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Acts 18

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Introduction

In this chapter Paul makes the acquaintance of Aquila and Priscilla, who are to become his longtime friends. Paul is to have a great work in the wicked city of Corinth; but, as might be expected, he will be opposed by the "insurrection" made against him by the Jews. This chapter also brings to a close Paul’s second missionary journey and begins the third.

Verse 1

After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;

After these things: After the events that transpired in Athens, it is evident that Paul does not spend an extended amount of time there but rather moves on to Corinth. The apparent reason is the intellectual arrogance of the humanistic philosophers whose minds are so filled with their own wisdom there is no place for the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth: The city of Corinth lies about forty miles southwest of Athens. It could be reached "by land along the Isthmus of Corinth, or by sea from the Piraeus to Cenchreae" (Plumptre 120). How Paul travels to Corinth is not revealed.

Bruce gives the following history of the tumultuous past of Corinth:

In 146 B.C., in savage vengeance for an anti-Roman revolt, Corinth was leveled to the ground by the Roman general L. Mummius, and the site lay derelict for exactly a century. In 46 B.C. the city was refounded by Julius Caesar and given the status of a Roman colony ... in 27 B.C. it became the capital of the Roman province of Achaia. Corinth was not long in regaining her old commercial prosperity, and therewith she regained a reputation which she had had in earlier days for a degree of sexual licence remarkable even in classical antiquity. The difficulty which even Christians had in resisting the influence of this particular Corinthian characteristic is plain to readers of Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians (367).

Because of Corinth’s strategic location on a narrow isthmus between the Saronic and Corinthian gulfs, the city was ideally situated for trade and commerce. As a result of her prosperity, Corinth became a rich city, noted for affluency and excessive immoral indulgences."...the city’s morals were the scandal of ancient times. The Greek language made a verb out of the city’s name, ’Corinthianize’ meaning to practice whoredom" (Coffman 348). Take heart, modern soul winner, it is in this most unlikely environment that the transforming power of the gospel becomes evident in the lives of sensual men; and the Lord’s church arises to become a mighty influence in this city of debauchery!

Verse 2

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.

And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla: There is considerable speculation as to whether Aquila and Priscilla are Christians when Paul first meets them or if they later become disciples. It is possible these two could have been converted on the day of Pentecost as there were those from Pontus present (2:9-47). Perhaps they were baptized by Paul in Corinth. The fact of the matter remains: we do not know, and Luke is silent about their conversion. For certain this man and his wife are faithful helpers of Paul [even to the point of saving his life (Romans 16:3-4)] and loyal supporters of the gospel. They will be mentioned time and again throughout Luke’s record for their good works.

(because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them: Historians verify that Claudius, who is the Roman emperor from 41 to 54 A.D., "expelled the Jews from Rome on account of their continual tumults" (Plumptre 120).

Verse 3

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

And because he was of the same craft: Paul has not only been educated in the academic arts of the day; but, as is the Jewish custom, he is taught a trade."It was a Rabbinical principle that whoever does not teach his son a trade is as if he brought him up to be a robber" (Vincent 547).

he abode with them, and wrought: Paul takes up residency with Aquila and Priscilla and works with them. Paul demonstrates he is not allergic to manual labor when the necessity is there. For his own needs and to remove any suspicions about his motives for preaching, Paul works to provide for himself (1 Corinthians 4:12-16).

for by their occupation they were tentmakers: Aquila, Priscilla, and Paul are makers of tents used by shepherds and travelers. Often these tents are made of a rough cloth woven from goat’s hair or a more deluxe version is crafted out of leather.

Verse 4

And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

As is Paul’s practice, he meets where the Jews gather on the sabbath day (for more information, see notes on 13:14). Paul always endeavors to take the gospel to "the Jew first," but he will be quick to learn that the Jews of Corinth do not want the gospel, as Luke notes in the next two verses.

Verse 5

And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia: It is at this point in Paul’s work that Silas and Timothy return from their efforts with the churches in Macedonia. Timothy brings good news of Paul’s "brethren beloved" in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:1-4). The good news brought by Timothy causes Paul to write the first Thessalonian letter."...the letter which he sent them is the first of his Epistles which has been preserved to us" (Conybeare and Howson 340).

Paul was pressed in the spirit: The coming of Paul’s companions seems to have stimulated him to press the Jews for a decision concerning Jesus as "the Christ" the Messiah. The term "pressed in the spirit" gives us the understanding that Paul "was constrained by the word, R.V., i.e., Paul felt the urge of the word of his testimony to the Jews in Corinth" (Vine, Vol. III 208).

and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ: In Paul’s fresh zeal for preaching the gospel, he strikes at a major problem for the Jews, that being Jesus as the Messiah predicted by the Old Testament prophets. For the Jewish nation to accept Jesus as "the Christ" is also to accept the guilt and responsibility for killing the "Messiah." This concept is a major stumbling block to the Jews of Paul’s day and remains so today.

Verse 6

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.

And when they opposed themselves: The Corinthian Jews will not accept the teaching of Paul; they array themselves in opposition to the gospel. As Coffman notes, "All opposition against the word of God is in reality a disaster to the opposer, not to the gospel" (350).

The proposition of confessing Jesus as the Christ is one with which all men must deal sooner or later. One can accept Jesus and own Him as Savior now, or he can put off the decision and confess Him in judgment after it is too late. "And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:11). (See also Romans 14:11.)

and blasphemed: It never ceases to amaze this writer at the reception often given the gospel by those who are unbelievers. Here Paul preaches the "unsearchable riches of Christ, " and sinful man "blasphemed." There is nothing that can inspire more spite, rage, envy, jealousy, and any other hateful responses in the hearts of rebellious men than the pure gospel of Christ. But as Hervey so eloquently says:

The Church meanwhile pursues her unwavering course. She holds in her hand the lamp of that truth which she did not invent, but which she received from God. That lamp sheds forth its heavenly light, whether men receive it or whether they shut it out from their hearts and walk on in darkness (96).

he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: Woe be unto those who will reject the call of the gospel. They may not get a second opportunity.

By shaking off the dust from their feet, Jesus’ disciples testify to those who will not receive them that they are to be considered as heathen and that the disciples have fulfilled their responsibility toward them and are free from their blood (Johnson 209).

(See notes on 13:51.)

from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles: Again, as happens in Pisidian Antioch (13:46), Paul is no longer willing to"cast pearls before swine, "and turns his efforts to the Gentiles.

Verse 7

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.

And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus: Upon rejection by the Jews, Paul moves his public teaching to the house of Justus. Nothing is known of Justus with the exception of what is revealed here. Most scholars think he is a well-to-do Roman citizen since the name "Justus" is of Latin origin. Some manuscripts render the name of this good Gentile as "Titus Justus."

one that worshipped God: Justus is a "God-fearer," a "proselyte of the gate," as is the righteous Gentile Cornelius. Little does he know that the salvation of Jesus Christ has come to his house (see notes on 10:2).

whose house joined hard to the synagogue: As God will have it, the house of Justus is in immediate proximity to the synagogue, thus those desiring to hear Paul can conveniently continue to do so.

Verse 8

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

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue: Here is a man of certain integrity. In the face of hostile Jews, Crispus, a "chief ruler in the synagogue," steps out in obedience to the gospel of Christ. He is one of the "not many of the mighty or noble" (1 Corinthians 1:26) who did accept the calling of Jesus. Crispus also has the distinction of being personally baptized by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:14).

believed on the Lord with all his house: Crispus and his family obey the gospel. As is always the case, "believed" includes complete obedience to each step of the gospel plan (see notes on 10:43).

and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized: The power of the gospel is being felt on the people of pagan Corinth. The Jewish synagogue has suffered a major blow in the loss of a prominent Gentile (Justus) and one of their leaders (Crispus)."Many believed and were baptized."Plumptre says, "The tense of the two verbs implies a process going on daily for an undefined period" (122).

Here, again, we have an abbreviation of the gospel plan for salvation, which, in addition to belief and baptism, also includes the necessity of repentance and a confession of Jesus as God’s son. This is the only plan for salvation. Without obedience to these steps, there is no conversion in the New Testament (see notes on 2:38; 8:36-37).

Verse 9

Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

The Lord repeatedly gives Paul instructions, strength, and encouragement through supernatural communication in the form of a "vision" (see 16:9; 23:11; 27:23). Today we do not have this means of supernatural instruction, but we still depend upon God’s providential guidance to open doors of opportunity for the gospel.

Verse 10

For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: When comfort is needed in the face of turmoil, the Lord repeats His assurance, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). This promise does not deal with just the physical safety of Paul but rather to the fact that his efforts to preach the gospel at Corinth will be unstoppable by the opposition of any man.

for I have much people in this city: Paul is encouraged to continue to preach because the Lord knows there are many unbelievers, even idolaters in Corinth, who, if given the chance, will obey the gospel.

There are those who would latch on to this passage in hopes of proving the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination. The argument is that there are still those whom God has elected (arbitrarily chosen) to save in Corinth. This passage does not prove this false doctrine, but rather the language simple tells us that through the omniscience of God He knows that even in the wickedness of Corinth there are honest souls who yearn for deliverance.

Verse 11

And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

This "year and six months" is the longest time Paul has yet stayed in one city. There is some discussion as to whether this is the entire time Paul spends in Corinth or if this time is extended yet many days as can be understood from verse 18.

McGarvey makes the following observation about the word "teaching":

... the word "teaching, "which describes his work, shows that during this long period he was executing chiefly the second part of the apostolic commission, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. xxviii. 20). From this we can see that, notwithstanding the many disorders which were afterward found in the Corinthian church, it was probably the best taught of all the churches thus far planted by Paul (Vol. II 138-139).

Verse 12

And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia: It seems that no sooner has Gallio taken office than the Jews, who for some reason have been waiting for a change in the deputy, launch an attack against Paul. From the history of the character and disposition of Gallio, this is not to be the deputy the Jews would have preferred.

In this instance the Jews have to deal with a man far different from the praetors of Philippi, or the politarchs of Thessalonia. Gallio is brother of Seneca, the famous Roman moralist, who speaks of him as a man of admirable integrity, amiable and popular (McGarvey, Vol. II 139).

Achacia"was one of the two provinces, of which Macedonia was the other, into which the Romans divided Greece (140 B.C.)" (Unger 16).

the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat: It seems as if Paul has been almost holding his breath in anticipation of what does finally begin. As has happened almost everywhere else–Philippi, Antioch, etc.–the Jews rise in"one accord against Paul."Paul is taken before Gallio for judgment.

Verse 13

Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

There are those who think the charge "contrary to the law" indicates Paul is preaching against the laws of the Roman government. If Paul had been preaching a new religion not recognized by Rome, he would have been preaching contrary to Roman law. Other scholars believe "the law" is a reference to the Old Testament law. It is the conclusion of this writer that the "law" under consideration is the Old Testament law. That also seems to have been the understanding of Gallio as he is recorded saying in verse 15, "If it be a question ... of your law."

Verses 14-16

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: 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 shows himself to be a man able to make a quick decision and to have just cause for his reasoning. It is obvious he does not understand the charges against Paul, but it is just as obvious he does not care about becoming involved in what he appraises as a religious quarrel about "words" and "names." Gallio reasons that if the charges deal with a crime against society ("a matter of wrong") or some gross immorality ("wicked lewdness"), then he would have been willing to make a judgment. The charges are summarily dismissed, and the Jews are driven out.

Verse 17

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.

Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him: In this one rare event, the Jews suffer a severe reversal in their agenda. The pain is compounded, at least for Sosthenes, when what appears to be the"underdog effect"prevails, and the Greek onlookers promptly vindicate the Apostle Paul by beating Sosthenes. It is very possible the beating did Sosthenes a great deal of good. This Sosthenes is quite possibly the same Sosthenes whom Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 1:1 as"our brother!"

before the judgment seat: Here is a prime example of speedy justice for all to see.

The Judgment seat, the chair of state in which the proconsul sat, was not erected inside of a court room, as with us, but in the open air, and usually in the agora, or forum. Consequently, all trials which excited public interest were witnessed by a crowd of spectators made up largely of the idlers on the street. These are the only parties who could have been tempted to thus lay hands on Sosthenes, who, as the leader of the Jews, had preferred the charge against Paul (McGarvey, Vol. II 140).

And Gallio cared for none of those things: Gallio, as a politician, knows he cannot go wrong with the majority if he rules against the hated Jews. As for Sosthenes, we can be assured Gallio loses no sleep over the fact that this Jewish "pain in his neck" suffers a whipping.

Verse 18

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.

And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren: The fact that Paul is allowed to choose the time in which he will depart from Corinth, instead of having to run for his life, must have been a refreshing change for him. Because of the ruling of Gallio, it appears Paul is able to preach the gospel without hindrance until he chooses to leave. The term "yet a good while" indicates the remainder of days that are a part of the "year and six months" (verse 11) that Paul labors in Corinth.

and sailed thence into Syria: Paul and company leave Macedonia and set sail for Syria. This route will bring Paul full circle on his second missionary effort when he arrives back in Antioch.

and with him Priscilla and Aquila: As we will soon see, Paul’s faithful supporters, Priscilla and Aquila, journey with him as far as Ephesus.

having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow:

There is much discussion among scholars as to the exact meaning of this passage. Without getting off into much mere speculation, we will attempt to provide some thoughts for the reader in hopes of shedding some light on this thorny statement.

It is generally understood that the grammatical construction of the original Greek could indicate that it is Aquila who has "shorn his head" because of the vow. This conclusion does not seem to be the context of the verse. Paul is the subject under consideration. We conclude the vow is taken by Paul. With this understanding, we will attempt to discover what kind of vow this is and what is involved in keeping it?

Is this a Nazarite vow? A Nazarite vow was a solemn promise made by an individual to consecrate his life to God for a specified period of time, usually thirty, sixty, or one hundred days. Some parents dedicate the entire life of their child to the vow of the Nazarite before they are born, as with Samson (Judges 13:5) and Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11). Unger provides the following information:

The Nazarite, during the term of his consecration, was bound to abstain from wine, grapes with every production of the vine, and from every kind of intoxicating drink. He was forbidden to cut the hair of his head, or to approach any dead body, even that of his nearest relation. If a Nazarite incurred defilement by accidentally touching a dead body, he had to undergo certain rites of purification, and to recommence the full period of his consecration... When the period of his vow was fulfilled he was released therefrom, and was required to offer a ewe lamb for a burnt offering, a ewe lamb for a sin offering, and a ram for a peace offering, ... He was to cut off the hair of"the head of his separation" (i.e., the hair which had grown during the period of his consecration) at the door of the tabernacle, and to put it into the fire under the sacrifice on the alter (780).

Understanding what the Nazarite vow required and also realizing the teaching of the New Testament, it would have been a contradiction in Paul’s life and teaching to bind himself to an Old Testament vow that would have:

1. Prevented him from observing the Lord’s supper for at least 30 days. He could not drink grape juice (Numbers 6:3).

2. Cause him to recognize an animal as a sin offering rather than Jesus as our sacrifice for sin (Numbers 6:10-12).

The conclusion seems clear that this vow Paul has taken is not a Nazarite vow. There are other types of vows that are based on the concept of a Nazarite vow that will not violate New Testament teaching. Reese says:

1. Some think it was a vow of promise. While at Corinth, Paul promised (vowed) to do something. This having been done, the vow was completed at Cenchrea.

2. Others think it was a vow of gratitude. The vow was made out of gratitude for deliverance by God from a dangerous situation (487).

It is the conclusion of this writer that the vow under consideration involves a solemn promise that Paul has made to God. In imitating the Nazarite vow, he signifies his dedication to the vow by allowing his hair to grow. Upon conclusion of the vow, Paul resumes the customary cutting of his hair.

It is not out of keeping with the New Testament for a Christian to make a vow to God. When one makes such solemn promises to God, he must keep his promise. As the wise man says, "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay" (Ecclesiastes 5:5).

Verse 19

And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.

And he came to Ephesus: This being the first mention of the celebrated city of Ephesus it deserves a short note on its geography and history. The city was due east of Cenchrea across the Aegean Sea. Ephesus was originally a Greek colony on the western coast of Asia Minor. It later became the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Ephesus was known for the worship of Diana, which was the source of much wickedness and debauchery among her worshipers. The Temple of Diana is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

and left them there: Paul is in a hurry to get to Jerusalem (verse 21); therefore, he leaves Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus in anticipation of his return.

but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews: As is the custom of Paul, he seeks out the gathering place of the Jews, the synagogue, and enters in to "reason" with them.

Verses 20-21

When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 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.

When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: Things seem to be going better for Paul in his efforts to preach the gospel. He gets to leave Ephesus at his own leisure now, instead of being run out of the synagogue, as usually is the case; he is prevailed upon to "tarry longer."

Paul has a strong desire to be at the "feast" to be observed in Jerusalem. These feasts are of great religious significance to the Jews as well as an opportunity for a reunion of friends and family from literally all over the world. Paul’s motivation for being there must have been the latter as we know he is not concerned with this Old Testament observation from a religious standpoint. The feast under consideration is generally agreed to be the Feast of Pentecost.

but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus: McGarvey supplies the follow summary for the preceding three verses:

Having fixed on Ephesus as his next point of attack, he feels the pulse, as it were, of the Jews there, by a few remarks in the synagogue; and finding it to be favorable, he leaves Pricilla and Aquila there for the evident purpose of preparing the ground as well as they can, and of being there when he returns, to help him as they had done in Corinth; then promising to return, he hurries on (Vol. II 144).

Verse 22

And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.

And when he had landed at Caesarea: Luke gives no information on this apparently uneventful trip from Ephesus to Caesarea (for notes on Caesarea, see 9:30).

and gone up, and saluted the church: The trip from Caesarea to Jerusalem is correctly described geographically as "going up." The elevation at Jerusalem is much higher than is the elevation at Caesarea. What Paul does in Jerusalem is not related by Luke; he simply says Paul" saluted the church."We can understand that Paul greets the brethren, and we can be sure he updates them on the successes and failures of his latest journey.

he went down to Antioch: "Down" is also geographically correct in a description of the trip from Jerusalem to Antioch, as Antioch is lower in elevation than Jerusalem.

With Paul’s return to Antioch of Syria, the church that originally sponsors this missionary effort, he completes the second missionary journey. Following is a summary of this trip:

1. Paul revisits the churches of south Galatia, Lystra, and Derbe.

2. At Troas Paul receives the "Macedonian call" and goes over into Greece.

3. At Philippi Lydia and the jailer are baptized.

4. The gospel is carried to Thessalonica.

5. The Bereans prove to be "more noble" in that they received the gospel.

6. The gospel is carried to Athens where Paul challenges the philosophies of the humanistic Epicurians and Stoicks.

7. After the intervention of Gallio, the gospel has free course in Corinth.

8. From Corinth it is on to Ephesus where Paul leaves Aquila and Priscilla with a promise that he will return.

9. By way of Caesarea, Paul travels on to Jerusalem and finally back to Antioch in Syria.

This trip occupies approximately three years (51-54 A.D.). The Jews violently resist the preaching of the gospel in every city with the exception of Athens and Ephesus. Souls are saved, and churches are established. The "good seed" of the kingdom of God is planted.

Verse 23

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.

And after he had spent some time there: Luke gives no clue about the exact amount of time Paul spends in Antioch. One can only speculate about the many glad reunions that must have ensued as Paul rejoices over the victories of the gospel and laments over its rejections. Surely it gladdens the hearts of these faithful brethren to have Paul safely return to them.

he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples: With this short declaration, Luke begins the account of Paul’s third missionary tour. As was the case at the beginning of the second trip, Paul revisits the brethren in Galatia and Phyrgia. (For additional information on Galatia and Phyrgia, see 16:6.)

Verse 24

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

And a certain Jew named Apollos: Luke here introduces for the first time a man who, after some corrections to his doctrinal knowledge, becomes a noble helper to the Apostle Paul. Paul will later declare"I planted, Apollos watered..." (1 Corinthians 3:6).

born at Alexandria: The descriptian of Apollos as "born in Alexandria" tells much about the education and social character of this man. Alexandria is the "chief seat of Hebrew learning. This learning included a knowledge of the Greek version of the Old Testament" (McGarvey, Vol. II 147).

Reese gives the following description of the great city of Alexandria:

Alexandria was a celebrated city and seaport of Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea, twelve miles from the mouth of the Nile River. It was named Alexandria in honor of Alexander the great, who founded it in 332 BC. Many Jews had gone to Alexandria, as it was a famous place of learning. One of the leading Hebrew colleges was located there, and the Alexandrian library was the greatest in the world (490).

an eloquent man: Apollos evidently takes advantage of the educational opportunities available in Alexandria and shows himself to be an accomplished and educated public speaker.

and mighty in the scriptures: Of all the good qualities of this talented man, nothing can be a higher compliment than that paid by Luke when he describes Apollos as "mighty in the scriptures." All the eloquence and polished speaking ability in the world will not replace the need for a knowledge of God’s word. A preacher may rivet his audience with flowing words, he may play upon their emotions with tearful stories, he may beat the air with forceful gestures; but, if he does not reveal unto his audience the "unsearchable riches of Christ, " "the power of God unto salvation, " he has accomplished nothing of lasting value (Ephesians 3:8; Romans 1:16).

came to Ephesus: Apollos makes his appearence in Ephesus.

Verse 25

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.

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: The person who "instructed" Apollos in "the way of the Lord" is not known, but it is obvious that the message of Jesus Christ burns in the heart of this man because he is overflowing with enthusiasm to preach the good news. In the Greek, the word for "fervent" is zeo, literally "to boil" (Vine, Vol. I 91). Although Apollos has incomplete information concerning Christian baptism, "knowing only the baptism of John, " he knows enough about the Messianic prophecies to declare Jesus as Messiah.

knowing only the baptism of John: As will be noted in the next chapter (19:4), John preaches repentance and baptism in anticipation of "him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." John’s baptism differs from Christian baptism in that John’s baptism offers no promise of the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (2:38). Also, John baptized in no name while the disciples of Christ are taught to baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19; Matthew 3:1-2; Mark 1:4-5).

To know only John’s baptism was not to know about the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension, Pentecost, etc., not to know the Lord’s Supper, the first church at Jerusalem, the mission of the apostles, etc. (Lenski 773).

Verse 26

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.

And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: Upon Apollo’s arrival in Ephesus, he begins to preach what he understands about Jesus without fear or favor.

whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly: Aquila and Priscilla, upon hearing the discourse of this eloquent speaker, realize his need to have explained unto him more accurately "the way of God". They take him aside into a private setting and teach him the things he needs to know.

The reader should notice, here is an example of a woman teaching a man in a private setting. The New Testament teaches that in the capacity in which a woman may teach (privately), she may teach anyone: a man (as noted here), another woman, or a child (Titus 2:4). In the capacity in which she is not permitted to teach (publicly), she may not teach anyone (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-12).

Verse 27

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:

And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia: Apollos determines to go to Achaia. Why he decides to move on from Ephesus to Achaia we have no clear way of knowing, but we next find Apollos in Corinth, the capital of Achaia where he accomplishes a great work.

the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: The good reputation of Apollos is seen in the hearty endorsement and recommendation of the brethren in Ephesus.

who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: It is evident that Apollos is a great aid to the Corinthian brethren. In Paul’s own words, he praises the efforts of this great preacher:"I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Verse 28

For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

What a great talent to be used in the Lord’s work! We will pray that the tribe of Apollos will increase today. Following are the qualities of Apollos that make him a great preacher, the same qualities that make great preachers today:

1. He is "an eloquent man" (verse 24). He is educated and has a good command of language.

2. He is "mighty in the scriptures" (verse 24). He is proficient in the knowledge of God’s word.

3. He is "fervent in the spirit" (verse 25). He is "boiling over" in his zeal to preach the gospel.

4. He teaches "diligently" (verse 25). He is earnest and persistent in teaching with great conviction.

5. He can accept correction. They "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" (verse 26).

6. He has one great theme:"Jesus is the Christ" (verse 28).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Acts 18". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/acts-18.html. 1993-2022.
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