A Closed Door and a New Opportunity: Acts 18:5-8
“5) But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6) But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7) Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8) Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.” Acts‬ ‭18‬:‭5‬-‭8‬
When you step back and absorb the book of Acts as a whole, you are immediately struck by the extent to which the early Christians, especially Paul and his team devoted themselves completely to the word. (See Acts 6:4; 18:5) It was every day and nearly all day long.
We must remember that God is always at work. He is working in season and out of season. He is working during the day and He is working during the night. He is active in men. He is active in women. He is active among both the young and the old, the rich and the poor and the Jew and the Gentile.
The work of the Holy Spirit can be illustrated by waves rolling in at the ocean. You may not catch them all… but the next wave is coming. If you want to “catch a wave” you need to step into the water.
It can also be illustrated by the story of the sower. (See Mark 4:1-24) You reap as you sow. If you sow sparingly then you reap sparingly. If you sow abundantly then you reap abundantly. The early Christians were constantly sharing the gospel, therefore they witnessed God working abundantly.
Sure, some will resist. (Vs 6) The Jews in the synagogue at Corinth began to mock and blaspheme, but that did not stop Paul and his team. They moved their work to another location. They started a house church in the home of Titus Justice. (Vs 7). When one door closed, God presented another opportunity.
So what does it mean that Paul shook out his garments in the synagogue and warned that their blood would be on their own heads? Let’s take a quick look at that question.
First, it meant they had warn out their welcome in the synagogue. The synagogue had most likely closed the door on Paul and his team. Second, it meant Paul had a clear conscious. He had thoroughly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ to them. Finally, it meant they had no excuse when they stood before God for judgement. They had no plea of ignorance of the gospel. They outrightly rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah after full disclosure.
Though Paul began to focus on the Gentiles in Corinth, God was not done with the Jewish people. The very next verse says that “Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household.” (Vs 8) In 1 Corinthians 1:14, Paul identifies Crispus and one of the men he baptized in Corinth. What a testimony of the goodness and patience of God.
Another providential outcome came from the closed door at the synagogue. When the church in Corinth eventually formed, it was not restrained or restricted by Jewish tradition. It was free to become an autonomous Spirit filled church for all people. This is huge! From organization to church structure, from worship to the orderly manifestation of spiritual gifts; the church was free to follow and honor God.
This does not mean they were free from trials or challenges. The books of 1 & 2 Corinthians makes that abundantly clear. They had to navigate everything from sexual immorality among believers to freedom from idolatry. The church at Corinth became the proving ground to hammer out many fundamental issues.
This included Christian morality, resolving legal disputes between believers, sanctification, the sanctity of marriage, freedom in Christ, the ordinance of Lords Supper, the manifestation of spiritual gifts in public worship, the pure gospel message, the resurrection from the dead and Christian stewardship. These are but a few of the issues they set out to resolve.
It was at Corinth that Paul settled down for a while and focused on church planting. It was difficult and tedious work. Shepherding a local church was a challenge, but it brought some order and continuity to his life. This eventually became a stellar church and Paul’s Epistles to the church at Corinth are a crucial part of our Christian heritage.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global