Paul Leaves Athens for Corinth
"After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 18:1-4).

Although Silas and Timothy had been summoned to come to him quickly, Paul departed from Athens before they were able to catch up to him. Paul left Athens and traveled west to Corinth. Here Luke introduces us to Aquila and Priscilla, a Jewish married couple. Although it is not explicitly stated here, we know (based on their behavior recorded later) that Aquila and Priscilla were Christians. They were forced to relocate from Rome. Claudius Caesar had commanded all Jews to leave Rome in 49 A.D. because, according to the historian Seutonius "the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus." Most scholars interpret this as a reference to the conflict between Jews and Christians over the preaching of "Christ," the name being corrupted into "Chrestus." Paul was able to stay with this fine couple in Corinth and build a lasting relationship with them (cf. I Cor. 16:19; Rom. 16:3). They, like Paul, worked as tentmakers.

Some might wonder: Why was Paul working as a tentmaker in Corinth? Why wasn't he preaching the gospel of Christ and conducting personal studies with potential converts on a full-time basis? I have no doubt that such would have been Paul's preference. Thus, the fact that he was making tents part-time reveals that he needed to do such at that time to cover his living expenses. If he had enough money to live on without making tents, he certainly would not have been making tents. Although preachers are certainly worthy of financial compensation for their efforts of evangelism and edification, it was not always possible or expedient for Paul to receive monetary support from the community in which he currently labored (cf. I Cor. 9). He wanted to keep himself free from the suspicion of self-interest in his work as a teacher. Paul does not complain about having to support himself with secular work but understood that sometimes such was necessary. Preachers today should learn from his example. Paul made sure his secular work in Corinth did not interfere with the best time to preach the gospel to the Jews--namely, on Saturday in the synagogue. In the synagogue, he was able to convert both Jews and Gentiles to the gospel of Christ.

"When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that, Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, 'Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles" (Acts 18:5,6).

Silas and Timothy now catch up to Paul, no doubt bringing financial resources with them from Philippi (cf. II Cor. 11:7-9; Phil. 4:15). This enabled Paul to cease making tents at that time and concentrate fully on proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul was "compelled by the Spirit" (or by "the word," according to some manuscripts) to do this. Paul would make tents when he had to, but his heart burned to preach and save souls! Being able to invest so much more time in evangelism quickly resulted in Paul facing opposition and resistance from the unbelieving Jews. Paul would not be deterred by their fighting against the truth. He simply stopped making Jews his primary evangelistic targets in Corinth and concentrated on converting as many Gentiles as possible. Paul could tell the difference between those who were spiritually receptive and those who were like hogs or dogs (cf. Matt. 7:6)! Paul knew he would not be held guilty come Judgment Day for failing to preach the gospel to these disobedient Jews. Their rebellion against God was on their own heads (cf. Ezek. 33:1-11). If we today fail to teach people the truth of God's word (or at least give them the opportunity to hear), we will not be held guiltless by God.