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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 18

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

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Verses 1-28

Paul leaves Athens and is directed to Corinth, a city as loose and licentious as Athens, but where the gospel nevertheless found a response. There he found a Jew named Aquila who had come with his wife Priscilla from Italy. They had been forced out of Rome by an edict of Caesar against Jews. There is no indication of whether they were Christians at that time, but because Aquila and Paul were both tentmakers, they worked together, Paul staying with the couple in their home. At least they were certainly Christians before Paul left Corinth.

While at Athens there was no mention of Paul's contact with Jews, at Corinth it is Jews first mentioned, as he reasons in the synagogue, but with Gentiles also, not without some good results.

Silas and Timothy eventually came from Macedonia. During the time Paul was in Athens Timothy had evidently returned to Thessalonica for a time to give needed encouragement to the suffering assembly there (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3).

When Paul puts the urgency of the truth before the Jews at Corinth, the Jews "opposed themselves:" not only did they oppose Paul, but opposed their own best interests, and added to this blasphemy against the God they professed to serve.

This was decisive. Paul shook his clothing, in picture shaking off any further responsibility to persuade them, and pronounced them responsible for their own destruction. He was clean, that is, he had fulfilled his duty in witnessing to them: he leaves them to their own folly, while announcing his decision to go to the Gentiles. Leaving the synagogue, he goes only next door to the house of Justus, a true worshiper of God.

However, Crispus, chief ruler of the synagogue, with his household, took a stand of faith in Christ, as did many Corinthians, these being baptized. Paul later says that he baptized only Crispus and Gaius of the Corinthian assembly (1 Corinthians 1:14): the rest were no doubt baptized by his helpers or local brethren, after they themselves had been baptized.

In contrast to Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and Athens, Corinth claimed a long protracted stay by Paul and his company. The Lord clearly ordered this, encouraging Paul in a vision to speak plainly, not holding back, promising His protecting hand over him to preserve him from violent persecution, saying that He had many people in that city.

Paul therefore continued eighteen months, teaching the Word of God there. There is no doubt the Corinthian assembly needed solid teaching, for their city was notorious for the careless, licentious living of its inhabitants, and even the assembly later needed the serious reproving and correcting of their condition by Paul's two letters (1st and 2nd Corinthians).

An attempt by the Jews during this time to have Paul condemned by the Corinthian judicial system was frustrated by God's having in power a man who was not inclined to listen to nonsense. Of course, Gallio may have had little regard for Jesus, but at any rate he recognized the charge of the Jews to be no proper charge at all, for their accusation was simply that Paul was persuading men to worship God contrary to Jewish law. The charge itself was not true, but whether it was or not, Gallio knew that this had nothing to do with the laws of his own country. Paul was not even called upon to defend himself. The judge summarily dismissed the case by reproving the Jews for their unreasonable ignorance.

The multitude took advantage of this to take sides against the Jews, beating Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue before the judgment seat. Later Sosthenes is found as a believer (1 Corinthians 1:11), but apparently at this time he was opposing Paul. Perhaps his beating was the means God used to awaken him. As to Gallio, this was nothing to him: he was apparently not inclined to be too judicially zealous where Jews were in question.

The opposition having proven ineffective, Paul remained still for a good length of time before sailing to Syria, taking with him Priscilla and Aquila. Because it would seem strange that Paul, with his New Testament knowledge, would make a Jewish vow, some have considered that this must refer to Aquila, who was likely not so mature in the faith of Christ. The Lord Himself had long before warned against making vows (Matthew 5:33-37), though this was likely not written by this time. Of course Aquila might have made the vow before his conversion, and cut his hair when the vow came to its conclusion (Cf. Numbers 6:13-18).

Coming to Ephesus Paul left Priscilla and Aquila there. Only briefly apparently he spoke in the synagogue, reasoning with the Jews. No results of this are mentioned, but being desirous of being present at Jerusalem for an ensuing feast, Paul left in spite of being invited to remain, but promised to return if God so willed. Nothing is said as to whether God was leading him to go to Jerusalem at this time, but landing at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem, only briefly visiting the saints before leaving for Antioch.

Paul's help at Antioch was evidently much more appreciated and profitable than at Jerusalem. He remained some time there before then traveling through all the region of Galatia and Phrygia to confirm the work established there, strengthening the disciples by the ministry of the Word.

After Paul had left Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, began to speak in the synagogue. His eloquence and knowledge of the scriptures, together with a fervent spirit, could not but attract attention to his message. His knowledge however did not go beyond what John the Baptist had taught, which called upon Jews to face the fact of their having solemnly broken the law of God and to honestly confess their sins in view of having to face the promised Messiah.

Aguila and Priscilla, hearing him speak, must have been overjoyed to be able to instruct him as to the marvellous sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus, His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God.

Having fully accepted John the Baptist's message, Apollos was ready for the matchless grace of the Lord Jesus, the precious answer to the confessed need of his soul and of all mankind, Jews and Gentiles. Clearly also, he was a vessel prepared by God to carry this message of grace to men, particularly the Jews.

Leaving Ephesus, however, he went to Achaia, the southern province of Greece, being given a letter of commendation from the brethren at Ephesus. Here he was of very real help to the disciples, while also speaking with such power as to convince the Jews of the truth of the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus, using the Old Testament scriptures to this worthy end. In this same chapter Paul had planted the assembly at Corinth, now Apollos does the watering (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Acts 18". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/acts-18.html. 1897-1910.
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