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Corinth and Aquila and Priscilla

19 Feb

The city of Corinth was little more than 100 years old when Paul visited there. The original city had been destroyed in a revolt against Rome in 146 BCE, but rebuilt about a century later by Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. It was one of the greatest commercial centers in the Empire, being situated along a small 3 ½ mile isthmus connecting the northern and southern Grecian mainland, as well as being a valuable naval center for ships on the Adriatic Sea traveling east to the Aegean Sea and then eastward through the Mediterranean Sea or northward to the Black Sea. It was to this busy international commercial center that Paul came from Athens, a journey of about 37 miles, to preach the Gospel.

It was at this time that Paul met Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2), no doubt, because he was looking to support himself, and their business was in leather goods, just as Paul’s. Luke seems to imply that Paul also dwelt (meno, G3306) with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:3), and they became two of Paul’s closest friends. Paul put them among his co-workers in Romans 16:3, and in his first epistle to the Corinthians, which he wrote at Ephesus, he says Aquila and Priscilla lived there and hosted a church as well (1Corinthians 16:19).

The ease with which Aquila and Priscilla traveled the empire seems to indicate that not only were they very successful in their craft, but they may also have had businesses at least in three cities: Rome, Corinth and Ephesus, indicating substantial wealth. Aquila is a Roman name and may imply he was a Roman citizen born in Pontus, a Roman colony (cp. Acts 18:2). The fact that both Luke and Paul at times put Priscilla’s name before Aquila’s could imply she was of more noble birth, and some scholars believe she is connected in some way to the gens Prisca, a family of Roman aristocracy. Luke uses her more familiar name (Acts 18:2, 18, 26) while in most manuscripts Paul always uses her more formal name, Prisca (Romans 16:3; 1Corinthians 16:19 and 2Timothy 4:19).

The point in all this is that that these people seem to have lived a wonderful life of service to the Gospel of Christ, yet nothing is recorded of their service by Luke by way of an introduction before their meeting Paul. It is only after they met Paul that their service to the Lord becomes known (cp Acts 18:24-26). Paul never mentions them among those he brought to Christ, so the implication is that they believed in Jesus, the Messiah, while at Rome and before coming to Corinth (cp. Acts 18:2). It may very well be that they were outspoken in Rome, but if Claudius’ expulsion of the Jews had to do with Jews debating among themselves concerning the Christ, their enthusiasm for making Christ known never left the synagogue. No doubt they were converted through a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or found out about Christ from one of the returning pilgrims (cp. Acts 2:10).

Why would this be so, if Jesus wanted the Gospel to spread throughout the world (Matthew 28:19-20)? It seems to me the only reason for the change would be a new understanding concerning whom the Gospel was for. If Paul was called to be the Apostle for the gentiles, and many folks at Jerusalem had trouble coming to grips with what he was doing (viz. my blogs on the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15), then there is no reason to expect the early Messianics scattered throughout the empire to understand the intent of the Gospel until the Scriptures were opened to them by someone like Paul. That is, Paul’s understanding of how the Gospel should affect the nations was quite new.

Every Messianic Jew believed gentiles needed to be reached for Christ, but it was thought gentiles had to become Jews in order to submit to the Jewish Messiah, but that is a false doctrine. All false doctrines have one thing in common. They are strong delusion and **hide** the real truth about a matter. Make no mistake: false doctrine acts as a spiritual power that forbids the mind to understand something other than the manner in which one has been taught. It takes a new perspective, coming from one not under the power of the false doctrine (or a vision from Christ as was the case for Paul in Acts 9 and Peter in Acts 10), for anyone to see the thing a different way. It was no less true for these wonderful people in the Lord. Even those who believe in Christ are hindered by false doctrine, until their eyes are opened while considering a new perspective about what they had always held as true.

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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Gospel, Paul's 2nd Missionary Journey

 

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