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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 10: Paul at Corinth.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

Paul did not wait at Athens for his brethren, Silas and Timothy, but leaving word for them to follow him, went at once to Corinth. Here he entered upon a different field of labor from that which he had left. Instead of the curious and critical disciples of schools of philosophy, he came in contact with the busy, changing population of a great center of commerce. Greeks, Jews, and Romans, with travelers from every land, mingled in its crowded streets, eagerly intent on business and pleasure, and having little thought or care beyond the affairs of the present life.

Corinth was one of the leading cities, not only of Greece, but of the world. Situated upon a narrow neck of land between two seas, it commanded the trade of both the east and the west. Its position was almost impregnable. A vast citadel of rock, rising abruptly and perpendicularly from the plain to the height of two thousand feet above the level of the sea, was a strong natural defense to the city and its two sea-ports. Corinth was now more prosperous than Athens, which had once taken the lead. Both had experienced severe vicissitudes; but the former had risen from her ruins, and was far in advance of her former prosperity, while the latter had not reached to her past magnificence. Athens was the acknowledged center of art and learning; Corinth, the seat of government and trade.

This large mercantile city was in direct communication with Rome, while Thessalonica, Ephesus, [p. 99] Alexandria, and Antioch were all easy of access, either by land or water. An opportunity was thus presented for the spread of the gospel Once established at Corinth, it would be readily communicated to all parts of the world.

Yet the apostle saw on every hand serious obstacles to the progress of his work. The city was almost wholly given up to idolatry. Venus was the favorite goddess; and a great number of dissolute women were employed in connection with the worship of this reigning deity, for the purpose of attracting the devotees of popular vice. The Corinthians had become conspicuous, even among the heathen, for their gross immorality.

There was now a much larger number of Jews in Corinth than at any previous time. This people had been generally favored by the ruling powers. and treated with much consideration. But for some time they had been growing arrogant and insubordinate, and after they had rejected and crucified Christ, the light of the world, they followed their own darkened understanding, manifested more openly their envy and hatred of the powers that governed them, and proudly boasted of a king of the Jews who was to come with great power, overthrow their enemies, and establish a magnificent kingdom. It was in view of this vague belief that they had rejected the Saviour. The same malignant spirit that actuated them in their persecution of the Son of God led them to rebel against the Roman government. They were continually creating seditions and insurrections, until they were finally driven from Rome because of their turbulent spirit. Many of them found refuge in Corinth.

Among the Jews who took up their residence here were many who were innocent of the wrongs that [p. 100] prevailed among them as a people. Of this class were Aquila and Priscilla, who afterward became distinguished as believers in Christ. Paul, becoming acquainted with the character of these excellent persons, abode with them; and having in his youth learned their trade of making tents, which were much used in that warm climate, he worked at this business for his own support.

The Hebrews had been instructed of God, by his servant Moses, to train up their children to industrious habits. That people were thus led to look upon indolence as a great sin, and their children were all required to learn some trade by which, if necessary, they could gain a livelihood. Those who neglected to do this were regarded as departing from the instruction of the Lord. Labor was considered elevating in its nature, and the children were taught to combine religion and business. In the time of Christ, the Jews, though wealthy, still followed their ancient custom.

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 any one. When his means had been expended to advance the cause of Christ, he resorted to his trade in order to gain a livelihood.

No man ever lived who was a more earnest, energetic, and self-sacrificing disciple of Christ than was Paul. He was one of the world's greatest [p. 101] teachers. He crossed the seas, and traveled far and near, until a large portion of the world had learned from his lips the story of the cross of Christ. He possessed a burning desire to bring perishing men to a knowledge of the truth through a Saviour's love. His whole soul was engaged in the work of the ministry; but he seated himself to the labor of his humble trade that he might not be burdensome to the churches that were pressed with poverty. Although he had planted many churches, he refused to be supported by them, fearing that his usefulness and success as a minister of Christ might be injured by suspicions that he was preaching the gospel for gain. He would remove from his enemies all occasion to misrepresent him, and thus to detract from the force of his message.

As a laborer in the gospel, Paul might have claimed support, instead of sustaining himself; but this right he was willing to forego. 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. The apostle would also give an example to the Christian ministry, dignifying and honoring industry. While thus preaching and working, he presented the highest type of Christianity. He combined teaching with his labor; and while toiling with those of his trade, he instructed them concerning the way of salvation. In pursuing this course, he had access to many whom he could not otherwise have reached.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

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