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Bible Commentaries
Acts 18

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.

1. Paul is still alone. Luke remains at Philippi. Silas and Timothy are at Berea.

2. All the team will eventually be joined together again. But for now - Paul is alone.

3. He travels from Athens to Corinth.

1. Corinth is about 40 miles west of Athens.

2. There is a citadel of rock that rises almost 2,000 feet above sea level. At one time the entire city of Corinth was on top of this Aarea.

3. Corinth had three active harbors for ships.

4. There was also a canal cut through the rock. Ships could go through this canal with donkeys pulling the ship up the narrow channel.

5. The city is known for "Corinthian Brass". Albert Barnes writes, " Corinth was destroyed by the Romans 146 years before Christ; and during the conflagration several metals in a fused state, running together, produced the composition known as Corinthian brass. "

Verse 2

2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.

1. Alone, and in need of a way to pay for food and travel, Paul located Aquila and Priscilla.

2. They had several things in common.

1. They were Jews.

2. They were tent makers, which was Paul's former trade.

3. They had suffered persecution and were "kicked out" of Rome.

Verse 3

3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.

1. Dual occupation - Some preachers also work at another occupation and also work for a church. These men are often called "part time" preachers but they often are actually working longer hours than some "full time" preachers.

2. Paul can help Aquila in his business - and Paul can also teach them the gospel.

3. We know that he succeeded in converting them because later they return to Rome and are part of the active church there. (See Rom_16:3-4 .)

Verse 4

4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

1. Paul was making tents during the week and speaking in the synagogue every Sabbath day.

2. He was teaching Jews (inside the synagogue) and Greeks (on other occasions).

3. The word "reasoned" means that he was discussing, causing to think, making them ponder the ideas.

Verse 5

5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.

1. Part of the team is back together. Silas and Timothy, who remained behind at Berea, have now caught up with Paul at Corinth.

2. There has been some speculation about how they found where Paul went. Here is my 2 mites on that question. Paul was not in hiding. At everyplace he went, the city knew of his presence. All Silas had to do was ask if Paul had been there.

3. Paul is given a boost of energy and boldness. He now has his team with him. Paul is now "pressed in the spirit" (KJV). He is urged, constrained, compelled in the spirit.

4. His teaching is now bolder, clearer. Before he was reasoning. He was putting out thoughts for them to consider. NOW, he is testifying that Jesus is the Christ.

Verse 6

6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, " Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles. "

1. The Jews in the synagogues allowed him to toss out thoughts and reason with them. But when he began to openly declare that Jesus is the Messiah they were looking for - they opposed him.

2. Blasphemed - We often think of this word as "speaking against God", but the word means to speak against (anyone or anything). Here they blasphemed Paul. They were speaking against him, ridicule, scorn, innuendo, and gossip were the tools of the trade.

3. Shook his garments - This action is similar to "shake the dust off your feet" in Mat_10:14 . Paul's action adds emphasis to his words. He is through with trying to convert Jews that seem to always turn on him and run him out of town.

4. Paul makes three statements to them.

1. Your blood be upon your heads . Ezekiel was told to be a watchman on the wall. If he failed to warn of danger, he would be held accountable. But, if he warned of the danger and the people choose to ignore and not heed the warning, he would not be accountable. He did his job. ( Eze_3:16-19 ) Paul is saying the same thing here. You have been told. Now what you do with that warning is upon you.

2. I am clean. Paul declares that he as done what God requires of him. The preacher can not make people accept the gospel, believe and obey the commands. He must teach, explain, and warn. At that point the burden and responsibility shifts to the hearer.

3. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles. In almost all places Paul has been to this point in his mission work, he would teach the Jews first, then turn to Gentiles as there was time and interest. From now on, Gentiles will be the primary focus of his work. He will still teach Jews on occasion. But his primary direction will be toward the non-Jews.

Verse 7

7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.

1. He moved out of the house of Aquila (a Jew) and into the house of Justus. Some Latin versions call him "Titus Justus" or "Titus, son of Justus."

2. Similar to the situation here a Priceville (the home of the minister is "next door" to the church building) his home was next door to the synagogue.

3. It seems that this Justus was not a Jew by birth. He was, perhaps, a proselyte.

4. Some believe this is the same Titus who was later a companion of Paul and to whom the letter to Titus was addressed. I reject this theory for the following reason. When a Gentile became a Jewish proselyte, he was circumcised. But in Gal_2:1-3 some Jewish Christians were wanting to circumcise Titus and Paul resisted and refused.

Verse 8

8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

1. Right after Paul stops trying to convert the Jews, the ruler of the synagogue was converted. He was baptized and his family.

2. Plan of Salvation in one statement. Here it is - many of the Corinthians:

1. Hearing - More than having sound enter the ear. Hearing means the listened and understood the message.

2. Believed - Having understood the message, the believed it. They decided that this teaching was true and they were going to obey the commands of Jesus.

3. Were Baptized - They were immersed in water for the purpose of having their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. They were not "earning" or "working" for their salvation. They were acting on their faith. They had an obedient faith.

Verses 9-10

9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, " Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city. "

1. All of us get discouraged at times. We get "down in the dumps" and start feeling useless and want to give up. It would seem that Paul was getting discouraged and ready to "throw in the towel."

2. God speaks to him in a dream.

1. Do not be afraid - Speak - Do not keep silent. - These statement are intended to reinforce each other.

1. Encouragement - Do not be afraid.

2. Positive - Speak up.

3. Negative - Do not keep silent.

2. We often sing "Standing on the Promises" when, in reality, we are just "Sitting on the Premises."

3. I am with you. God assures Paul, and us, of His nearness, His presence. You may be far from home, but you are not far from God. It seems that every place Paul preached, there was some problem and he was driven out of town. Not here. Not now. Not with God's assurance.

4. Protection - God then assures Paul that he will not suffer harm. No one is going to hurt you. You will not be attacked. This is the "hased" of God. (For further information on this you can see my sermon "Guard, Guide, Direct" on my website - )

5. I have many people in this city. God made a similar statement to Jonah about his preaching in Nineveh. God has a plan. We don't always know or understand the reasons and the plan of God. But we are assured that it can work together for good. ( Rom_8:28 )

Verse 11

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

1. Until now, Paul had stayed weeks or maybe a month or two. Here he is going to remain for the next year and a half.

2. This work was not a "flash in the pan" - quickly teach, baptize, and move on. Paul remained here to settle, establish and develop the work.

Verse 12

12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, 13 saying, " This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law. "

1. Along comes Gallio. He is the "governor" of this province of the Roman Empire. The Jews seek to rise up against Paul with the same charges brought in other places.

2. Paul is brought to the court. It is not clear if he is arrested or just brought in for questioning.

3. There is a charge brought against Paul. He is convincing men to follow customs contrary to the law. Only the "recognized and authorized" religions were allowed. The Jews showed that what Paul was teaching was not Judaism. It was, therefore, not one of the recognized religions.

Verse 14

14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, " If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.

1. Paul was about to respond to the accusation.

2. But Gallio rises up and defends Paul.

1. This is not a matter of wrong doing. Paul did not rob or kill.

2. If Paul were doing "bad" things, Gallio would listen and follow up on the charges.

Verse 15

15 But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters. "

1. This is not a matter of Roman law. This is a matter of religious discussion and interpretation of Jewish teaching.

2. Gallio is not interested in getting into the middle of such a discussion. He is interested in legal matters, not theological discourse.

Verse 16

16 And he drove them from the judgment seat.

1. Gallio then ends the meeting.

2. He drives them from the court room. He has ruled. He has spoken and that ends the matter.

3. REMEMBER : God promised Paul that he would not suffer are be attacked. While there was an attempt, it got nowhere.

Verse 17

17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

1. The tables turned. Some in the city turned on Sosthenes as the ruler of the synagogue, and others who sought to charge Paul.

2. They beat Sosthenes right there in the courtroom, in front of Gallio. And Gallio did nothing to stop them.

Verse 18

18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.

1. I have some empathy with Paul here. He has taught, baptized, instructed, helped, and encouraged the church for 18 months. Now it is time to leave.

2. There are mixed emotions. Sad to be leaving. Glad to move on to other challenges.

3. I have had those same feelings upon leaving the work in Kirov, Russia. Many Christians come to the train station and wave goodby, give gifts, and run beside the train as we pull away.

4. Aquila and Priscilla travel with the team.

5. At the eastern harbor of Corinth - Cenchrea - Paul makes a vow and shaves his head.

6. He had taken a vow. There are many kinds and types of vows in the Law of Moses.

1. Paul made a vow, a promise, a firm decision that he would be back in Jerusalem for the feast. ( Act_18:21 )

2. Some believe this was a Nazarite Vow. I don't. The Nazarite Vow was a lifetime vow. This was temporary. It was a firm decision to make it back to Jerusalem for the feast (Passover or Pentecost).

7. The cutting of the hair was a symbol of the seriousness of his decision. How serious would you be before you shaved your head?

8. Do not make vows lightly. Num_30:2 - When a man voweth a vow unto Jehovah, or sweareth an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. (ASV)

Verse 19

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

1. One of the most impressive archaeological sites is Ephesus because it remains as it was at the time of Paul.

2. Aquila and Priscilla decided to remain at Ephesus.

3. Paul, back to his old ways, went to the synagogue at Ephesus and reasoned with the Jews who would listen and study with him.

Verse 20

20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent,

1. They asked him to stay longer. There is some discussion about who wanted to him to stay.

1. The Jews at the synagogue.

2. The Jews who were converted to Christianity.

3. Aquila and Priscilla.

2. Paul did not agree to stay longer. The reason: He had made a vow. He was determined to keep the promise he made before God.

Verse 21

21 but took leave of them, saying, " I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing. " And he sailed from Ephesus.

1. He not only refused to stay, he left.

2. He made a vow and was, God willing, going to keep it. So he sailed from Ephesus.

3. He promised to return. He was going to Jerusalem to keep the feast (and his vow) BUT, "I will return again to you, God willing."

1. Paul knows that he can not make a firm promise to see them again. There are too many things that can change his plans.

2. Paul uses the phrase, "God willing," to remind them that God may have different plans for his life. Paul, I am sure, remembered the times he wanted to go one direction and the Spirit forbid him.

3. Jam_4:15 - You ought to say, If the Lord will we will we will live and do this or that.

Verse 22

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

1. Paul landed at Caesarea, on the coast of Israel.

2. He went up - This phrase indicates that he went to Jerusalem and greeted the church there. I am sure he told them of his travel and the many churches he started in Asia, Macedonia and Greece.

3. He went to Antioch. This where he started from. He has now completed his 2 nd missionary journey.

4. He has now returned to Antioch. One would think that he would want to rest, take a vacation, spend some R & R, and rejuvenate before heading out again. Wrong.

Verse 23

23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

1. He did spend a little time in Antioch and geared up to go again.

2. Paul headed out again. He went to the region of Galatia and Phrygia.

3. His purpose of visiting these areas was to strengthen the churches and encourage the disciples.

Verse 24

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

1. We are now introduced to Apollos.

1. He was born in Alexandria, in northern Egypt.

2. He is an eloquent man. He is an excellent speaker.

3. He is mighty in the Scriptures. He has studied the Old Testament prophets and is able to talk about and quote from these books.

2. Apollos seems to be on his own missionary journey. He has now traveled to Ephesus.

Verse 25

25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.

1. He knew his Bible (the Old Testament scriptures) and was able to teach others.

2. He was also fervent - filled with zeal, excitement, and enthusiasm.

3. He had been taught the way of the Lord. He had been taught well. He had learned well.

4. However - He was only aware of the baptism of John. This is the first mention of John's baptism since the death of Christ.

Verse 26

26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

1. Apollos is following a similar pattern to Paul. He arrives in Ephesus and went to the synagogue.

2. He spoke boldly as he taught. He was urging the Jews to get ready, the Messiah is coming. Repent for the time is at hand.

3. It is also interesting that even though they are Christians and followers of Paul, Aquila and Priscilla are still going to the synagogue and seeking to convert others.

4. They see the great potential in Apollos. They also hear his error.

5. They took him aside (not to expose his error in front of everyone). They explained how those passages have been fulfilled in Jesus.


There is much discussion about the role of women in worship. More and more churches are ignoring the teaching of 1Ti_2:12 and allowing women to have leadership roles in the church and teaching roles in worship.

Some have pointed to Priscilla as an example of a woman doing teaching "over the man." There are some differences that need to be noted.

1. They took him aside, in private, not in public.

2. Explained shows that they explained, showed, and set forth the truth. The word in 1Ti_2:12 means to deliver a discourse, preach a sermon.

3. The phrase "over the man" in 1Ti_2:12 , is, in my view, the same man mentioned in verse 8. In verse 8 "men" are to pray everywhere. Then in verse 9, Paul give instructions "in like manner women". It is my view that the man, over which women are not to preach or exercise authority is the man who is to participate in leadership and worship in the church.

4. Anyone, man or woman, can explain, teach and instruct. As a minister, I have met several "Priscillas" in my life. They have taught me much. I appreciate the wisdom and help that they have given to me. I am sure that Apollos often thought about Priscilla and how she helped him to get things straight so he could teach others.

1Ti_2:12 prohibits women from two things:

1. She is not to teach (deliver a discourse) over the man.

2. She is not to exercise authority over the man.

Verse 27

27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;

1. Now, Apollos is on the right track. The brethren at Ephesus are glad to send him on with their approval.

2. Apollos crosses the Aegean Sea from Ephesus to Greece.

3. He was a wonderful addition to the missionary work that was being done.

Verse 28

28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

1. He was now able to discuss Jesus with the Jews and refute their arguments.

2. He was showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) that all Jews were looking for in great anticipation.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 18". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-18.html. 2021.
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