ACTS CHAPTER 18
Acts 18:1- "After these things Paul departed from Athens and went
to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus,
who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius
had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3
So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for
by occupation they were tentmakers."
A. "After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to
1. Thus begin one of the greatest evangelistic works of his
life, the planting of the Corinthian church. It will have the greatest
harvest, and with the greatest harvest will come some of the greatest problems.
But Paul loved the Corinthian church dearly (2 Corinthians 7:4)
a. Timothy, and likely Silas, had finally caught up with Paul
in Athens, and had been sent out again to Thessalonica to strengthen the
brethren (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
b. So Paul again comes alone to another work.
2. Corinth [KOR-inth; "ornament"] Important commercial city
of ancient Greece, ideally situated on the W end of the isthmus between
the Peloponnesus and the mainland. N-S land routes passed through the city,
and much of the traffic between Rome and the East was brought to its harbors,
to be transported across the isthmus. This permitted sea trade connecting
the Adriatic and Aegean seas while avoiding the treacherous journey around
the S capes of the Peloponnesus.
In a locality first settled as early as the 6th millennium
B.C., the present-day site of Corinth had its beginnings in the 7th century
B.C.. It quickly grew to become a prosperous and influential city-state.
The city established early the international trade of its famed Corinthian
bronze and ceramics, its wealth and power reaching a zenith during the
rule of Periander, about 625-583 B.C.. Thereafter it began to decline under
the pressure of Athenian influence, and came under the dominion of Macedonia
during most of the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C.. In 196 B.C., the city received
limited autonomy from Rome, only to rebel against Roman rule 50 years later.
As a result, Corinth was destroyed in 146 B.C., remaining a ruin only sparsely
inhabited for the next century. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar declared Corinth
a Roman colony. By his command the city was rebuilt and repopulated with
freed slaves and poor people gathered from every corner of the Mediterranean
world. Corinth was made the capital of Achaia, and rapidly regained its
prominence, growing to enormous proportions.
2. Corinth was an important trade center. If Athens was the
philosophic and religious heart of Greece, Corinth was the economic heart.
3. It was also an extremely wicked place. The temple of Aphrodite
had large numbers of male and female prostitutes dedicated to temple prostitution.
Corinth was known throughout the Roman Empire as a center for immoral activities.
B. "And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus..."
1. Paul did not have any financial resources when he first
arrived at Corinth, and it was some time before the church at Philippi
sent support. Therefore, Paul fell back on the trade which he had been
taught by his father when he was a child, tentmaking.
a. While Paul did labor at times with his own hands, he also
defended the right of God's workers to be support in the preaching and
teaching of the Word. See 1 Corinthians 9:5-9; 1 Timothy 5:17-18.
b. Paul's work in Corinth give authority to the "sponsoring
church" arrangement. See 2 Corinthians 11:8 and Philippians 4:15.
2. He found a Jew names Aquila, with his wife Priscilla, and
entered into a partnership tentmaking.
3. Aquila and Priscilla had grown up in Asia Minor and had
been living in Rome. During the reign of Claudius some of the Jews who
lived there had created a disturbance. Instead of investigating Claudius
issued a blanket decree expelling all Jews from Rome. Thus Aquila and Priscilla
had moved their business to Corinth.
a. From Paul's statement in Romans 16:3 we see that Priscilla
and Aquila returned to Rome, possibly on the express wish of Paul, to help
the young Roman church.
4. We do not know if Aquila and Priscilla were already Christian
before meeting Paul, or Paul and taught them the gospel. There is no way
of knowing for sure.
Acts 18:4-8 "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded
both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia,
Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus
is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his
garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean.
From now on I will go to the Gentiles. 7 And he departed from there and
entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God,
whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of
the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of
the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized."
5. We do know that there were a strong evangelistic team and
were well respected by the early church. See Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3-5;
1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19.
A. "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded
both Jews and Greeks."
1. As with Paul's other preaching efforts, first began at the
synagogue teaching the Jews and God fearing Gentiles.
B. "When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia.."
1. It seems from this passage that the arrival of Paul's fellowworkers,
Silas and Timothy, gave Paul renewed courage and boldness in the preaching
of the gospel.
2. Paul now renews his preaching with even greater force than
before. Notice that he preached differently here than at Athen. At Athens
he preached in an effort to prove the existence of God by nature. Here
He preachs boldly reasoning, undoubtedly from the Old Testament Scriptures
that Jesus was the Christ.
3. We are told by Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:9 that Silas and
Timothy brought financial support from the churches in Macedonia.
C. "But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his
garments and said to them..."
1. Paul met determined opposition from a large portion of the
2. He then symbolicly "shakes the dust off" and declared that
they now knew enough that he was no longer responsible for their salvation.
He would thus turn to those who would have a better chance to respond to
his message, the Gentiles.
D. " And he departed from there and entered the house of a
certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God..."
1. As Paul is leaving he is encouraged to continue his evangelistic
and offered the use of the house of a certain Justus. Justus was evidently
a "God fearing" Gentile who had taken a house near the Synagogue.
2. He was certainly one of Paul's early converts while in Corinth.
We read of a Justus in Colossians 4:11 as one of Paul's fellowlaborers.
3. Paul's preaching had had its effect, especially among the
E. "Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the
Lord with all his household"
1. The preaching also began to bear fruit among the Jews. The
ruler of the Synagogue and his family, Crispus, obey ed the gospel. This
must have been a bombshell to the disbelieving Jews.
2. This verse must also be interpreted in the light of the
next passage. Their believing is equivilent with hearing, believing and
F. "And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were
1. Here is an excellant commentary of the process of salvation.
2. It compliments Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, and Romans 10:17.
Acts 18:9-11 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do
not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 "for I am with you,
and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this
city." 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word
of God among them.
3. This is exactly what the Bible says concerning salvation.
See Romans 10:17; 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27.
A. "Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision"
1. The Lord had promised Paul on the Damascus that he would
appear to him again.
2. We have no evidence that the Lord appear miraculously on
a regular basis in the New Testament. In fact, all miraculous manifestations,
were the exception, not the rule.
3. This suggests a couple of possibilities.
a. Paul is perhaps very discouraged at this point. In spite
of the conversion of Crispis, Paul has had few converts to this point.
He has also had a great amount of opposition from the unbelieving Jews.
b. Perhaps Paul has decided on his own to move on to another
city. This often happened when Paul determined that he had done as much
good as he could in a particular place.
B. "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent..."
1. The Lord wanted him to stay in Corinth and continue working.
2. The phrase "I have much people in this city" has caused
much Calvanistic babble. It seems clear that the Lord was not saying that
he had chosen those to be saved in Corinth. The Lord was encouraging Paul
with the truth that a number had already obeyed, and that He knew that
there were others who were inclined toward obedience, having tired of idolatry.
The Scriptures do not limit salvation and promise it to "whosoever wills."
See Matthew 11:28-29; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Revelation 22:17.
3. The Lord promised him providential protection while in Corinth.
No one would harm or hinder him in his preaching work.
C. "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching
the word of God among them."
1. Paul was busy while in Corinth, with evangelistic work,
as well as penning two epistles to the church in Thessalonica.
2. McGarvey believes that the phrase "teaching the word of
God among them" suggests that he spent much of his time working with the
church building it up. It is possible, but there is little doubt from the
previous verse that Paul also spent much time teaching the lost of Corinth
Acts 18:12-16 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one
accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, 13 saying,
"This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." 14 And
when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it
were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason
why I should bear with you. 15 But if it is a question of words and names
and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge
of such matters." 16 And he drove them from the judgment seat. 17 Then
all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him
before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.
3. Paul stayed in Corinth longer than any other place he worked,
with the exception of Ephesus (three years - Acts 20:31).
A. "When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia..."
1. This suggests a time factor, that Luke is now recording
the incidents that shortly took place after Gallio's ascension to his post.
2. We have record of Gallio's just disposition in history.
It seems that he was a fair and honest man.
B. "the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought
him to the judgment seat..."
1. There seems little doubt as to why the Jews tried this tactic
now. Here was a new magistrate. It is likely that they go nowhere with
the old proconsul, perhaps they might be able to fool one who was "green"
to the ways of Corinth.
2. Their accusation, "This fellow persuades men to worship
God contrary to the law." There can be little doubt that they intended
Gallio to understand this as a breach of Roman law, hence the need of his
3. This just and noble man saw through their scheme immediately.
He said that he would not interfere in the Jews own religious affairs,
since this was not a matter for Roman law. Paul had done nothing to break
4. He immediately dismissed their case as baseless.
C. "Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue..."
1. Sometimes plots have a way of turning against the plotters.
2. Sosthenes, the new leader of the Synagogue after Crispis'
conversion, evidently took the lead in trying to have Paul tried.
3. The Gentiles at the court were enraged at this wicked plan
and took Sosthenes out and beat him.
Acts 18:18-23 "So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave
of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with
him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And
he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue
and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time
with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, "I must
by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again
to you, God willing." And he sailed from Ephesus. 22 And when he had landed
at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch.
23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region
of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples."
4. From the reading it seems that Gallio was either not aware
of this, or deliberately turn his head because he was personally disgusted
A. "So Paul still remained a good while...."
1. Free from the danger of the Jews, at least temporarily,
Paul could remain in Corinth and continue teaching the gospel.
2. When it was best for him to go to other virgin territory
he departed from Corinth, taking his fellowworkers Aquila and Priscilla
B. "He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a
1. This is one of the more difficult passages in the book of
2. By whom was this vow taken, Aquila or Paul?
a. The gramatical construction does not tell us with certainty.
b. Some commentator, unable to construct a valid reason for
Paul taking the vow, have claimed that Aquila took the vow.
c. But it would seem strange that the entire text was dealing
with Paul primarily and his work and suddenly switch to a vow that Aquila
had made and not explain it. It does not make sense.
d. I am certain that it was Paul who took the vow.
3. Why did Paul take the vow?
a. Vows were not requirements of the Old Law, but were regulated
by the Law.
b. They were made by Jews who entered into solemn agreements
with God to do something in exchange for God doing something for them.
We see that when Hannah promised God to dedicate her son to God, Samuel,
in exchange for God giving here a child.
c. Could it be that Paul had taken this vow while under pressure
from the Jews, in exchange for God deliverance. The cutting of the hair
was symbolic of the persons keeping of the vow. From the context of the
passage it seem to make sense, though we do not know for certain.
4. What about the keeping of parts of the Old Testament by
Jews after the death of Christ.
a. It seems that there was a "grace period" that continued
for the Jews, who were God's covenant people, from the death on the cross
till the destruction of Jerusalem. This is suggested by Hebrews 8:13.
b. This is also seen in the fact that Jews still continued
to practice circumcision ( See Acts 16:3) while the Paul resisted the binding
of the law on the Gentiles.
c. While the Law of Moses was legally taken away by the death
of Jesus (Colossians 2:14) there was still a period where the gospel was
being first offered to God original people that would end with the wiping
away of the old system in the destruction of Jerusalem.
C. "And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself
entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews..."
1. Paul made a brief incursion into the great city of Ephesus
as he was on his way back to report to the brethren in Antioch of Syria.
2. Paul had great success in Ephesus among the Jews. It seems
that there were good, honest hearts which desired to hear the truth.
3. Why did Paul not want to continue where there were people
obviously wanting to hear more about the gospel? Some thoughts.
a. If the KJV/ASV/NKJV is correct it was to keep a certain
feast in Jerusalem.
b. If the NASV is correct in omitting the phrase, "I must by
all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem," then it would seem logical
that Paul was needing to travel back to Antioch to report to the brethren
there, since it had been many month since he had spoken to them personally.
c. In any event Paul felt comfortable leaving his fellowhelpers
Aquila and Priscilla behind to continue the the Ephesian work.
D. " And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted
the church,he went down to Antioch."
1. McGarvey states that Paul stopped at the Caesarea congregation
to visit with the brethren and then proceeded to Antioch.
2. Most other commentators believe that he went to Jerusalem,
reported to the brethren there, and then travelled on to Antioch.
3. The text does not reveal either with certainty.
Acts 18:24- "Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an
eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man
had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit,
he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only
the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When
Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him
the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia,
the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he
arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for
he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that
Jesus is the Christ."
4. Paul had been gone about three years from the time when
he and Silas had left Antioch for their missionary journey. His third journey
began with backtracking his original work to strengthen the brethren where
he had planted congregations.
A. "Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an
eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus..."
1. APOLLOS (ay pahl' lahs), meaning "destroyer," names an Alexandrian
Jew who came to Ephesus following Paul's first visit and was taught Christian
doctrine by Priscilla and Aquila. An educated man, Apollos handled the
Old Testament Scriptures with forcefulness. However, he was lacking in
a full understanding of the way of God, so Priscilla and Aquila took him
aside and instructed him (Acts 18:26). Apollos became even more successful
in his ministry. He went from Ephesus to Greece with the encouragement
of the Asian believers and a letter of introduction (Acts 18:27). He greatly
strengthened the believers by using the Scriptures to demonstrate that
Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:28).
Apollos is last mentioned in the Book of Acts as being in Corinth
(19:1). Paul referred to Apollos frequently, particularly in 1 Corinthians.
Here the majority of the references (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4-6,22) have to do
with the schisms in the Corinthian church centering on personalities. Paul
noted that some believers championed Paul; some, Apollos; and some, Cephas.
What is important is that believers belong to Christ, not to individual
leaders. Such references show that Apollos must have been a dynamic figure
to be compared with Paul or Peter. In 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul placed Apollos
on the same level as himself. They both sought to defeat the arrogance
and superiority which comes from being self-centered rather than Christ-centered.
Paul referred to Apollos in 1 Corinthians 16:12 as "our brother,"
showing how much Paul considered him as one of the team. This is also demonstrated
in Titus 3:13 where Paul asked Titus to help Apollos on his way. A learned
and gifted preacher, Apollos was willing to receive more instruction and
be part of the team.
Because of Apollos' knowledge of the Old Testament, Luther
suggested that Apollos might well be the writer of the Book of Hebrews.
B. "though he knew only the baptism of John"
1. With the lack of modern communication it was very possible
that Apollos had not known of the death of Jesus and the spread of Christianity.
Remember, Christianity was only first coming to Ephesus through the work
of Paul, Priscilla, Aquila.
2. What likely happened is that with the execution of John
that his disciples were scattered and preached everywhere they went concerning
to impending kingdom of God.
3. Apollos was likely a convert to one of the original disciples
4. Notice that he was preaching Christ without even realizing
C. "When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside
and explained to him the way of God more accurately."
1. Aquila and Priscilla desired to save a soul, not win an
argument. They did their teaching privately. From this we can see that
there is nothing unscriptural with a wife helping her husband to teach
the lost on a private basis. She, of course, would need to follow the admonition
of not being domineering and maintain a submissive attitude in that teaching.
2. Luke does not spell out Apollos' reaction, but his response
can be inferred by the next few verses. He gladly accepted this new truth.
There can be little doubt that he was baptized properly into Christ for
the remission of sins. We need look at the beginning of the next chapter
to see that this was the proper reaction of those whom were still following
the baptism of John.
3. Notice the kind loving way that Apollos received instruction.
He did not react angrily, but accept the truth of God's word.
D. "And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote,
exhorting the disciples to receive him"
1. Some time transpired with Apollos working with the young
church at Ephesus and proving his spiritual worth.
2. The brethren were happy to write a letter of recomendation
to the brethren in Achaia commending his faithfulness.
3. Look at the result of the arival of this faithful preacher.
He did two things.
a. He helped to edify and strengthen the local congregation.
This seems to be a speciality with Apollos (1 Corinthians 3:6).
b. He continued his to debate the unbelieving Jews publically.
Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott
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4. Very possibly Apollos determined to go to Corinth because
it was Greek territory, i.e. where Greek culture was strong. We cannont
argue with results. Apollos, along with Paul, became one of the great strengths
of the Corinthians congregation.