In Corinth, 1-17
Acts 18:1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
Acts 18:2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them,
Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome – Suetonius records this: ‘since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome’. Peterson comments: ‘Chrestus may be a corruption of Christus, meaning that the Jewish community in Rome had become seriously divided over Christian claims about Jesus.’ He adds that ‘leaving Rome under such circumstances must have been a great trial for those concerned, but Luke shows how, in God’s providence, the coming of this couple to Corinth and then Ephesus advanced the work of the gospel significantly (vv. 18–28).’
Acts 18:3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
‘Since rabbis were expected to perform their religious and legal functions without demanding a fee, it was necessary for them to have some other source of income. Paul’s occupation was as a tentmaker. Tents were made out of the goat’s hair cloth, known as “cilicium” and manufactured in Paul’s native province, or else out of leather; hence the word “tentmaker” could refer more generally to a “leather-worker,” and this seems to be the meaning here.’ (I.H. Marshall)
Acts 18:4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
Synagogue – A fragmentary inscription has been found at Corinth which is believed to have borne the words, “Synagogue of the Hebrews.” It could have stood over the doorway of the synagogue Paul debated in.’
Acts 18:5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
‘As a result of their coming, Paul now “devoted himself entirely to the task of preaching” (NEB; cf GNB, NIV; the RSV translation fails to bring out the point). According to 2 Cor 11:9 Paul did not impose any burden on the Corinthian church by claiming financial support from it, since his needs were supplied by the Christians from Macedonia. (cf Php 4:15) It seems probable, therefore, that Silas and Timothy brought gifts of money which freed Paul from the need to work to support himself in Corinth; he could therefore carry out missionary work throughout the week and not merely on the sabbath.’ (I.H. Marshall)
Acts 18:6 But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
“From now on I will go to the Gentiles” – ‘This is not a decisive abandonment of ministry to Jews since he goes straight to the synagogue again when he arrives in Ephesus (v. 19).’ (Peterson)
Acts 18:7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God.
Ac 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
Crispus – his house was next door to the synagogue, ‘which can hardly have made for good relations but was no doubt an effective location for influencing attenders at the synagogue.’ (I.H. Marshall)
Acts 18:9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
Acts 18:10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
Acts 18:11 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
Paul stayed for a year and a half – This was around AD 52
Acts 18:12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court.
Gallio – ‘Luke’s narrative suggests that the Jews seized the opportunity afforded by the arrival of a new governor to make an attack on Paul. Marcus Annaeus Novatus was a brother of the famous Stoic philosopher Seneca; he was the son of a Spanish orator, and on coming to Rome he was adopted into the family of Lucius Junius Gallio and took the name of his adoptive father. Since Achaia was a second-rank province, it was governed by someone who had not yet attained the rank of consul (the senior Roman magistracy). Gallio accordingly came to Achaia after being praetor and before being consul. He had a pleasant character, but suffered from ill-health. He died as a result of Nero’s suspicions against the family. The date of his proconsulship can be fixed fairly accurately from an inscription found at Delphi, and it probably commenced in July, AD 51.’ (I.H. Marshall)
Court – ‘This was a stone platform in the “agora” of the city whose site can still be seen.’ (I.H. Marshall)
Acts 18:13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
Acts 18:14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you.
Acts 18:15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law-settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.”
Acts 18:16 So he had them ejected from the court.
Acts 18:17 Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever.
Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos, 18-28
Acts 18:18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.
Acts 18:19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
Acts 18:20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined.
Acts 18:21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.
Acts 18:22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.
Acts 18:23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Ac 18:24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
A native of Alexandria – Early Christianity in this city was characterised by Gnostic tendencies, and Apollos may have picked up a garbled version of the faith here. (Marshall)
A learned man – Note, lest we give in the the current notion that learning and godliness are incompatible.
‘Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a left leg or a right leg. Soldiers should have both legs’ (Warfield). Preachers should be both godly and learned.
‘No one will ever make a good minister of the Word of God unless he is first of all a scholar’ (Calvin).
Acts 18:25 he had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.
With great fervour – more literally, ‘fervent in spirit’ (NASB), or ‘fervent in the spirit’ (AV). See Rom 12:11.
To be fervent is to be:-
1. Interesting. ‘If some men were sentenced to hear their own sermons, it would be a righteous judgement upon them. But they would soon cry out with Cain, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”‘ (Spurgeon)
2. Sincere. The philosopher, David Hume, was hurrying along a London street one day when he was stopped by a friend. “Where are you going?” asked the friend. “To hear George Whitefield preach,” was the reply. “But surely, you don’t believe what Whitefield preaches, do you?” “No, I don’t,” said Hume, “But he does.”
Acts 18:26 he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
They…explained to him the way of God more adequately – ‘We can presume that he was instructed in the distinctive Pauline doctrines.’ (Marshall)
Acts 18:27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.
Acts 18:28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.