It seems during Paul’s stay in Corinth, Crispus is replaced as synagogue leader by a man named Sosthenes. Under him the Jews make a frontal attack against Paul. (I guess it was a bit troubling for Paul to have set up shop right next door and this may have ticked the Jews off…I’m just saying.)
So the Jews bring Paul before the Roman proconsul of Achaia, Gallio. “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
Before Paul can say anything, Gallio cuts the Jews off at the knees. “…Since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” (This was a pretty smart guy and he wasn’t about to be dragged into some “Jewish” thing. Pilate might have wished he could have done the same when he was confronted with judging Jesus!)
To literally add injury to insult, the Romans drove them from the tribunal and beat the stuffing out of Sosthenes to boot. Gaillio didn’t have much regard for the Jews since he didn’t stop them.
Paul, after a while longer in Corinth, sailed for Syria taking Priscilla and Aquila with him all the way to Ephesus. He left them there but he himself entered the synagogue to reason with the Jews. Unlike many places, he was invited to stay longer but he declined saying, “I will return to you if God wills.” Instead he went on to Jerusalem (Caesarea) to greet the church and then down to Antioch. (Back where he began, so ends Paul’s second missionary journey.)
Clearly things change. New leaders may not have your back. Enemies may come to your aid. Others may want you but you can’t stay. None of this change is a surprise to God but it might be a surprise to me. I might be caught off guard and spend time wondering what’s up. Paul did not. He was confident even when he had to leave the friendlies – “I will return to you if God wills.”
Here’s the take away for me.
1. Be alert. Sometimes we are staying put but sometimes we are on the move. I can’t know unless I’m listening for the voice of the Spirit.
2. Be flexible. It’s easy to get fixated on the plan (instead of the Planner) but rigidness can lead to resistance and then right on to ornery! Lord, help me remain pliable in your hands.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
Go with the flow of the Spirit.
About the World?
So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” – Heb. 3:7-8