The Apostle who Worked for a Living - The Warrior's Journey®

The Apostle who Worked for a Living

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.There he met a Jew named Aquila with his wife Priscilla. … Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.” (Acts 18:1-2) 

What does an apostle do when he runs out of food and money and he’s in a strange place without any friends? He gets a job and works with his hands to earn a living. Paul was not above working – as he stated in his epistles (1 Corinthians 9:4-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12). He did this both as an example to his converts and as a way not to financially burden the churches he established.   

Here in Acts 18, out of necessity, Paul shifts gears to being a fulltime tentmaker and a part-time apostle. There is no shame in this – and it’s only temporary. Paul’s not out to make a fortune, just a living. And once Silas and Timothy rejoin him, he’ll shift back to being a full-time apostle. Yet, in some measure, Paul will persist in being self-supporting by laboring with his own hands. He is committed to preaching the Gospel free of charge (Acts 20:34-35; 1 Corinthians 9:18). 

Paul’s background in Judaism would have drilled the work ethic into him and taught him that only working men can truly be free. All others are dependent upon the charity of people or the government for help. Working leads to prosperity and the ability to bless others. Laziness only brings poverty and dependency (Proverbs 1:12-13, 19; 6:6-11; 10:4-5; 10:26; 12:11, 27; 13:4, 11; 14:4, 23-24; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4, 13; 21:17, 25; 22:13, 29; 23:21; 24:27, 30-34; 26:13-16; 27:18, 23-27; 28:19; 31:10-31). 

Too many people look at work as a curse. But it is not. Before the fall of man, God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work the ground (Genesis 2:15). It wasn’t until after he sinned that God made his labor painful and futile (Genesis 3:17-19). From the beginning, God made us for work. Work is as much our element as water is a fish’s. God has wired us to derive pleasure and fulfillment from the work we accomplish.   

But because it’s God’s will for us to work to support ourselves and our families (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13), Satan will encourage slothfulness. Because there’s dignity and fulfillment in work, the devil will always diminish its importance. There is continual pressure from our culture to minimize the importance of a father’s role in supporting his family and elevate the government’s role in doing so. This is not only wrong. It’s demoralizing. A society that rewards laziness and punishes hard work is doomed to self-destruction. 


  • Like some in the military, do you view work only as a way of earning a pension? 
  • Did you know that the suicide rate among men skyrockets after retirement? 
  • Work is critical to our sense of identity, purpose and worth. Be devoted to it. 

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