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Across to Corinth (18:1-4)
Corinth was a strategic commercial centre situated on a well used Roman road. It was also an important port, and like many ports it was full of all sorts of vice. Its reputation was so bad that people referred to a person of loose morals as one who ‘behaved like a Corinthian’. Yet Paul planted a church there and, not surprisingly, it became one of the most colourful and unorthodox churches of all.
As he often did on his travels, Paul earned his living in Corinth by working for a time at his trade of tentmaking (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). In so doing he met a Jewish married couple, Aquila and Priscilla, who were also tentmakers and who were to become his lifelong friends. They, along with other Jews, had recently been forced to leave Rome by command of the Emperor (18:1-3). No doubt they went with Paul to the synagogue, where he preached the gospel (4).
Paul writes to the Thessalonians
At that time Silas and Timothy returned from Macedonia, bringing with them gifts of money for Paul from the Macedonian churches. This provision released Paul from his tentmaking and enabled him to spend all his time preaching (see 18:5; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:8-9; Philippians 4:15). Paul was so pleased with the good news that Timothy brought from Thessalonica that he wrote and sent off a letter which we know as First Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:6).
Paul was particularly pleased to hear that his hasty departure from Thessalonica had not hindered the progress of God’s work there. Despite constant persecution, the church continued to grow, and within a short time had spread the gospel throughout the surrounding districts (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8; 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Sadly, some criticized Paul for leaving the new converts in Thessalonica to face the anti-Christian trouble that initially had been stirred up through him. Paul defended himself against these accusations and at the same time encouraged the Christians to stand firm amid the opposition (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8,1 Thessalonians 2:17-18; 1 Thessalonians 3:3-5). He also gave instruction concerning certain aspects of Christian behaviour and cleared up some misunderstandings concerning the return of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:1,1 Thessalonians 4:9,1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Within a short time, perhaps only a few weeks, Paul heard that some of the Thessalonians had misunderstood parts of his letter, particularly those parts dealing with Christ’s return. He therefore sent off a second letter, which is known to us as Second Thessalonians.
Some mistakenly thought that when Paul said Jesus Christ would return ‘suddenly’ he meant ‘immediately’. There were even those who thought that if Christ was about to return, there was no purpose in working any longer. As a result they became idle and a burden to others. Paul corrected the misunderstandings (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3), rebuked the idle (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12), gave further encouragement to the persecuted (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5) and urged all to stand firm in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Eighteen months in Corinth (18:5-17)
Meanwhile in Corinth, Paul was having the usual trouble with the Jews. They forced him out of the synagogue, so he went and preached in the house of Titius Justus, a Gentile God-fearer who lived next door (5-7). Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, himself believed (8; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:14), and possibly the new ruler of the synagogue, Sosthenes, later believed also (see v. 17; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:1).
In spite of the constant opposition, Paul kept preaching, and during the year and a half that he stayed in Corinth the church grew (9-11). On one occasion when the Jews tried to lay a charge against Paul, the governor refused to hear them. He looked upon Paul’s party as a group within Judaism, and saw the dispute as a religious matter that the Jews would have to settle themselves (12-16). The local people, seeing that the governor was unsympathetic to the Jews, took the opportunity to express their anti-Jewish feelings by beating up one of the Jewish leaders (17).
Return to Antioch (18:18-22)
Paul then prepared to return home. At Cenchreae, from where the ship sailed, he fulfilled a vow (probably a Nazirite vow; see Numbers 6:1-21) which for some reason he had taken upon himself (18). He sailed across to Ephesus where he stayed a short while. His preaching created much interest and probably resulted in the start of a church in that city. Then, leaving Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus, he sailed for his home church in Antioch, though he hoped to return to Ephesus soon (19-22).
18:23-21:16 BACK TO ASIA MINOR AND EUROPE (THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY)
Through Galatia to Ephesus (18:23-19:7)
On his third great journey to the west, Paul set out by visiting the churches of Galatia once again. This was the fourth time he had visited these churches and he had also written them a letter (23; cf. 13:14,51; 14:21; 16:2-6).
In the meantime a learned Jew named Apollos had come to Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. Like many of the Jewish teachers in Alexandria, he had a detailed knowledge of Old Testament references to the Messiah and was able to teach impressively. However, he lacked knowledge of certain Christian teachings until Aquila and Priscilla explained them to him (24-26). Later, when he moved across to Corinth, he was of great help to the church there and added considerably to the good work Paul had done previously (27-28; 1 Corinthians 3:6). Unfortunately, the Corinthian church divided into factions, because people made favourites of various teachers. This was a problem that Paul soon had to deal with (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4).
On arriving in Ephesus, Paul met a group of twelve people who had repented and been baptized as taught by John the Baptist. But they did not know that since the death and resurrection of Jesus, the form of baptism that John proclaimed was no longer in use. The one whom John announced had come, and the baptism with the Spirit that John promised had been given (on the Day of Pentecost; cf. Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:16-17,Acts 2:33). When they understood this they were baptized in water as disciples of Jesus Christ, and received the Holy Spirit as the original disciples had at Pentecost (19:1-7).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Acts 18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13