Many men and women who have a burning passion to serve Jesus, use their careers as a means of financing their Gospel Ministry. They will work full time and dedicate their lives to serving Jesus during their off times, weekends and holidays.
The lady I met on my flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Atlanta in America is married, Christian and a school teacher. She dedicates periods of her year to missions in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Together with her pastor and a number of other men and women, they visit schools they support, ministering the Gospel as they teach classes and run the library they set up. Others again work fulltime or part time and run a Church or a ministry.
As previously mentioned, our Church went through a financial low and for three years I taught at a local high school, yet continued to run the Church, fulfilling all my normal duties. It was hard work, long hours and I did burn out. The income from the school helped to support my family and tithe and enabling me to continue ministering. Sometimes people look down on such people, calling “tentmakers” half-baked Gospel Workers. As one who experienced this … they are people working far harder to fulfill a calling God placed upon them. We shall see the concept of “tentmaking” in Paul’s life. Please read:
Ac 18:1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
1) Paul on the move. He left Athens and went to the City of Corinth. You will recall that he wrote two (maybe more) letters to this Church. We have them preserved as 1 and 2 Corinthians.
Ac 18:1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
(1) The historical old city of Corinth was some 85 kilometers from Athens. The modern city is 3 kilometers away from the site of the old one. Corinth was one of four major cities (Sparta, Corinth, Argos and Megalopolis) on a peninsula known as the Southern Peninsula of Greece. The peninsula was called Peloponnese, joined to Central Greece by the Isthmus of Corinth. (A narrow land bridge connecting the Peloponnese peninsula with the rest of the mainland of Greece). The peninsula has the shape of a plain tree leaf and boasts many archaeological sites today as well as lovely beaches, castles and ski centers. Corinth was surrounded by fertile plains and many natural springs. She was a Trade Center and even boasted a naval fleet participating in ancient Greek wars. During the Roman Empire she was a major colony that was always in the limelight.
(2) The religions of Corinth were many with each having their own gods and goddesses. As an example they worshipped Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Demeter and Kore, Hera, Poseidon, Asklepois who was the god of medicine. They also venerated mystical heroes such as Bellerophon and the children of Medea, Mermeros and Pheres. They saw the goddess Aphrodite as the protector of the city. There were at least three sanctuaries dedicated in her honor …
(a) The temple of Aphrodite at the Acrocorinth.
(b) The temple of Aphrodite II and
(c) The temple of Aphrodite Kraneion.
Historians say there were a temple at both cities of Leachaion and Cenchreae. She was known as the patron goddess of prostitutes. Her temples had over 1000 shrine prostitutes who worked around the clock making money for their goddess. As ships docked, sailors and their captains would frequent the temples. It is said that at night, these shrine prostitutes would invade the city taking men or women as their partners for the night. This gives us an idea of the immorality of the city. Further she was worshipped with incense altars and dove sacrifices.
Corinth exposes modern city life to us. Debauchery, drunkenness, drugs, crime, prostitution amongst other vices are to be found there. Maybe for some the history of Corinth might be boring, but it gives us an understanding of the many problems Paul needed to deal with in the Church as written in 1 Corinthians.
2) Paul visiting Aquila and Priscilla. Do you believe in coincidence or do you believe in Divine Appointments? I suggest the latter. Look at Paul meeting a married couple who became lifelong friends and Gospel partners:
Ac 18:2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
This couple are not converts because of Paul. It seems as though they most likely became Christians in Rome. It seems as though Jews who were in Jerusalem for Pentecost when Peter preached and were converted, returned to Rome (and other places) and formed gatherings or assembles. You will recall that the Roman Empire instructed all people to call out … Caesar is Lord … Christians called out Jesus is Lord. “In A.D. 49, the emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome because of continued “rioting over Chrestus,” likely a Latinized christos, or messiah in Hebrew. A brief statement in Divus Claudius 25 mentions agitations by the “Jews” which led Claudius (Roman Emperor from AD 41 to 54) to expel them from Rome: Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (the Emperor Claudius) expelled them from Rome.” Aqulia and Priscilla were part of those expelled from Rome and landed up in Corinth. Paul heard of them and found them eventually living with them. As the children of God we need to be open to meeting up with His people, even with the likelihood of becoming lifelong friends and gospel partners. God uses many circumstances to bring those He wants together to serve Him in partnership. Be open to this.
4) Paul was a tentmaker. The trade he apprenticed in was the same as Aquila and Priscilla.
Ac 18:3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
They were tentmakers and worked together in the business for a season. The idea in Greek for tentmaker included working with leather. The Roman Empire needed tents made from leather for their military bases, so did their ship sails. The climate generally was not conducive to canvas tents or sails. It was hard work, though a much needed trade. Whilst Aquila and Priscilla worked to support themselves, Paul worked to support his ministry. This is where the term “ a tentmaking ministry” comes from. Admire people willing to do such things to keep the Gospel flowing.
5) Paul evangelized in the synagogue. As his normal method, Paul would evangelize at the synagogue.
Ac 18:4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
The two important words here are “reasoned” and “persuade”. We have looked at the word “reasoned” before … so let’s consider “persuade”. It means that Paul used language (words) the people could understand and were familiar with, as used in the Old Testament and used to explain doctrine and theology from a Jewish perspective, yet he would have applied it to the Messiah of the Gospel. Here we find another lesson … don’t shot over people’s head … meet them where they are. Then the Gospel will have the best impact!
Father, most Christians doing ministry as tent makers … working at their careers and then doing some ministry in or through the Church. Sustain Your people with physical, emotional and spiritual energy to fulfill the Great Commission. Amen.