18:5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
So Paul arrives in Corinth and like he did in all the other cities he has been went to the Synagogue. He tells the Jews gathered there to worship that their Messiah has come. He preaches Jesus to them from their own prophets and sacred writings. He tells them how He was misunderstood and killed but rose from the dead. He likely told his own story of rejecting Jesus and hunting down His followers in an effort to exterminate them. He would have shared his experience in the road to Damascus when God met him and asked him what he was doing. How he realized he was fighting on the wrong side.
He told them all this and nothing happened. There was no reaction...
Paul was so frustrated he basically had a melt down and told them he was done trying to convince Jews about their own Messiah and he was going to preach to the Gentiles instead. Ironically the Gentile he was staying with lived right next door to the Synagogue. The very next verse tells us the ruler of the synagogue (Crispus) and his family believed Paul's message and became followers of Jesus.
Notice the Bible doesn't tell is how much time passed between verse 7 and verse 8. Paul leaves the Jews and moves in with a Gentile and the very next verse says the ruler of the synagogue and his family become believers. Interesting.
What happened? Did they just need some time to process the message? Did they do some follow up study like the Bereans did and come to their senses like the prodigal son had? Or did they observe Paul's life and become convinced by not only the message but the man?
One of my all-time favourite books is a book about being a pastor called "Feed My Sheep". The author is HMS Richards. In it there is a chapter called "The Man is the Message". In essence the life we live is a far greater sermon than any sermon we preach.
Personally I believe Luke put verse 7 and 8 side by side to remind us of this truth. Paul used words in the Synagogue and they heard the words but didn't immediately respond. Then they observed his life in the community and his passion for Jesus and lost souls. They saw his love even for the Gentiles and in response to both his preaching and his life the ruler of the Synagogue became a Christ follower.
Words are important but they pale in comparison to the life lived. Never underestimate the influence of how you live. It may make your neighbour either want to follow Jesus or determine never to follow Him. The man is the message.