That’s the story of Crispus, a leader in the Jewish Synagogue in the city of Corinth. Crispus turned to Jesus! Leaving behind the Old Testament sacrificial system of Judaism, Crispus recognized Jesus as the Messiah and was saved by God’s great grace. Later he was baptized by the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 11:14).
How did it happen? Here’s his story…
Paul was completing his second missionary journey when he arrived in Corinth. Months earlier Paul and Silas had left Syrian Antioch, traveled through Galatia where they encouraged the churches birthed on the first missionary journey (Acts 15:40-16:5). Leaving Galatia, they travel westward, hoping to go north into Bithynia or south toward Ephesus, “but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (Acts 16:7). Rather, He led them all the way across modern-day Turkey to the Aegean Sea. After seeing the vision of the Macedonian (Acts 16:9-10), Paul and his entourage travelled to Philippi, making the first European converts to Christianity (Acts 16). After being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, they travelled to Thessalonica and Berea where they again faced fierce persecution at the hands of the hyper-religious Jewish extremists (Acts 17:1-15).
Leaving Macedonia, they travelled south into the region of Achaia and the city of Athens, a city “full of idols” (Acts 17:16). Standing on the town square, Paul preached, “People of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22–23). Continuing, Paul declared Jesus, the only true God. Some ridiculed and rejected while a few trusted in the Resurrected One (Acts 17:24-34). “After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth” (Acts 18:1).
Paul remained in Corinth for “a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them”
(Acts 18:11). As his ministry began, Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath” (Acts 18:4), devoting his time and efforts “to preaching the word and testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 18:5). For the most part, Paul’s words fell on deaf ears and hard hearts as “they resisted and blasphemed” (Acts 18:6), rejecting the offer of salvation by grace. There was, however, one glorious exception. “Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole household. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).
The Synagogue leader coming to faith was a cross-the-Red-Sea or feeding-the-5000 miracle! A man who once lived by the law, who arrogantly trusted in his own religious activities and actions, was lovingly wooed by the Holy Spirit into a relationship with the Resurrected Redeemer. That’s grace!