Paul at Corinth, 1-11
18:1 After this Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 18:2 There he found 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 depart from Rome. Paul approached them, 18:3 and because he worked at the same trade, he stayed with them and worked with them (for they were tentmakers by trade). 18:4 He addressed both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade 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).’
v3 ‘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)
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.’
18:5 Now when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul became wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 18:6 When they opposed him and reviled him, he protested by shaking out his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am guiltless! From now on I will go to the Gentiles!” 18:7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went to the house of a person named Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 18:8 Crispus, the president of the synagogue, believed in the Lord together with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard about it believed and were baptized. 18:9 The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, 18:10 because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 18:11 So he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Paul became wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word – ‘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). Lydia McGrew (Hidden in Plain View) identifies this as an undesigned coincidence.
“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)
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)
Paul stayed for a year and a half – This was around AD 52
Paul Before the Proconsul Gallio, 12-17
18:12 Now while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews attacked Paul together and brought him before the judgment seat, 18:13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God in a way contrary to the law!” 18:14 But just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or serious piece of villainy, I would have been justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews, 18:15 but since it concerns points of disagreement about words and names and your own law, settle it yourselves. I will not be a judge of these things!” 18:16 Then he had them forced away from the judgment seat. 18:17 So they all seized Sosthenes, the president of the synagogue, and began to beat him in front of the judgment seat. Yet none of these things were of any concern to Gallio.
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)
Paul Returns to Antioch in Syria, 18-23
18:18 Paul, after staying many more days in Corinth, said farewell to the brothers and sailed away to Syria accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because he had made a vow. 18:19 When they reached Ephesus, Paul left Priscilla and Aquila behind there, but he himself went into the synagogue and addressed the Jews. 18:20 When they asked him to stay longer, he would not consent, 18:21 but said farewell to them and added, “I will come back to you again if God wills.” Then he set sail from Ephesus, 18:22 and when he arrived at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church at Jerusalem and then went down to Antioch. 18:23 After he spent some time there, Paul left and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Apollos Begins His Ministry, 24-28
18:24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures. 18:25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. 18:26 He began to speak out fearlessly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. 18:27 When Apollos wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace, 18:28 for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
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).
With great fervour – more literally, ‘fervent in spirit’ (NASB), or ‘fervent in the spirit’ (AV). See Rom 12:11.
They…explained to him the way of God more adequately – ‘We can presume that he was instructed in the distinctive Pauline doctrines.’ (Marshall)