Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was. Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”
Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized. One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God. But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.” But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” And he threw them out of the courtroom. The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.
Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. As he left, however, he said, “I will come back later, God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there he went up and visited the church at Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch. After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers.
Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately. Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.Acts 18:1-28
I am sure you know by now that it is time to take stock of where we are when we cross a chapter boundary.
- Does the new chapter follow on with the teaching?
- Are there lessons for us which straddle the chapter boundary?
In this case I think you will see the boundary between chapters 17 and 18 marks a clear separation between Paul’s ministry in Macedonia and Athens and the move to Corinth. We have no way of knowing how long exactly Paul stayed in Athens but it can only have been a matter of weeks to a month or more at the very most. Given the response of those in the Areopagus Paul decided to move on. There were converts and those who longed for more but the general response of the city and the members of the Areopagus was guarded indifference so Paul moves on with Silas and Timothy. We don’t know exactly when Silas and Timothy came to Athens, Luke does not tell us. But clearly they are there with Paul in time to move to Corinth.
You have been spared the need to read any letter to the Athenians – there is none. Besides which there is no account of any church planted by Paul in Athens. If you are interested in finding out more about Athens you just have to search for Athens on the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE in E-Sword). You will have to download it first if you haven’t already. But I am not going to bore you with irrelevant details. You have a considerable task ahead of you. Crossing the chapter boundary means we need to look at Chapter 18 and divide it according to its parts and determine how those parts fit together. In addition to that, while we have no Letter to the Athenians, there is an extensive record of contact between Paul and the church in Corinth. So while we deal with Luke’s record of Paul’s contact with the Corinthians we ought also to read Paul’s Corinthian letters in order to gain a better understanding of Paul’s contact with the Corinthian church. Set some time aside during the time we are in Corinth to read the Corinthian letters.
As we read and dissect this chapter pay attention to the details and ask the questions you need to ask in order to understand fully the account Luke has left for us. But notice too that Luke’s royal “we” has disappeared, meaning Luke is no longer with Paul and the team. Watch for the moment he joins them again. Remember they left Luke behind in Philippi.
It is mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.Steve Goodier
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college (university) education.Theodore Roosevelt
Be willing to listen to others and be teachable. You are not right about everything – nobody is.Casey Treat
The birth of Christ brought God to man; the cross of Christ brings man to God.Rick Godwin
Use your connection with the Author of the Bible to better understand it. Ask Him what He meant.Ian Vail