1. CAUTIOUS AS AN EXAMPLE
a. When Paul left Athens to come to Corinth, where did he go in order to earn his livelihood—and why? Acts 18:1–3.
“When Paul came to Corinth, he solicited work from Aquila. The apostles counseled and prayed together, and decided that they would preach the gospel as it should be preached, in disinterested love for the souls who were perishing for lack of knowledge. Paul would work at tentmaking, and teach his fellow laborers to work with their hands, so that in any emergency they could support themselves. . . .
“Paul was highly educated, and was admired for his genius and eloquence. He was chosen by his countrymen as a member of the Sanhedrim, and was a rabbi of distinguished ability; yet his education had not been considered complete until he had served an apprenticeship at some useful trade. He rejoiced that he was able to support himself by manual labor, and frequently declared that his own hands had ministered to his necessities. While in a city of strangers, he would not be chargeable to anyone. When his means had been expended to advance the cause of Christ, he resorted to his trade in order to gain a livelihood.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, pp. 1062, 1063.
2. IN CORINTH
a. What was Paul’s first step in reaching out in Corinth? Acts 18:4. How can we be inspired by his example? Luke 14:23.
“As a laborer in the gospel, [Paul] might claim his support, instead of sustaining himself; but this right he was willing to forego, fearing that the acceptance of means for his support might possibly stand in the way of his usefulness. Although feeble in health, he labored during the day in serving the cause of Christ, and then toiled a large share of the night, and frequently all night, that he might make provision for his own and others’ necessities.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 409, 410.
“In many places self-supporting missionaries can work successfully. It was as a self-supporting missionary that the apostle Paul labored in spreading the knowledge of Christ throughout the world. While daily teaching the gospel in the great cities of Asia and Europe, he wrought at the trade of a craftsman to sustain himself and his companions. . . .
“Many today, if imbued with the same spirit of self-sacrifice, could do a good work in a similar way. Let two or more start out together in evangelistic work. Let them visit the people, praying, singing, teaching, explaining the Scriptures, and ministering to the sick. Some can sustain themselves as canvassers; others, like the apostle, can labor at some handicraft or in other lines of effort. As they move forward in their work, realizing their helplessness, but humbly depending upon God, they gain a blessed experience. The Lord Jesus goes before them, and among the wealthy and the poor they find favor and help.
“Those who have been trained for medical missionary work in foreign countries should be encouraged to go without delay where they expect to labor, and begin work among the people, learning the language as they work. Very soon they will be able to teach the simple truths of God’s word.
“Throughout the world, messengers of mercy are needed. There is a call for Christian families to go into communities that are in darkness and error, to go to foreign fields, to become acquainted with the needs of their fellow men, and to work for the cause of the Master. If such families would settle in the dark places of the earth, places where the people are enshrouded in spiritual gloom, and let the light of Christ’s life shine out through them, what a noble work might be accomplished.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 154-156.
3. DIVINE PROTECTION
a. Why did Paul’s ministry bear fruit amid trials? Acts 18:5–8.
“[Paul’s] words were spoken with solemn earnestness, and his hearers could not but discern that he loved with all his heart the crucified and risen Saviour. They saw that his mind was centered in Christ, that his whole life was bound up with his Lord. So impressive were his words, that only those who were filled with the bitterest hatred against the Christian religion could stand unmoved by them.
“But the Jews of Corinth closed their eyes to the evidence so clearly presented by the apostle, and refused to listen to his appeals. The same spirit that had led them to reject Christ, filled them with wrath and fury against His servant; and had not God especially protected him, that he might continue to bear the gospel message to the Gentiles, they would have put an end to his life. . . .
“Avoiding complicated, far-fetched reasoning, the messengers of the cross dwelt upon the attributes of the Creator of the world, the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Their hearts aglow with the love of God and of His Son, they appealed to the heathen to behold the infinite sacrifice made in man’s behalf. They knew that if those who had long been groping in the darkness of heathenism could but see the light streaming from Calvary’s cross, they would be drawn to the Redeemer.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 247-249.
b. What fortified Paul in Corinth? Acts 18:9–11; 1 Corinthians 2:2, 5.
“Though Paul had a measure of success in Corinth, yet the wickedness that he saw and heard in that corrupt city almost disheartened him. The depravity that he witnessed among the Gentiles, and the contempt and insult that he received from the Jews, caused him great anguish of spirit. He doubted the wisdom of trying to build up a church from the material that he found there.
“As he was planning to leave the city for a more promising field, and seeking earnestly to understand his duty, the Lord appeared to him in a vision. . . . [Acts 18:9, 10 quoted.] Paul understood this to be a command to remain in Corinth and a guarantee that the Lord would give increase to the seed sown. Strengthened and encouraged, he continued to labor there with zeal and perseverance.”—Ibid., p.250.
4. GOD’S CARE FOR HIS LABORERS
a. In harmony with His promise to Paul, how did God use Gallio to cause the next plot against the apostle to backfire? Acts 18:12–17.
“For the first time during Paul’s labors in Europe, the mob turned to his side; under the very eye of the proconsul, and without interference from him, they violently beset the most prominent accusers of the apostle.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 253.
b. What ministry did Paul continue—and whom did God use to raise up Apollos to become another asset to the gospel? Acts 18:22–28.
“[Paul] illustrated in a practical way what might be done by consecrated laymen in many places where the people were unacquainted with the truths of the gospel. His course inspired many humble toilers with a desire to do what they could to advance the cause of God, while at the same time they supported themselves in daily labor. Aquila and Priscilla were not called to give their whole time to the ministry of the gospel, yet these humble laborers were used by God to show Apollos the way of truth more perfectly. The Lord employs various instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose, and while some with special talents are chosen to devote all their energies to the work of teaching and preaching the gospel, many others, upon whom human hands have never been laid in ordination, are called to act an important part in soulsaving.
“There is a large field open before the self-supporting gospel worker. Many may gain valuable experiences in ministry while toiling a portion of the same time at some form of manual labor, and by this method strong workers may be developed for important service in needy fields.
“The self-sacrificing servant of God who labors untiringly in word and doctrine, carries on his heart a heavy burden. He does not measure his work by hours. His wages do not influence him in his labor, nor is he turned from his duty because of unfavorable conditions. From heaven he received his commission, and to heaven he looks for his recompense when the work entrusted to him is done.”—Ibid., pp.355, 356.
5. INSPIRATION FOR LAYPEOPLE
a. How is the example of Paul’s voluntary missionary work to inspire and motivate us today? Acts 20:33, 34; Psalm 126:6.
“In humble dependence upon God, families are to settle in the waste places of His vineyard. Consecrated men and women are needed to stand as fruit-bearing trees of righteousness in the desert places of the earth. As the reward of their self-sacrificing efforts to sow the seeds of truth, they will reap a rich harvest. As they visit family after family, opening the Scriptures to those in spiritual darkness, many hearts will be touched.
“In fields where the conditions are so objectionable and disheartening that many workers refuse to go to them, most remarkable changes for the better may be brought about by the efforts of self-sacrificing lay members. These humble workers will accomplish much because they put forth patient, persevering effort, not relying upon human power, but upon God, who gives them His favor. The amount of good that these workers accomplish will never be known in this world.
“Self-supporting missionaries are often very successful. Beginning in a small, humble way, their work enlarges as they move forward under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Let two or more start out together in evangelistic work. They may not receive any particular encouragement from those at the head of the work that they will be given financial support; nevertheless let them go forward, praying, singing, teaching, living the truth. They may take up the work of canvassing, and in this way introduce the truth into many families. . . . They bear the message God gives them, and their efforts are crowned with success. Many will be brought to a knowledge of the truth who, but for these humble teachers, would never have been won to Christ.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, pp. 22, 23.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Regarding material possessions, what example is given to Christians?
2. What steps can I take to resemble Paul’s outreach in Corinth?
3. Why can I be encouraged by the dream Christ gave to Paul there?
4. Whom that I know may become an “Apollos” I can lead to Jesus?
5. Name some promises for all who sow the seeds of God’s word.