Paul’s Priorities (1 Corinthians #54)

Text: 1 Corinthians 16:5-9

How do you best use your time?  Paul sends the Corinthians his itinerary to let them know when he’ll be in town possibly.  His itinerary shows how Paul used his time.

Ministry priorities

  • 2 Corinthians 11:22-28 Paul mentions all the outside enemies and adversities, then says on top of that the care of all the churches.
    • He loved God’s people because he loved the Lord.
  • Paul started many churches.  He was not about to waste anymore of his life.  His growth curve was much quicker than other apostles.  And when he said I am chief of sinners, he wasn’t being falsely humble.  He believed that and was right.
  • Paul carries the weight of church problems with him everywhere he goes.  There are constantly fires to put out.
  • Paul has to make decisions about where to go when.  Who has the biggest need?  Where can I make the difference and what is a waste of time?  Can this be solved with a letter or does it require a face to face meeting?

Efficient priorities

  • …I will come unto you when I pass through Macedonia…
  • Acts 16, started with Paul’s vision of a man asking for help in Macedonia.  Paul met Lydia, she got saved along with her household.  They met a damsel possessed with a spirit of divination which Paul cast out.  When her masters saw they couldn’t make money off her, accused Paul and his companions of troubling the city.  Paul was beaten in Philippi and thrown in jail.  The jail was supernaturally opened by the Lord and the Philippian jailor nearly killed himself but got saved along with his family instead.  Then the magistrates decided to let Paul and Silas go privately, but Paul objected and forced their hand legally to publicly disclaim all false charges against them.
    • Acts 17, the Thessalonian church was also in Macedonia.
    • Athens
  • Macedonia had quite a few churches in it as a result of Paul’s ministry.  Today it is the country of Greece.
  • Paul would make a stop in Corinth since it was on the way through Macedonia and kill two birds with one stone so to speak.  He wasn’t going to make an extra special trip to correct the Corinthian behavior.
  • …and winter with you… Paul would take what he could get as far as travelling went.  When travelling got too tough, he would stay at that church and help them grow while he was there until conditions were conducive to travel.

Supported priorities

  • …ye may bring me on my journey…
  • Paul is a church planter, missionary, pastor.  He is supported by the churches as he supports the churches.  They care for him physically as he cares for them spiritually.
  • You weren’t meant to live eternal life by yourself.  You weren’t meant to live this Christian life by yourself.

Humble priorities

  • …if the Lord permit…
  • Paul has no idea what’s in store for him or what he’s going to be dealing with in the future.
  • The companion verses are in James.  James 4:13-15 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
  • He’s careful in his boasting about what he’s going to do.
  • He’s also careful about making demands on himself for tomorrow.
  • Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be urgent.
    • Today is the day of salvation.  Some people won’t get saved today because they think they have tomorrow to think about it.  
    • Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Favored priorities

  • For a great door and effectual is opened unto me…
  • Effectual means producing the desired effect
  • Ephesus – City with the open door.  We talk about the Philadelphian church in Revelation as the open door, but Ephesus was the open door before Philadelphia was the open door.
  • (Acts 19) Paul met some disciples there who only knew about John’s baptism who were under Apollos teaching most likely.  Twelve of them got saved at once.  Then Paul went into the synagogue and preached for three months until the Jews were hardened.  Then Paul went to the local university, school of Tyrannus, and preached for two years.  This was apparently an international hub, because from there the word went into all of Asia from people hearing Paul.  Paul was also able to do miracles here of healing and touching handkerchiefs and aprons and folks were getting better.  There was a mass book burning at Ephesus from all the converts who departed from their curious arts.  Acts 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
  • Paul is working where God is working.

Opposed priorities

  • Acts 19:21-41 In Ephesus, Paul’s preaching affected the economy.
  • Idolaters began losing money and so they stirred up a riot against Paul because their livelihoods were in danger.

Disobedient priorities

  • There is one part of this itinerary that is on Paul’s agenda, but not on the Lord’s agenda.  It is Paul returning to Jerusalem for Pentecost.
  • Pentecost Paul was planning on returning to Jerusalem against the leading of the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:16).  Paul is warned again in Acts 21.  But against the leading of the Holy Spirit, Paul returns to Jerusalem, is arrested and the last 8 chapters of Acts deal with Paul’s unnecessary court battles and imprisonment by Rome.