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Bible Commentaries
Acts 18

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-17

Paul in Corinth Acts 18:1-17 gives us the account of Paul’s ministry in the city of Corinth.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul’s Arrival in Corinth Acts 18:1-3

2. Paul’s Ministry in Corinth Acts 18:4-11

3. Paul is Taken Before Gallio Acts 18:12-17

Acts 18:1-3 Paul’s Arrival in Corinth: Paul’s Relationship with Aquila and Priscilla Acts 18:1-3 records Paul’s arrival in the city of Corinth. Paul’s need to find work to finance the missionary trip was a top priority for him and the coworkers. They received gifts from the church at Philippi and others. But it was important that they appeared not as a group of wandering deceivers out for financial gain, but rather pious and sincere men who worked for their needs. Greece was probably infested with traveling philosophers who made a living by peddling their ideas to the simple-minded. Thus, Paul’s friendship with Aquila and Priscilla are placed foremost in his work at Corinth; since this relationship enhanced Paul’s ability to make a living and present himself and his coworkers as genuine members of society.

Acts 18:2 “And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla” Comments - Paul first met Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth on his second missionary journey when he established a church there. They had been banished from Rome by Claudius.

Acts 18:1-2, “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 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.”

He took them with him on his way back to Antioch and left them in the city of Ephesus.

Acts 18:18-19, “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 he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.”

We find that this couple is still in Ephesus when Paul returns on his third missionary journey and writes his first epistle to the Corinthians from there. They had started a church in their home while in Ephesus.

1 Corinthians 16:19, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”

In Romans 16:3, which is dated a short time later, we find them back in the city of Rome. It is possible that Paul sent them to Rome before he left Ephesus in order to help establish the church there.

Romans 16:3-4, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”

Near the end of Paul’s life, while writing to Timothy from the city of Rome just before his death, we find this couple back in Ephesus.

2 Timothy 4:19, “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

This story would certainly fit the Paul’s description of their sacrifices of laying down their lives in the following verse (Acts 16:4). They had returned to Rome, which was placing them in risk of their lives. They had served in Ephesus for some years until Paul returned on his next visit. Thus, the churches of the Gentiles had something to thank them for.

The Apostolic Constitutions, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, gives us a list of the earliest bishops. This ancient document states that there was a man by the name of “Aquila” who became the bishop of the churches Asia. There is little doubt that this is referring to the same individual.

“Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are theseā€¦Of the parishes of Asia, Aquila and Nicetas.” ( Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.4.46)

Acts 18:2 “because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome” Comments - This event is mentioned by the Latin writer Suetonius.

“Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.” ( The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Claudius 25.4) [235]

[235] Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, trans. Joseph Gavorse, in The Modern Library of the World’s Best Books (New York: The Random House, 1931), 226.

Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Acts 18:3 Comments - In 1 Corinthians 4:11-12 Paul refers to the time in Corinth when he worked with Aquila and Priscilla and made tents.

1 Corinthians 4:11-12, “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:”

Acts 18:4-11 Paul’s Ministry in Corinth In Acts 18:4-11 Luke records the ministry of Paul in the city of Corinth. He boldly preaches in the synagogue until the Jews reject his message (Acts 18:4-6). He begins meeting with the Gentiles and those Jews who believe in the house of Justus (Acts 18:7-8). Paul received a vision in the night in which the Lord encouraged him to speak boldly in the name of Jesus (Acts 18:9-11).

Acts 18:5 Comments - We have another reference in 2 Corinthians 1:19 to Silas and Timothy assisting Paul in founding the church at Corinth.

2 Corinthians 1:19, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.”

Acts 18:12-17 Paul is Taken Before Gallio In Acts 18:12-17 we read of how Paul was taken before Gallio, the proconsul of Corinth. Archeologists have identified a number of structures in the ancient ruins of Corinth. One inscription of a Jewish synagogue has been discovered. There is an ornamented gateway that leads to a marketplace where many shops were located. In the center of this large area (600 ft. long and 300 ft. wide) has been found the judicial bench or tribunal platform of the city. There speakers would address the crowds that had gathered in the market center. On either side were built rooms where cases were heard by the judicial magistrates. We read in Acts 18:12-17 how the infuriated Jews drug Paul before this platform and condemned him before Gallio, the proconsul of the city at that time.

Paul was taken before this tribunal on the charges of propagating an illegal religion. The fact that Gallio refused to hear the matter can be interpreted to mean that he judged it as an internal dispute within the Jewish community. Since Judaism was under the protection of Roman law, this gave Paul the legal right to continue his evangelistic efforts in this region of Greece, provided that public order was maintained.

Acts 18:12 “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia” Comments - Junius Gallio was the brother of the Roman philosopher Seneca (4 B.C. to A.D. 65), [236] who describes him as intellectual, friendly, and good to all ( Questiones Naturales of Seneca, preface to book 4). [237] C. M. Kerr says that Achaia was “reconstituted” as a senatorial province in A. D. 44 by Emperor Claudius, and scholars generally agree that Gallio became Roman deputy or proconsul of Achaia around A.D. 51-53. [238]

[236] Tacitus writes, “But in the senate, whilst all members, especially those with most to mourn, were stooping to sycophancy, Junius Gallio, dismayed by the death of his brother Seneca, and petitioning for his own existence, was attacked by Salienus Clemens, who styled him the enemy and parricide of his country.” ( Annals 15.73) Tacitus also writes, “Mela, son of the same parents as Gallio and Seneca, had refrained from seeking office, as he nursed the paradoxical ambition of equalling the influence of a consular while remaining a simple knight.” ( Annals 16.17) See Tacitus: The Histories, trans. Clifford H. Moore, The Annals, trans. John Jackson, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1952), 333, 361.

[237] See John Clarke, trans. Physical Science in the time of Nero, being a Translation of Questiones Naturales of Seneca (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1910), 161-163.

[238] C. M. Kerr, “Gallio,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Acts 18:12 “the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat” - Comments - The Jews in Corinth rejected Paul’s teaching about Jesus, so Paul went to the Gentiles (verses 6). Now the Jews were provoked to jealousy (Romans 11:11).

Romans 11:11, “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

Acts 18:17 Comments - Some scholars interpret Acts 18:17 to mean that Sosthenes represented the Jewish community that had risen up against Paul. Evidently, the Greeks who were observing this hectic trial understood Gallio to turn against the Jews. After rescuing Paul from the Jews, they felt it their civil duty to punish the instigators of this disruption by beating the “ring-leader” of the synagogue as an act to further humiliate the Jews who lived there, a people whom their Emperor has of recent driven from Rome, and it seems a people whom the Greeks cared very little about. The beating of Sosthenes would have served as a warning to all Jews that lived in Corinth not to stir up their city again with their religious bickering. Towards these events Gallio found very little interest; for his duty was to care for the affairs of Rome, not for some religious dispute that did very little to threaten the stability of the city.

However, we have to recognize that this very Sosthenes was most likely the same person that Paul mentions in the opening verse of 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:1, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,”

If Sosthenes were the same person mentioned in 1 Corinthians, then it is possible that Sosthenes was later converted to Christianity. Another possibility is that he had already been converted, and the Greeks were assaulting Sosthenes as one of the leading figures of Paul’s group of converts. The Greeks could have done this in an attempt to teach these “converts” not to disturb their city again. Such persecution against Sosthenes would have lifted him to the forefront of Church respect.

Acts 18:18-22 Paul Returns to Antioch Acts 18:18-22 gives us the account of Paul returning to the city of Antioch from his second missionary journey.

Acts 18:18 Comments - There are numerous examples of people making vows in the Scriptures. We can read about the vows of Jephthah (Judges 11:30), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:11), Absalom (2 Samuel 15:8), David (Psalms 56:12), Solomon (Proverbs 7:14), Jonah (Jonah 2:9), and Paul (Acts 18:18).

Judges 11:30, “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,”

1 Samuel 1:11, “And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”

2 Samuel 15:8, “For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.”

Psalms 56:12, “Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.”

Proverbs 7:14, “I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.”

Jonah 2:9, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

Acts 18:18, “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.”

Verses 1-22

The Witness of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (A.D. 51-54) In Acts 15:36 to Acts 18:22 we have the testimony of Paul’s second missionary journey.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul and Barnabas Split Up Acts 15:36-41

2. Timothy Joins Paul and Silas Acts 16:1-5

3. Paul at Philippi Acts 16:6-40

4. Paul in Thessalonica Acts 17:1-9

5. Paul in Berea Acts 17:10-15

6. Paul in Athens Acts 17:16-34

7. Paul in Corinth Acts 18:1-17

8. Paul Returns to Antioch Acts 18:18-22

Verses 1-28

The Church’s Organization (Perseverance): The Witness of the Church Growth to the Ends of the Earth Acts 13:1 to Acts 28:29 begins another major division of the book of Acts in that it serves as the testimony of the expansion of the early Church to the ends of the earth through the ministry of Paul the apostle, which was in fulfillment of Jesus’ command to the apostles at His ascension, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) However, to reach this goal, it required a life of perseverance in the midst of persecutions and hardship, as well as the establishment of an organized church and its offices.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Witness of Paul’s First Missionary Journey (A.D. 45-47) Acts 13:1 to Acts 14:28

2. Witness to Church at Jerusalem of Gospel to Gentiles (A.D. 50) Acts 15:1-35

3. Witness of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (A.D. 51-54) Acts 15:36 to Acts 18:22

4. Witness of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (A.D. 54-58) Acts 18:23 to Acts 20:38

5. Witness of Paul’s Arrest and Trials (A.D. 58-60) Acts 21:1 to Acts 26:32

6. Witness of Paul’s Journey to Rome (A.D. 60) Acts 27:1 to Acts 28:29

A Description of Paul’s Ministry - Paul’s missionary journeys recorded Acts 13-28 can be chacterized in two verses from 2 Timothy 2:8-9, in which Paul describes his ministry to the Gentiles as having suffered as an evil doer, but glorying in the fact that the Word of God is not bound.

2 Timothy 2:8-9, “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.”

Paul followed the same principle of church growth mentioned in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” He first placed churches in key cities in Asia Minor. We later read in Acts 19:10 where he and his ministry team preaches “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks”.

Acts 19:10, “And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”

In Romans 15:20-28 Paul said that he strived to preach where no other man had preached, and having no place left in Macedonia and Asia Minor, he looked towards Rome, and later towards Spain.

Romans 15:20, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:”

Romans 15:23-24, “But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.”

Romans 15:28, “When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.”

Verses 23-28

The Witness of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (A.D. 54-58) Acts 18:23 to Acts 20:38 gives us the testimony of Paul’s third missionary journey.

Oultine Here is a proposed outline:

1. Apollo’s Ministry in Ephesus Acts 18:23-28

2. Paul in Ephesus Acts 19:1-41

3. Paul’s Journey to Macedonia and Greece Acts 20:1-6

4. Paul at Troas Acts 20:7-12

5. Paul Journeys from Troas to Miletus Acts 20:13-16

6. Paul Exhorts the Elders at Ephesus Acts 20:17-38

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 18". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/acts-18.html. 2013.
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