Publication Date: 1976-1977
Walter J. Cummins graduated from the Power for Abundant Class in 1962.
He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Ohio State University in 1968 and his Master of Education degree in Secondary School Administration in 1978 from Wright State University.
He was ordained to the Christian by The Way International in 1968. He has studied at The Way International under Victor Paul Wierwille and K.C.Pillai. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was director of the Research department of the Way International and served as assistant to the president.
Paul in Corinth
When you say to someone today, “You’re very religious,” to them, that may be a compliment but you know what the word religious means and what religion is. Paul said, “I noticed all these objects of worship, probably more here than any place else in the world. There was one that I was especially interested in; the one that says, ‘to the unknown god.’ That’s the one I want to talk about.” Then he goes into, “God that created the heavens and the earth.” It’s really the Word but he’s not saying, “It says in the Jewish scriptures.” He’s just saying thus and thus happened. These are basic principles with which the Stoicks in particular would agree. The Epicureans would scratch their heads because they believe the world happened by chance. The Stoicks would believe that there was a creator.
Then he talks about the times determined before; how God appointed these times by his foreknowledge. He’s talking about God’s foreknowledge. God doesn’t overstep the freedom of will. There’s more that Paul said than what’s recorded here. This is the gist of it; the highlights. It’s the same way with all these messages recorded in here; all lot more things were said. These are the salient facts or truths. He taught them how that by God’s foreknowledge God knew what would happen. That’s close but distinctly independent of Stoick philosophy because they were fatalists. They believed in appointed times but that it’s by fate; that you have no decision.
Like the story of Achilles; how he was killed. An arrow or spear hit him in the heel. That was the only vulnerable place he had; the “Achilles heel.” His mother, when he was born, dipped him in pool of protection so you couldn’t wound him in any place except where she held him by his heel. That arrow hit him in the heel only it was determined by fate according to Greek philosophy that that was the moment of his death and therefore if he would have gone to war (which he did) or if he would have stayed home he still would have died. That was his fate, so he thought, “I might as well go to war and die.” That’s the fatalist attitude.
Acts 17:27: That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel [grope for] after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
That is close yet distinctly independent of their Pantheistic views. The Stoicks believed basically everything and everyone was a part of god. That’s their Pantheistic view. The Epicureans on the other hand didn’t. But Paul makes it a little bit different. He says, “God is NOT FAR from every one of us.” God is omnipresent; everywhere. It says, “He’s not far from every one but yet they’re seeking for the Lord if haply they might grope for him. He’s everywhere but can you see, hear, smell, taste or touch spirit? That’s what natural man does.
I Corinthians 2:14: But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
If you don’t have spirit you can’t know spirit. They were groping for God. He was everywhere yet they could not find Him because natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God. Then he does a great thing in verse 28.
Acts 17:28: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Is that Biblical? Is that the truth? Is it by God that we live, move and have our being? Certain of the Stoick philosophers said the same basic thing. Look how close they were to truth in places and yet they were dead wrong. Paul was trying to show them how close they were and how easy it would be to get in God’s “ball team,” the real God, not these things that are made with men’s hands. The poets; in particular he may be referring to Aratus and Cleanthes. These represented Stoick philosophy.
“offspring” – race or nation – in other words; everyone came from one:
Acts 17:26: And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
God made the first one and then everyone else has come from that one. We’re all his offspring. Now look at the logic of verse 29.
Acts 17:29: Forasmuch then as we are the offspring [or race] of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
“If you are God’s offspring then do you think you came from a chunk of gold or stone or silver?” Do you see the logic in that? There were hundreds of idols lined up down to the sea. “Do you think you came from something like that? We ought not to think that.”
Acts 17:30: And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
“God winked at” – He looked beyond it; He overlooked it. He sort of makes light of it in a sense. He was trying to show them in a sense that the error is easy to correct because of God’s grace.
“repent” – to turn around; to not think that these idols that are made of stone and wood are God. But that the real God is the one who begat us, the one that’s not far from all of us, the one that is everywhere and yet we’re groping for Him.
Acts 17:31: Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
This is sort of contrary to mythology because they believed that you were judged at the moment of death. When you died you went to the house of Hades and from there you either went to the Elysian Fields which was like a heaven or you went to Tartarus which was like a hell where you were eternally punished. One guy in Tartarus has birds picking at his liver forever. One guy is situated in a pond or something and he’s constantly hungry and thirsty. Whenever he gets thirsty, he tries to dip down and get some water and the water goes down. There is a tree with fruit on it above it and every time he tries to pick it it’s grabbed up, so he’s constantly hungry and thirsty.
This sort of cuts across that; that judgement isn’t now but it’s future. We’ve got the same problem in the world today. He appointed a day, not now but a day.
“ordained” – decided; purposed; willed; appointed
“given” – offered
“assurance” – pistis
He got to the resurrection. He used the Word and still talked to them in terms that they would understand. Now, can they get saved? Yes, he got to the resurrection. Those people at Areopagus on Mars Hill had every opportunity to get saved. Now it was up to them. Does Paul have to go back and witness to those same people? No, they’ve had their chance. That climaxed his message
Acts 17:32: And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
Paul walked by the spirit but he also had a tremendous knowledge of those people. When he walked by...he noticed because he kept his eyes open. Maybe he had studied some of the background of these Athenians or he talked to people and they were filling him in. When you talk to somebody like that, know their interests; know where they stand. If you’re going to present the Word, present it on a silver platter in the best possible way.
Acts 17:33-34: So Paul departed from among them.
Howbeit certain men clave unto him [stayed with him], and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
There are the three types of responses you’ll always have to the Word; the mockers [mocking birds], the "hear you again later" birds and the believing birds. Those who mock, those who say, “We’ll hear you again later, we’ll think about it,” and then those who believe. Those who say, “We’ll hear you again later,” haven’t mocked but they’ve pretty well made up their minds. It’s possible one or two would believe but for the most part they’ve made up their minds. If those others wanted to believe, later, they knew where to go.
“Dionysius the Areopagite” – one of the members of the council of Athens, like the city council. The city council met on Areopagus, on Mars Hill and this Dionysius was one of them. Not many mighty or noble but some.
Acts 18:1: After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
From Athens to Corinth is about a two to three hour drive by bus. Paul had to walk it. Corinth sits on an isthmus. It’s about two miles wide. Today they have a canal that connects those two bodies of water but in those days they didn’t. The ships would sail in from Italy to one side and they’d carry stuff across land and put it on a boat on the other side. That’s why Corinth was one of those three major trade centers. Paul goes right there where the trade’s going on. This is the chief trade center between Rome and Asia Minor. Corinth was also the political capitol of Greece, the seat of the Roman proconsul of that time.
Their main worship was a goddess called Aphrodite. The Roman name is Venus, the goddess of love. Just like the other cities in Greece, they had an Acropolis like that at Athens. This one at Corinth was huge. It took a good man to climb to the top of that. On the top with all the temples, they had a thousand whores doing their religious worship. Right near the city they had the stadium and the race track and so-on where they had a lot of the games.
Right in front of the track is the judgement seat, the bēma. The bēma is where the crowns or the rewards were handed out to the winners of the games. It’s not a judgement seat like, “You’re going to heaven. You’re going to hell,” but where the crowns or rewards were passed out. That’s what we go before; a bēma. That’s our judgement; to receive rewards, not for condemnation. We don’t sit in judgement for whether we’re saved or not because you know we’re saved. But if you want a few rewards, you do a little work. It’s those crowns that you stand before the bēma to receive when Christ returns.
With this background you can understand why some of the things were written. You see why he has to set some of these things straight.
I Corinthians 5:1: It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife [his own mother].
I Corinthians 7:1-5: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch [sexually] a woman.
Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence [good feeling]: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
Defraud ye not [Don’t deprive ye] one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
I Corinthians 9:24-25: Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
“temperate in all things” – exercises self control in all disciplined training
I Corinthians 9:26-27: I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight [box] I, not as one that beateth the air [shadow boxes]:
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
It’s all dealing with the games; things that they understood at Corinth. At the side of the track is the bēma, the judgement seat where they would receive those corruptible crowns. That’s Corinth. It’s the big political center of Greece whereas Athens was the intellectual and literary center. Corinth had a reputation for their worship all over the Gentile world more or less.
Acts 18:2: And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
Claudius commanded the Jews to depart from Rome around A.D. 52. This places that shortly after that, in the year 52 A.D.
Acts 18:3: And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought [worked]: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
“tentmakers” – Lamsa’s Aramaic has “saddle makers.” They were not tentmakers. They were saddle makers.
Another great principle: he’d go into an area that was new and he would work to support himself until the work was big enough to support him. Paul had to work to support the ministry there because he was “it” when it started until the work of the ministry was big enough to support him.
Acts 18:4: And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Where did we leave Silas and Timothy? Up in Macedonia. Now Silas and Timothy came down and rejoined Paul at Corinth.
Acts 18:5: And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
“pressed in the spirit” – this is the Stephen’s text. The other critical Greek texts have; “he was engrossed in the Word.”
“Christ” – the Christ – the messiah they’d been looking for. That’s what he taught them everyplace. The he’d get into the resurrection.
Acts 18:6: And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
“opposed themselves” – God’s all the time voting for you. The Devil’s always voting against you. The way you vote determines the election. They were voting against themselves.
“Your blood be upon your own heads” – “You don’t want to believe God’s Word, good, go fry in your fat. You’re responsible for yourself. You’ve got freedom of will to believe. If you want to go to hell, go.”
Whenever you have to force anybody to do anything then you’re on the wrong ball team. If you can’t do it by the love of God then you’d better quit. If you have to cram something on somebody then forget it. It’s time to quit. It’s got to be with the love of God. You never win anybody by scaring them out of hell. You love them to heaven. If there’s one thing that’s got to live in the ministry, it’s the positive believing of our people and the love of God in their hearts. As leaders, you have a tremendous responsibility.
It breaks my heart when I hear that people are full of fear because some leader is “dogging” them on something. When you start “dogging” you don’t have the love of God. It’s got to be the love of God in your heart that wins people to Christ. It’s the love of God that wins people to the Lord Jesus Christ. You never scare anybody to heaven. Whenever you’re motivated by fear it’s wrong. It’s backwards.
It’s got to be motivation by the love of God. If you can’t motivate somebody by the love of God, do you know what you do? You kick the dust off your feet. Your blood be on your own head. You’re responsible for your own believing.
“Opening and alleging” and the word “alleging” is “setting it before” them that they can eat. You don’t take the back of their head in the palm of your hand and take the plate in the other hand and shove it down. That’s not love. You set it before them. If you’re hungry you’re going to eat. If you don’t want it, I’m not going to make you eat it. It’s the same way with the Word; just set it before you.
Acts 18:7: And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
“hard to the synagogue” – right next door to the synagogue. That’s where he stayed. He left the Jews but went right next door.
“Justus” – some of the texts have “Titus” instead of Justus. I don’t know what significance that has but it’s interesting.
Acts 18:8: And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
Crispus was one of the three that Paul baptized.
I Corinthians 1:14 & 16: I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
Crispus was the chief ruler of the synagogue. That tells you a little bit why he baptized him. He was the chief ruler. Do you want to know how long he kept his job after he believed? Look at verse 17.
Acts 18:17: Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
“Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue” – there was a new chief ruler. Crispus found a better place in the family of God.
Acts 18:9: Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
Speak! Speak! Fear not but speak. And don’t shut up. Don’t hold you peace, just speak the Word.
Acts 18:10: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
Do you think those persecutors are going to come down and get Paul this time? No, God said nobody’s going to touch you; nobody’s going to hurt you in this city. Maybe they did in a few other places. “We always got you out of town, remember, Paul? But not in this city, you just stay there. Fear not! Speak the Word! Many people are going to believe here, Paul.”
You go into one community and there’s only a few that believe but you go into another community and you really work like crazy. Does it depend on the size of the community? Not for the most part. It may have something to do with it but it’s a matter of how many are in that city that really want to believe. And there was a lot at Corinth. Besides that it was a big trade center; the Word was going all over the place.
Acts 18:11: And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
That’s the longest he stayed anyplace on this itinerary; a year and a half at Corinth teaching the Word of God.
Acts 18:12: And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia [Greece], the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat [bēma],
This is the judgement seat that’s in front of the race track because he was out at the games. These Jews grabbed Paul right in the middle of the games and said, “Gallio, do something about this guy. He’s messing up our city.”
Acts 18:13-17: Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you [I’d try this man]:
But [however] if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.
And he drave them from the judgment seat.
Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
That’s persecution reversed. That’s what will always happen when you stand fast and stay faithful to God’s Word. The persecution will eventually go in reverse. We’ve traced all these records through; how the persecution started hard and heavy and as Paul continued to believe the Word, look what happened. It turned about face. God had much people in this city and the Word moved here.
Acts 18:18: And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
“a good while” - certain days
“into” – toward
“Cenchrea” – this is on the coast where he got on board the ship
“he had a vow” – it had something to do with a vow. What it was, I’m not sure.
Acts 18:19: And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
From Ephesus he’s going to sail down to Caesarea and then down to Jerusalem.
“left them there” – he left Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus. That’s why Aquila and Priscilla were there when Apollos came.
Acts 18:20-21: When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
“if God will” – did he know the will of the Lord then? No, not in this specific case. That’s when you can say, “If God wills”; if you don’t know what it is. Does the Word of God say, “You’re going to Ephesus again a second time”? No. That’s what he needed revelation for.
From Ephesus he goes down to Caesarea which is on the coast. From there he goes up to the Church which is at Jerusalem and then back up to the Antioch headquarters of the Church.