One night, the Lord spoke to Paul in a supernatural vision and said, “Don’t ever be afraid. Speak the words that I give you and don’t be intimidated, because I am with you. No one will be able to hurt you, for there are many in this city whom I call my own.”
Acts 18 reminds us that Paul is a real person. It is easy to read stories about him and put him on a pedestal. But, today’s reading reminds us that he is probably more like you and me than we think.
Paul was now in Corinth, one of Greece’s largest and most prosperous cities. He first took his message to the Jews in the synagogue, but they rejected his preaching and abused him. Paul responded by shaking his cloak out at them. He then took his message to the Gentiles. He has faced much opposition to this point.
We do not read any details as to what Paul may be feeling, but when the Lord speaks to him in verses 8 and 9, we get insight into what he might be experiencing. It says in the verse above that Paul experienced a vision. This must mean that Paul was not sleeping, but probably up during the night agonizing over the repeated frustrations he continued to experience as he preached the gospel. Paul hears God tell him four things:
1) “Do not be afraid,”
2) “Speak, and do not keep silent,”
3) “I am with you,”
4) “No one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”
After receiving this vision from God, Paul stayed another 18 months in Corinth. We can take refuge in the realization that God reminded Paul that He was with him even in his turmoil.
God knows where we are and what we are facing. He even knows the future problems that we will face, but He asks us to persevere and encourages us just as he did with Paul.