< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Ministry With Others - Part 2

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ministry With Others - Part 2

As soon as Paul arrived in Corinth he met a Christian couple, formerly Jews from Rome, named Aquila and Priscilla. They had recently arrived from Italy, victims of a decree of Emporer Claudius who had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. They were also tent makers, like Paul and they welcomed Paul into their home and workshop to live and work together while he was in Corinth.

They may have met him at the synagogue because it was common practice for the members of specific trades to sit together at worship. Remember Judean synagogues provided a variety of services for the Jewish community. They were worship centers on the Sabbath and holy days, schools for education and the study of the Torah, courthouses for the resolution of Jewish legal conflicts, general meeting rooms, storage areas for archives and the collection and distribution of food for the poor and a place for newcomers to connect with the community.

My church has a lot going on, but not nearly that much! I saw an article in the paper about a church moving into our town and it said they would be opened to the public during the day and have a coffee house and wireless internet! Today, churches are trying different things to get people to come inside. Back then they were the center of activity, but remember too, back then they didn’t have as many places of recreation that we have today.

Each synagogue had a leader who supervised its religious activities and a council of elders who governed its daily affairs. Membership consisted of Jews by birth, proselytes (people who converted to Judaism) and “God fearers” who were Greek or Gentiles. This last group didn’t get a lot of the benefits of the Jews so they in particular responded positively to the Christian preachers.

Aquila and Priscilla were a ministry team. They are never mentioned separately. They complemented each other and capitalized on each other’s strengths. Their united efforts affected those around them. They made a huge difference in people’s lives by supporting Paul and later guiding Apollos, which I’ll get to in the next post.

They opened their home for Christian gatherings, which is a good example for us. I think of minister’s wives when I hear “working together in ministry.” My oldest sister married a Lutheran minister and they were missionaries in Africa for 20 years. My sister had gotten a master’s degree in English and while in Africa kept the church books, translated all kinds of things; even a medical book. She cooked for everyone who came by. Missionaries are often in teams.

Teamwork has always been a part of God’s plan. When He created the world, He didn’t want Adam to be alone. He created a woman, Eve, to be his companion and helper. God Himself is part of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The author says the world shows us many examples of necessary teamwork. Life would not exist without the sun and earth, land and water, oxygen and carbon dioxide, etc.

You can tell in this story Paul was lonely arriving in Corinth, but God hooked him up with a supportive Christian couple immediately. And what a difference Paul made in Corinth thanks to that added strength they gave him.

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