Ac 18:1-22. Paul's Arrival
and Labors at Corinth, Where He Is
Rejoined by Silas and Timothy, and, under Divine Encouragement,
Makes a Long Stay—At Length, Retracing His
Steps, by Ephesus, Cæsarea, and
Jerusalem, He Returns for the Last Time
to Antioch, Thus Completing His Second
1-4. came to Corinth—rebuilt by Julius
Cæsar on the isthmus between the Ægean and Ionian Seas; the
capital of the Roman province of Achaia, and the residence of the
proconsul; a large and populous mercantile city, and the center of
commerce alike for East and West; having a considerable Jewish
population, larger, probably, at this time than usual, owing to the
banishment of the Jews from Rome by Claudius Cæsar (Ac 18:2). Such a city was a noble field for the
Gospel, which, once established there, would naturally diffuse itself
far and wide.
2. a Jew … Aquila … with his wife
Priscilla—From these Latin names one would conclude
that they had resided so long in Rome as to lose their Jewish family
born in Pontus—the most easterly
province of Asia Minor, stretching along the southern shore of the
Black Sea. From this province there were Jews at Jerusalem on the great
2:9), and the Christians of
it are included among "the strangers of the dispersion," to whom Peter
addressed his first Epistle (1Pe 1:1). Whether this couple were converted
before Paul made their acquaintance, commentators are much divided.
They may have brought their Christianity with them from Rome [Olshausen], or Paul may have been drawn to
them merely by like occupation, and, lodging with them, have been the
instrument of their conversion [Meyer].
They appear to have been in good circumstances, and after travelling
much, to have eventually settled at Ephesus. The Christian friendship
now first formed continued warm and unbroken, and the highest testimony
is once and again borne to them by the apostle.
Claudius, &c.—This edict is almost
certainly that mentioned by Suetonius,
in his life of this emperor [Lives of the Cæsars,
3. tentmakers—manufacturers, probably,
of those hair-cloth tents supplied by the goats of the apostle's native
province, and hence, as sold in the markets of the Levant, called
cilicium. Every Jewish youth, whatever the pecuniary
circumstances of his parents, was taught some trade (see on Lu 2:42), and Paul made it a point of conscience to work
at that which he had probably been bred to, partly that he might not be
burdensome to the churches, and partly that his motives as a minister
of Christ might not be liable to misconstruction. To both these he
makes frequent reference in his Epistles.
4. the Greeks—that is, Gentile
proselytes; for to the heathen, as usual, he only turned when rejected
by the Jews (Ac 18:6).
5, 6. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from
Macedonia—that is, from Thessalonica, whither Silas had
probably accompanied Timothy when sent back from Athens (see on Ac 17:15).
Paul was pressed in the spirit—rather
(according to what is certainly the true reading) "was pressed with the
word"; expressing not only his zeal and assiduity in preaching it, but
some inward pressure which at this time he experienced in the
work (to convey which more clearly was probably the origin of the
common reading). What that pressure was we happen to know, with
singular minuteness and vividness of description, from the apostle
himself, in his first Epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians
(1Co 2:1-5; 1Th 3:1-10). He had come away from Athens, as he
remained there, in a depressed and anxious state of mind, having there
met, for the first time, with unwilling Gentile ears. He continued,
apparently for some time, laboring alone in the synagogue of Corinth,
full of deep and anxious solicitude for his Thessalonian converts. His
early ministry at Corinth was colored by these feelings. Himself deeply
humbled, his power as a preacher was more than ever felt to lie in
demonstration of the Spirit. At length Silas and Timotheus arrived with
exhilarating tidings of the faith and love of his Thessalonian
children, and of their earnest longing again to see their father in
Christ; bringing with them also, in token of their love and duty, a
pecuniary contribution for the supply of his wants. This seems to have
so lifted him as to put new life and vigor into his ministry. He now
wrote his First Epistle to the
Thessalonians, in which the "pressure" which resulted from all
this strikingly appears. (See Introduction
to First Thessalonians). Such emotions are known only to the ministers
of Christ, and, even of them, only to such as "travail in birth until
Christ be formed in" their hearers.
6. Your blood be upon your own heads,
&c.—See Eze 33:4, 9.
from henceforth I will go unto the
Gentiles—Compare Ac 13:46.
7, 8. he departed thence, and entered into a
certain man's house, named Justus—not changing his lodging,
as if Aquila and Priscilla up to this time were with the opponents of
the apostle [Alford], but merely ceasing
any more to testify in the synagogue, and henceforth carrying on his
labors in this house of Justus, which "joining hard to the synagogue,"
would be easily accessible to such of its worshippers as were still
open to light. Justus, too, being probably a proselyte, would more
easily draw a mixed audience than the synagogue. From this time forth
conversions rapidly increased.
8. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue,
believed on the Lord with all his house—an event felt to be
so important that the apostle deviated from his usual practice (1Co
1:14-16) and baptized him, as
well as Caius (Gaius) and the household of Stephanas, with his own hand
many of the Corinthians … believed and
were baptized—The beginning of the church gathered there.
9-11. Then spake the Lord to Paul … by a
vision, Be not afraid … no man shall set on thee to hurt
thee, &c.—From this it would seem that these signal
successes were stirring up the wrath of the unbelieving Jews, and
probably the apostle feared being driven by violence, as before, from
this scene of such promising labor. He is reassured, however, from
10. I have much people in this
city—"whom in virtue of their election to eternal life He
already designates as His" (compare Ac 13:48) [Baumgarten].
11. continued there a year and six
months—the whole period of this stay at Corinth, and not
merely up to what is next recorded. During some part of this period
he wrote his Second Epistle to the
Thessalonians. (See Introduction to
12-17. when Gallio was the deputy—"the
proconsul." See on Ac 13:7. He was brother to the
celebrated philosopher Seneca, the tutor
of Nero, who passed sentence of death on both.
13. contrary to the—Jewish
law—probably in not requiring the
Gentiles to be circumcised.
14. If it were a matter of wrong or wicked
lewdness—any offense punishable by the magistrate.
15. if it be a question of words and names, and of
your law … I will be no judge, &c.—in this only
laying down the proper limits of his office.
16. drave them, &c.—annoyed at such
17. all the Greeks—the Gentile
took Sosthenes—perhaps the successor
of Crispus, and certainly the head of the accusing party. It is very
improbable that this was the same Sosthenes as the apostle afterwards
calls "his brother" (1Co 1:1).
and beat him before the
judgment-seat—under the very eye of the judge.
And Gallio cared for none of those
things—nothing loath, perhaps, to see these turbulent Jews,
for whom probably he felt contempt, themselves getting what they hoped
to inflict on another, and indifferent to whatever was beyond the range
of his office and case. His brother eulogizes his loving and lovable
manners. Religious indifference, under the influence of an easy and
amiable temper, reappears from age to age.
18. Paul … tarried … yet a good
while—During his long residence at Corinth, Paul planted
other churches in Achaia (2Co 1:1).
then took … leave of the brethren, and
sailed … into—rather, "for"
Syria—to Antioch, the starting-point
of all the missions to the Gentiles, which he feels to be for the
with him Priscilla and Aquila—In this
order the names also occur in Ac 18:26 (according to the true reading); compare
16:3; 2Ti 4:19, which seem to
imply that the wife was the more prominent and helpful to the Church.
Silas and Timotheus doubtless accompanied the apostle, as also Erastus,
Gaius, and Aristarchus (Ac 19:22, 29). Of Silas, as Paul's associate, we read
no more. His name occurs last in connection with Peter and the churches
of Asia Minor [Webster and Wilkinson].
having shorn his head in
Cenchrea—the eastern harbor of Corinth, about ten miles
distant, where a church had been formed (Ro 16:1).
had a vow—That it was the Nazarite vow
6:1-27) is not likely. It was
probably one made in one of his seasons of difficulty or danger, in
prosecution of which he cuts off his hair and hastens to Jerusalem to
offer the requisite sacrifice within the prescribed thirty days [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2.15.1].
This explains the haste with which he leaves Ephesus (Ac 18:21), and the subsequent observance, on the
recommendation of the brethren, of a similar vow (Ac 21:24). This one at Corinth was voluntary, and
shows that even in heathen countries he systematically studied the
prejudices of his Jewish brethren.
19. he came to Ephesus—the capital of
the Roman province of Asia. (See Introduction to Ephesians). It was a sail, right
across from the west to the east side of the Ægean Sea, of some
eight or ten days, with a fair wind.
left them there—Aquila and
but he himself entered into the
synagogue—merely taking advantage of the vessel putting in
and reasoned with the Jews—the
tense here not being the usual one denoting continuous
action (as in Ac 17:2; 18:4), but that expressing a transient
act. He had been forbidden to preach the word in Asia (Ac 16:6), but he would not consider that as
precluding this passing exercise of his ministry when Providence
brought him to its capital; nor did it follow that the prohibition was
still in force.
20. when they desired him to tarry—The
Jews seldom rose against the Gospel till the successful preaching of it
stirred them up, and there was no time for that here.
21. I must … keep this
feast—probably Pentecost, presenting a noble opportunity of
preaching the Gospel.
but I will return—the fulfilment of
which promise is recorded in Ac 19:1.
22. And when he had landed at
Cæsarea—where he left the vessel.
and gone up—that is, to Jerusalem.
and saluted the church—In these few
words does the historian despatch the apostle's FOURTH VISIT TO Jerusalem after his conversion. The
expression "going up" is invariably used of a journey to the
metropolis; and thence he naturally "went down to Antioch."
Perhaps the vessel reached too late for the feast, as he seems to have
done nothing in Jerusalem beyond "saluting the Church," and privately
offering the sacrifice with which his vow (Ac 18:18) would conclude. It is left to be
understood, as on his arrival from his first missionary tour, that
"when he was come, and had gathered the church together, he rehearsed
all that God had done with him" (Ac 14:27) on this his second missionary
Ac 18:23-21:16. Paul's Third
and Last Missionary Journey—He
Visits the Churches of Galatia and Phrygia.
23. And after he had spent some time
there—but probably not long.
he departed—little thinking, probably,
he was never more to return to Antioch.
went over all … Galatia and Phrygia in
order—visiting the several churches in succession. See on Ac 16:6. Galatia is mentioned first here, as he
would come to it first from Antioch. It was on this visitation that he
ordained the weekly collection (1Co 16:1, 2), which has been since adopted
generally, and converted into a public usage throughout Christendom.
Timotheus and Erastus, Gaius and Aristarchus, appear to have
accompanied him on this journey (Ac 19:22, 29; 2Co 1:1), and from Second Corinthians we
may presume, Titus also. The details of this visit, as of the former
16:6), are not given.
Ac 18:24-28. Episode
Concerning Apollos at Ephesus and in Achaia.
This is one of the most interesting and suggestive
incidental narratives in this precious history.
24, 25. a … Jew named Apollos—a
contraction from Apollonius.
born at Alexandria—the celebrated city
of Egypt on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean, called after
its founder, Alexander the Great. Nowhere was there such a fusion of
Greek, Jewish, and Oriental peculiarities, and an intelligent Jew
educated in that city could hardly fail to manifest all these elements
in his mental character.
eloquent—turning his Alexandrian
culture to high account.
and mighty in the scriptures—his
eloquence enabling him to express clearly and enforce skilfully what,
as a Jew, he had gathered from a diligent study of the Old Testament
came to Ephesus—on what errand is not
25. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord
… knowing only the baptism of John—He was instructed,
probably, by some disciple of the Baptist, in the whole circle of
John's teaching concerning Jesus, but no more: he had yet to learn the
new light which the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost had thrown
upon the Redeemer's death and resurrection; as appears from Ac 19:2, 3.
being fervent in the spirit—His heart
warm, and conscious, probably, of his gifts and attainments, he burned
to impart to others the truth he had himself received.
he spake and taught diligently—rather,
"accurately" (it is the same word as is rendered "perfectly" in Ac 18:26).
26. speak boldly in the synagogue, whom when
Aquila and Priscilla heard—joying to observe the extent of
Scripture knowledge and evangelical truth which he displayed, and the
fervency, courage, and eloquence with which he preached the truth.
they took him unto them—privately.
and expounded unto him the way of God more
perfectly—opening up those truths, to him as yet unknown, on
which the Spirit had shed such glorious light. (In what appears to be
the true reading of this verse, Priscilla is put before Aquila, as in
18:18 [see on Ac 18:18]; she being probably the more intelligent and
devoted of the two). One cannot but observe how providential it was
that this couple should have been left at Ephesus when Paul sailed
thence for Syria; and no doubt it was chiefly to pave the way for the
better understanding of this episode that the fact is expressly
mentioned by the historian in Ac 18:19. We see here also an example of not only
lay agency (as it is called), but female agency of the
highest kind and with the most admirable fruit. Nor can one help
admiring the humility and teachableness of so gifted a teacher in
sitting at the feet of a Christian woman and her husband.
27, 28. And when he was
to pass into Achaia—of which Corinth,
on the opposite coast (see on Ac 18:1), was the
capital; there to proclaim that Gospel which he now more fully
the brethren—We had not before heard
of such gathered at Ephesus. But the desire of the Jews to whom Paul
preached to retain him among them for some time (Ac 18:20), and his promise to return to them
18:21), seem to indicate some
drawing towards the Gospel, which, no doubt, the zealous private labors
of Priscilla and Aquila would ripen into discipleship.
wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive
him—a beautiful specimen of "letters of recommendation" (as
15:23, 25-27, and see 2Co 3:1); by which, as well as by
interchange of deputations, &c., the early churches maintained
active Christian fellowship with each other.
when he was come, helped them much—was
a great acquisition to the Achaian brethren.
which believed through grace—one of
those incidental expressions which show that faith's being a
production of God's grace in the heart was so current and
recognized a truth that it was taken for granted, as a necessary
consequence of the general system of grace, rather than expressly
insisted on. (It is against the natural order of the words to read
them, as Bengel, Meyer, and others, do, "helped through grace those
28. For he mightily convinced the
Jews—The word is very strong: "stoutly bore them down in
argument," "vigorously argued them down," and the tense in that
he continued to do it, or that this was the characteristic of
showing by the scriptures that Jesus was
Christ—Rather, "that the Christ (or Messiah) was Jesus." This
expression, when compared with Ac 18:25, seems to imply a richer testimony than
with his partial knowledge he was at first able to bear; and the power
with which he bore down all opposition in argument is that which made
him such an acquisition to the brethren. Thus his ministry would be as
good as another visitation to the Achaian churches by the apostle
himself (see 1Co 3:6) and
the more as, in so far as he was indebted for it to Priscilla and
Aquila, it would have a decidedly Pauline cast.