Acts Chapter 18:
PAUL AT CORINTH WITH AQUILA AND PRISCILLA
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Where sin abounded more than Athens was at Corinth, and so the grace was poured out more there, it seems.
Paul had waited for Timothy and Silas to come, but they were late, so he moved on to more ministry
- Paul is alone here at Athens, still on his second missionary journey
- He is still waiting for Timothy and Silas, for reports on the church of Thessalonica
- This whole tent making thing is a term for missionaries who work where they minister to this day.
- Paul probably wrote the two epistles to the Thessalonians here
- Paul also wrote his two largest epistles to Corinth, even larger than Romans and the two epistles to the Thessalonians combined!
Ancient Corinth was a city known for:
- Probably being the most wicked, corrupt city around by reputation
- Apollo's temple and statues of Greek gods
- The Temple to Aphrodite
- Having two big theaters
- Rampant prostitution
- Aquila and Priscilla were tent makers like Paul
- They invited Paul into their home
- They were specifically greeted/saluted in the end of Romans, chapter 16
- They followed Paul around Asia Minor, other places
- They laid down their lives for Paul as well
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
- "After these things" is the uproar in Thessalonica in Acts chapter 17, then on to Berea, then on to Athens
- Athens would have been what we call today a "University Town"; Corinth a "City of Ill Repute", but remember that there is an old saying, "with God it is the Davids (heart after God) of the world he uses, not the Solomons(worldly wisdom + Godly wisdom)"
- In any College town, the intellect makes people think they are wiser than God and the ground is hard
- In any pagan, licentious city, the ground is easier, since they can at least have to acknowledge they are wicked and, where sin abounds, grace much more does too (Romans 5:20)
- He preached in the synagogue
- Gentiles (Greeks) got saved
- Turned the city upside down
- Jewish leaders were jealous
- Claimed Jesus as king supplanted their earthly kings (Caesars)
- They left for Berea
- Same scenario, entered the synagogue and preached
- Bereans got saved, were diligent to check on Paul's doctrine
- Jews again got jealous
- Paul then sent to Athens
- Finds the philosophers (Jews, Gentiles) at Mars Hill
- Preaches the Creation Gospel
- Had some fruit
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.
- This couple worked with Paul for some time
- Priscilla was also spelled "Prisca" (2 Timothy 4:19)
- They were tent makers (v.3), so this was something in common, a trade being a big part of one's life
- Anti-Semitism had come to Rome and they were forced to flee, and this is something common to Israel for four to five thousand years now
- Greek names, Jewish origin
Aquila and PriscillaThe name Aquila is Latin name meaning "eagle", named after "the bird that belonged to Zeus". The eagle was a popular, prominent symbol used by the Romans at that time. It was used by the Romans and early Christians.
The name Priscilla is a Latin name. It means "little ancient one" or "little archaic one".(Romans 16:3)
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
(1 Corinthians 16:19)
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
(2 Timothy 4:19)
Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
- So they worked making tents together
- There are around 150 verses speaking about tents from Genesis through Acts
- Israel as a nation spent a great deal of time in tents, as did their ark of the Covenant, their animals, goods, etc.
- This work would ease any burden of a need for financial support
- This work allows one to talk, disciple, encourage one another as they sit sewing
- Even today in many third world countries, men use sewing machines to make things, not just women-and in some place, they primarily, mostly do so
- God walked with Israel in a tent and a tabernacle
(2 Samuel 7:6)
Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
(1 Chronicles 17:5)
For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
- The custom was to invite an out of town visitor, a newcomer, to speak
- They would have taken Paul to the synagogue
- The context of "reasoned" means "out of the Scriptures", not human arguments (Acts 17:2)
And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
- The Jews were awaiting the Christ (Messiah), so this was not an odd concept-they just did not see and know that He had already come and gone
- It was their prophecies about the Messiah, after all-the timing, life, death, burial, resurrection
- "Pressed in the spirit", meaning God the Holy Spirit was guiding him
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.
- This verse here is a main reason, expressly written, for calling Acts a "transitional book", as this verse shows clearly the change from Jews to Gentile ministry
- He was not overly strict about it, as it was not absolute, but it was in fact a policy, simply because he probably still needed to use the synagogues as a doorway to the Jews, as well as the Gentiles
- When groups of people oppose the Word of God, they believe in anything, and so they, adopting various other ideas, most often oppose and contradict themselves as well, as they lose unity through their various "paths" to God
TO THE GENTILES
MATTHEW HENRY: " 'We would have gathered the Jews, would have healed them, and they would not; but Christ must not be a head without a body, nor a foundation without a building, and therefore, if they will not, we must try whether others will.' Thus the fall and diminishing of the Jews became the riches of the Gentiles; and Paul said this to their faces, not only because it was what he could justify, but to provoke them to jealousy,"
- They (The Jews) can not complain, they had their chance
- This was foretold
- God wanted them to get saved, cleansed from their sins
- They rejected God of their own volition, long before God set them aside temporarily
- Someone has to be the body of Christ
- Something has to be built on a foundation
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
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.
- This is not the Justus of Acts 1:23 or Colossians 4:11
- His house was part of the construction of the walls of that synagogue, something God never really liked about their buildings
- Justus was apparently already a Gentile believer (his name is a Gentile name), along with others (v.10)
¶ Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
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.
- They get saved, Paul baptizes them, then disciples them (or has others do that and moves on), same pattern in all places
Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
- This personal calling may be because Paul was thinking about leaving
- When we listen to the LORD rather than look on our situation, we are used more for the LORD
For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
- This is not where you would expect to see Christians, but there it is, a large remnant
- There are much people also because many got saved through Paul's ministry there. (v.8)
- Because Paul would be in God's Will to evangelize and disciple, he will be protected from harm
- This protection can be removed, increased or decreased if God wants us to suddenly be persecuted, to take us home, has a bigger plan and needs to humble us, etc.
And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
- Think about how much ministry that is, eighteen months, every day, raising up leaders, evangelizing, discipling, teaching
- You could go through the entire Scriptures that they had then, more than once, cover to cover
- According to Paul's epistles, the church at Corinth was probably the most "gifted" (spiritual gifts like tongues, etc.), and yet they became the most carnal, even after having the best teacher in Scripture they could get, Paul himself, for over a year.
(1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,
- They wanted the authorities to step in and stop Paul in his tracks, legally, in court
- Gallio was born in Cordova, Spain
- Gallio was the older brother of a man called Seneca the philosopher, temporarily a minister under Nero, now deputy under Claudius
- The "modern" "versions" have changed the word "deputy" to "proconsul" in an effort to agree with a handful of corrupted manuscripts over the majority text, thereby changing the meaning of the title for Gallio
- A person appointed or elected to act for another, especially a person sent with a special commission to act in the place of another; a lieutenant; a viceroy. A prince sends a deputy to a diet or council, to represent him and his dominions. A sheriff appoints a deputy to execute the duties of his office. The towns in New England send deputies to the legislature. In the latter sense, a deputy has general powers, and it is more common to use the word representative.
- In law, one that exercises an office in another's right, and the forfeiture or misdemeanor of such deputy shall cause the person he represents to lose his office.
- A rising against civil or political authority; the open and active opposition of a number of persons to the execution of a law in a city or state. It is equivalent to sedition, except that sedition expresses a less extensive rising of citizens. It differs from rebellion, for the latter expresses a revolt, or an attempt to overthrow the government, to establish a different one or to place the country under another jurisdiction. It differs from mutiny, as it respects the civil or political government; whereas a mutiny is an open opposition to law in the army or navy. Insurrection is however used with such latitude as to comprehend either sedition or rebellion.
It is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings,and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.Ezra 4.
- A rising in mass to oppose an enemy. [Little used.]
Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
- Interesting he used the word "God" instead of "the gods"...did he know there was a real God, and rejected Him anyways?
- The deputies would have had the earthly authority to stop all of this for sure.
- The law stated that they would worship the pagan gods only, and the charge brought against Paul by these Jews was that he was violating Roman law (not Jewish law) which meant "it was illegal to start a new religion".
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:
- Paul was about to speak, and he interrupts to say, "Relax. I got this."
- It appears that Gallio was a fair and just man, looking at all sides
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. And he drave them from the judgment seat.
- Gallio cared nothing about religious or spiritual things, Jewish, Christian, or otherwise. He cared about fairness and order, whatever he believed
- It was a question of words and names, Jesus the CHRIST and MESSIAH versus Jesus of Nazareth
- This proclamation gave the apostles and all disciples freedom to preach the Gospel to the entire Roman Empire, as a sort of sect of Judaism
- The case is thrown back to them, in their own courts, not the Roman ones.
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.
- It would appear that Sosthenes was the leader who brought Paul here to appear before Gallio
- Sosthenes is a Jew who, at that time, was seemingly not yet saved
- Paul's first epistle to Corinth refers to Sosthenes
- Sosthenes succeeded Crispus when Crispus got saved and stepped down
- If Sosthenes was not saved, it was the “goodness of God leading him to repentance”
- God may have used the Greek mob to get him “under conviction”! But Origen (184–254) and
(1 Corinthians 1:1)
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
(1 Corinthians 1:14)
I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
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.
- Paul was not being legalistic here, just a choice he made with his free will and keep the Nazarite vow
- This meant that he was going to THE Temple at Jerusalem, not just any temple, in time for Pentecost
- And Priscila and Aquila are with him once again in ministry
- Over a year and a half of ministry in him, time to move on.
- He would have made disciples who could make disciples, so his work was done.
And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.
For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
- First visit, very pagan city also
- But, they had a door open here also, a synagogue with which to reach all lost
- His reasoning pattern and custom was to reason "out of the Scriptures", found in the synagogues
When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
- If you are on God's timetable, in God's Divine Will, you move when God says move, no matter the situation
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.
- Again, God wanted Paul there for the Jewish Passover
- He did not have to do this, as worship was for the believer no longer in Jerusalem, he merely was doing what God wanted so Jews would be preached to
- He did it further because, most likely, there would be so many Jew gathered there.
And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
- When God calls us, sometimes we have to pass through one place to get to THE place He calls us to
- Antioch, Syria was a vibrant church, where they were first called Christians
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Ministry at Caesarea
- Phillip ministered there (Acts 8)
- Paul fled there from Damascus after getting saved (Acts 9)
- Cornelius who sent for Peter at Joppa was from Caesarea (Acts 10)
- Peter related this (Acts 11)
- Peter then fled there when Herod sought to kill him (Acts 12)
- Paul raised up leaders there (Acts 21)
- Paul was held for court in Caesarea by Felix and Festus (Acts 25)
But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;
Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.
Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.
And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
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.
- This is the start of the third missionary journey
- To strengthen disciples, one must pour one's life into them, through prayer, fellowship, encouraging words and careful study of the Word of God.
- One must realize that this was a time of great persecution, in need of strength
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
- Apollos, short for Apollonius, after "Apollo", means "Destroyer"
- One main and important reason that he would be "mighty in the Scriptures" will become apparent when it is revealed in verse 26, how teachable he was
- Eloquent, meaning a good speaker, sophisticated, had a good command of the language, culture, could hold an audience
- Apollos had a lot of ministry with Paul at Corinth, and apparently a lot of followers, as Paul mentioned in his epistle to the Corinthians
- According to 1 Corinthians 3:6, Apollos discipled people ("Apollos watered")
- History (and his behavior here, his epistles) shows that Paul was anything but eloquent, but rather a bit rough for sure
- Neither was Moses, but look at how God used both of them
Apollos: Man of God(Acts 19:1)
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
(1 Corinthians 1:12)
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 3:4)
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
(1 Corinthians 3:5)
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
(1 Corinthians 3:6)
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
(1 Corinthians 3:22)
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
(1 Corinthians 4:6)
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
(1 Corinthians 16:12)
As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.
Eloquence, In Scripture(Exodus 4:10)
And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
Paul's "Eloquence", In Scripture(2 Corinthians 10:10-11)
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.
(2 Corinthians 11:6)
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
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.
- The baptism of John was a baptism of repentance, before the Cross, Resurrection
- Acts as a transitional book between two testaments (Old and new) would have had Old Testament saints, like Apollos, from "the Baptism of John" (baptism of repentance)
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.
- He spoke boldly, eloquently, and was not teaching all correct doctrine. Let that sink in.
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:
- Now he has the correct doctrine of Grace through Faith, to now be used of God
- he continues to help, disciple the converts, just now more effectively
For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
- This would be the Old Testament Scriptures, Genesis to Malachi, including Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Genesis 3:15, Zechariah, Daniel 9, all of the prophets, and so many more places
Acts Chapter 19