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Bible Commentaries
Acts 18

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Acts 18:1-8 Paul worketh for his subsistence, and preacheth Christ at Corinth, first to the Jews, and, upon their opposing and blaspheming, to the Gentiles with more success.

Acts 18:9-11 He is encouraged by the Lord in a vision, and abideth there a long time.

Acts 18:12-17 The Jews accuse him before Gallio the deputy, who will have nothing to do with them.

Acts 18:18-23 Paul passeth from city to city, confirming the disciples.

Acts 18:24-28 Apollos, instructed more perfectly in the Christian doctrine by Aquila and Priscilla, preacheth it at Ephesus, and afterward in Achaia, with great efficacy.

Verse 1

The metropolis of Achaia, being a rich sea town, and situate in the very isthmus which joins Peloponnesus unto Achaia; made a Roman colony, and now flourishing with learned men. Here St. Paul gathered a famous church, unto which he wrote two of his Epistles.

Verse 2

Pontus; a country between Cappadocia and the Black Sea, Acts 2:9, whither the progenitors of Aquila, in one of the dispersions, might flee from Judea to inhabit there.

Claudius; the Roman emperor, who, at the beginning of his reign, gave liberty to the Jews freely to exercise their religion, but about eight years after took away that privilege from them; which Suetonius makes mention of, though very much mistaking the reason. With the Jews, it is thought that the Christians were banished too; for the pagan Romans did not care to distinguish between them, they both worshipping but one God, and agreeing in opposing their idolatry.

Verse 3

Of the same craft; the most learned amongst the Jews did always learn some handicraft, and it was one of those things which they held a father was bound to do for his child, viz. to teach him some trade. And one of their rabbi’s sayings is, That whosoever does not teach his child a trade, does as bad as if he did teach him to play the thief.

And wrought; St. Paul wrought with his hands, not so much because as yet there was no church there that could maintain him, but:

1. Because he would not be burdensome unto them, they being probably most mean persons that believed there, as appears, 1 Corinthians 1:26. Or:

2. That he might show how that he did not covet theirs, but them, and to gain nothing but souls amongst them. Yet he asserted his right, and the right of ministers, by Divine appointment, to live of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:6,1 Corinthians 9:11,1 Corinthians 9:12.

Tent-makers; tents were used by soldiers, and in those hot countries by others also, being usually made of skins sewn together to keep off the violence of the weather.

Verse 4

He reasoned in the synagogue; or argued and disputed, giving his reasons out of Scripture, and answering their objections.

And persuaded the Jews; not only using cogent arguments, but, as some understand the verb, such as did prevail upon them.

And the Greeks; not such as were of the Jewish race, and after the dispersion used the Scripture in the Greek tongue; but such as were Gentile Greeks, Greeks by descent.

Verse 5

Were come from Macedonia; according as was ordered by him, Acts 17:14,Acts 17:15.

Pressed in the spirit; more than ordinarily affected, the Spirit of God influencing his spirit, so that he felt an anguish or pain at the heart, as 2 Corinthians 2:4; such was his grief for the contumacy of the Jews, so great was his desire that they might be saved.

Jesus was Christ:

1. The Christ, or anointed, that excelled all other Christs or anointed ones, being anointed with oil above measure.

2. The Christ that was promised by the prophets.

Verse 6

Blasphemed; they blasphemed Paul, miscalling of him, but especially Christ, whose dishonour grieved Paul most.

He shook his raiment; his upper garment, as the manner was, Matthew 26:65, that none of the dust of that place where such blasphemy was spoken might stick unto him. See Acts 13:51.

Your blood be upon your own heads; or, You are guilty of your own deaths and damnation, 2 Samuel 1:16; Matthew 27:25;

Felo de se. This expression is borrowed from the witnesses laying their hands on the head of the guilty person; or the sacrificer’s laying his hand on the head of the beast which was to be slain; Exodus 29:10; Leviticus 1:4.

I am clean; free from their blood, or the loss of their souls, having warned them, and shown the way of life unto them. Ezekiel 33:4; he had blown the trumpet, and warned the people.

Verse 7

Justus; some read Titus, some both Titus and Justus, making Justus a surname, as Acts 1:23; Colossians 4:11; after the manner of the Romans.

One that worshipped God; had forsaken the polytheism of the heathen.

Verse 8

The chief ruler: there were several rulers in a synagogue, which we find frequent mention of, as Matthew 9:18; Mark 5:22. Their office and place was, to advise and give order about the affairs of the synagogue, that all things might be performed according to their prescribed rules.

Many of the Corinthians believed; amongst whom are reckoned Gaius, Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1, and Epenetus, Romans 16:5.

Verse 9

In the night by a vision; as Acts 16:9; it may be, by an angel.

Speak, and hold not thy peace; it is doubled again and again, as of greatest consequence:

1. To the Corinthians, whose salvation by this means might be procured.

2. To Paul himself, whose soul, howsoever, should be delivered, he having discharged his duty, Acts 20:26,Acts 20:27.

The fierceness of the enemies of God and his truth, should kindle a greater fervour in his servants for his glory. Should Satan have better servants than God? Should they dare for their master beyond what the servants of God are willing to do or suffer for him? Isaiah 62:1; Jeremiah 1:17,Jeremiah 1:18.

Verse 10

Christ, in this vision, useth two arguments to persuade Paul to continue preaching the gospel at Corinth:

1. Because he would be with him, to supply, support, and deliver him; as it is promised to Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:19, and to all the faithful ministers of Christ, Matthew 28:20. This promise was fulfilled to Paul, and to other of God’s servants; whatsoever troubles they met with, even when they were killed, they were not hurt, Romans 8:36-39.

2. The other reason why Paul was commanded to tarry was, because there were many that God would have called by his ministry; and thus those who were not his people God calleth his people, as Hosea 1:10; Hosea 2:23.

Verse 11

He sat there as his fixed place; which implies his continuance and constancy in the work of the ministry.

Verse 12

This Gallio was brother to that deservedly famous Seneca, (who was tutor to Nero), and hath great commendations given him, as being a man of excellent disposition, beloved by all men, an enemy to all vice, and especially a hater of flattery.

Deputy of Achaia; this man was proconsul, governing Achaia and all Greece absolutely, or with the power of a consul.

With one accord; wicked men in their evil deeds are unanimous, for Satan knows that his kingdom would not stand if it were once divided.

Verse 13

Contrary to the law, of the Romans, who, to avoid tumults and confusions, did forbid any to set up any new worship without leave; and the Jews in these parts having here no power to punish St. Paul as they had at Jerusalem, maliciously incite the governor against him. Or by the law here may be meant the law of Moses, which they accuse Paul to have broken, and so not to be comprehended in that licence which they had to exercise their religion.

Verse 14

To open his mouth; to make his apology, and to speak in his own defence.

A matter of wrong; as murder, theft, or any such injury, which judges do usually determine of.

Reason would that I should bear with you; I would endure any trouble to hear and understand it, I should think it my duty to suffer you to say as much as you would in your case.

Verse 15

A question of words; which have been spoken about the controversies of religion.

And names; as, whether Jesus was to be called Christ or the Messiah; and whether his disciples might be called Christians.

And of your law; concerning circumcision, as whether none may be saved without it.

I will be no judge of such matters; he acknowledges his unfitness and unwillingness to determine such things as did not belong unto him, or he did not understand.

Verse 16

He commanded them to be gone, having dismissed their case; and, if need were, added threatening and force.

Verse 17

All the Greeks; not the converted Greeks, though St. Austin thought they beat Sosthenes, as an enemy to Paul, (yet surely they had not so learned Christ), but the unbelieving or Gentile Greeks, who cared for neither Paul nor Jews, but favoured Gallio, who would have them driven away.

Sosthenes; some think him to have been the same with Crispus, Acts 18:8; others, to have succeeded him in that office; and some think that he was chief ruler of another synagogue (for in great cities there might be more than one); and others, that there might be several called chief rulers over one and the same synagogue.

Gallio cared for none of those things; either slighting the Jews and all their controversies, or prudently declined intermeddling with them.

Verse 18

A good while; a year and a half in all, as some think, which is mentioned Acts 18:11, by a prolepsis; or, besides that year and a half there spoken of.

Took his leave of the brethren; ordering every thing as if he were to have taken his last farewell of them, as it fell out accordingly: howsoever, holy men live in a constant expectation of their dissolution.

Priscilla and Aquila: that the wife’s name is here put before the husband’s, have caused various conjectures; and it is observed, that in St. Paul’s Epistles, whereas there are three times only mention of them both together, viz. Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19, the wife’s name is twice placed first, to show, that in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, Galatians 3:28.

Cenchrea; which was a town at the entering into the haven belonging to Corinth, Romans 16:1.

For he had a vow; to wit, St. Paul had; and therefore had shaven his head, according unto the law, Numbers 6:18. To the Jews he became as a Jew.

Verse 19

Ephesus; the metropolis of the Lesser Asia, where afterwards that famous church was, unto which St. Paul wrote an Epistle, as also St. John wrote another, Revelation 2:1.

Left them there; that is, Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus, to confirm the believing Ephesians; whilst Paul

entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews; out of an extraordinary love for his nation, although he had suffered all those indignities from them, yet he would give them precept upon precept, and line upon line.

Verse 20

They desired; that is, Aquila and Priscilla, whom Paul would not yield unto.

He consented not; by God’s wonderful providence, which overrules all our inclinations; Paul having greater things to do and suffer for the glory of God elsewhere.

Verse 21

This feast; the feast of the passover; which is meant where feast is put absolutely, unless some after expression qualifies it: not that this holy man did out of conscience to the feast intend to observe it, for Christ is the end of the law to them that believe, Romans 10:4; but because of the vast concourse from all places to Jerusalem at that time, which would give him an opportunity of making Christ known to such multitudes, and to gain their souls unto him.

If God will; though he was an apostle, and had the Spirit of prophecy, and might know whether he should return or no, yet he does not absolutely promise them to return to them, but conditionally, if the Lord will; to teach us what caution we should use in all our promises and resolutions, as James 4:15, being we know not what a day may bring forth. Besides, in our owning of God’s will and pleasure, we acknowledge a providence of God in all things, especially in our concerns, which we desire to refer all unto.

Verse 22

Caesarea; not that Caesarea that was in Syria, but that which was in Palestine, called Caesarea Stratonis; and which was the safest way to Jerusalem; for the way by Joppa, though shorter, was accounted more dangerous. The church; either the church of Caesarea in his journey, or that at Jerusalem at his journey’s end, which for its populousness might be called eminently, the church.

Antioch; that Antioch that was in Syria.

Verse 23

Had spent some time there; this work might take up the constant care and indefatigable pains of the apostle.

Galatia; where he had converted many.

Phrygia: see Acts 16:6.

Strengthening all the disciples; though the seed be duly sown, yet it must be seasonably watered; and redit labor actus in orbem.

Verse 24

Apollos; who is thought also to be called Apelles, Romans 16:10.

Born at Alexandria; his parents having lived there.

An eloquent man; a rational, prudent, and learned man. Though the kingdom of God is not in any excellency of speech, 1 Corinthians 2:1,1 Corinthians 2:4, yet this Egyptian jewel may be used to adorn the tabernacle.

Mighty in the Scriptures; in quoting, explaining, and urging of them.

Verse 25

Instructed; catechised, or taught, viva voce. In the way of the Lord; Christ, who hath by his precepts and example tanght us the way to happiness.

Fervent in the spirit; very zealous to promote God’s glory, and men’s salvation, as Romans 12:11.

Knowing only the baptism of John; who baptized with water, but could not baptize with the Holy Ghost, Matthew 3:11; that is, they had not those extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost which followed upon baptism after that Christ was ascended, and the Spirit poured out, Acts 2:4. But John was a preacher of repentance, and of faith in Christ, pointing at the Lamb of God; and he baptized his disciples into this doctrine; which is the same with the baptism and belief of the apostles afterwards; only now they knew many things more fully than were revealed in the Baptist’s time.

Verse 26

If we allow Priscilla to have contributed towards the instruction of Apollos, as doubtless we may, it is certain it was only in private discourse; which being joined with a meek and humble behaviour, might be very effectual for the conversion of souls, 1 Peter 3:1,1 Peter 3:2. Thus Timothy was indebted for his knowledge in the things of God to his mother and grandmother, 2 Timothy 1:5. But otherwise it is not lawful for a woman to teach, 1 Timothy 2:11,1 Timothy 2:12.

Verse 27

To pass into Achaia; to Corinth, which was in Achaia.

The brethren wrote; who were at Ephesus.

Helped them much which had believed through grace; Apollos helped them much by his eloquence, zeal, and constancy, which all are the gifts of God; but, especially, that they believed was through grace; for faith is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8, and it was given unto them to believe, Philippians 1:29.

Verse 28

Mightily; with great constancy, perseverance, and enduring of opposition.

Showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ; as Acts 17:3. Some think that Christ ought to be the subject, and Jesus the predicate; and then the sense is, that Christ is our Jesus, or Saviour. The Messiah, that was sent from God, is the Saviour of the world.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Acts 18". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/acts-18.html. 1685.
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