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Bible Commentaries
Acts 18

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4058. A.D. 54.

(1,) Paul, going from Athens to Corinth, meets with Aquila and Priscilla, and works with them as a tent-maker, Acts 18:1-3 .

(2,) He preaches first to the Jews in the synagogue, and, when they opposed and blasphemed, to the Gentiles with more success, Acts 18:4-8 .

(3,) Being encouraged by a vision, he continues a year and a half teaching and preaching among the Corinthians, Acts 18:9-11 .

(4,) He is accused by the Jews to Gallio, the Roman governor, who refuses to take cognizance of such matters as they complained of, Acts 18:12-17 .

(5,) He returns by Ephesus to Jerusalem; goes from thence to Antioch, and, after spending some time there, revisits the churches he had planted in Galatia and Phrygia, Acts 18:18-23 .

(6,) Apollos, coming to Ephesus, is instructed by Aquila and Priscilla; and with great eloquence, fervour, and force of argument, preaches the gospel there, and in Achaia, with great success, Acts 18:24-28 .

Verse 1

Acts 18:1. And after these things Paul departed, &c. After having so unsuccessfully preached to the philosophers and others in Athens, the apostle judged it needless any longer to attempt the conversion of men so frivolous, easy, indolent, and wise in their own eyes. He therefore left them as incorrigible, and proceeded forward to Corinth, now become more considerable for the number, learning, and wealth of its inhabitants, than even Athens itself. Corinth was situated on an isthmus, or narrow neck of land, which joined Peloponnesus to Greece. On the east side of the isthmus were the ports of Cenchrea and Schænus, which received the merchandise of Asia, by the Saronic gulf; and on the west side, the port of Lechæum received the merchandise of Italy, Gaul, and Spain, by the Crissæan gulf. Corinth, being thus conveniently situated for commerce, soon became extremely rich and populous; and being seated on the isthmus which joined Peloponnesus to Greece, it commanded both countries. In the course of the Achæan war, the Roman consul, Mummius, burned it to the ground; but Julius Cesar rebuilt it after it had long lain in ashes. When Achaia was made a Roman province, Corinth, becoming the seat of government, soon regained its ancient celebrity, in respect of commerce and riches, but especially in respect of the number and quality of its inhabitants. For, at the time the apostle arrived, it was full of learned men, some of whom taught philosophy, rhetoric, poetry, and painting; others studied these sciences and arts; insomuch that there was no city in Greece where philosophy, and the fine arts, and learning were carried to greater perfection than at Corinth; no city in which there were more men of a cultivated understanding.

Verses 2-3

Acts 18:2-3. And found a certain Jew Afterward converted to the faith of Christ, (Acts 18:26,) doubtless by the instrumentality of Paul; born in Pontus A province of the Lesser Asia, not far from Galatia and Cappadocia; lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla Who also became an eminent Christian; because that Claudius The Roman emperor; had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome All who were Jews by birth; whether they were Jews or Christians by religion, the Romans were too stately to regard; and came unto them, because he was of the same craft Namely, that of tent-making. It being a rule among the Jews (and why is it not also among Christians?) to bring up all their children to some trade, were they ever so rich and noble. Paul, though intended to have a better education than ordinary, had learned this when young, and being now capable of exercising it, he found it of great use to him on many occasions, particularly at this time. For by the profits of his labour therein, he maintained himself all the while he abode at Corinth, without burdening the Corinthians in the least. The same course he had followed some time before this, while he preached in Thessalonica; (1 Thessalonians 2:9;) and afterward at Ephesus, where, as also probably in many other places, he supported not only himself, but his assistants likewise, by his labour. See Acts 20:34. The tents, or pavilions, which Paul and these his friends were employed in making, and which were formed of linen or skins, were much used, not only by soldiers and travellers, but by others in those hot countries.

Verse 4

Acts 18:4. And he reasoned in the synagogue, &c. The Jews being numerous in Corinth, Paul, according to his custom, began his ministry in the synagogue; and persuaded That is, endeavoured to persuade; the Jews and Greeks It is probable that most of these Greeks, since they attended the Jewish synagogue, were a kind of proselytes. It is possible, however, that some of them might not be such, but Gentiles, who were drawn out of curiosity to attend in the synagogue (though they did not commonly worship there) to hear such an extraordinary preacher as Paul was, especially considering the miracles which he wrought at Corinth, and to which he so often refers in the two epistles afterward written to the church formed there.

Verses 5-6

Acts 18:5-6. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia Silas seems to have stayed a considerable time at Berea; but Timotheus, having come to the apostle while he was at Athens, and having been sent back by him to comfort and confirm the church at Thessalonica, now left that city to join Paul at Corinth; and in his way calling upon Silas at Berea, they travelled together to Corinth, where they found the apostle, and gave him the agreeable information that the Thessalonian brethren stood firm in the faith, bare the persecution of the unbelievers with exemplary fortitude, and entertained a grateful remembrance of him their spiritual father, 1 Thessalonians 3:5-6. These tidings, it seems, filled the apostle with joy, and encouraged him to deal more plainly with the Jews at Corinth than he had hitherto done. For he was pressed in spirit And the more probably from what Silas and Timotheus related; and testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ Confirming his testimony by arguments brought from the Scriptures, and by the miracles which he wrought. And when they opposed themselves To his doctrine; and blasphemed Jesus, by affirming that he was not the Christ, but an impostor; he shook his raiment To signify that from that time he would refrain from them, and that God would soon shake them off as unworthy to be numbered among his people; and said, Your blood That is, the guilt of your destruction; be upon your own heads: I am clean From it, agreeably to God’s declaration, Ezekiel 33:2-9. By this wilful impenitence and unbelief, you are your own murderers; and, as God and man can testify that I have done all in my power to prevent so sad an event, I now desist from any further attempts of this kind; from henceforth While I continue in this city, leaving the synagogue, I will go and preach to the Gentiles Who will readily receive that gospel which you so ungratefully reject.

Verses 7-8

Acts 18:7-8. He entered into a man’s house, named Justus A Gentile, but a worshipper of the true God: and he preached there, though probably he still lodged with Aquila. He the rather chose to preach in the house of this religious proselyte, because, as it was near the synagogue, such of the Jews as were of a teachable disposition, had thereby an opportunity of hearing him. Accordingly, when he preached in this house, Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed Whom Paul baptized; with all his house. And many of the Corinthians The formerly idolatrous inhabitants of the city; hearing The conversion of Crispus, and the preaching of Paul; believed and were baptized Namely, by Silas and Timothy; for the apostle affirms that he baptized none of the Corinthians but Crispus and Gaius, and the household of Stephanus, 1 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 1:16.

Verses 9-11

Acts 18:9-11. Then spake the Lord The Lord Jesus; in the night by a vision to Paul Who, probably, had been discouraged in view of the learning, politeness, and grandeur of many Gentile inhabitants of the city, to whom he was to speak, so that he was, as he himself expresses it, (1 Corinthians 2:3,) among them in weakness and fear, and in much trembling; which alarms were probably much increased by the violent assaults which had been made upon him in other places, and the contempt with which he had generally been treated: Be not afraid, but speak My gospel boldly and courageously; and hold not thy peace Be not silent through any present discouragement or future apprehension; for I am with thee By my powerful and gracious presence, to protect, support, and comfort thee; and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee A promise this which was fulfilled to Paul and also to others of God’s servants; so that whatsoever troubles they met with, even when they were killed, they were not hurt, Romans 8:28; Romans 8:36-39. For I have much people in this city So he prophetically calls them that he foreknew would believe. And he continued there a year and six months A long time! But how few souls are now gained frequently in a longer time than this by ministers of the gospel! Who is in the fault? generally both teachers and hearers. Teaching the word of God among them It is probable this is not to be understood of the Corinthians alone, but of the inhabitants of the neighbouring parts of Achaia also. For it is reasonable to suppose that the apostle occasionally left Corinth, and went into the adjacent country of Peloponnesus, where there were many synagogues of the Jews, especially in the chief cities; and that, having preached to the Jews and Gentiles in those cities, he returned again to Corinth. This supposition is countenanced by Paul himself, 2 Corinthians 11:10, where he intimates that he preached in the region of Achaia, and where, according to 2 Corinthians 1:1, he made many disciples.

Verses 12-13

Acts 18:12-13. When Gallio was the deputy Greek, Γαλλιωνος ανθυπατευοντος , Gallio being proconsul; of Achaia Of which Corinth was the chief city. This Gallio, the brother of the famous Seneca, is much commended both by him and by other writers, for the sweetness and generosity of his temper, and easiness of his behaviour. Yet one thing he lacked! But he knew it not, and had no concern about it! The Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul His great success at Corinth, and in Peloponnesus, in converting the Gentiles to the faith of Christ, provoked the Jews to the highest pitch of rage, especially when they found he led his converts to despise the institutions of Moses, by assuring them that they might be justified and saved through faith in Christ, without the use of these institutions: and brought him to the judgment-seat Of Gallio; saying, This fellow The author of insufferable mischiefs, here and all over the country; persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law It seems Paul had taught that, the law of Moses being now abrogated, men were no longer bound to worship God with sacrifices and washings, and other bodily services, but in spirit and in truth. And this doctrine being deemed contrary to the law of Moses, the unbelieving Jews, in this tumultuous manner, brought Paul, the teacher of it, before the proconsul, in order to have him punished, as one who, by opposing the law of Moses, had acted contrary to the laws of the empire, which tolerated the Jews in the exercise of their religion.

Verses 14-16

Acts 18:14-16. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth To speak in his own defence; Gallio Sensible of the futility of the charge; said to the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong, or wicked lewdness With which you charged the person you have now brought before me: that is, If you accused this man of any injury done to particular persons, or of wantonly disturbing the peace of society; reason would That is, it were reasonable; that I should bear with you In this prosecution; and even that I should exert the power with which I am invested, to punish the offender in proportion to his crime. But if it be a question of words

Greek, περι λογου , concerning discourse, or doctrine; and of names, and of your law If your accusation respect opinions taught by Paul, which ye think heretical; and whether the names of the Christ, and the Son of God, which he hath given to any one, ought to be given to that person; and whether all who worship the God of the Jews, are bound to worship him according to the rites of your law; look ye to it These are matters which belong to yourselves, and with which, as a magistrate, I have no concern. I will be no judge of such matters Matters so foreign to my office. The apparent coolness and contempt with which Gallio speaks of the matters in debate between Paul and the Jews does not merit commendation, but the severest censure. The names of the heathen gods, and the institutions concerning their worship and service, were fables, shadows, and deceits; but the question concerning the name of Jesus, his person, character, and offices, and the worship and service of the living and true God, is of more importance than all things else under heaven. Yet, there is this singularity (among a thousand others) in the Christian religion, that human reason, curious as it is in all other things, abhors to inquire into it. And he drave them from the judgment-seat Not regarding their clamorous importunity.

Verse 17

Acts 18:17. Then all the Greeks Who were present, perceiving how little favour the Jews found from the court, and displeased with them for their turbulent, persecuting spirit, perhaps, thinking that Paul was thus insulted for the regards he had expressed for the Gentiles; took Sosthenes The successor of Crispus, as chief ruler of the synagogue And probably Paul’s chief accuser; and beat him It seems, because he had occasioned them so much trouble to no purpose; before the judgment-seat While Gallio looked an without hindering them. But though this was certainly a very irregular proceeding, Gallio cared for none of those things Did not concern himself at all to interpose in the affair. Probably he was pleased with the indignity done by the Greeks to the chief magistrate of the Jews, whose bigoted and persecuting spirit he disliked. It seems what Sosthenes now suffered had a happy effect on him; for he afterward became a Christian.

Verse 18

Acts 18:18. Paul after this After these tumultuous proceedings, and the opposition that was raised against him at Corinth by the Jews; tarried there yet a good while Greek, ημερας ικανας , many days, after the year and six months, mentioned Acts 18:11, to confirm the brethren. And then took his leave, and sailed into Syria That is, in order to return thither; and with him Priscilla and Aquila His two intimate friends; having shorn his head in Cenchrea Commentators are much divided in opinion, whether this is spoken of Aquila or Paul. Chrysostom, Grotius, Heinsius, Hammond, and Witsius, with many others, refer it to the former; but Jerome, Augustin, Beda, Calmet, Whitby, Doddridge, Dodd, and Macknight, understand it of Paul. And it seems more probable from the construction, that this clause, and the beginning of the next verse, should refer to the same person, that is, to Paul. “Aquila being left at Ephesus, and not going up to Jerusalem as Paul did, hence I conclude,” says Dr. Whitby, “that the vow was made by Paul.” Macknight’s paraphrase on the clause is, “They took ship at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, where Paul shaved his head, and thereby put a period to the duration of a vow which he had made, perhaps, on occasion of the great deliverance he had obtained, when the Jews made insurrection against him.” What sort of a vow this was we are not informed. Salmasius has justly observed, it could not be a vow of Nazariteship, for then the hair must have been burned in the temple, under the caldron in which the peace-offerings were boiled, Numbers 6:18. It was the custom, it seems, on the accomplishment of vows, for persons to shave their heads, Acts 21:23-24.

Verses 19-23

Acts 18:19-23. And he came to Ephesus The ship in which they sailed probably having occasion to touch there. And he entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews Upon whom his discourse made such an impression, that they desired him to tarry longer with them However, as his vow made it necessary that he should offer the appointed sacrifice in Jerusalem at the ensuing feast, which, according to the general opinion, was the passover, he consented not, but bade them farewell Promising, however, if God permitted, to return again to them; and the rather, because there seemed to be a probability of preaching the gospel there with success, both to the Jews and Gentiles. And when After a safe voyage; he had landed at Cesarea In such good time as to be able to keep the feast in Jerusalem, according to his resolution; and had gone up and saluted the church there, and completed his vow, knowing that there was no need of his labours in that city, where there were so many apostles and chief brethren, he did not stay long there; but, after keeping the feast, went down to Antioch In Syria, where formerly he and Barnabas had laboured so successfully in the work of the ministry. And after he had spent some time there He set out upon another journey: for his concern for the salvation of lost mankind, and the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, would not suffer him to rest when he could do any thing to promote these important ends; and went over the country of Galatia and Phrygia Spending, it is supposed, about four years in these parts, including the time he stayed at Ephesus; since it is here said he went over all those countries; in order It is probable he did so for the purpose of visiting every church, and receiving those contributions which, in his former journey, he requested them to make for the saints in Judea. See 1 Corinthians 16:1.

Verses 24-26

Acts 18:24-26. And a certain Jew, &c. While Paul was thus visiting the churches of Galatia and Phrygia, there came to Ephesus a Jew, named Apollos A native of Alexandria in Egypt; an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures Namely, those of the Old Testament. Observe, reader, every talent may be of use in the kingdom of Christ, if joined with the knowledge of the Scriptures, and fervour of spirit. Now this man was instructed Though not perfectly; in the way of the Lord In the doctrine of Christ; and being fervent in spirit That is, earnestly desirous of promoting the progress of truth, and the conversion of souls; he spake and taught diligently Greek, ακριβως , accurately, or with exactness, according to the best light he had; knowing only the baptism of John That is, what John taught those whom he baptized, namely, the nature and necessity of repentance toward God, and faith in a Messiah shortly to appear. It is thought he had heard John the Baptist preach, and had become his disciple in Judea: if so, as John was beheaded more than twenty years before this time, and as Apollos seems to have had little or no knowledge of the Christians, it is probable he had not remained in Judea, but had returned to Alexandria, his native city, after he had been baptized by John, and had continued there till nearly the time of his coming to Ephesus. Hence he had had no opportunity of being fully acquainted with the doctrines of the gospel, as delivered by Christ and his apostles. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue Pleading the cause of God and real vital religion with an earnestness becoming the importance of the subject, as well as freely reproving the Jews for their vices, which were so commonly practised among them, and showing the vanity of those hopes which, as the seed of Abraham, and the disciples of Moses, they were so ready to entertain. Whom when Aquila and Priscilla Being then at Ephesus; had heard Perceiving that he manifested an upright mind, and great zeal for the worship and service of the living and true God; they took him unto them Probably to their house; and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly By informing him that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, whose coming John had announced, and by assuring him that John had even pointed him out as the Christ to his disciples. Besides, these well- instructed Christians, who, during Paul’s abode with them, had gained a perfect knowledge of the gospel, doubtless gave Apollos a particular account of the supernatural conception and birth, of the doctrine, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus; and informed him that he had proved himself to be the Christ, not only by his miracles and resurrection, but by his baptizing his disciples with the Holy Ghost and with fire, as John had foretold.

Verses 27-28

Acts 18:27-28. And when Having received this more perfect instruction in the Christian faith; he was disposed to pass into Achaia That he might preach the word at Corinth, and other places in that province; the brethren Of Ephesus; wrote, exhorting the disciples there to receive him With all affection and respect, as a person whose character well deserved it. And when he was come To Corinth; he helped them much which had believed Was eminently serviceable in edifying and confirming those who had embraced the gospel; (for Apollos did not plant, but water; which was the peculiar gift he had received;) through grace Through which only any gift of any one is rendered profitable to another. For he mightily convinced the Jews Which, from his great knowledge of the Scriptures, he was better able to do than to convert the heathen. Greek, ευτονως τοις Ιουδαιοις διακατηλεγχετο , he strongly, or vehemently, confuted the Jews; and that not only in private converse, but by public preaching; showing by the Scriptures By appealing to many striking passages of them, which he quoted; that Jesus was Christ The true and only Messiah; and that the salvation of men, of the Jews as well as Gentiles, depended upon their receiving and submitting to him. It seems Apollos tarried some time at Corinth, and became so zealous and useful a preacher there, that the fame of his labours reached the apostle during his abode in Ephesus; and occasioned him, in the letter which he wrote from that city to the Corinthians, to say, (1 Corinthians 3:6,) I have planted, Apollos watered.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Acts 18". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/acts-18.html. 1857.
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