Act 18: "The exciting record of the apostle Paul continues, as
Luke outlines their experiences in Corinth and the travel to Antioch. It was
here that they met two very dedicated Jews, Aquila and Priscilla, in the same
trade as the apostle. One can only imagine the exciting discussions that would
have passed between the tent-makers in their daily occupation. It is an example
to those who have opportunity to discuss the principles of the Truth with their
fellow-workers. But soon, the enjoyment of fraternal association was disturbed
by the presence of controversy, as the Jews in the area rejected Paul's
preaching at Corinth. The courage of the apostle is again manifested as he
maintained his work in the city for 'a long time' (v 18), until he continued in
his service for the Truth to make a journey to Syria, Ephesus and towards
CORINTH: "A very ancient city; the earliest settlers
came in the 5th or 6th millennium BC. But Corinth of the classical period was
really established with the Dorian invasion. About 1000 BC these Gr people
settled at the foot of the acropolis of Corinth. Occupying a place of safety,
they also controlled the main overland trade route between the Peloponnesus and
central Greece, as well as the Isthmian route. Coming early to a height of
prosperity, the city colonized Syracuse on Sicily and the island of Corcyra and
achieved a peak of prosperity through commercial and industrial development.
Corinthian pottery and bronzes were exported widely over the Mediterranean.
About the middle of the 5th century the city's fortunes declined as a result of
the effective competition of Athenian industrial production. During the
classical period Corinth controlled about 248 square miles of territory,
approximately one-fourth the size of Rhode Island.
"It is not possible to tell the history of Corinth in detail.
Suffice it to say that she clashed with Rome during the 2nd century BC, was
finally destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, and lay virtually uninhabited until
Julius Caesar refounded it in 44 BC. The growth of Corinth was rapid, and by the
time of Paul or soon thereafter it became the largest and most flourishing
center in southern Greece. It served as capital of the Roman province of Achaia,
with a population estimated variously from 100,000 to several hundred
"In Paul's day the city lay about one and a half miles south
of the Corinthian gulf on the north side of its acropolis at an altitude of c
400 feet. The Acrocorinthus or acropolis hill towered c 1,500 feet over the city
to an altitude of 1,886 feet. The city and its acropolis were enclosed by a wall
over six miles in circumference. Outside the walls in the surrounding plain
stretched grain fields, olive groves, vineyards, and other agricultural holdings
of the city.
"In the N central part of town stood the Agora, nerve center
of the metropolis. The Agora was almost 700 feet east and west, and about 300
feet north and south... Here Paul appeared before Gallio governor of Achaia, as
a result of Jewish accusations to the effect that he had broken the law (Acts
18:12-13). Along the S side of the Agora stood a stoa or colonnaded shipping
center about 500 ft long. Here and on the nw side near the temple of Apollo were
shops for meat and wine merchants, probably the 'shambles' or market which Paul
referred to in 1Co 10:25 (KJV). An inscription was found near the theater
stating that Erastus had laid the pavement at his own expense...
"Near Corinth the Isthmian games were held every two years in
honor of Poseidon, god of the sea. Athletic events included footraces, two-horse
chariot racing, the pentathlon, (running, jumping, discus and javelin throwing,
wrestling) and the pankration (a combination of boxing and wrestling). The
victor's crown seems to have been withered wild celery during the 1st century
AD, a corruptible crown indeed (1Co 9:25)" (WyE).
AQUILA: "A Jew from Pontus in N Asia Minor, resident in
Rome, where he and his wife Priscilla became Christians. The edict of the
emperor Claudius (c AD 49) expelling Jews from Rome, forced this couple to
migrate to Corinth, where they set up a branch of their tentmaking or
leather-working business, and met Paul, who joined them because that was his
trade too (Acts 18:1-3). When Paul left Corinth in AD 52, they accompanied him
as far as Ephesus, where they settled for some years. Early in their residence
there, they gave hospitality to the Alexandrian Jew Apollos and repaired
deficiencies in his knowledge of Christianity (Acts 18:18-26). By AD 57 they
were probably back in Rome, according to Rom 16:3. Claudius' expulsion edict
doubtless lapsed for practical purposes with his death in AD 54. According to
2Ti 4:19, they seem to have located in Ephesus again. The picture of such
tradespeople moving from place to place, probably leaving branches of their
business here and there in charge of a manager, is quite true to conditions of
life under the Roman Empire. Wherever they lived, Aquila and Priscilla provided
the local church with accommodation in their home (Rom 16:5; 1Co 16:19). On one
occasion, possibly in Ephesus, they risked their lives for Paul (Rom 16:4)"
PRISCILLA: "The wife of Aquila. While Luke calls her by
this familiar name (Acts 18:2, Paul prefers to give her the more formal name of
Prisca (Rom 16:3, ASV, RSV; 1Co 16:19, ASV, RSV; 2Ti 4:19). The name belonged to
a noble Roman family, the Prisca. Both Luke and Paul usually mention her before
her husband; this may reflect her higher social status or (more probably) her
more impressive personality" (WyE).
CLAUDIUS: "The fourth Roman emperor, who reigned AD
41-54. He was a nephew of Tiberius Caesar (AD 14-37), under whose rule Jesus'
ministry was carried on. Between these two emperors came the short rule of
Caligula, who greatly antagonized the Jews by his cruel policies toward them.
Claudius revived the more generous attitude of Augustus and Tiberius, the first
two Roman emperors, who had been conciliatory toward the Jews.
"At the beginning of his reign Claudius issued an edict in
favor of the Jews of Alexandria, who had been undergoing persecution, Josephus
reports part of it as reading thus: 'I will, therefore, that the nation of the
Jews be not deprived of their rights and privileges on account of the madness of
Caius; but that these rights and privileges, which they formerly enjoyed, be
preserved to them, and that they may continue in their own customs' (Ant
19:5:2). Josephus further relates that Claudius sent an edict throughout the
world in which he wrote: 'Upon the petition of king Agrippa and king Herod, who
are persons very dear to me, that I would grant the same rights and privileges
should be preserved to the Jews which are in all the Roman empire, which I have
granted to those of Alexandria, I very willingly comply therewith' (Ant 19:5:3).
'Agrippa' was Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great. Claudius gave him
the territory ruled by his grandfather, with the title of king.
"Claudius is mentioned by name only twice in the NT. In Acts
11:28 a famine is recorded as occurring in his reign. Historical records
indicate that famines were frequent and severe in this period.
"Aquila and Priscilla are said to have been compelled to leave
Rome when Claudius made a decree expelling all Jews from that city (Acts
"The unfortunate emperor was murdered by his wife Agrippina in
AD 54" (WyE).
Agrippina had persuaded Claudius to name her son Nero heir
instead of his son Britannicus. After Claudius was murdered, Nero became
Paul worked for his living, so as not to be a burden to any
believers: 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8.
REASONED: Gr "dialegomai": an argument; an appeal to
reason. Possibly a quiet, indirect preaching method.
SILAS AND TIMOTHY CAME FROM MACEDONIA: They brought
favorable reports of the new ecclesias (1Th 1:3), but Paul could not return to
Thessalonica (1Th 2:18); so he wrote them the first letter instead.
PAUL DEVOTED HIMSELF EXCLUSIVELY TO PREACHING: Did the
good news invigorate Paul in his preaching?
THE JEWS OPPOSED PAUL: "They displease God and are
hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so
that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit"
HE SHOOK OFF HIS CLOTHES: Cp Mat 10:14: "Shake the dust
off your feet." But in ct Jesus, Paul does not leave the city; instead, he now
goes to the Gentile Corinthians.
CRISPUS: He was one whom Paul baptized, along with
Gaius and the household of Stephanas (1Co 1:14,16).
HIS ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD: That is, all who believed (cp Act
MANY OF THE CORINTHIANS: Including many "sinners" (1Co
Vv 9,10: Parenthetical: an explanation; should be inserted
betw v 6 and v 7.
Examples of prophetic reluctance: Exo 4:10; Jer 1:6; Eze 3:14;
Jon 1:3; 1Ki 19:10; Luk 5:8,10; 9:59; 18:23; Act 13:13; 18:9. Ct Isa
I HAVE MANY PEOPLE IN THIS CITY: "This should be a
great encouragement to try to do good, since God has among the vilest of the
vile, the most reprobate, the most debauched and drunken, an elect people who
must be saved" (CHS).
Paul writes of his "weakness and fear, and with much
trembling" (1Co 2:3); was this malaria? And does it explain his slowness to
preach, and his need for encouragement from the Lord?
// 7,000 who have not bowed to Baal: 1Ki 19:18; Rom
SO PAUL STAYED FOR A YEAR AND A HALF: Prob also
preaching in neighboring districts of Achaia (2Co 1:1).
CONTRARY TO THE LAW: The Roman law, not the LM. (This
was a Roman court. Ct v 15: 'your own law".) The Jews had a special dispensation
from Rome to practice their own religion, but Paul and the Christians did
THEY: The Greeks, according to KJV. "Taking their cue
from the snub Gallio gave the leaders of the Jewish community, the crowd at the
forum -- in an outbreak of the anti-Semitism always near the surface in the
Greco-Roman world -- took Sosthenes, the synagogue ruler, and beat him in the
marketplace before the forum. Gallio, however, turned a blind eye to what was
going on, evidently because he wanted to teach a lesson to those who would waste
his time with such trivialities. Larger Jewish synagogues sometimes had more
than one leader or ruler (cf Act 13:15), and Sosthenes may have served jointly
with Crispus (before his conversion) in the local synagogue chapter at Corinth.
Or perhaps he took Crispus' place after the latter's conversion. Perhaps he
became a Christian and is the Sosthenes of 1Co 1:1, who served as Paul's
amanuensis in writing the Corinthian believers from Ephesus, though that is only
SOSTHENES THE SYNAGOGUE RULER: "The name occurs twice
in the NT. The man in Acts 18:17 was chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth
when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia. He may have become a Christian believer
through Paul's preaching, as had his predecessor Crispus (Acts 18:8). If so, he
quickly suffered for his faith, for when trouble broke out Sosthenes was beaten
before the judgment seat of Gallio, who failed to intervene. It is possible that
he did not become a Christian at this time, however, and that he was beaten
because he was a Jew stirring up trouble in Corinth.
"If 1Co 1:1 refers to the same man, Sosthenes remained (or
became) a firm believer, however; for several years later when Paul wrote his
first letter to the Corinthians, Sosthenes was not only with Paul but Paul
bracketed his name with his own in saluting the church in Corinth. It is not to
be understood that Paul meant that he and Sosthenes enjoyed joint inspiration in
writing 1Co, but it does indicate Sosthenes' stature as that of a traveling
companion of Paul" (WyE).
Why 2 "chief rulers" of the synagogue (vv 8,17)? (1) Poss
"archisunagogus" does not indicate chief ruler to the exclusion of any others;
the word occurs in the plural in Acts 13:15; cp Mar 5:22; (2) Or, note interval
of 18 months (v 11); or (3) Perhaps there was more than one synagogue in
BUT GALLIO SHOWED NO CONCERN WHATEVER: Callous
indifference is a deadly enemy of the gospel.
EPHESUS: "Christianity was founded in Jerusalem,
extended to the Gentiles from Antioch, and branched out into all the world from
Ephesus" (SB 13:187).
GREETING THE CHURCH: The apostles at
WENT DOWN: The classic language of theophany, or
Yahweh-manifestation, occurs often in Acts in the context of gospel preaching,
as if the witness to the gospel were another manifestation of the Yahweh-Name:
Act 8:5; 10:21; 13:4; 14:25; 15:30; 16:8; 18:22.
APOLLOS: "The name is a shortened form of Apollonius.
He is described in Acts 18:24-28 as an Alexandrian Jew, an eloquent man, and one
'mighty in the scriptures.' He had been 'instructed in the way of the Lord';
that is, he knew of the teachings of the followers of Jesus (cf Acts 9:2, 'the
Way'). His teaching, done with fervency, concerned 'the baptism of John' (cf Luk
"His preaching in Ephesus, listened to by Priscilla and
Aquila, was not incorrect; rather, it was incomplete. They explained to him 'the
way of God' more accurately; ie, the rest of the message was made known to him,
particularly concerning the ascension of Christ and the advent of the Holy
Spirit. That these elements seemed to be lacking in his initial preaching is
implied by Acts 19:1-3.
"Other NT passages giving information about Apollos are 1Co
1:12; 3:4-6,22; 4:6; 16:12 and Tit 3:13. We learn there that he had been
associated with Paul, and that he had become one of four 'party favorites' in
the church at Corinth (along with Cephas, Paul, and Christ). Paul referred to
him as a 'fellow worker' and as 'our brother,' although making it clear that he
himself had 'laid the foundation.'
"Apparently Apollos' eloquence had made an impression on the
Corinthians, and Paul took pains to emphasize that he (Paul) 'did not come with
superiority of speech or of wisdom' (1Co 2:1, NASB), and that their faith
'should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God' (v 5).
"Apollos seems to have become aware of the problem of tensions
in the Corinthian church, and although Paul encouraged him to revisit them, he
declined to go at that time (1Co 16:12). Tit 3:13 appears to indicate that he
was with Titus in Crete at a later date" (WyE).
AND TAUGHT ABOUT JESUS ACCURATELY: This plainly
indicates that John's "gospel" included some knowledge of the sacrifice of Jesus
("the lamb of God").
APOLLOS... WAS A GREAT HELP...: Apollos visits Corinth,
"watering the seed" which Paul had "sown" (1Co 3:6).