was, should motivate us to not care what others think or even could do to us for believing in Jesus Christ and spreading the word about him to others. I think the vision God gave to Paul in Corinth had something to do with the amount of bravery he had because the good Lord let him know that he would be unharmed in the city of Corinth due to the fact that many of the people in this city were already a part of the Lord kingdom. But in reality, it does not matter because it only takes one person to end the life of someone else, but thankfully that did not occur for Paul because only the Lord knows what is going to happen before it does.

  34. This really does make me reflect on a teaching the church holds prominently today: God’s will is always smooth and peaceful, God will give you peace if it’s his will etc. While I don’t believe that all of our following Christ will be suffering (as there is much Joy in it), I do think there comes a great deal of fleshly suffering with following Christ. After all, Jesus did say “take up your cross and follow me,” not “take up your prosperity gospel and follow me.” One form of this suffering may be persecution. I think persecution as Luke describes it could indicate a successful ministry to the degree that when truth was spoken, people who received it not in the spirit but in the flesh did not like it and therefore acted in rage. Who is not in the spirit understands not the things of the spirit and therefore won’t receive them. The scriptures tell us that in 1 Corinthians 2:14. However, I think we should err on the side of caution when saying persecution always indicates successful ministry, because sometimes persecution can just be fueled by jealously as stated or human pride that causes people to persecute just because something goes against their way, even if that something is not the true gospel.

  35. It is interesting to note that in almost every city Paul evangelizes to, he is met with Jewish opposition, but he is the center of persecution. In Acts 18, God speaks to Paul through a vision and tells him to “not be afraid and not be silent, because ‘I am with you’” (v.9-10). Paul went about his ministry in his normal way, going first to the synagogue (Acts 18:5) and then to the Gentiles (Acts 18:6). The Jews had rejected Paul’s teaching and he “shook them off” forcing them to take responsibility for their own unbelief (Polhill, 2008, p. 2312). A few verses later, Paul is brought before the proconsul for persuading people to go against the Jewish law. In every other situation, Paul has been (and would have been) the subject of persecution for this accusation. However, not only did Gallio rule that this was not a Roman matter but a Jewish matter to be dealt with privately (Acts 18:15), but the Jews did not persecute Paul. Instead, they went after Sothenes the ruler of the synagogue and attacked him instead. Sosthenes may have been working at the synagogue but a convert to the Christian faith after hearing Paul’s message (Polhill, 2313). Either way, God’s promise to Paul withstood through the whole 18 months of his witnessing in Corinth.

  36. When we consider Paul’s ministry and it it was a “success” or a “failure” due to his persecution, we view success and hardship as mutually exclusive. We think of success and picture smooth sailing, Paul being able to preach throughout the Roman Empire with little-to-no opposition. On the contrary, the persecution Paul experiences is evidence that he is doing what God commanded him to. Even as Paul experiences violent opposition in Philippi and Thessalonica, the gospel is being shared. Paul experiences great persecution in these places, but it does not mean that he is not impacting the culture. Often, we can’t see what we have accomplished until some time has passed and we are able to look back.

    I do think, however, that hearing the Lord say that Paul would not experience persecution in Corinth must have been a relief. To hear unequivocally from the Lord that he would “suffer no further harm,” and not only that but to know that “he would have a successful ministry in Corinth,” must have mustered Paul’s faith (Polhill, p. 2122). Paul is told that “there are many people in the city that are “the Lord’s”” (Long notes, p. 118). Despite the fact that Paul continued in his ministry even when he faced persecution, it must be disheartening to encounter opposition at every turn. To know that he would find what we would consider “true success,” that he would not be persecuted *and* that there will be converts, would be a welcome message indeed.

  37. Acts 9:15-16 shows the Lord responding to Ananias as he is called to take away Paul’s affliction. Paul’s coming suffering on account of the Lord was made known early on in the book of Acts, yet I do not necessarily believe that a suffering ministry is a successful one in all cases. In the present that we are now we don’t suffer in America for doing ministry the same way that Paul himself had suffered, so should we say our ministries are lacking success? I would say no, as there are still people being led to Christ even without some having to suffer as the Church still makes it a point to help those in need be it single mothers or the impoverished, or also providing spaces for AA groups to meet freely. In the Universal Church on the other hand we still do see the same kinds of suffering that Paul had undergone, so despite suffering or not we are called to always live for Christ and be able to share the good news with those who have not yet heard about Jesus. Opposition up to the point in Acts 18 usually forced Paul out of a place of witness (Polhill, 2123), but opposition does not always mean abandonment. The true test of the North American Church I think will be in the future as things become more difficult to express disagreements with others based on our Christian values, will we shy away or will we stand firm like Paul and others in the Universal Church.

  38. It is interesting to read about the pushback that Paul received from high leaders in the synagogues. It’s also this theme that is consistent throughout the Old Testament and as Stephen had explained in his speech back Acts 7, the rejection of the truth and now the Gospel. It is the same rejection that Jesus had faced which in part led to his death. This bases for this idea –which may have not been a conscious choice for leaders seeing as though many of them relied heavily on their intellectual knowledge of scriptures therefore leaving no room for the consideration in the depth of the true meaning of it– can still be seen today in some churches. There are so many churches where pastors, deacons, or elders will consciously and unconsciously diminish the fruitfulness of the Gospel, sometimes limiting it so that not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it. Sometimes there is also an exact replica of jealousy that Paul faced from leaders in church, as some will become jealous of someone else gift of ministry which can again cause turmoil in congregations to the extreme where some people leave churches because they weren’t offered the support from leaders to continue their ministry there. However, there will alway be people in and outside of churches that don’t walk closely enough with God that will try to hinder the Gospel and those who are carrying it out, yet it should not be enough to stop us from sharing it with others, especially when the Lord affirms us that we are safe and that we will have a successful ministry as he had to told Paul (Polhill, 2122).

  39. There is a theme throughout the people and it is that God’s people suffer. Acts 14:22 says, “Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” It is clear that us as Christians will likely face some sort of persecution during our life, even if small. But why did Paul suffer even though he was obedient? The answer is sin. It is because of sin that messed up a perfect world.
    The next question is to what extent is Luke describing a successful ministry as a persecuted one? I believe it is a little of both. A persecuted ministry can still be successful. In fact, I believe that the most successful ministry are the ones in which there were struggles. We are often told that hardships strengthen us. I think that this is also the case in Paul’s ministry. Paul’s persecution only makes him a better teacher. It also allows him to relate to the struggles of the people even if they do not accept the gospel because of it.

  40. The observation that Paul’s success was met with increased jealousy and persecution is both interesting and somewhat unsettling. It raises questions about the relationship between success and suffering, and about the role of obedience in ministry. On the one hand, it seems counterintuitive that someone who is obedient to God’s calling and achieving success in their mission would face increased persecution. One might expect that success would lead to greater recognition and acceptance, rather than opposition and hardship. However, the example of Paul suggests that this is not always the case. Perhaps the reason why success can be accompanied by persecution is because it threatens the status quo and challenges those in power. The spread of the Gospel and the growth of the church can be seen as a threat by those who benefit from the existing social and political structures. Therefore, it is not surprising that they might react with jealousy and opposition. However, Paul’s response to persecution is also noteworthy, instead of becoming discouraged or giving up, he continued to preach the Gospel with even greater passion. His suffering seemed to confirm his calling and strengthen his determination. This suggests that obedience to God’s calling may require us to endure suffering, but that it can also be a source of strength and encouragement. The observation that Paul’s success was met with persecution challenges our assumptions about success and suffering in ministry. It invites us to reflect on the ways in which our obedience to God’s calling might require us to endure opposition and hardship, but also to recognize the strength and confirmation that can come from persevering in the face of adversity.

  41. It is a clear theme of the New Testament that the early spreaders of the Gospel suffered and were persecuted for their beliefs and teachings, one example being the fate of the disciples. As for why Paul remained obedient, I think that Paul knew that God wanted him to be in and to stay in Corinth. As you mentioned in your post, God even came to Paul in a vision to reassure him that he wanted him there and that the city was full of his people. This, coupled with the fact that Paul was an assured and confident preacher of the word already, would have led him to not fear the consequences of his actions, but to preach the word the best he could. As for how this relates to modern times, a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. Christians are still persecuted around the world for their faith, but there are a lot more places where it is safe to be a Christian and to express this faith safely. Jesus knew and told us that we would be persecuted and hated for our putting our faith in him, and this is just one of things that we need to accept as a part of being a Christian, and not let it stop us from fulfilling our ultimate goal, to add to count of believers.

  42. This blog does a fantastic job of explaining that Paul had a very difficult time in Philippi and Thessalonica. I enjoy the simplicity of this blog post as it helped me wrap my brain around what really is going on in Paul’s head. In the second paragraph, I find it interesting that you would say his more than willing to suffer I would beg to differ that the suffering never came easily as he is concerned as said earlier in the paragraph if he was willing to suffer then why would he be concerned? He speaks boldly and that is something that we can’t deny but the question I would like to pose does that come easy or does Paul need to push himself out of his boundaries to do so. Paul follows the Lord but we can never really see what happened inside of Paul’s brain while going through these sufferings. I find it interesting and awesome to think that Paul gives credit to the Lord for the success he had in Corinth to the Lord as stated in the blog that he gave the credit to the Holy Spirit.

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