9 “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” (Acts 18:9–11)
While in the midst of ministry in Corinth, one night the Lord Jesus visited the Apostle Paul in a vision. Why did the Lord do this? Why was it necessary for Paul to receive a vision from the Savior?
Perhaps, even though Paul had demonstrated strength and courage in the midst of the Jews hostile rejection of the Gospel, he needed to be encouraged. Even the Apostle Paul experienced weakness, fear and trembling (I Corinthians 2:1-3). That is good to know in the midst of our own weaknesses, fears, and tremblings.
As one biblical commentator speculates, “Perhaps the Jewish opposition is very strong; perhaps Paul is simply tired of opposition and stressed from having to support himself and minister as well. But at this low point, Jesus graciously speaks to Paul in a vision.”
The Lord Jesus says, ““Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” Let’s unpack this statement by the Lord.
First, Jesus commanded Paul not to be afraid and to not fear. I am reminded of what the Lord said to Joshua in Joshua 1:1-9. Remember, the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous. The Lord also told Joshua that He would be with him. I find it interesting, and encouraging, that Paul struggled with fear and anxiety the same as we.
Second, Jesus also commanded Paul to continue to speak the truth of the Gospel. The apostle was not to be silent. Neither are we to be when we face opposition because of our faith and the Gospel we share.
Third, Jesus promised Paul that He would be with him. No one would attack him and no one would harm him. What a wonderful promise that must have been for Paul to hear. What a wonderful blessing for him to receive and for the Lord to give.
Finally, Jesus told Paul, much like the Lord told the Old Testament Prophet Elijah (I Kings 19), that there were many others who loved the Lord and were serving him, just like them. Paul need not be discouraged.
Jesus was present to help and protect the Apostle Paul. Jesus is also present to help and to protect believers in Christ today. In spite of threats and a pagan culture, God was still appointing many to eternal life and saving faith through the ministry of the Apostle Paul (Acts 13:48). He continues to do so in our own day. Jesus continues to build His church and to call the elect to saving faith.
Paul’s weakness, fear and trembling, along with our own, serves a greater purpose. It provides the Lord Jesus an opportunity to lovingly, tenderly, and caringly minister to His saints. I am so glad for this biblical truth. Aren’t you?
Soli deo Gloria!