Today Paul concludes his first letter to the Corinthians by asking that a collection be taken up for the Christians in need in Jerusalem. Paul says he will come to take the collection back to Jerusalem; however, he isn’t leaving Ephesus until after Pentecost. In the meantime, Paul says Timothy is on his way and he urges them to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong, let all that you do be done with love.”
Back in Ephesus, “there arose a great commotion about the Way.” A silversmith named Demetrius is upset that people are converting to Christianity and no longer buying his handmade false gods, which is negatively impacting his cash flow. Money appears to be the motivating factor for Demetrius’ work; however, he raises a claim disguised as religious convictions. Demetrius says, “Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
When the unbelievers, the ones who are walking in the flesh and in darkness, hear Demetrius’ testimony, they are filled with wrath. Therefore, they create chaos by rioting and seizing Paul’s companions. However, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen did not have a legitimate charge against them, so the city clerk quiets the crowds and releases Paul’s companions.
“After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.” Paul and his companions visit the church in Macedonia and then make their way to Greece. “Paul wrote Romans from Corinth, toward the end of his third missionary journey, AD 54” (OYCB).
In the letter to the Roman church, Paul says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world…For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
Paul explains that we, as sinners, need salvation through Jesus Christ because “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” God, in His righteous judgment, gives unrepentant sinners, those walking in the flesh, refusing to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, over to themselves and the evil desires of their hearts – “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
In David Guzik’s commentary, he considers, “Where does all this violence, immorality, cruelty and degradation come from? It happens when men abandon the true knowledge of God, and the state of society reflects God’s judgment upon them for this.”
Although a society may be under the judgment of God, there is always hope for an individual who will repent and turn to Christ for salvation. Tomorrow Paul will explain how Jesus took the punishment that we deserve as sinners so that we may be deemed righteous and restored to God. Keep reading.
(1 Corinthians 16:1-24, Acts 19:21-20:6, Romans 1:1-32)