One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you; and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court. (verse 9-12)
I’m struck by many things from this slice-of-life mission in Corinth:
(1) Paul must have needed the strength this vision brings, both at the moment and in the coming days. He was already experiencing abusive opposition (verse 6) from the local synagogue. Now, he has set up next door in the home of Titius Justus, so the potential for ongoing conflict was real, a potential which explodes in verse 12. The Lord has given Paul strength in advance.
(2) The promise that “no one is going to attack and harm you” is not a promise that things will be easy. Not at all. I’m intrigued that two verses later, Luke, without any sense of contradiction, reports that Paul sustained a “united attack.” The unfolding story shows how the Lord keeps Paul safe in the midst, but the journey is anything but easy.
(3) The Lord tells Paul he has “many people in this city”, which brings us into the mystery of divine election. We have already heard in the text of some who have come to faith (Titius Justus, Crispus’ entire household, and other Corinthians), but there are more to come who have not yet stepped into the kingdom. The Lord already counts them as his. Therefore, Paul carries on.
(4) The central promise in the vision is familiar from the Old Testament, and powerfully from the teaching of Jesus himself. “I am with you,” the Lord tells Paul, giving us echoes of “I will never leave you or forsake you”, “all authority has been given to me”, “where two or three are gathered”, and “Immanuel.” What more is needed?
I take from all this:
(1) The Lord provides the strength that’s needed.
(2) He will sustain, even when the way is hard.
(3) I’ve been chosen. Many others have, too. The mission continues, calling them into the kingdom.
(4) He is with me, now and forevermore.
Sovereign Lord, thank you for these encouragements and sightings of your purpose. Give me renewed confidence in your presence to move forward in your mission. Show me what that means for me this day.
Reflect: Which of the four points above do you need most today?
Grasp it. Pray it. Walk in it.