The march of the unqualified – Friday, 6th Week of Easter- Acts 18:9-18
Paul wore many hats, yet he was qualified to wear very few. By human standards he was qualified to be a tent maker, which was his profession. Yet in verse eleven we are told that he become a teacher of God’s Word for a year and a half. By divine mandate he became “all things to all men” a text he quotes to this very community when he wrote the letter to the Corinthians (1Cor9:19-23). It is this divine mandate that Paul follows on his missionary journeys.
We know from Chapter 18, that Paul’s sojourn in Corinth was not an easy one. He is unwelcome in the synagogue and as a result begins to minister to the “worshippers of God”, a term used for those who were not circumcised Jews but followed the monotheistic faith and even worshipped in the synagogues. But clearly Paul was afraid, for we are told that the Lord has to convict him in his belief.
It is in a vision by night that Paul is exhorted to “not be afraid and to speak”. He receives the assurance of Jesus’ presences in his life, an assurance that he will not be harmed and we know that God keeps his promise as we will see once again in today’s narrative.
Pauls’ year and a half ministry of teaching the Word of God in Corinth (note that he is not preaching but teaching) must have borne much fruit for we are told that the Jewish authorities made a “united attack” on Paul. He is brought before the pro-council of Achaia, a man whose name was Gallio who considered these accusations as an internal matter of the Jewish faith and not those of the state.
The reaction of the mob seems a bit odd for they take their frustrations on a man called Sosthenes, whom they beat in front of the tribunal, hoping to elicit a reaction from the pro council who did not change his judgment in spite of the mob violence. The question is who is this Sosthenes and why was he beaten?
We know from 1Corinthians 1:1 that Paul mentions “Sosthenes our brother”. We also know from this incident Sosthenes is mentioned as an “official of the synagogue”. Previously in verse eight we are told that Crispus, another official of the synagogue along with his family also became believers in the Lord. In all probability Sosthenes replaced Crispus only to go down the very road of faith that Crispus did. The Jewish authorities seeing their plans thwarted take their anger on one whom they see as a betrayer of the Jewish faith.
I began this reflection with the thought that God does not need out qualifications but he looks at our willingness to serve. A tentmaker like Paul was made a teacher of the scriptures. God does not necessarily want our qualifications to minister in His kingdom but our willingness to obey his instruction. God qualifies the unqualified and the Bible is filled with many such candidates. For the many that are afraid of taking responsibility in Church ministry with the classic, “I have no talent” or even worse “ I have no time”, these lines are for you. This is the march of the unqualified, get in line.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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