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 have divided the text of Chapter 18 for you in the way I see it. You may of course have divided it differently. What is important is that we catch on to how Luke has divided the text for us. The difficulty with all of this is that the Bible writers didn’t put chapter or pericope headings in for us. They came later with the interpretation of others, influenced by the chapters and verse divisions of Robert Estienne. What is clear is that Luke has given us an account of the actions of Paul in Corinth, after he had moved from Athens and introduces us to Aquila and Priscilla. Then Luke summarizes for us the stages of Paul’s journey through Asia Minor and on to Jerusalem and then back to Asia Minor again. Lastly he introduces us to Apollos, while emphasizing the need for him to learn more correctly “the way of God”.
Included in this portion before us are some important things to note. Corinth marks a definite stage in Paul’s ultimate journey to Rome. Rome is mentioned for the first time in this section despite the fact that the story has taken place thus far within the Roman Empire. It is quite likely that Aquila and Priscilla feature because of their connection with Rome. In this section, we have a distinct break or breach between the Jews, with Paul specifically turning to the Gentiles. The Corinthian church was a distinctly Gentile Church. This also marks the beginning of a long association with the Corinthians. Why Corinth? Why not Athens, the centre of Greek culture? In this section too, we have Paul’s vision which seals the move to the Gentiles and effectively closes the period of work in Macedonia and Achaia. The events of Paul’s encounter with Gallio, the governor of Achaia, are interesting. The outburst in court is fascinating and more so given the fact Gallio does absolutely nothing about it. But furthermore Gallio refused to take action against Paul at all. How curious.
Well you have to admit there are some interesting elements in this part of the story. Enough to ponder on for a while. Note that Paul stayed in Corinth for some time. This marks the beginning of a long relationship between Paul and the Corinthian church. Hence to understand that relationship well it is necessary to read through the two Corinthian letters we have in the Bible. But then it is also necessary to note as you read that we do not have in the Bible all of the letters that were written between Paul and the Corinthians. You might also note that the First Letter to the Corinthians in particular is based around the letters that were sent between Paul and the believers in Corinth. Paying attention to that fact will help you crack the code to understanding the Corinthians letters.
Also in a very short space of the text of Acts 18 we have gone from Corinth to Ephesus to Galatia and then back to Ephesus via Apollos. Now that is hard to keep up with, especially if we are going to read Paul’s letters to those Churches at the same time he was in those places. You can hold the letter to the Ephesians until Paul returns there in Chapter 19. For the moment focus on the Corinthian letters as we move through this section. Although this is the second time we have followed Paul through Galatia it is a region rather than a city and in the letter to the Galatians Paul was really incensed about one thing – circumcision. At this stage concentrate on the Letter to the Corinthians and we will deal with the Letter to the Ephesians when we are next in Ephesus with Paul.
For now take time to look at the details and ask your questions and find some time to read the Corinthian letters. Let me give you a tip on how and when I did it the first time around. I took two Sunday afternoons, the first to read 1 Corinthians and the second to read 2 Corinthians. Of course, since that first time I have read those letters over and over many times. I won’t go through these letters in detailed exegesis of the text because I have already done that before.
- 1 Corinthians – Gems 302 – 499
- 2 Corinthians – Gems 500 – 591
- Ephesians – Gems 592 – 725
We will pay some attention to connection between the letters and the Book of Acts. I will highlight the aspects of that connection between Paul and the Corinthian church along the way.
Once again feel free to ask your questions and above all have fun.
Life grows in the cracks. Life survives in spaces we wouldn’t expect. Life thrives best in the hard and difficult places.Deron Spoo
Leave room for God to cut across your planned path. Go with Him, you never know what adventure God may take you on.Ian Vail
Always be open to the leading of Vail the Lord to take you in a different direction and then later to bring you back on to the main trail again.Ian Vail
The measure of your spiritual maturity is your willing to respond instantly to God when you sense Him calling. “Samuel, Samuel, Samuel.”Ian Vail
Another helpful tip: Learn from the mistakes of others – it’s free of cost and personal pain.Ian Vail