The Apostle Paul frequently encountered conflict as he travelled to different communities preaching the message of the cross. At each place he began preaching to the Jews in their synagogues. We read today that “he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4). When Silas and Timothy joined him they found “Paul was occupied with testifying to the Jews that the Christ (Messiah) was Jesus. And when they [the Jews] opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent” (verse 5,6).
In what sense was Paul innocent? He was innocent because he was fulfilling the commission Christ had given to him to preach the gospel. But there were many difficulties in Corinth: to encourage him “the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you’” (verse 9,10). “And many of the Corinthians, hearing Paul believed and were baptised” (verse 8).
It is interesting to note that his enemies “seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue and beat him” (verse 17). What had the ruler of the synagogue done wrong? Were they blaming him for allowing Paul to preach, or had he been converted? We notice that the first verse of 1 Corinthians says, “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes”.
In tomorrow’s reading, Acts 20, Paul tells the elders from Ephesus, “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of you all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (verses 26,27). All believers of Paul’s gospel, which is “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1) should make themselves innocent by seeking opportunity to declare to all they come in contact with – the gospel that Paul preached, which is the only real gospel. If you have not yet accepted that gospel yourself – why not?