1 After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, 2 where he found a Jewish man named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, 3 and being of the same occupation, stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with preaching the message and solemnly testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook his robe and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 So he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed the Lord, along with his whole household. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized.
9 Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 And he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the judge’s bench. 13 “This man,” they said, “persuades people to worship God contrary to the law!”
14 As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of a crime or of moral evil, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews. 15 But if these are questions about words, names, and your own law, see to it yourselves. I don’t want to be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them from the judge’s bench. 17 Then they all seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the judge’s bench. But none of these things concerned Gallio.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent.For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.”
Ever sit in complete silence? I mean, total silence? The kind of silence that makes your heart sound like it’s literally playing your eardrum?
How did it make you feel? Lonely or confident? Anxious or peaceful? Weak or powerful? Ever feel like God is silent in your life?
In the field of communication, one learns that two types of communication exist: verbal and non-verbal. To most of us, these are obvious. But an interesting element to notice is that one is always communicating something.
When words seem pointless, one can do something to help the situation. When proximity is the challenge, words can encourage, challenge, and heal. Have you ever stopped to consider that, depending on the situation, God may vary His communication style also?
As you read this passage, it’s hard to miss the fact that Paul screams frustration. It’s almost shocking. Here is Paul—the great writer of all the letters of encouragement to churches (often while he was in prison, mind you)—who seems to have had enough of people rejecting God’s message of the gospel. Both his verbal and nonverbal communication exhibit this.
Notice how God brings people into his life to encourage him: Aquila and Priscilla, and Silas and Timothy (non-verbal communication, if you will)
Aquila and Priscilla are believed to have been saved as a result of Pentecost, which was approximately 20 years earlier. They’d also come to Corinth due to the order for Jews to leave Rome. They created a friendship with Paul through tent making (a basic life skill taught to Jewish boys) and sharing the gospel with Jews and Greeks.
However, it wasn’t until the arrival of Silas and Timothy that Paul resumed his role of exclusively preaching to the Jews. The report from the church in Thessalonica encouraged Paul that some ears (hearts) were listening (1 Thessalonians 3:6-10).
Paul devoted his time to the audience at the local synagogue—the Jews. No response—except blasphemy and resistance. How could their hearts be so deaf to the message? He couldn’t understand.
The gospel was too important to be silenced. Paul moved next door—literally—to the Gentiles’ house of worship where the hearts were ready to listen and respond. Paul refused to let the silence of the Jews deafen his calling to the gospel.
In a vision, the Lord spoke to Paul to encourage him. The key verses mentioned above are those words—sweet-sounding words of purpose and protection. Words that sound similar to the encouraging words from Joshua 1:9, “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Words of comfort and clarity that beat a resounding pulse within any moment of future silence. Words of peace and protection that surround the soul in sweet solitude. Words that want to be heard in your silence.
- How do you view silence in your life?
- Do you see God communicating with you both verbally (Scripture) and nonverbally? Spend time recognizing these in detail.
- What are some words that need to resound in your silence today?