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Paul, leaving Athens, comes to Corinth, meets with Aquila and
Priscilla, and labours with them at tent-making, 1-3.
He preaches, and proves that Jesus was the Christ, 4, 5.
The Jews oppose and blaspheme; and he purposes to go to the
Justus, Crispus, and several of the Corinthians believe, 7, 8.
Paul has a vision, by which he is greatly comforted, 9, 10.
He continues there a year and six months, 11.
Gallio being deputy of Achaia, the Jews make insurrection
against Paul, and bring him before the deputy, who dismisses
the cause; whereupon the Jews commit a variety of outrages,
Paul sails to Syria, and from thence to Ephesus, where he
He leaves Ephesus-goes to Caesarea, visits Antioch, Galatia,
and Phrygia, 21-23.
Account of Apollos and his preaching, 24-28.
NOTES ON CHAP. XVIII.
Verse Acts 18:1. Paul departed from Athens — How long he stayed here, we cannot tell; it is probable it could not be less than three months; but, finding that the Gospel made little progress among the Athenians, he resolved to go to Corinth.
CORINTH was situated on the isthmus that connects Peloponnesus to Attica; and was the capital of all Achaia, or Peloponnesus. It was most advantageously situated for trade; for, by its two ports, the Lecheum and Cenchreae, it commanded the commerce both of the Ionian and AEgean Sea. It was destroyed by the Romans under Mummius, about one hundred and forty-six years before Christ, in their wars with Attica; but was rebuilt by Julius Caesar, and became one of the most considerable cities of Greece. Like other kingdoms and states, it has undergone a variety of revolutions: from the oppressive and destructive government of the Turks it has been lately restored to that of the Greeks; but it is greatly reduced, its whole population amounting only to between thirteen and fourteen thousand souls. It is about 46 miles east of Athens, and 342 S.W. of Constantinople. Its public buildings were very superb; and there the order called the Corinthian Order, in architecture, took its rise.
Verse Acts 18:2. A certain Jew named Aquila — Some have supposed that this Aquila was the same with the Onkelos, mentioned by the Jews. See the article in Wolfius, Bibl. Hebr. vol. ii. p. 1147. We have no evidence that this Jew and his wife were at this time converted to the Christian religion. Their conversion was most likely the fruit of St. Paul's lodging with them - Pontus. Acts 2:9.
Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome — This edict of the Roman emperor is not mentioned by Josephus; but it is probably the same to which Suetonius refers in his life of Claudius; where he says, Judaeos, impulsore Chresto, assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit. "He expelled the Jews from Rome, as they were making continual insurrections, under their leader Chrestus." Who this Chrestus was we cannot tell; probably Suetonius means Christ; but this I confess does not appear to me likely. There might have been a Jew of the name of Chrestus, who had made some disturbances, and, in consequence, Claudius thought proper to banish all Jews from the city. But how could he intend Christ, who was never at Rome? nor did any one ever personate him in that city; and it is evident he could not refer to any spiritual influence exerted by Christ on the minds of the people. Indeed he speaks of Chrestus as being the person who was the cause of the disturbances. It is no fictitious name, no name of an absent person, nor of a sect; but of one who was well known by the disturbances which he occasioned, and for which it is likely he suffered, and those of his nation were expelled. This decree, which was made, not by the senate, but by the emperor himself, continued only in force during his life, if so long; for in a short time after this Rome again abounded with Jews.
Verse Acts 18:3. He abode with them, and wrought — Bp. Pearce observes that it was a custom among the Jews, even of such as had a better education than ordinary, which was Paul's case, Acts 22:3, to learn a trade, that, wherever they were, they might provide for themselves in case of necessity. And though Paul, in some cases, lived on the bounty of his converts, yet he chose not to do so at Ephesus, Acts 20:34; nor at Corinth or other places, 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 9:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; and this Paul did for a reason which he gives in 2 Corinthians 11:9-12. While he was at Corinth he was supplied, when his own labour did not procure him enough, "by the brethren which came to him there from Macedonia." It appears that the apostle had his lodging with Aquila and Priscilla; and probably a portion of the profits of the business, after his board was deducted. It was evidently no reproach for a man, at that time, to unite public teaching with an honest useful trade. And why should it be so now? May not a man who has acquired a thorough knowledge of the Gospel way of salvation, explain that way to his less informed neighbours, though he be a tent-maker, (what perhaps we would call a house-carpenter,) or a shoemaker, or any thing else? Even many of those who consider it a cardinal sin for a mechanic to preach the Gospel, are providing for themselves and their families in the same way. How many of the clergy, and other ministers, are farmers, graziers, schoolmasters, and sleeping partners in different trades and commercial concerns! A tent-maker, in his place, is as useful as any of these. Do not ridicule the mechanic because he preaches the Gospel to the salvation of his neighbours, lest some one should say, in a language which you glory to have learned, and which the mechanic has not, Mutato nomine, de TE fabula narrator.
There are different opinions concerning that is meant here by the σκηνοποιος, which we translate tent-maker. Some think it means a maker of those small portable tents, formed of skins, which soldiers and travellers usually carried with them on their journeys; others suppose that these tents mere made of linen cloth. Some think that the trade of St. Paul was making hangings or curtains, such as were used at the theatres; others think the σκηνοποιος was a sort of umbrella-maker; others, a weaver, &c., &c. In short, we know not what the trade was. I have generally preferred the notion of a carpenter, or faber lignarius. Whatever it was, it was an honest, useful calling, and Paul got his bread by it.
Verse Acts 18:4. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath — Discoursed at large concerning Jesus as the Messiah, proving this point from their own Scriptures, collated with the facts of our Lord's life, c.
And persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. — Many, both Jews and proselytes, were convinced of the truth of his doctrine. Among his converts was Epenetus, the first fruit of his labour in Achaia, Romans 16:5 and the family of Stephanas was the next; and then Crispus and Caius, or Gaius; all of whom the apostle himself baptized, 1 Corinthians 1:14-16. Acts 18:8.
Verse Acts 18:5. When Silas and Timotheus were come — We have seen, Acts 17:13, that when Paul was obliged to leave Berea, because of the persecution raised up against him in that place, he left Silas and Timotheus behind; to whom he afterwards sent word to rejoin him at Athens with all speed. It appears, from 1 Thessalonians 3:10, that, on Timothy's coming to Athens, Paul immediately sent him, and probably Silas with him, to comfort and establish the Church at Thessalonica. How long they laboured here is uncertain, but they did not rejoin him till some time after he came to Corinth. It appears that he was greatly rejoiced at the account which Timothy brought of the Church at Thessalonica; and it must have been immediately after this that he wrote his first epistle to that Church, which is probably the first, in order of time, of all his epistles.
Paul was pressed in spirit — συνειχετο τω πνευματι, or he was constrained by the Spirit of God, in an extraordinary manner, to testify to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Instead of τω πνευματι, in the spirit, τω λογω, in the word or doctrine, is the reading of ABDE, three others; both the Syriac, Coptic, Vulgate, Basil, Chrysostom, and others. Griesbach has received this reading into the text, and Bp. Pearce thus paraphrases the verse: "And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul set himself, together with them, wholly to the word; i.e. he was fully employed, now that he had their assistance, it preaching the Gospel, called the word in Acts 4:4; Acts 16:6; Acts 16:32; Acts 17:11. St. Luke seems to have intended to express here something relating to St. Paul which was the consequence of the coming of Silas and Timotheus; and that was rather labouring with them more abundantly in preaching the word than his being "pressed in spirit." This appears to be the true sense of the word, and that τω λογω is the genuine reading there can be no doubt. συνειχετο, which we translate pressed, and which the Vulgate translates instabat, Bp. Pearce thinks should be translated una cum illis instabat, he earnestly strove together with them, τω λογω, in preaching the word. The true sense is given by Calmet, Paul s'employoit a precher encore avec plus d'ardeur, Paul was employed with more ardour in preaching, and testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. From this time we hear no more of Silas; probably he died in Macedonia.
Verse Acts 18:6. When they opposed — αντιτασσομενων, Systematically opposing, putting themselves in warlike order against him: so the word implies.
And blasphemed — This is precisely the way in which they still act. They have no arguments against Jesus being the Messiah; but, having made a covenant with unbelief, as soon as they are pressed on this point, they rail and blaspheme.-See the Tela ignea Satanae, by Wagenseil.
He shook his raiment] This was an action similar to that of shaking the dust of the feet; Matthew 10:14. See a parallel act, and its signification, in Nehemiah 5:13: Also I SHOOK MY LAP, and said, So shall God SHAKE every man FROM HIS HOUSE and FROM his LABOUR; even thus shall he be SHAKEN OUT and EMPTIED. St. Paul's act on this occasion seems to have been the same with this of Nehemiah, and with the same signification; and it is likely that he was led by a Divine impulse to do it-thus signifying the shaking and emptying out of this disobedient people, which took place about sixteen years afterwards.
Your blood be upon your own heads — That is, ye alone are the cause of the destruction that is coming upon yourselves and upon your country.
I am clean — καθαρος εγω, I am pure or innocent of your death and ruin. I have proposed to you the Gospel of Jesus Christ-the only means by which ye can be saved, and ye have utterly rejected it. I shall labour no more with you; and, from henceforth, shall confine my labours to the Gentiles. St. Paul must refer to the Jews and Gentiles of Corinth particularly; for he preached to the Jews occasionally in other places; see Acts 19:8; Acts 19:9; and several were brought to the knowledge of the truth. But it seems as if the Jews from this time systematically opposed the Gospel of Christ; and yet, general tenders of this salvation were made to them wherever the apostles came; and when they rejected them, the word was sent to the Gentiles; see Acts 19:8; Acts 19:9.
Pure from blood, or pure from guilt, is commonly expressed by καθαρος; thus Heliodorus, lib. i. p. 49: Εις δευρο διετελεσα καθαραν εμαυτην απο σης ὁμιλιας φυλαττουσα, Until now I have lived, preserving myself pure: and Alciphron, lib. i. epist. 7, ad. fin.: Ουδε μιαναι λυθρῳ τας χειρας, ἁς ἡ θαλαττα εκ παιδος εις δευρο καθαρας αδικηματων εφυλαξε, Nor to stain with pollution the hands which a seafaring life has kept from a child until now pure from iniquity.
Verse Acts 18:7. And he departed thence — From his former lodging, or that quarter of the city where he had dwelt before with Aquila and Priscilla; and went to lodge with Justus, apparently a proselyte of the gate. This person is called Titus, and Titus Justus, in several MSS. and versions.
Verse Acts 18:8. Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue — This person held an office of considerable consequence; and therefore his conversion to Christianity must have been very galling to the Jews. It belonged to the chief or ruler of the synagogue to preside in all the assemblies, interpret the law, decide concerning things lawful and unlawful, punish the refractory, excommunicate the rebellious, solemnize marriages, and issue divorces. It is likely that, on the conversion of Crispus, Sosthenes was chosen to succeed him.
Many of the Corinthians — Those to whom the sacred historian refers were probably Gentiles, and were the fruits of the apostle's labours after he had ceased to preach among the Jews.
Verse Acts 18:9. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision — It is likely that Paul was at this time much discouraged by the violent opposition of the Jews, and probably was in danger of his life; see Acts 18:10; and might have been entertaining serious thoughts of ceasing to preach, or leaving Corinth. To prevent this, and comfort him, God was pleased to give him this vision.
Be not afraid — That this comfort and assurance were necessary himself shows us in his first epistle to these Corinthians, Acts 2:3: I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
Verse Acts 18:10. No man shall set on thee — Και ουδεις επιθησεται σοι, No man shall be permitted to lay violent hands upon thee. It is very likely that the Jews had conspired his death; and his preservation was an act of the especial interposition of Divine Providence.
I have much people in this city. — Εν τῃ πολει ταυτῃ, In this very city: there are many here who have not resisted my Spirit, and consequently are now under its teachings, and are ready to embrace my Gospel as soon as thou shalt declare it unto them.
Verse Acts 18:11. He continued there a year and six months — He was now confident that he was under the especial protection of God, and therefore continued teaching the word, τον λογον, the doctrine of God. It is very likely, that it was during his stay here that he wrote his first epistle to the Thessalonians, and the second not long after; and some think that the epistle to the Galatians was written during his stay at Corinth.
Verse Acts 18:12. When Gallio was the deputy of Achaia — The Romans comprehended, under the name of Achaia, all that part of Greece which lay between Thessaly and the southernmost coasts of Peloponnesus. Pausanias, in Attic. vii. 16, says that the Romans were accustomed to send a governor into that country, and that they called him the governor of Achaia, not of Greece; because the Achaeans, when they subdued Greece, were the leaders in all the Grecian affairs see also Suetonius, in his life of Claudius, cap. xxv., and Dio Cassius, lx. 24. Edit. Reimari.
Deputy — ανθυπατευοντος, serving the office of ανθυπατος, or deputy: see Clark's note on "Acts 13:7".
Gallio — This deputy, or proconsul, was eldest brother to the celebrated Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the stoic philosopher, preceptor of Nero, and who is so well known among the learned by his works. The name of Gallio, was at first Marcus Annaeus Novatus; but, having been adopted in the family of Gallio, he took the name of Lucius Junius Gallio. He, and Annaeus Mela his brother, father of the poet Lucan, shared in the disgrace of their brother Seneca; and by this tyrant, Nero, whose early years were so promising, the three brothers were put to death; see Tacitus, Annal. lib. xv. 70, and xvi. 17. It was to this Gallio that Seneca dedicates his book De Ira. Seneca describes him as a man of the most amiable mind and manners: "Quem nemo non parum amat, etiam qui amare plus non potent; nemo mortalium uni tam dulcis est, quam hic omnibus: cum interim tanta naturalis boni vis est, uti artem simulationemque non redoleat:" vide Senec. Praefat. ad Natural. Quaest. 4. He was of the sweetest disposition, affable to all, and beloved by every man.
Statius, Sylvar. lib. ii. 7. ver. 30, Ode on the Birthday of Lucan, says not a little in his favour, in a very few words:-
Lucanum potes imputare terris;
Hoc plus quam Senecam dedisse mundo,
Aut dulcem generasse Gallionem.
You may consider nature as having made greater efforts in producing Lucan, than it has done in producing Seneca, or even the amiable GALLIO.
And brought him to the judgment seat — They had no power to punish any person in the Roman provinces, and therefore were obliged to bring their complaint before the Roman governor. The powers that be are ordained of God. Had the Jews possessed the power here, Paul had been put to death!
Verse Acts 18:13. Persuaded men to worship God contrary to the law. — This accusation was very insidious. The Jews had permission by the Romans to worship their own God in their own way: this the laws allowed. The Roman worship was also established by the law. The Jews probably intended to accuse Paul of acting contrary to both laws. "He is not a Jew, for he does not admit of circumcision; he is not a Gentile, for he preaches against the worship of the gods. He is setting up a worship of his own, in opposition to all laws, and persuading many people to join with him: he is therefore a most dangerous man, and should be put to death."
Verse Acts 18:14. Paul was now about to open his mouth — He was about to enter on his defense; but Gallio, perceiving that the prosecution was through envy and malice, would not put Paul to any farther trouble, but determined the matter as follows.
If it were a matter of wrong — αδικημα, Of injustice; any thing contrary to the rights of the subject.
Or wicked lewdness — ραδιουργημα πονηρον, Destructive mischief. (Acts 13:10, where the word is explained.) Something by which the subject is grievously wronged; were it any crime against society or against the state.
Reason would that I should bear with you. — κατα λογον αν ηνεσχομην υμων, According to reason, or the merit of the case, I should patiently hear you.
Verse Acts 18:15. But if it be a question of words — περι λογου, Concerning doctrine and names - whether the person called Jesus be the person you call the Messiah. And of your law - any particular nicety, concerning that law which is peculiar to yourselves: Look ye to it - settle the business among yourselves; the Roman government does not meddle with such matters, and I will not take upon me to - decide in a case that does not concern my office. As if he had said: "The Roman laws give religious liberty to Jews and Greeks; but, if controversies arise among you on these subjects, decide them among yourselves, or dispute about them as much as you please." A better answer could not be given by man; and it was highly becoming the acknowledged meekness, gentleness, and benevolence of this amiable man. He concluded that the state had no right to control any man's religious opinion; that was between the object of his worship and his own conscience; and therefore he was not authorized to intermeddle with subjects of this nature, which the law left to every man's private judgment. Had all the rulers of the people in every country acted as this sensible and benevolent Roman, laws against liberty of conscience, concerning religious persecution, would not be found to be, as they not are, blots and disgraces on the statute books of almost all the civilized nations of Europe.
Verse Acts 18:16. And he drave them from the judgment seat. — He saw that their accusation was both frivolous and vexatious, and he ordered them to depart, and the assembly to disperse. The word απηλασεν, which we translate he drave, does not signify here any act of violence on the part of Gallio or the Roman officers, but simply an authoritative dismission.
Verse Acts 18:17. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes — As this man is termed the chief ruler of the synagogue, it is probable that he had lately succeeded Crispus in that office; see Acts 18:8; and that he was known either to have embraced Christianity, or to have favoured the cause of St. Paul. He is supposed to be the same person whom St. Paul associates with himself in the first epistle to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 1:1. Crispus might have been removed from his presidency in the synagogue as soon as the Jews found he had embraced Christianity, and Sosthenes appointed in his place. And, as he seems to have speedily embraced the same doctrine, the Jews would be the more enraged, and their malice be directed strongly against him, when they found that the proconsul would not support them in their opposition to Paul.
But why should the Greeks beat Sosthenes? I have in the above note proceeded on the supposition that this outrage was committed by the Jews; and my reason for it is this: οι ελληνες, the Greeks, is omitted by AB, two of the oldest and most authentic MSS. in the world: they are omitted also by the Coptic and Vulgate, Chrysostom, and Bede. Instead of οιελληνες, three MSS., one of the eleventh, and two of the thirteenth century, have ιουδαιοι, the Jews; and it is much more likely that the Jews beat one of their own rulers, through envy at his conversion, than that the Greeks should do so; unless we allow, which is very probable, (if ελληνες, Greeks, be the true reading,) that these Hellenes were Jews, born in a Greek country, and speaking the Greek language.
And Gallio cared for none of those things. — Και ουδεν τουτων τῳ Γαλλιωνι εμελεν. And Gallio did not concern himself, did not intermeddle with any of these things. As he found that it was a business that concerned their own religion, and that the contention was among themselves, and that they were abusing one of their own sect only, he did not choose to interfere. He, like the rest of the Romans, considered the Jews a most despicable people, and worthy of no regard; and their present conduct had no tendency to cause him to form a different opinion of them from that which he and his countrymen had previously entertained. It is not very likely, however, that Gallio saw this outrage; for, though it was before the judgment seat, it probably did not take place till Gallio had left the court; and, though he might be told of it, he left the matter to the lictors, and would not interfere.
The conduct of Gallio has been, in this case, greatly censured; and I think with manifest injustice. In the business brought before his tribunal, no man could have followed a more prudent or equitable course. His whole conduct showed that it was his opinion, that the civil magistrate had nothing to do with religious opinions or the concerns of conscience, in matters where the safety of the state was not implicated. He therefore refused to make the subject a matter of legal discussion. Nay, he went much farther; he would not even interfere to prevent either the Jews or the apostles from making proselytes. Though the complaint against the apostles was, that they were teaching men to worship God contrary to the law; Acts 18:15, yet, even in this case, he did not think it right to exert the secular power to restrain the free discussion and teaching of matters which concerned the rights of conscience in things pertaining to the worship of the gods. As to his not preventing the tumult which took place, we may sag, if he did see it, which is not quite evident, that he well knew that this could rise to no serious amount; and the lictors, and other minor officers, were there in sufficient force to prevent any serious riot, and it was their business to see that the public peace was not broken, besides, as a heathen, he might have no objection to permit this people to pursue a line of conduct by which they were sure to bring themselves and their religion into contempt. These wicked Jews could not disprove the apostle's doctrine, either by argument or Scripture; and they had recourse to manual logic, which was an indisputable proof of the badness of their own cause, and the strength of that of their opponents.
But in consequence of this conduct Gallio has been represented as a man perfectly careless and unconcerned about religion in general; and therefore has been considered as a proper type or representative of even professed Christians, who are not decided in their religious opinions or conduct. As a heathen, Gallio certainly was careless about both Judaism and Christianity. The latter he had probably never heard of but by the cause now before his judgment seat; and, from any thing he could see of the other, through the medium of its professors, he certainly could entertain no favourable opinion of it: therefore in neither case was he to blame. But the words, cared for none of those things, are both misunderstood and misapplied: we have already seen that they only mean that he would not intermeddle in a controversy which did not belong to has province and sufficient reasons have been alleged why he should act as he did. It is granted that many preachers take this for a text, and preach useful sermons for the conviction of the undecided and lukewarm; and it is to be deplored that there are so many undecided and careless people in the world, and especially in reference to what concerns their eternal interests. But is it not to be lamented, also, thy there should be preachers of God's holy word who attempt to explain passages of Scripture which they do not understand. For he who preaches on Gallio cared for none of those things, in the way in which the passage has, through mismanagement, been popularly understood, either does not understand it, or he willing perverts the meaning.
Verse Acts 18:18. And Paul - tarried there yet a good while — The persecuting Jews plainly saw, from the manner in which the proconsul had conducted this business, that they could have no hope of raising a state persecution against the apostles; and the laws provided so amply for the personal safety of every Roman citizen that then were afraid to proceed any farther in their violence. It would not be unknown that Paul was possessed of the right of Roman citizenship; and therefore his person was sacred as long as he did nothing contrary to the laws.
It is probable that at this time Paul stayed, on the whole, as Corinth, about two years.
Having shorn his head in Cenchrea — But who was it that shore his head? Paul or Aquila? Some think the latter, who had bound himself by the Nazarite vow, probably before he became a Christian; and, being under that vow, his conscience would not permit him to disregard it. There is nothing in the text that absolutely obliges us to understand this action as belonging to St. Paul. It seems to have been the act of Aquila alone; and therefore both Paul and Priscilla are mentioned before Aquila; and it is natural to refer the vow to the latter. Yet there are certainly some weighty reasons why the vow should be referred to St. Paul, and not to Aquila; and interpreters are greatly divided on the subject. Chrysostom, Isidore of Seville, Grotius, Hammond, Zegerus, Erasmus, Baronius, Pearce, Wesley, and others, refer the vow to Aquila.-Jerome, Augustin, Bede, Calmet, Dodd, Rosenmuller, and others, refer it to St. Paul. Each party has its strong reasons-the matter is doubtful-the bare letter of the text determines nothing: yet I cannot help leaning to the latter opinion. Perhaps it was from feeling the difficulty of deciding which was under the vow that the AEthiopic and two Latin versions, instead of κειραμενος, having shaved, in the singular, appear to have read κειραμενοι, they shaved; and thus put both Paul and Aquila under the vow.
Cenchrea. This was a port on the east side of the isthmus of Corinth, opposite to the Lecheum, which was the other port on the west. And it is likely that it was at Cenchrea that St. Paul took shipping for Syria, as it would be more convenient her him, and a shorter passage to embark at Cenchrea, in order to go by the AEgean Sea to Syria, than to embark at the Lecheum, and sail down into the Mediterranean. This isthmus is generally described now as dividing the Gulf of Lepanto, on the west, from the Gulf of Engia, or Eginaon, on the east.
Verse Acts 18:19. He came to Ephesus — Where it appears he spent but one Sabbath. It is supposed that Paul left Aquila and Priscilla at this place, and that he went on alone to Jerusalem; for it is certain they were at Ephesus when Apollos arrived there. See Acts 18:24; Acts 18:26.
EPHESUS was at the time in which St. Paul visited it, one of the most flourishing cities of Asia Minor. It was situated in that part anciently called Ionia, but now Natolia. It abounded with the most eminent orators, philosophers, c., in the world and was adorned with the most splendid buildings. Here was that famous temple of Diana, reputed one of the seven wonders of the world. This city is now under the dominion of the Turks, and is in a state of almost entire ruin. The temple of Minerva, which had long served as a Christian church, is now so completely ruined that its site cannot be easily determined; though some ruins of the walls are still standing, with five or six marble columns, forty feet in length, and seven in diameter, all of one piece. It still has a good harbour, and is about forty miles from Smyrna. In Chandler's Travels in Asia Minor, some curious information is given concerning this once eminent city. His account concludes thus: "The Ephesians are now a few Greek peasants, living in extreme wretchedness, dependence, and insensibility: the representative of an illustrious people, and inhabiting the wrecks of their greatness: some beneath the vaults of the Stadium, once the crowded scene of their diversions; and some live by the abrupt precipice, in the sepulchres which received the ashes of their ancestors. Such are the present citizens of Ephesus; and such is the condition to which that renowned city has been gradually reduced. Its streets are obscured and overgrown; a herd of goats was driven to it for shelter from the sun at noon; and a noisy flight of crows from the quarries seemed to insult its silence. We heard the partridge call in the area of the theatre, and of the Stadium. The glorious pomp of its heathen worship is no longer remembered; and Christianity, which was there nursed by apostles, and fostered by general councils, until it increased to fulness of stature, barely lingers on, in an existence hardly visible." Travels in Asia Minor, p. 130. Reader! This city was once the capital of Asia Minor; and its ruins alone prove that it has existed: and it was one of those seven Churches to which a letter was expressly dictated by Jesus Christ himself! Ephesus is properly no more! and the Church of Ephesus is blotted put of the map of Christianity! Be silent and adore.
Verse Acts 18:21. I must - keep this feast — Most likely the passover, at which he wished to attend for the purpose of seeing many of his friends, and having the most favourable opportunity to preach the Gospel to thousands who would attend at Jerusalem on that occasion. The whole of this clause, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem, is wanting in ABE, six others; with the Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate. Griesbach leaves it in the text, with the mark of doubtfulness; and Professor White, in his Crisews, says, probabiliter delenda. Without this clause the verse will read thus: But he bade them farewell, saying, I will return again unto you, if God will. And this he did before the expiration of that same year, Acts 19:1, and spent three years with them, Acts 20:31, extending and establishing the Church at that place.
Verse Acts 18:22. Landed at Caesarea — This must have been Caesarea in Palestine.
Gone up — To Jerusalem, though the name is not mentioned: but this is a common form of speech in the evangelists, Jerusalem being always meant when this expression was used; for the word αναβαινω, to go up, is often used absolutely, to signify, to go to Jerusalem: e.g. GO ye UP unto this feast; I GO not UP yet, John 7:8. But when his brethren were GONE UP, then WENT he also UP unto the feast, John 7:10. There were certain Greeks-that CAME UP to worship, John 12:20. St. Paul himself uses a similar form of expression. There are yet but twelve days since I WENT UP to Jerusalem, for to worship, Acts 24:11. So all parts of England are spoken of as being below London: so we talk of going up to London; and people in London talk of going down to the country.
Saluted the Church — That is, the Church at Jerusalem, called emphatically THE CHURCH, because it was the FIRST Church-the MOTHER, or APOSTOLIC Church; and from it all other Christian Churches proceeded: those in Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, Rome, &c. Therefore, even this last was only a daughter Church, when in its purest state.
Went down to Antioch. — That is, Antioch in Syria, as the word is generally to be understood when without addition, so Caesarea is always to be understood Caesarea in Palestine, when without the addition of Philippi.
Verse Acts 18:23. Went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia — Both were provinces of Asia Minor: Acts 2:10.
In order — καθεξης, A word peculiar to St. Luke; see his Gospel, Luke 1:3; Luke 8:1; and his history of the Acts, Acts 3:24; Acts 11:4, and the place above; the only places where this word occurs in the New Testament. It properly signifies, in order, distinctly, particularly; from κατα, according to, and εξη, order, as opposed to confusion, indistinctness, c. If St. Paul went up to Jerusalem at this time, which we are left to infer, for Luke has not expressed it, (Acts 18:22,) it was his fourth journey thither and this is generally supposed to have been the twenty-first year after his conversion. His first journey is mentioned Acts 9:26; his second, Acts 11:30; his third, Acts 15:4; and his fourth, Acts 18:22, the place above.
Verse Acts 18:24. A certain Jew named Apollos — One MS., with the Coptic and Armenian, calls him Apelles; and the Codex Bezae, Apollonius. It is strange that we should find a Jew, not only with a Roman name, as Aquila, an eagle; but with the name of one of the false gods, as Apollos or Apollo in the text. Query: Whether the parents of this man were not originally Gentiles, but converted to Judaism after their son Apollo (for so we should write the word) had been born and named.
Born at Alexandria — This was a celebrated city of Egypt, built by Alexander the Great, from whom it took its name. It was seated on the Mediterranean Sea, between the Lake Mareotis and the beautiful harbour formed by the Isle of Pharos, about twelve miles west of the Canopic branch of the Nile, in lat. 31°. 10'. N. This city was built under the direction of Dinocrates, the celebrated architect of the temple of Diana at Ephesus. It was in this city that Ptolemy Soter founded the famous academy called the Museum, in which a society of learned men devoted themselves to philosophical studies. Some of the most celebrated schools of antiquity flourished here; and here was the Tower of Pharos, esteemed one of the seven wonders of the world. Alexandria was taken by the French, July 4, 1798, under the command of Bonaparte; and was surrendered to the English under General, now Lord, Hutchinson, in 1801. And, in consequence of the treaty of peace between France and England, it was restored to the Turks. Near this place was the celebrated obelisk, called Cleopatra's Needle; and the no less famous column, called Pompey's Pillar. This city exhibits but very slender remains of its ancient splendour.
An eloquent man — Having strong rhetorical powers; highly cultivated, no doubt, in the Alexandrian schools.
Mighty in the Scriptures — Thoroughly acquainted with the law and prophets; and well skilled in the Jewish method of interpreting them.
Verse Acts 18:25. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord — κατηχημενος; He was catechized, initiated, in the way, the doctrine, of Jesus as the Christ.
Being fervent in the spirit — Being full of zeal to propagate the truth of God, he taught diligently, ακριβως accurately, (so the word should be translated,) the things of Christ as far as he could know them through the ministry of John the Baptist; for it appears he knew nothing more of Christ than what John preached. Some suppose we should read ουκ, not, before ακριβως, correctly, or accurately, because it is said that Aquila and Priscilla expounded the way of the Lord, ακριβεστερον, more perfectly, rather more accurately; but of this emendation there is not the slightest necessity; for surely it is possible for a man to teach accurately what he knows; and it is possible that another, who possesses more information on the subject than the former, may teach him more accurately, or give him a larger portion of knowledge. Apollo knew the baptism of John; but he knew nothing farther of Jesus Christ than that baptism taught; but, as far as he knew, he taught accurately. Aquila and Priscilla were acquainted with the whole doctrine of the Gospel: the doctrine of Christ dying for our sins, and rising again for our justification; and in this they instructed Apollo; and this was more accurate information than what he had before received, through the medium of John's ministry.
Verse Acts 18:26. They took him unto them] This eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, who was even a public teacher, was not ashamed to be indebted to the instructions of a Christian woman, in matters that not only concerned his own salvation, but also the work of the ministry, in which he was engaged. It is disgraceful to a man to be ignorant, when he may acquire wisdom; but it is no disgrace to acquire wisdom from the meanest person or thing. The adage is good: Despise not advice, even of the meanest: the gaggling of geese preserved the Roman state.
Verse Acts 18:27. When he was disposed to pass into Achaia — There is a very long and important addition here in the Codex Bezae, of which the following is a translation: But certain Corinthians, who sojourned at Ephesus, and heard him, entreated him to pass over with them to their own country. Then, when he had given his consent, the Ephesians wrote to the disciples at Corinth, that they should receive this man. Who, when he was come, c. The same addition is found in the later Syriac, and in the Itala version in the Codex Bezae.
Which had believed through grace. — These words may either refer to Apollo, or to the people at Corinth. It was through grace that they had believed and it was through grace that Apollo was enabled to help them much.
The words δια της χαριτος, through grace, are wanting in the Codex Bezae, the later Syriac, the Vulgate, one copy of the Itala, and in some of the fathers. But this omission might have been the effect of carelessness in the writers of those copies from which the foregoing were taken: the words convey the same idea that is expressed by St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:6: Paul planted, and Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. Though this eminent man became the instrument of mightily helping the believers in Corinth, yet he was also the innocent cause of a sort of schism among them. For some, taken by his commanding eloquence, began to range themselves on his side, and prefer him to all other teachers. This evil St. Paul reprehends and corrects in his first epistle to the Corinthians. St. Jerome says that Apollo became bishop of Corinth.
Verse Acts 18:28. He mightily convinced the Jews — ευτονως διακατηλεγχετο; He vehemently confuted the Jews; and that publicly, not in private conferences, but in his public preaching: showing by the scriptures of the Old Testament, which the Jews received as divinely inspired, that Jesus, who had lately appeared among them, and whom they had crucified, was the Christ, the promised Messiah, and that there was salvation in none other; and that they must receive him as the Messiah, in order to escape the wrath to come. This they refused to do; and we know the consequence. Their city was sacked, their temple burnt, their whole civil and religious polity subverted, more than a million of themselves killed, and the rest scattered over the face of the earth.
1. THE Christian religion did not hide itself in corners and obscure places at first, in order, privately, to get strength, before it dared to show itself publicly. Error, conscious of its weakness, and that its pretensions cannot bear examination, is obliged to observe such a cautious procedure. With what caution, circumspection, and privacy, did Mohammed propose his new religion! He formed a party by little and little, in the most private manner, before he ventured to exhibit his pretensions openly. Not so Christianity: it showed itself in the most public manner, not only in the teaching of Christ, but also in that of the apostles. Even after the crucifixion of our Lord, the apostles and believers went to the temple, the most public place; and in the most public manner taught and worked miracles. JERUSALEM, the seat of the doctors, the judge of religion, was the first place in which, by the command of their Lord, the disciples preached Christ crucified. They were, therefore, not afraid to have their cause tried by the most rigid test of Scripture; and in the very place, too, where that Scripture was best understood.
2. When the same apostles. carried this Gospel to heathen countries, did they go to the villages, among the less informed or comparatively ignorant Greeks, in order to form a party, and shield themselves by getting the multitude on their side? No! They went to Caesarea, to Antioch, to Thessalonica, to ATHENS, to CORINTH, to EPHESUS; to the very places where learning flourished most, where sciences were best cultivated, where imposture was most likely to be detected, and where the secular power existed in the most despotic manner, and could at once have crushed them to nothing could they have been proved to be impostors, or had they not been under the immediate protection of Heaven! Hence it is evident that these holy men feared no rational investigation of their doctrines, for they taught them in the face of the most celebrated schools in the universe!
3. They preached Christ crucified in JERUSALEM, where it was the most solemn interest of the Jews to disprove their doctrine, that they might exculpate themselves from the murder of Jesus Christ. They preached the same Christ, and the vanity of idolatry, in Athens, in Corinth, and in Ephesus, where idolatry existed in the plenitude of its power; and where all its interests required it to make the moat desperate and formidable stand against those innovators. What but the fullest confidence of the truth of what they preached, the fullest conviction of the Divinity of their doctrine, and the supernatural influence of God upon their souls, could ever have induced these men to preach Christ crucified, either at Jerusalem, or at Athens? I scruple not to assert that the bold, public manner in which the apostles preached the Gospel, among the Jews and Greeks, is a most incontestable proof of the conviction they had of its truth; and the success with which they were favoured is a demonstration that what they preached as truth God proved to be the truth, by stretching forth his hand to heal, and causing signs and wonders to be wrought in the name of the holy child Jesus. This is an additional proof of the sincerity of the apostles, and of the truth of Christianity. If Paul and Peter, Barnabas and Silas, had not had the fullest persuasion that their doctrine was of God, they would never have ventured to propose it before the Sanhedrin in JERUSALEM, the literati of CORINTH, and the Stoics and inexorable judges of the Areopagus at ATHENS.
4. We may be surprised to find that, even among the Jews as well as the Gentiles, there were persons who used curious arts. Those were inexcusable; these were to be pitied. Blind as every man is by nature, yet he is conscious that without supernatural assistance he can neither secure the good he needs, nor avoid the evil he fears: therefore, he endeavours to associate to himself the influence of supernatural agents, in order to preserve him in safety, and make him happy. Thus forsaking and forgetting the fountain of living water, he hews out to himself cisterns that can hold no water. The existence of magical arts and incantations, whether real or pretended, prove the general belief of the existence of a spiritual world, and man's consciousness of his own weakness, and his need of supernatural help. When shall the eye be directed solely to HIM from whom alone true help can come, by whom evil is banished, and happiness restored!
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Acts 18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany