Bible: What Does Acts 18 Teach Us About Paul the Apostle, and Apollos the Preacher?
Paul's "Secular" Job
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Acts 18: Paul's Ministry in Corinth; His Return to Home Base; Apollos: The Preacher
Paul Works with Aquila in Corinth
From Athens, Paul travels southwest to Corinth, where he stays with Aquila and Priscilla whom Emperor Claudius had expelled from Rome along with all the other Jews (vv. 1-2).
[Ryrie notes that Rome issued this imperial edict in A. D. 49 or 50 (New Testament Study Bible, 241).]
Paul works with Aquila in his tent-making business during the week, and on Sabbaths he ministers in the synagogue, seeking to win both Jews and Greeks to the Lord (vv. 3-4).
Silas and Timothy finally arrive from Macedonia; at the same time, the Spirit strongly motivates Paul to preach Christ to the Jews (v. 5).
This occasion appears to mark a decisive point in Paul’s ministry, for the apostle “washes his hands” of God’s people Israel after they reject the gospel, and he turns to work with the Gentiles (v. 6).
Paul's Ministry to Crispus
Leaving the synagogue, the apostle enters the home of Justus—“a worshiper of God”—next door (v. 7).
Paul’s ministry among the Jews does not completely fail, for Crispus, the synagogue ruler, comes to know Christ, and his entire household also trusts the Lord (v. 8a).
Besides the salvation of these Jewish individuals, Luke adds that many Corinthian citizens believe and submit to immersion (v. 8b).
One night Christ encourages Paul in a vision, telling him not to let fear keep him silent and assuring him that His presence will be with him, that He will protect him from enemies, and that he will grant him success in evangelism (vv. 9-10).
Enabled by the grace of the Lord, the apostle continues his ministry there for eighteen months (v. 11).
The Judgment Seat
During Gallio’s proconsulate in Achaia—A. D. 51 (Ryrie 242)—the Jews arraign Paul before this Roman official’s bema, charging the apostle with departing from the dictates of Judaism, a “licensed religion” in Rome (vv. 12-13).
Before Paul can defend his teaching, however,Gallio steps into the controversy and removes the Jews from his court where he rules only in criminal cases, telling them to settle their religious questions in their own jurisdiction (vv. 14-16).
He also takes no action against certain Greeks who physically abuse Sosthenes, another synagogue ruler, before his bema (v. 17).
[Who are these Greeks, and why did they beat Sosthenes?
Why did Gallio not stop them?
Is this man the same Sosthenes who later became a Christian? (cf. 1 Cor. 1:1)]
Paul decides to return to his home base in Antioch of Syria after having spent “many days” in Corinth; however, before leaving Achaia with Priscilla and Aquila, he fulfills a Nazirite vow in Cenchrea—“the eastern port of Corinth” (v. 18) [Ryrie 242].
[Why did the apostle made this vow?]
Paul's Traveling Companion
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Paul Travels to Ephesus
In Ephesus, his first stop, he resumes his practice of discussing the Scriptures in the local synagogue; Aquila and Priscilla stay in an undisclosed location in that city (v. 19).
[Perhaps Paul did not want them to accompany him because he tended to find trouble, and he wanted to spare them the grief.]
Staying in Ephesus at this time is not in Paul’s plans; he leaves his friends behind with a promise to return, “God willing” (vv. 20-21).
From Ephesus he sails across the Mediterranean to Caesarea, travels south to Jerusalem where he spends some time with the church, and then treks north to Antioch (v. 22).
[Paul went south to Jerusalem, but Luke writes that he went up.
Then the apostle traveled north to Antioch, but Luke indicates that he went down.
Obviously, he refers to elevation, not direction.]
Luke’s narrative moves quickly through the end of Paul’s second missionary journey into the apostle’s third visit to the Galatian churches (v. 23).
Meanwhile, back in Ephesus, Apollos—an eloquent, fervent, and knowledgeable Alexandrian Jew—begins preaching Jesus in the synagogue.
Although Apollos teaches about the Lord correctly, he is only familiar with the baptism of John (vv. 24-25); therefore, Aquila and Priscilla take him aside and fill in his knowledge gaps (v. 26).
Equipped with the whole “counsel of God,” Apollos desires to continue his teaching ministry in Achaia.
Before he leaves, however, the “brethren” in Ephesus—Aquila and Priscilla, or church leaders?—send a communiqué to Achaia, giving the believers there advance notice of his coming.
Apollos’ teaching ministry succeeds wonderfully among the new disciples; in addition, his defense of the gospel among the Jews prospers greatly (vv. 27-28).
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