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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
Acts 18

 

 


Verse 1

Paul Travelled to Corinth

Luke did not explain why Paul left Athens or how he journeyed on to Corinth (Acts 18:1). The apostle may have grown weary of the so called intellectuals of Athens who continually wanted to hear more but refused to obey. The journey of some forty miles could have been made in two days on foot or one day if one sailed. Whichever route they took, the final destination was the city of Corinth.

Corinth was the capital and chief city of Achaia. Achaia is in the area we would now call Greece. Corinth became such an important city because of its location just one and a half miles south of the Isthmus of Corinth. It was able to control that four mile wide neck of land. The city also commanded the eastern port of that isthmus, Cenchreae, which is mentioned in Acts 18:18. To save time and avoid the one hundred fifty miles of dangerous waters around the tip of Greece, ships would unload their goods on one side of the isthmus and have them carried to the other side. Some smaller ships were even pulled across and placed in the water on the other side. Therefore, Corinth was a trading center by land and sea. Of course, it was also strategic militarily speaking.

The Roman minority in Corinth was a strong force in the population, as this was one of the colonies established by Julius Caesar. The commercial prospects caused a large group of Jews to settle in the city. Greeks also played a great role. Because of the seaport and commerce, many other nationalities mixed with the above mentioned major groups.

Corinth was well known for its corruption. Charles Pfeiffer, in Baker"s Bible Atlas, writes, "Greeks, Romans, Jews and adventurers from the entire Mediterranean world came to Corinth for trade and vice in all its forms. "To live like a Corinthian," became synonymous with a life of luxury and licentiousness." The immoral nature of the city was added to by the temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love, which was located in Corinth. A thousand priestesses of the goddess served as prostitutes who were available for the free use of temple visitors.


Verse 2-3

Tentmaking With Aquila and Priscilla

In Corinth, Paul found two Jews, Aquila, who was from Pontus which was a province between Bithynia and Armenia, and his wife Priscilla, who was also known as Prisca (2 Timothy 4:19). Luke reports they, and all other Jews, were driven out of Rome by the Emperor Claudius. Ash believes this refers to the imperial banishment of A. D. 49. Concerning Paul"s association with Aquila, Boles says, "It is also significant to know that Paul "found" him. The Jews had certain guilds by which they kept together whether in street or synagogue."

In 1 Corinthians 2:3, Paul says, "I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling." We can only imagine the apostle arriving in Corinth, alone and with little or nothing to eat. Like all good Jews, Paul had been taught a trade and immediately found two Jews of like occupation with whom to live and work. "Tentmaking," according to Ash, included any type of leather work in Paul"s day. Whether his fellow leather workers were Christians as of yet is not known. Paul"s later writings do make it clear that these two became special friends and allies of the apostle as he preached the gospel of peace (Acts 18:2-3; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:9).


Verses 4-18

Preaching in Corinth

Following his normal pattern, Paul first preached in the synagogue in Corinth. During that time, Silas and Timothy once again joined the apostle"s company. Silas may have come from Berea, while Timothy likely arrived from Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Luke reported that about the time of their arrival Paul became fully immersed in telling the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. When the Jews rejected the truth and spoke against the Lord, Paul began to preach to the Gentiles.

Paul next did his preaching in the house of Justus, which was adjacent to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed and was baptized by the apostle"s own hands. Those in Crispus" family and many other Corinthians also believed and were baptized (Acts 18:4-8; 1 Corinthians 1:14).

The Lord then reassured Paul, in a vision, and encouraged him to continue preaching in Corinth. He promised that Paul would not be harmed and assured the apostle that there were many more who would obey the gospel.

The Jews brought Paul to the judgment seat before Gallio when he was proconsul of Achaia. They accused Paul of preaching contrary to Moses" law, but Gallio drove them out without trying the case because it did not have anything to do with Roman law. Some of the Greeks seized Sosthenes, the new ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before Gallio"s judgment seat without the proconsul taking any notice. So, Paul worked on in Corinth for some time before taking leave of the brethren and sailing for Syria with Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:9-18). Luke also reported that the apostle took a vow in Cenchrea and had his head shorn.


Verses 19-23

Paul"s Return to Antioch

Paul spent a short time preaching in the synagogue in Ephesus. He promised to return if it was God"s will, left Priscilla and Aquila and sailed on to Caesarea. The apostle made a quick trip to Jerusalem and then went to Antioch. After some time, the apostle went on to strengthen the churches in Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:19-23).


Verses 24-28

Apollos

At Ephesus, an Alexandrian Jew named Apollos, who was an eloquent speaker, began to preach about Jesus. Luke assured Theophilus that Apollos was mighty in the scriptures and very accurate in his teachings about Jesus, but reported that he only knew about John"s baptism.

Apollos began to boldly preach in the synagogue. Apparently, Priscilla and Aquila heard him there and recognized his inadequate understanding of baptism. So they took him aside privately to more fully instruct him in the ways of the Lord. Apollos then decided to go into Achaia and the brethren wrote him a letter of recommendation. In Achaia, he was able to give great assistance to the brethren through using powerful arguments from God"s word to show Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:24-28).

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 18:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/acts-18.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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