Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Acts 18

Acts 18 has a very action-oriented pace and pragmatic aspect to it. In one case, people want an extended teaching time with Paul, but even he himself postpones the opportunity with them (18:21).  In another case, he curtails his teaching to a group that "resisted and blasphemed" (18:6).

A good question, with all his traveling, is just how Paul was "strengthening all the disciples" during such a whirlwind trip "through the Galatian region and Phyrigia."  (18:23).  The outsider in Corinth heard little but "words and names and your own law (18:15)," which theological discussions sound like to an outsider, often nowadays as well.

Paul worked.  He worked alongside "a Jew named Aquila" in the same trade (tent-makers, 18:3).  All very pragmatic.  But what did Paul do "in his spare time," as we say nowadays?  "He was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks."  (18:4).      

In our day, "reasoning" and "trying to pursuade" is almost ridiculed.  A current popular movie unconsciously testifies to the attempt to segregate a time of choice and deliberation to a very narrow time of life and a narrow set of choice points.    One of the points of this movie (Divergent) is the fallacy of restricting the time and scope of human choice and deliberation.  

"Trying to persuade Jews and Greeks" goes also against many theological systems which say in effect, that the attempt to pursuade is of very little use.  That idea should be scuttled, since Paul did that kind of things for "a year and six months" (18:11), and did not leave due either to conflict (18:12) or to being forced to (18:18).

A detail we might overlook is that in "trying to persuade Jews and Greeks (18:4)," Paul very likely doubled his persuasion efforts, because of the separation normally likely to be the case, between groups of Jews and groups of Greeks in their social and religious gatherings.

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