The Apostle Paul frequently encountered conflict as he travelled to different communities preaching the message of the cross. At each place he started by preaching to the Jews in their synagogues. We read today that “he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.” [Acts 18 v.4] When Silas and Timothy joined him, they found “Paul was occupied with testifying to the Jews that the Christ (Messiah) was Jesus. 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” [v.5,6]
In what sense was Paul innocent? He was innocent because he was fulfilling the commission Christ had given to him to preach Christ’s gospel. But there were a great many difficulties in Corinth: to encourage him “the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you.” [v.9,10] “And many of the Corinthians, hearing Paul believed and were baptised.” [v.8]
It is most interesting to note that his enemies “seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue and beat him” [v.17] What had the ruler of the synagogue done wrong? Were they blaming him for allowing Paul to preach – or had he been converted? We notice that the very first verse of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians says, “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes”
We will see in tomorrow’s reading of Acts 20 that Paul tells the elders from Ephesus, “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of you all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” [v.26/27]
All believers of Paul’s gospel, which is “the gospel of God” (Romans 1 v.1) should make themselves “innocent” by seeking opportunity to declare to all they come in contact with – the gospel that Paul preached, which is the only real gospel. If you have not yet accepted that Gospel yourself – why not? Is the way too “narrow” for you? Is your vision of what life means – sort of – clouded over? We must all realize “(y)our blood (is) on (y)our own heads.”
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