Luke gave an account of Paul’s stay in Corinth in Acts 18:1-18. His 18 months there was marked by twists and turns of the “bad” and the “good.”
Bad. Jews were forced to leave Rome because of a decree by Emperor Claudius, who ordered all Jews to leave Rome (Acts 18:2). It seemed that the Jews were deemed to be the cause of a great deal of trouble and unrest. Attempts were made to get these radical Jews under control but it had not worked. So Claudius finally ordered them all out of Rome in 49 A.D. It is reason why Aquila and his wife Pricilla came to Corinth.
Good. It was in Corinth that Paul “found” (Acts 18:2) this godly couple, Aquila and Priscilla who were also tentmakers. A long lasting relationship developed and the couple played a crucial role in Paul’s life and ministry. There can be no doubt that God “arranged” for these three to meet and come together.
Bad. While working at making tents for a living, Paul on every Sabbath would reason and persuade the Jews and Greeks in the synagogue (Acts 18:1-4).When Paul began preaching Jesus is the Christ, it stirred up such hatred among the Jews that they opposed him openly. Where forth Paul shook his garments in Jewish gesture of detachment saying, “Your blood be upon your heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6).
Good. Interestingly when Paul left them, he did not go very far. He went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, who lived next door to the synagogue along the Lechaion road. In fact the house of Justus and the synagogue may have shared a common wall. It wasn’t long Paul started in the Synagogue again, and that resulted in Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believing in the Lord, together with his entire household. Many of the Corinthians hearing Paul also believed and were baptized(Acts 18:5-8).
In 1929 an inscription was found mentioning Erastus as the one who paid for the paving of the street in Corinth. This is likely the same Erastus mentioned by Paul in his greetings (Romans 16:23). If so, Paul’s influence had reached the wealthy and influential in Corinth.
Bad. Even though Paul had achieved great success in his ministry yet there many, particularly the Jews who rejected his message and were immensely hostile towards him. Paul might have the foreboding sense that it could be a matter of time when he would be driven out of the city by the authorities.
Good. Then the Lord appeared to Paul in a night vision and spoke these words:
“Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).
That resulted in Paul staying in Corinth for a year and six months, teaching the word of God (Acts 18:11).
Bad. After some time, the Jews made a united attack upon Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading men to worship God contrary to the law” (Acts 18:13).
This tribunal has been excavated and if you visit Corinth you can see it. It is called the bema in Greek or the judgment seat.
Good. Before Paul could open his mouth to defend himself, Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, threw the case out. Gallio so ruled and said to the Jews:
“If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law – settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things” (Acts 18:14-15)
Talk about the good in a bad situation. This meant that Paul was now free to preach the gospel without being charged with breaking the Roman law.
Bad. But the Jews were so upset by the outcome that they vented their anger and frustration on their leader, Sosthenes for not handling the case well and caused it to be thrown out of court.
They all seized Sosthenes, who took over from Crispus as the ruler of the synagogue and beat him in front of Gallio who was quite unconcerned (Acts 18:17).
Good. The beating of Sosthenes did him a lot of good. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentioned this: “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes” (I Corinthians 1:1).
Evidently when the Jews turned against him, Sosthenes’ eyes were opened. His heart was changed towards the gospel and now Paul calls him, “our brother Sosthenes”
Paul experienced lots of trouble at Corinth.
But with every “bad” that turns up, God turns it for “good.”