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1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
Ver. 1. And came to Corinth ] A city very rich, but very loose and luxurious. Magna cognatio ut rei sic nominis, divitiis et vitiis. The Corinthians had within their city the temple of Isis, and without it the temple of Venus, to whom there were well nigh a thousand courtesans consecrated. They held fornication to be no sin; hence the apostle is so earnest against it, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 .
2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
Ver. 2. Had commanded all Jews, &c. ] Wicked men are sick of the saints, and long to be rid of them, not considering that they bear up the pillars of the earth, and that God gratifies his children with the preservation of the wicked, as he did Paul with the lives of those infidels that were in the ship with him, Acts 27:24 . Howbeit they are frequently as foolish as this Claudius who banished God’s true servants; or, as the stag in the emblem, which by biting the boughs off the trees under which she lay hidden from the hounds and hunters, bewrayed and betrayed herself into their hands.
3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
Ver. 3. He abode with them and wrought ] Being no less busy in his shop among his tents than in his study among his books and parchments, 2 Timothy 4:13 . So Musculus, persecuted and driven out of his place, was forced for a poor living to dig and weave. (Melch. Adam.) And another late martyr, though he were one of the greatest scholars in Christendom, yet in banishment or flight for conscience served the mason.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Ver. 4. Persuaded the Jews ] Men may speak persuasively, but God only can persuade. Genesis 9:27 , Japheth’s children were to be won by persuasion. Therefore Christ sent forth to them not soldiers, but fishers, who might work upon them docendo non ducendo, monendo non minaudo, by informing them, not by enforcing them.
5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
Ver. 5. And when Silas and Timothy ] Good people one kindle another. Paul was much heated with the zeal of God by the company of these two good men. Two flints, though both cold, yet yield fire when smitten together. Billets one kindle another. Iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the face of a man his friend.
6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
Ver. 6. And when they opposed ] Gr. Αντιτασσομενων , And when they bade him battle. A military term.
Your blood be upon your own heads ] Answerable to their wish, Matthew 27:25 , and according to their manner of putting their sins upon the head of the sacrificed creature, Leviticus 1:4 ; Leviticus 3:2 .
7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
Ver. 7. Whose house joined hard to the synagogue ] Quo magis pungeret Iudaeos; for this Justus was (likely) a Gentile. But they were toties puncti et repuncti, minime tamen ad resipiscentiam compuncti, like those bears in Pliny, they could not be awakened with the sharpest prickles; such a dead lethargy had the devil cast them into.
8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
Ver. 8. And many of the Corinthians ] When Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue believed, many of the Corinthians believed also. Great men are the lookingglasses of the country, according to which most men dress themselves. Alexander the Great naturally held his head aside, his courtiers did the like. When Francis the French king was polled for the better healing of a wound in his head, all about him, and many others, cut off their long hair, &c.
9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
Ver. 9. But speak, and hold not thy peace ] i.e. Speak out the whole truth plainly and plentifully, be not for any self-respects found guilty of a sinful silence. Inveniar sane superbus, &c., modo impii silentii non arguar, dum Dominus patitur, saith Luther (Epist. ad Staupic.). Let me be counted proud, passionate, impudent, anything, so that I betray not the Lord’s cause by a cowardly silence.
10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
Ver. 10. For I am with thee ] As to behold thy behaviour ( Cave, spectat Deus ), so to support, defend, and deliver thee. If a child be in the dark, yet, having his father by the hand, he fears nothing. David feared not the "vale of the shadow of death," that is, death in its most horrid and hideous representations, and all because God was with him, Psalms 23:4 .
11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Ver. 11. And he continued there ] Gr. εκαθισε, He sat down there a great while, though he met with many discouragements and little love, with loss of love,2 Corinthians 12:15; 2 Corinthians 12:15 , and unworthy usage, being forced to labour with his hands for a poor living. Howbeit, inasmuch as God had much people there, he, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, suffered hardship, and sacrificed himself to the service of their faith (Isidore); not seeking theirs but them, and "catching them by craft," 2 Corinthians 12:16 , as the fox doth the fowls that fall upon him when he feigns himself a dead carcase.
12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,
Ver. 12. And when Gallio was ] This Gallio was brother to Seneca, who being a great courtier, obtained for him of Claudius the emperor to be made deputy of Achaia, as Tacitus testifieth.
13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
Ver. 13. Contrary to the law ] That is, contrary to our law. For the Romans had granted liberty to the Jews to worship God as their own law prescribed.
14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:
Ver. 14. Or wicked lewdness ] The Greek word, ραδιουργημα , doth elegantly set forth the disposition of a lewd man; which is to be easily drawn to any wicked way. If the devil do but hold up his finger, he may have him at his beck and obedience; he is the devil’s clay and wax, and may be wrought to anything with a wet finger.
15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it ; for I will be no judge of such matters .
Ver. 15. A question of words or names ] Gallio esteemed no better of divine doctrine than vain words, and airy discourses. His brother Seneca jeereth the Jews for casting away a seventh part of their time upon a weekly sabbath. Profane persons hold it a madness to be so conscientious. Philosophandum, sed paucis. Religiosum esse oportet, sed non religantem, a A little religion serves turn well enough.
a Aug. de Civ. Dei.
16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.
Ver. 16. And he drave them from the tribunal ] As so many Vitilitigatores, qui de lana saepe caprina rixantur, that contended for trifles, and such as deserved the whipping post, which is the punishment that the Turks put such among them to as are litigious. a
a Temere litigantes publice flagellis caeduntur.
17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
Ver. 17. Took Sosthenes ] A beloved brother of St Paul’s, 1 Corinthians 1:1 ;
18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
Ver. 18. In Cenchrea ] A haven of the Corinthians. Here he was shorn, as a Nazarite, for the sake of some weak Jews, whom herein he gratified and gained to the faith. The Popish shaving is so bald a ceremony, that some priests in France are ashamed of the mark, and few of them have it that can handsomely avoid it.
19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
Ver. 19. And reasoned with the Jews ] Whose salvation he dearly desired, Romans 9:3 , and therefore never gave them over, though he had small thanks for his labour. His love to them was like the ivy, which if it cleaves to a stone or an old wall, will rather die than forsake it.
20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
Ver. 20. He consented not ] Though lovingly invited, and otherwise easy to be entreated. There was therefore something in it more than ordinary. Θεω επου , follow God whithersoever he leadeth thee, was a maxim among heathens. (Boeth. Consol.) Magnus est animus qui se Deo tradidit, saith Seneca (Epist. cvii.); that is a brave spirit that hath given up itself to God; and that is a base degenerate spirit which stands off; et Deum mavult emendare, quam se, and had rather find fault with God than with himself.
21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
Ver. 21. Keep this feast ] As waiting an occasion, by that solemn meeting, of winning many to Christ. Paul was insatiabilis Dei cultor, as insatiable worshipper of God, Chrysostom truly saith of him. George Eagles the martyr, for his great pains in travelling from place to place to confirm the brethren, was surnamed Trudgeover the World.
22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
Ver. 22. And gone up ] sc. To Jerusalem, which stood on high in respect of Coelesyria and the seacoasts.
23 And after he had spent some time there , he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
Ver. 23. Strengthening all the disciples ] For as natural life needs nourishing, and young plants watering; so do the saints need confirmation, and Christ hath provided it for them, Luke 22:32 ; Ephesians 4:11-12 .
24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
Ver. 24. An eloquent man ] Et eruditum sonat et prudentem, saith Erasmus. It imports, 1. skill in the words; he could expound well: 2. good locution; he could well express his exposition. Matter in form, as they do all in nature, so also in art. Good matter well habited is more acceptable.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
Ver. 25. Taught diligently ] According to that skill he had. Of Lactantius, Jerome passeth this judgment. Lactantius quasi quidam fluvius Tullianae eloquentiae utinam tam nostra potuisset confirmare, quam facile aliena destruxit. So Cicero (De Nat. Deor.) wished that he could as easily find out the true God as he could disprove the false gods.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them , and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Ver. 26. And expounded unto him ] A humble man will be glad to learn of the meanest that is. "A little child shall lead him," Isaiah 11:6 . One man may, for counsel, be a God to another, as Moses was to Aaron.
27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
Ver. 27. Helped them much, who had believed through grace ] For faith is a fruit of free grace. We can glory in nothing, saith Austin, because no good thing is ours; we bring forth faith and the fruits thereof, as Sarah’s dead womb brought forth a child; it was not a child of nature, but of the mere promise; so are all our graces. Others read it thus: "He helped them through grace, who had believed:" that is, he freely communicated to the brethren that grace that he had received, as a good steward; and helped them what he could toward heaven. True grace is diffusive; and is therefore compared to fire, water, wind, light, to spices of aromatic trees, that sweat out their precious and sovereign oils for the good of others. Apollos was not of those that desire rather proficere than prodesse, to inform themselves than to instruct others; to know than to teach, to be seraphims, for illumination, than to be angels, for ministry: account, he knew, was to be given of his time and of his talents to an austere master, &c.
28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
Ver. 28. Convinced the Jews ] Who might have been convinced out of their own Cabala, that Christ was come: but that seeing they saw, but perceived not.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Acts 18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29