By: Brannon Hyde
Paul in Corinth
In Acts 18, Luke tells the story of how Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ by the command of God, journeyed from Athens to Corinth without many of his usual traveling companions. In Corinth, he entered into the home of a Jewish couple, Aquilla and Priscilla, who, like Paul, were tentmakers by trade. Week after week, Paul went to the Jewish synagogue to preach that "Jesus was the Christ," the one of whom the OT writers spoke time and again throughout the pages of sacred history. From a letter that Paul later wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:2), we know that Paulís message was simple, "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." In Corinth, many of the Jews with whom Paul reasoned rejected his proclamation, possibly denying that a "crucified criminal" could in any way have been the Messiah. So, with their denial, Paul turned his attention and preaching to the Gentiles in the city. In Acts 18:8, we learn that Paulís message was received with gladness, for "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." Subsequently, and at the Lordís command, Paul remained in the city of Corinth for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God to all who believed.
Our present focus in this encouraging, uplifting account of the word of God being delivered to the city of Corinth is the conversion of Jew and Gentile sinners. Most readers will readily understand the meaning of this term, conversion. That is, most have some idea of what it means to be converted, or to be a convert. But, who exactly is a convert?
Who is a convert?
First, a convert is one that has been redeemed (in the sense of ransomed or rescued) with righteousness and judgment (Isaiah 1:27). A convert is one who has humbled himself or herself in submission to God (Matthew 18:13). Just as a little child is absolutely dependent on a parent, even so are we in relation to our Father in heaven. Also, a convert is one that no longer walks in error, one whoís soul has been saved from death, and one in whom a multitude of sins has been hidden (James 5:20). Furthermore, in Psalm 51:3, it is clear that a convert is an individual that has been taught the word of God. Moreover, a convert is one that sees, hears, understands that word, and, subsequently, is healed by God (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15; John 12:40; Acts 28:27). A divine commentary on what it means to be "healed" by God is found in Mk 4:12 where the inspired evangelist there records Jesusí words for "I should heal them" in parallel accounts as, "their sins should be forgiven them." That is, a convert is an individual that has had his or her sins forgiven by God. Finally, Luke 22:32 identifies a convert as one who may have one time walked in the faith, fallen from grace, and later came back into the fold.
The passages above help us to understand the definition of convert. However, many of these scriptures also define who is not a convert. Those who are not converts are described as sinners, transgressors, they that forsake the lord (Isaiah 1:27), and those that have not been taught. (Psalms 51:13). Moreover, even in the NT, a convert is one properly identified before conversion as a sinner, one who errs from the truth (James 5:20).
The Corinthian Converts
At no place in the account of events in Corinth described in Acts 18 is any form of the English word "convert" used. So, why talk about the "Corinthian conversion?" Namely, the Corinthians meet every criterion discussed above in the biblical definition of "converts." Note carefully the following. Before Paul came to Corinth, none so much as believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah of whom holy men of God spoke in the OT. However, after they were taught through Paulís preaching (cf. Psalms 51:13), the text tells us in 18:8 that many "believed." The Corinthiansí belief evidences many things: they saw what he was saying, they heard what he was saying, and they understood what he was saying (cf. Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15; John 12:40; Acts 28:27). Acts 18:8 also states that these Corinthians "were baptized." In the Corinthiansí immersion in water, they contacted the spirit and the blood of Christ, for those three agree in one (1 John 5:8). In the contacting of the blood of Christ, these Corinthians were redeemed (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; cf. Isaiah 1:27). Furthermore, in the Corinthiansí baptism we know that there was an "answer of a good conscience toward God" (1 Peter 3:21). That is, these Corinthians humbled themselves in submission to God (Matthew 18:13). Finally, in the Corinthian baptism, each and every individualís sins were forgiven by God (Acts 2:38; cf. James 5:20; Mark 4:12).
Clearly, to be accepted in the sight of God and have any hope for an eternal life in heaven, one must be converted by the word of God. The converted are saints and the unconverted are sinners. Let us take to heart the Corinthian example of how to receive and act upon the word of God that has been once for all delivered. Through seeing with our eyes, hearing with our ears, understanding with our minds, believing with our hearts, repenting in our actions, confessing with our mouths, being baptized with our pure consciences, and walking faithfully in our lives even to the very point of death we do hereby know that our calling, even our conversion, and election is sure.
Please e-mail me (Brannon Hyde) if you have any questions: email@example.com
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