I. THE CITY OF CORINTH
A. It is located at the narrow isthmus where the Aegean Sea almost touches the Adriatic. Greece is almost separated in two parts. The isthmus is less than five miles wide.
1. In those days most of the goods from East to West passed through Corinth.
2. The cargo would be brought from the East over the Aegean to Corinth, there it would be unloaded and transported over land to the Adriatic where it was then loaded onto ships going to Rome.
3. They were thus able to save traveling hundreds of extra miles around the dangerous cape Malea and back up to Rome.
B. The morals of Corinth were the lowest.
1. In the dramas, if ever a Corinthian was shown, he was shown drunk.
2. When they sought to describe a man who was given over to utter debauchery they would say, "He lives like a Corinthian."
3. On the Acropolis above the city to the present day there are the remains of the once great temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of sensual pleasure.
4. Each night the thousand priestesses of Aphrodite would come down into Corinth and by prostitution earn money for the upkeep of the temple.
C. It is not a likely spot to consider for evangelism. Yet we find Paul each Sabbath day in the synagog testifying to the people that Jesus was the Messiah.
1. As in every place where Paul carried the gospel, trouble was stirred up against him by the unbelieving Jews.
2. Paul had been beaten, imprisoned, and forced to leave Philippi, They had to sneak him out of Thessolonica at night. He was driven out of Berea, now all of these were all fairly civil towns.
3. Now he is here in Corinth, a rough and wicked city and he no doubt wondered about his fate at the hands of the Jews who had risen up against him.
II. PAUL'S VISION IN THE NIGHT.
A. The Lord spoke to Paul by a vision in the night.
1. This is one of the many recorded night visions where the Lord spoke to Paul.
a. His call to go to Macedonia was in a night vision.
b. Once again when he was in jail in Jerusalem.
c. Again when he was on the ship going to Rome in a fierce storm, and all hope for survival was given up.
2. The vision was intended to comfort Paul. "Be not afraid."
a. You don't tell a person "Don't be afraid." unless they are afraid.
b. Paul had good cause to be afraid. As we have said, his reception in Europe had not been the most friendly and Corinth was one tough city.
3. Two of the other times when Jesus spoke to Paul in the night visions were to encourage him.
a. When he was in prison in Jerusalem after the great disappointment of having his witness rejected.
b. When they had been at sea in a storm for fourteen days and had despaired of their lives. There again the Lord said fear not.
4. When we read of the great exploits of Paul in preaching the gospel, we are prone to think of him in super human terms, but he was one with emotions just like us. He had his fears also.
B. "Speak and hold not your peace."
1. Is it possible that Paul was considering leaving Corinth?
a. Again the Jews were stirring up trouble.
b. In a heavy confrontation with them he turned from them in a dramatic fashion and declared his intention to bring the message to the Gentiles.
c. I can understand if Paul is getting a little gun shy at this point.
2. You remember the prophet Jeremiah who after his imprisonment for sharing the word from God with the people, declared that he was determined to not speak for the Lord again. But the word of the Lord was like fire in his bones and he became weary of trying to hold it back.
3. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he declared that it was the love of God constrained him to preach, for he reasoned that if one died for all, then all were dead who lived in their sins, but He died for us that we should no longer live for ourselves but should live for Him.
III. THE CURE FOR PAUL'S FEARS. "I AM WITH YOU."
A. What great comfort it is to know that the Lord is with us.
1. Writing to the Romans Paul said, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
2. Jesus Christ the Son of God, the creator of the universe, the One who came to earth and died for our sins is there at night encouraging Paul not to fear, to speak out boldly, for He was not alone, the Lord Jesus Christ was with him.
3. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness."
B. Are you going through uncertain times right now? Has fear entered in?
1. As you seek the Lord, and commit your life and your circumstances to Him, you can hear Him say to you, "Don't be afraid."
2. You can say with David, "The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
3. You as David can confidently face the giants of this world and declare, "You come against me with a sword and shield, but I come against you in the name of the living God."
C. The Lord assured Paul that no man would set on him to hurt him.
1. The Lord promised to protect Paul from hurt in Corinth.
2. Paul had already been stoned in Lystra, and beaten in Philippi, but here the Lord said that no man would hurt him.
a. Why would the Lord allow men to hurt him in other places, yet protect him here in Corinth?
b. It is one of those many times when we must trust ourselves to the wisdom of the Lord, we do not know.
c. Paul had to escape from the other places, he is to remain here for a long period of time.
D. The Lord told Paul that He had many people in this city.
1. This pagan idolatrous city had many people who needed the Lord.
2. We, using our natural wisdom, would probably have never considered preaching the gospel in Corinth.
a. Had the experts in church growth gone into Corinth to make a demographic study of the community to determine if a church should be planted there they would probably concluded that you would have greater success in Athens.
b. This would be the last place that you would expect to see a healthy thriving church.
3. Jesus is the Lord of the harvest, He knows the fields that are ripe and ready for reaping.
4. We would have looked upon it as a wicked hopeless city, filled with drunks and sexual licentiousness. The Lord saw the many people that were looking for a better life.
5. As a result, Paul stayed there for 18 months and reaped a great harvest for the kingdom of God.