We have no idea of how many days weeks or months Paul’s ministry trip around the churches of Macedonia claimed. Luke passes over the whole trip with extreme brevity. It was not Luke’s intention to give what every bible lover and scholar in the world craves for: an exhaustive biography of all that Paul said and did. He does not even mention the stories and the sagas that must have been going on in the churches of Macedonia keeping Paul back from his intended, planned and promised visit to Corinth. He must surely have preached again at Philippi the capital of Macedonia Prima, Thessalonica the capital of Macedonia Secunda, and Berea, the capital of Macedonia Tertia.
As he went, I cannot help but think what a challenge to Paul’s grace and character it was to be pleading for money from each Christian fellowship that he visited, the majority of whom were plunged into poverty, who had already given in his first visit towards the offering to help the poor in the church in Jerusalem, the very church who had sent emissaries with letters of commendation to Corinth, and who were now bad mouthing the apostle and undermining his teaching. Corinth had believed these emissaries that Paul refers to as “false apostles,” and were backbiting the father of their faith. Talk about, “Biting the hand that feeds you!” It was a wrestle, and a pain to Paul, relief from which could only come to him when he remembered that the leaders of the twelve apostles at Jerusalem had bound him by a special injunction, or was it a commitment, to take care of the poor (Galatians 2:10).
I can only surmise that somewhere along the line he considered his usefulness to Macedonia (and Illyricum?) completed, and so, the apostle finally set his direction on the road to Corinth.
Of the utmost importance to our delving into Paul’s management of the miraculous, we take note that somewhere after meeting Titus, while Titus was still with him, while ministering around Macedonia, Paul wrote Second Corinthians. This was the letter that accompanied Titus back to Corinth, and preceded Paul’s arrival there.
We hear not one word as to what went on during the three months of Paul’s visit to Corinth apart from what he wrote there. Yet Paul was surrounded by friends, colleagues, co-workers and those that loved him, and during those three months he seems to have placated the troubled waters of the Corinthian church and composed the letter to the Galatians, and the letter to the Romans. Something wonderful and restoring must have been going on while he was in Corinth.
- THE TROUBLESOME CHURCH THAT COMPELLED PAUL TO LEAVE EPHESUS.
What can we say about the church at Corinth and what they did to the mind and emotions of the apostle Paul? Let’s start from the beginning of their story.
Paul’s first visit to the city of Corinth (Act 18:1-28) extended over eighteen months. This was, of course, prior to the Ephesus campaign. He left Corinth happily, had a brief stopover in Ephesus, and went on to Antioch. It is remarkably significant that, on this occasion he did not go at all to Jerusalem. (That is a story there for another time.) Paul left Antioch ministering throughout Galatia and Phrygia, before he arrived at Ephesus. That arrival to the city of Diana brings us to Acts 19:1. Paul must have had many communications with Corinth throughout the three or four years after he had left them in Acts 18:28. He touched base with them humanly, through the deputies and colleagues in ministry whom he would have commissioned to go and minister whilst he was travelling elsewhere. 2 Corinthians 12:17 tells us this is true (“… Did any of the men I sent to you take advantage of you?”). It is only after his mission to Ephesus, in the ongoing course of what is commonly referred to as Paul’s third missionary journey, that actual personal interaction with Corinth could have been geographically possible again. However during his stay at Ephesus there were Corinthian visitors, as well as letters, passing both to and fro, that kept Paul informed of things.
Part Six Next week