TODAY’S READING: Acts 18–19
Aquilla, resident of Rome, hailed from the southern Black Sea region of present day northern Turkey. Paul, chased from Thessalonica and then Athens, was likely relieved to find a brother in Corinth. A few believers accepted the Messiah, including Crispus and his household, and it seems Paul began to struggle internally. Maybe he thought the cycle was starting all over again and wondered in self-doubt if he had the stomach to be beaten himself and have others beaten as well (which was far worse). The Lord spoke to Paul and told him not to fear: “No one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:10). It doesn’t seem that Sosthenes (beaten in verse 17) minded taking his turn as he appears later as a co-author of 1 Corinthians.
Paul was able to remain a good while in Corinth, spending some time there before pushing the gospel forward, finding vigorous Egyptian Apollos in Ephesus. How important were multi-national warrior brothers in missionary endeavor! Paul sent half-Greek Timothy back into persecuted Thessalonica; refugee Turkish-Italian Aquilla brought Paul peace in Corinth; Greek Sosthenes took one for the team; and Egyptian Apollos took on the hard heads and refuted them. Each man had a story and a scar or two. Paul was surrounded by his own diverse group of mighty men. As we head out into the nations, it was never intended that we do so from a mono-cultural perspective. Missions is always most robust when its messengers are most diverse.
Acts 19 is a reminder that we are not the only missionaries out there. I remember a survey trip to the completely Islamic islands of the Comoros. Four of us walked shoulder to shoulder down a little path between huts made of zinc sheets. We turned a corner and came to a sudden stop, face to face with four Muslim Arabs, white robed and long bearded, as foreign as we were, who were also walking shoulder to shoulder. All eight of us chuckled as we greeted one another and shook hands, for we each knew exactly why the other was there and what they were doing.
Paul came to Ephesus where “competitive missionary activity is the setting behind the ‘itinerant Jewish exorcists’ and the ‘seven sons of Sceva’ (Acts 19:13,14). Impressed by the works of Paul, these missionaries sought to prove their God’s superiority over other gods in order to convert people to the synagogue…Yet the evil spirit knew the difference.” The difference was that Paul was full of the Spirit and those he discipled had the Holy Spirit come upon them with the evidence of speaking in tongues and prophesying (19:6). To go out into the world among the evil spirits of our day will require both diversity and dynamite—the full power of the Holy Spirit, empowerment that cannot be faked. It is a biblical question then, not a denominational one, to ask: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (v. 2). If not, when you go out into the world, you will end up naked and wounded. We must have ongoing fillings of the Spirit. Perhaps the question for missionaries should be: “Have you received a refilling of the Spirit since you arrived on the field?”
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 1299.