The book of Acts portrays numerous moments throughout Paul’s ministry where he is in conflict with religious leaders as well as the other disciples at times. The temptation is to see those instances created by Paul being confrontational toward fellow Jews and insensitive to their Jewish traditions, from which he was well accustomed (Phil. 3:4-7). This may lead to the belief that cross cultural leadership and ministry, that it is okay to disregard cultural sensitivities toward other Christians in the area for the sake of preaching the Gospel. The reality is that, Paul was not intentional about his disregard of cultural sensitivities of fellow believers, but he was intentional about making the gospel available to all cultures, as well as provide leadership to his fellow believers.
Throughout Paul’s journeys he sought to find common ground with those he was ministering to in order to create a path to present the gospel. In Acts 17, Paul uses the tomb of the unknown god to create a conversation point with the men in Greece. In Corinth, Paul used relational connections such as his leather work in order to gain influence into the lives of those in the area (DeSilva, 2004). In Acts 18:5-6 Paul goes to the Jews of Corinth, but when they were not accepting of the gospel message, Paul leaves them. This reveals Paul’s intentions to appeal to the Jews first, and even honor their cultural context of speaking in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Acts 18:4).
Paul’s conflicts with Jews had a tendency to begin with an attempt to be culturally relevant to Gentiles, and Jews having an issue with liberties he was taking in the grace of Christ. His seeming cultural disregard of the Jews does not appear to be intentional, but a byproduct of his attempts to reach the lost.
DeSilva, D. A. (2004). An introduction to the New Testament: contexts, methods & ministry formation. Downers Grove, Ill. : Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press ; Apollos.