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Acts 18:1-5

1. After this Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinthus. 2. And having gotten a certain Jew called Aquila, born in Pontus, who came [had come] lately from Italy, and Priscilla, his wife, (because Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome,) he came unto them. 3. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought; and they were tent-makers. 4. And he disputed in the synagogue every Sabbath day, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks,: 5. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was forced in the spirit, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

 

1. This history is worthy to be remembered even for this one cause, because it containeth the first beginning of the Church of Corinthus, which, as it was famous for good causes, both because of the multitude of men, and also because of the excellent gifts bestowed upon them, so there were in it gross and shameful vices. Furthermore, Luke showeth in this place with what great labor, and how hardly, Paul did win the same to Christ. It is well known what a rich city Corinthus was by reason of the noble mart, how populous, how greatly given to pleasure. And the old proverb doth testify that it was sumptuous and full of riot: All men cannot go to Corinthus. When Paul entereth the same, what hope, I pray you, can he conceive? He is a simple man, unknown, having no eloquence or pomp, showing no wealth or power. In that that huge gulf doth not swallow up his and desire which he had to spread abroad the gospel, by this we gather that he was furnished with wonderful power of the Spirit of God; and also that God wrought by his hand after a heavenly manner, and not after any human manner. Wherefore he boasteth not without cause, that the Corinthians are the seal of his apostleship, (1 Corinthians 9:2.) For they be twice blind, who do not acknowledge that the glory of God did more plainly appear in such a simple and base kind of dealing; and he himself showed no small token of invincible constancy, when, being vexed with the mocks of all men, (as the proud did contemn him,) he did notwithstanding stay himself upon God’s help alone. But it is worth the labor to note all the circum-stances, as Luke setteth down the same in order.

2. A Jew called Aquila. This was no small trial, in that Paul findeth none at Corinthus to lodge him save Aquila, who had been twice exiled. For being born in Pontus, he forsook his country, and sailed over the sea, that he might dwell at Rome. He was compelled to depart thence again by the commandment of Claudius Caesar. Though the commodiousness of the city was such, the plenty so great, the situation so pleasant, and there were also so many Jews there, yet Paul found no more fit host than a man that had been banished out of his own country, and also out of another soil. 310310     “Alieno solo,” a foreign soil. If we compare the great fruit which ensued immediately upon his preaching with such a base entrance, the power of the Spirit of God shall [more] plainly appear. Also we may see how the Lord, by his singular counsel, turneth those things to his glory, and the salvation of the godly, which seem contrary to the flesh, and unhappy. 311311     “Infausta,” ill-omened, unpropitious. Nothing is more miserable than exile, according to the sense of the flesh. But it was far better for Aquila to be Paul’s companion, than to be in the highest office either at Rome or in his country. Therefore, this happy calamity of Aquila doth teach us, that the Lord doth often better provide for when he doth sharply punish 312312     “Affligit,” afflict. us, than if he should most gently entreat us, and when he tosseth us to and fro in most extreme exile, 313313     “Per dura exilia,” through the hardships of exile. that he may bring us unto the heavenly rest.

All Jews to depart from Rome. The estate of that nation was then very miserable, so that it is a wonder that they did not almost all depart from the worship of God. But this is a greater wonder, that the religion wherein they had been brought up prevailed against Caesar’s tyranny, and that so soon as Christ, the Sun of righteousness, did arise, few were turned unto him. Notwithstanding, I do not doubt but that the Lord suffered them 314314     “Consulto...passus fuerit,” purposely suffered. to pass through many troubles, that they might the more willingly, yea, the more greedily receive the grace of redemption offered them; but the more part 315315     “Ut fieri solet,” as is usual, omitted. became dull in their misery, 316316     “In suis malis obstupuit,” were stupified by their calamities. few did submit themselves to be taught when the Lord did punish them, as did Aquila and Priscilla. Yet, if Suetonius say the truth, they were expelled through hatred of the name of Christ, and so calamity might have more provoked and angered a great part, because they were wrongfully accused for that religion which they did detest.

3. They were of the same trade. This place teacheth that Paul, before he came to Corinth, was wont to work with his hands; and that not upon pleasure, but that he might get his living with his handiwork. It is not known where he first learned his occupation; notwithstanding it appeareth by his own testimony that he wrought principally at Corinth. And he showeth a reason, because the false apostles taught freely without taking any thing, that they might craftily creep in, therefore the holy man would not give place to them in that point, lest he should cause the gospel of Christ to be evil spoken of, (1 Corinthians 9:12,15.) But we may easily gather out of this place, that whithersoever he came, (until he was occupied in the continual labor of teachings) he wrought of his occupation, that he might get his living. When Chrysostom saith that Paul was a cordiner he doth no whit dissent from Luke, because they were wont at that time to make tents of skins.

4. He disputed in the synagogue It is a wonder how that crept in which is in the Latin books, 317317     “Mirum est unde repserit quod legitur in Latinis codicibus,” it is strange how the reading crept into the Latin manuscripts. that Paul put in the name of Christ: unless it were because some reader would supply the want of the general sentence. For Luke setteth down two things in this place: to wit, that Paul disputed among the Jews; secondly, that he began more plainly to profess Christ after that Silas and Timotheus were come. And though it be likely that he began to speak of Christ even at the first entrance, because he could not omit the principal point of the heavenly doctrine, yet that doth not hinder but that he might use some other manner of disputation. Therefore I take [πειθειν] that is, to persuade, for to induce by little and little. For, in my judgment, Luke doth signify, that forasmuch as the Jews did handle the law coldly and foolishly, Paul spake of the corrupt and wicked nature of man, of the necessity of grace of the Redeemer which was promised, of the means to obtain salvation, that he might awake them; for this is a fit and brief 318318     “Concinna,” appropriate. preparation unto Christ. Again, when he saith that he was forced in spirit to teach that Jesus was Christ, his meaning is, that he was enforced with greater vehemency to intreat and speak of Christ freely and openly. So that we see that Paul did not utter all things at one time, but he tempered his doctrine as occasion did serve.

And because like moderation is profitable at this day, it is convenient for faithful teachers wisely to consider where to begin, lest a preposterous and confused order do hinder the proceeding of doctrine. Furthermore, though there were ferventness enough in Paul, yet it is no inconvenient thing that he was made more courageous by some new help, not that he was encouraged by shame, or the hope which he reposed in his fellows, but because he considered that this help was sent him, as it were, from heaven. But this forcing in the spirit is not taken for a violent or external impulsion, (as they say, 319319     “Pro violento impulsu et extrinseco ut loquuntur,” for a violent and extrinsic impulse, as it is called. ) as those which were called Phoebades and frantic men were wont to be carried away with devilish madness; but there was more ferventness added unto the wonted inspiration of the Spirit which was in Paul, so that he was moved with new power of God, and yet did he of his own accord follow the Spirit as his guide. Whereas Paul did testify that Jesus is Christ, I expound it thus: when he had thoroughly taught the Jews concerning the office of the Redeemer, he declared by testimonies of Scripture that this is he which was to be hoped for, because all those things agree to him which the law and the prophets attribute to Christ. Therefore, he did not simply affirm, but using a solemn testification, he proved Jesus, the Son of Mary, to be that Christ who should be the Mediator between God and men, that he might restore the world from destruction to life.


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