Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, April 13th, 2024
the Second Week after Easter
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Acts 18

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-28


Acts 18:1

He for Paul, A.V. and T.R. After these things, etc. No hint is given by St. Luke as to the length of Paul's sojourn at Athens. But as the double journey of the Beroeans, who accompanied him to Athens, back to Beraea, and of Timothy from Beraea to Athens, amounted to above five hundred miles, we cannot suppose it to have been less than a month; and it may have been a good deal more. His reasonings in the synagogue with the Jews and devout Greeks, apparently on successive sabbaths, his daily disputations in the Agora, apparently not begun till after he had "waited" some time for Silas and Timothy, the knowledge he had acquired of the numerous temples and altars at Athens, and the phrase with which this chapter begins, all indicate a stay of some length. Came to Corinth. If by land, a forty miles' or two days' journey, through Eleusis and Megara; if by sea, a day's sail. Lewin thinks he came by sea, and that it was in winter, and that possibly one of the shipwrecks mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:25 may have occurred at this time. Corinth, at this time a Roman colony, the capital of the province of Achaia, and the residence of the proconsul. It was a great commercial city, the center of the trade of the Levant, and consequently a great resort of the Jews. It had a very large Greek population. Ancient Corinth had been destroyed by Mummins, surnamed Achaicus, R.C. 146, and remained waste (ἐρήμη) many years. Julius Caesar founded a Roman colony on the old site (Howson), "consisting principally of freedmen, among whom were great numbers of the Jewish race." Corinth, as a Roman colony, had its duumviri, as appears by coins of the reign of Claudius

. So in classical authors, Livia and Livilla, Drusa and Drusilla, are used of the same persons. Prisca is a not uncommon name for Roman women. The masculine Priscus occurs very frequently. Aquila and Priscilla were among the most active Christians, and the most devoted friends of St. Paul (Acts 2:18, Acts 2:26; Romans 16:3, Romans 16:4, Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19); and were evidently persons of culture as well as piety. Lately; προσφάτως (i.q. πρόσφατον, Pindar, etc.), only found here in the New Testament. But it occurs in the LXX. of Deuteronomy 24:5 and Ezekiel 11:3, and in the apocryphal books repeatedly, and in Polybius. The adjective πρόσφατος, which is also used by the LXX. and the Apocrypha and in classical Greek for "new," is used only once in the New Testament, in Hebrews 10:20. It means properly "newly killed," hence anything "recent," "fresh, or "new." Both the adjective and the adverb are very common in medical writings. Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. Suetonius mentions the fact, but unfortunately does not say in what year of Claudius's reign it took place. His account is that, in consequence of frequent disturbances and riots among the Jews at the instigation of Chrestus, Claudius drove them from Rome. It seems almost certain, as Renan says, especially combining Tacitus's account ('Annal.,' 15.44) of the spread of Christianity in the city of Rome before the time of Nero, that Chrestus (Greek Χρηστός,) is only a corruption of the name Christ, similar to that found on three or four inscriptions before the time of Constantine, where Christians are called Χρηστιανοί, and to the formation of the French word Chretien—in old French Chrestien; and that the true account of these riots is that they were attacks of the unbelieving Jews upon Christian Jews, similar to these at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-40.), at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:50), at Iconium and Lystra (Acts 14:1-28.), and at Thessalonica and Beraea (Acts 17:1-34.). The Romans did not discriminate between Jews and Christian Jews, and thought that those who called Christ their King were fighting under his leadership. Tertullian and Lactantius both speak of the vulgar pronunciation, Chrestianus and Chrestus. Howson also adopts the above explanation. But Meyer thinks that Chrestus was, as Suetonius says, a Jewish leader of insurrection at Rome. The question bears on the passage before us chiefly as the solution does or does not prove the existence of Christians at Rome at this time, and affects the probability of Aquila and Priscilla being already Christians when they came to Corinth, before they made St. Paul's acquaintance.

Acts 18:3

Trade for craft, A.V.; they wrought for (he) wrought, A.V. and T.R.; trade for occupation, A.V. (τέχνῃ). Of the same trade; ὁμότεχνον. This word occurs here only in the New Testament, but is of frequent use in Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Galen (Hobart, as before). Tent-makers; σκηνοποιοί, which is paraphrased by σκηοῤῥάφοι, tent-stitchers or tailors, by Chrysostom and Theodoret. Hug and others erroneously interpret it "makers of tent-cloth," from the fact that a certain kind of cloth made of goats' hair, called κιλίκιον, was manufactured in Paul's native country of Cilicia. But the fact of such manufacture would equally lead persons who were living in Cilicia to exercise the trade of making tents of the cloth so manufactured. St. Paul alludes to his manual labor in Acts 20:33-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1Th 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 2 Thessalonians 3:9.

Acts 18:4

Jews and Greeks for the Jews and the Greeks, A.V. Observe again the influence of the synagogue upon the Greek population. Reasoned (see Acts 17:2, Acts 17:17, note).

Acts 18:5

But for and, A.V.; Timothy for Timotheus, A.V.; came down for were come down, A.V.; constrained by the Word for pressed in spirit, A.V. and T.R.; testifying for and testified, A.V.; the Christ for Christ, A.V. When Silas and Timothy, etc. It is probable that Silas had returned by St. Paul's directions to Beraea, and Timothy to Thessalonica from Athens. If there were extant a letter of Paul to the Beraeans, it would probably mention his sending back Silas to them, just as the Epistle to the Thessalonians mentions his sending Timothy to them. Now they both come to Corinth from Macedonia, which includes Beraea and Thessalonica. If they came by sea, they would probably sail together from Dium to Cenchreae (see Acts 17:14, note). Was constrained by the Word. As an English phrase, this is almost destitute of meaning. If the R.T. is right, and it has very strong manuscript authority, the words συνείχετο τῷ λόγῳ mean that he was seized, taken possession of, and as it were bound by the necessity of preaching the Word, constrained as it were to preach more earnestly than ever. In St. Luke συνέχεσθαι is a medical term: in Luke 4:28, R.T., "Holden with a great fever;" Luke 8:37, "Holden with a great fear;" Acts 28:8, "Sick of fever and dysentery;" and so frequently in medical writers ('Medical Language of St. Luke,' Hobart). But it is worth considering whether συνείχετο is not in the middle voice, with the sense belonging to συνεχής, i.e. "continuous," "unbroken," and so that the phrase means that, after the arrival of Silas and Timothy, St. Paul gave himself up to continuous preaching. St. Luke has not infrequently a use of words peculiar to himself. The Vulgate rendering, instabat verbo, seems so to understand it. It was probably soon after the arrival of Silas and Timothy that St. Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. l; 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:6). The Second Epistle followed some time before St. Paul left Corinth. If the T.R., τῷ πνεύματι, is right, it must be construed, "constrained by the Spirit," in accordance with Greek usage. Testifying, etc. Note how different St. Paul's preaching in the synagogue was from his preaching in the Areopagus.

Acts 18:6

Shook out for shook, A.V. For this action of shaking his raiment, comp. Acts 13:51. It was in accordance with our Lord's direction in Matthew 10:14, where the same word (ἐκτινάσσειν) is used. It is "much employed in medical language". The idea seems to be having nothing henceforth in common with them. Your blood, etc. (see Ezekiel 33:4-9). St. Paul's keen sense of the perverseness of the Jews breaks out in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians (it. 14-16), written about this time. See hole to Matthew 10:5.

Acts 18:7

Went for entered, A.V.; the house of a certain man for a certain man's house, A.V.; Titus Justus for Justus, A.V. and T.R. Thence. Clearly from the synagogue, where he had been preaching to the Jews, not from Aquila's house, as Alford and others. It does not appear to be a question here of where Paul lodged, but where he preached. Justus had probably a large room, which he gave Paul the use of for his sabbath and other meetings. As Howson truly says, he continued to "lodge" (μένειν) with Aquila and Priscilla. It is only said that he "came" (ἧλθεν) to the house of Justus from the synagogue. So Renan, "Il enseigna desormais dans la maison de Titius Justus". One that worshipped God (σεβομένον τὸν Θεόν); i.e. a Greek proselyte of the gate (see Acts 13:43, Acts 13:50; Acts 16:14; Acts 17:4, Acts 17:17, etc.) Cornelius is called εὐσεβὴς καὶ φοβούμενος τὸν Θεόν. Whose house, etc. Either his proximity to the synagogue had led to his attending there, or, being already a proselyte, he had taken a house hard by for the convenience of attending. Joined hard; ἧν συνομοροῦσα, found only here either in the New Testament or elsewhere. Ὁμορέω occurs in Plutarch; συνόμορος is also a word (Steph., 'Thesaur.').

Acts 18:8

Ruler for chief ruler, A.V. (ἀρχισυνάγωγος, as in Acts 13:15); in for on, A.V. Crispus (a common Roman name) was one of the very few whom St. Paul himself baptized, probably on account of his important position as ruler of the synagogue, as we learn from 1 Corinthians 1:14. With all his house (comp. Acts 16:33, Acts 16:34). Many of the Corinthians; i.e. of the Greeks and Romans, who composed the population of the city. It is seldom that we have the names of so many converts preserved as we have of this Achaian mission. Besides Crispus and Gaius, we know of Epaenetus and Stephanas, who would seem to have been converted together (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15); and probably also Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17). Gains, from his name (Caius) and his salutation to the Church at Rome, was probably a Roman. Fortunatus and Achaicus also be-belonged, perhaps, to the Roman colony. Here too were many heathen converts (1 Corinthians 12:2), though mostly of the lower rank (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Acts 18:9

And the Lord said unto for then spake the Lord to, A.V. A vision (ὅραμα); literally, a thing seen, but always used of a wonderful "sight:" Matthew 17:9 of the Transfiguration, Acts 7:31 of the burning bush. But more commonly of a "vision," as in Acts 9:10, Acts 9:12; Acts 10:3, Acts 10:17, Acts 10:19; Acts 11:5; Acts 12:9; Acts 16:9. So in the LXX. (Genesis 46:2, etc.). St. Paul received a similar gracious token of the Lord's watchful care of him soon after his conversion (Acts 22:17-21). He tells us that then he was in an "ecstasy," or trance. The ἔκστασις describes the mental condition of the person who sees an ὅραμαα.

Acts 18:10

Harm for hurt, A.V. I have much people, etc. We may infer from this intimation from him who "knoweth them that are his," which led to St. Paul staying on at Corinth upwards of a year and six months (Acts 18:11), that the shortness of his stay at Athens was because the Lord had not much people there. For the encouraging promise of protection in the midst of danger given to St. Paul by Christ in this vision, comp. Jeremiah 1:17-19.

Acts 18:11

Dwelt for continued, A.V. Dwelt; literally, sat down, as Acts 13:14, etc., and hence to "remain quietly" (Luke 24:49). A year and six months. It is not clear whether these eighteen months are to be measured to the end of St. Paul's stay at Corinth, or only to the rising up of the Jews related in Acts 13:12-17. Renan is doubtful. Howson does not go into the question. But Lewin rightly measures the eighteen months down to Gallio's arrival. And so does Meyer, who also notices the force of ἐκάθισε, as indicating a quiet, undisturbed abode, and calls special attention to the ἔτι of Acts 13:18, as showing that the "many days" there mentioned were additional to the year and a half of Acts 13:11. The only longer residence we know of was that of three years at Ephesus (Acts 20:31).

Acts 18:12

But for and, A.V.; proconsul for the deputy, A.V.; with one accord rose up for made insurrection with one accord, A.V.; before for to, A.V. Gallio. Marcus Annaeus Novatus took the name of Lucius Junius Annaeus Gallio, on account of his adoption by L. Junius Gallio. He was the elder brother of Seneca, and a man of ability, and of a most amiable temper and disposition. His brother Seneca said that he had not a fault, and that everybody loved him. He was called "Dulcis Gallio" by Statius. It is unfortunately not known exactly in what year Gallio became either Consul or Proconsul of Achaia. Had it been known, it would have been invaluable for fixing the chronology of St. Paul's life. Lewin puts it (his proconsulate) in the year A.D. 53, and so does Renan; Howson, between A.D. 52 and A.D. 54. The circumstantial evidence from secular writers corroborating St. Luke's account is exceedingly curious. There is no account extant either of his consulate or of his proconsulate of Achaia. But Pithy, speaking of the medicinal effect of a sea-voyage on persons in consumption, gives as an example, "as I remember was the case with Annaeus Gallio after his consulate," and seems to imply that he went to Egypt for the sake of the long sea-voyage; which would suit very well his going there from his government in Achaia. And that his proconsulate was in Achaia is corroborated by a chance quotation in Seneca's Epistle 104, of a saying of "my lord Gallio, when ha had a fever in Achaia and immediately went on board ship," where the phrase "domini met," applied to his own brother, seems also to indicate his high rank. Profane history also shuts up the probable date of Gallio's proconsulate between the year A.D. 49 and the year A.D. 65 or 66, in which he died. There is a diversity of accounts as to his death. Ernesti, in his note on Tacitus, 'Auual.,' 15. 73., where Tacitus speaks of him as frightened at the death of his brother Seneca, and a suppliant for his own life, says, "quem Nero post interfecit," and refers to Dion Cassius, 58, 18, and Eusebius. But Dion is there speaking of Junius Gallio in the reign of Tiberius, not of our Gallio at all; though afterwards, speaking of the death of Seneca, he says, "and his brothers also were killed after him "(62, 25). £ As for Eusebius, the passage quoted £ is not found in the Greek or Armenian copies of the 'Chronicon,' but only in the Latin of Jerome. But, as Scaliger points out, there is a manifest blunder here, because the 'Chronicon ' places the death of Gallio two years before that of Seneca, whereas we know from Tacitus that Gallio was alive after his brother's death. Moreover, the description "egregius declamator" clearly applies to Junius Gallio the rhetorician, and not to Gallio his adopted son. Though, therefore, Renan says, "Comme son frere il eut l'honneur sous Neron d'expier par, la mort sa distinction et son honnetete", if we give duo weight to the silence of Tacitus, it is very doubtful whether he died a violent death at all. St. Luke, as usual, is most accurate in calling him proconsul. Achaia had been recently made a senatorial province by Claudius. For ἀνθύπατος, see Acts 13:7, Acts 13:8, Acts 13:12; Acts 19:38. The verb occurs only here in the New Testament. The term deputy was adopted in the A.V. doubtless from that being the title of the Viceroy of Ireland, and other officers who exercise a deputed authority, just as the proconsul was in the place of the consul. Rose up against; κατεπέστησαν, one of Luke's peculiar words, found neither in the New Testament nor in the LXX., nor in classical writers (Steph., 'Thesaur.'). The judgment seat (see note to verse 12).

Acts 18:13

Man for fellow, A.V. The A.V. was intended to express the contemptuous feeling often implied in οὖτος (Luke 23:1-56. Luke 23:2; Matthew 12:24; Acts 5:28, etc.). Contrary to the Law; meaning, as it naturally would in the mouth of a Jew, the Law of Moses. Hence Gallio's answer in Acts 18:15, "If it be a question … of your Law, look ye to it." The very phrase, to "worship God," had a technical sense (see above, Acts 18:7). Paul, they said, professed to make proselytes, and encouraged them to break the Law.

Acts 18:14

But for and, A.V.; about for now about, A.V.; if indeed for if, A.V.; of wicked villainy for wicked lewdness, A.V. The Greek ῥᾳδιούργημα occurs only here in the New Testament or elsewhere; ῥᾳδιουργία, which is not uncommon in Greek writers, occurs in Acts 13:10.

Acts 18:15

They are questions about for it be a question of, A.V. and T.R.; your own for of your, A.V., an unnecessary change; look to it yourselves for look ye to it, A.V.; I am not minded to be a for for I will be no, A.V. and T.R.; these for such, A.V.

Acts 18:16

And he drave them; ἀπήλασεν, found only here in the New Testament or LXX. But it is used by Demosthenes and Plutarch in exactly the same connection: ἀπὸ τοῦ συνεδρίου ἀπὸ τοῦ βήματος. It implies the ignominious dismissal of the case, without its being even tried. The judgment seat (βῆμα); the proconsular place of judgment. The βῆμα (here and Acts 18:12) was properly the "raised space," or "tribune," on which, in the case of a consul, proconsul, or praetor, the sella curulis was placed on which he sat and gave judgment. It was usually a kind of apse to the basilica. In Matthew 27:19; John 19:13, and, indeed, here and elsewhere, it seems to be used, generally, for the judgment-seat itself (see Acts 25:10).

Acts 18:17

And they all laid hold on for then all the Greeks took, A.V. and T.R.; ruler for chief ruler, A.V., as Acts 18:8. The R.T. has far more manuscript support than either the T.R. or another reading, which has "Jews" instead of "Greeks." All means all the crowd of bystanders and lookers-on, mostly, no doubt, Greeks. The Jews, always unpopular, would be sure to have the Corinthian rabble against them as soon as the proconsul drove them from the judgment seat. Sosthenes. There is no probability whatever that he is the same person as the Sosthenes of 1 Corinthians 1:1. The name was very common. He appears to have succeeded Crispus as ruler of the synagogue, and would be likely, therefore, to be especially hostile to Paul.

Acts 18:18

Having tarried after this yet many days for after this tarried there yet a good while, and then, A.V.; for for into, A.V.; Cenchreae for Cenchrea, A.V. Took his leave; ἀποταξάμενος, here and again in Acts 18:21. This is a somewhat peculiar use of the word, which occurs also in Luke 9:61 and 2 Corinthians 2:13. It is used in the same sense in Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 11. 8.6). In a metaphorical sense it means" to renounce," "to bid adieu to" (Luke 14:23). Of the six times it occurs in the New Testament, four are in St. Luke's writings and one in St. Paul's. With him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head in Cenchreae, etc. There is great diversity of opinion as to whether it was St. Paul or Aquila who had the vow. £ Meyer thinks that the mention of Priscilla before Aquila, contrary to the order in verse 2 and in verse 26 (where, however, the R.T. reads "Priscilla and Aquila"), is a clear indication that Luke meant the words κειράμενος κ.τ.λ., to refer to Aquila, not to St. Paul, and Howson takes the same view. But this is a very weak argument, refuted at once by Romans 16:3 and 2 Timothy 4:19, as well as by the whole run of the passage, in which Paul is throughout the person spoken of; or, as Alford puts it, in the consecutive narrative from 2 Timothy 4:18 to verse 25, there are nine aorist participles, of which eight apply to Paul, as the subject of the section, making it scarcely doubtful that the ninth applies to him likewise. Moreover, there is no conceivable reason why the vow should be mentioned if it was taken by Aquila, and, what is still more conclusive, the person who went to Jerusalem, i.e. Paul, must be the one who had the vow, not the person who stayed behind, i.e. Aquila. In fact, nobody would ever have thought of making Aquila the subject if it were not for the thought that there is an incongruity with Paul's character in his making a vow of that kind. But we must take what we find in Scripture, and not force it to speak our own thoughts. As regards the nature of the vow, it is not quite clear what it was. It was not the simple Nazaritic vow described in Numbers 6:18-21; nor is the word here used by St. Luke (κειράμενος) the one which is there and elsewhere employed by the LXX., and by St. Luke himself in Acts 21:24, of that final shaving of the hair of the Nazarite for the purpose of offering it at the door of the tabernacle (ξυράω). It seems rather to have been of the nature of that vow which Josephus speaks of as customary for persons in any affliction, viz. to make a vow that, for thirty days previous to that on which they intend to offer sacrifice, they will abstain from wine and will shave off (ξυρήσασθαι) their hair, adding that Bernice was now at Jerusalem in order to perform such a vow ('Bell. Jud.,' it. 15.1). But it further appears, from certain passages in the Mishna, that, if any one had a Nazarite vow upon him outside the limits of the Holy Land, he could not fulfill such vow till he was come to the Holy Laud, to Jerusalem; but it was allowable in such case to cut his hair short (κείρεσθαι τὴν κεφαλήν), and as some say to take it with him to Jerusalem, and there offer it at the same time that he offered his sacrifice and shaved his head (ξυρήσασθαι). £ It would seem, therefore, that either in a severe illness or under some great danger (ἀνάγκη) St. Paul had made such a vow; that he had been unwilling to cut his hair short at Corinth, where he was thrown so much into the society of Greeks, and therefore did so at Cenchreae just before he embarked for Syria; and that he made all haste to reach Jerusalem in time for the Passover, that he might there accomplish his vow. His motives for the vow may have been partly those described on another occasion (Acts 21:24), and partly his own Jewish feelings of piety showing themselves in the accustomed way. Cenchreae. The eastern port of Corinth; a considerable place. There was a Church there, doubtless founded by St. Paul during his stay at Corinth (Romans 16:1).

Acts 18:19

They came for he came, A.V. and T.R.; he left for left, A.V. They came to Ephesus. "No voyage across the AEgean was more frequently made than that between Corinth and Ephesus. They were the capitals of the two flourishing and peaceful provinces of Achaia and Asia, and the two great mercantile towns on opposite sides of the sea" (Howson, vol. 1.454). The voyage would take from ten to fifteen days. Reasoned; διελέχθη, as in Acts 17:2, Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4, Acts 19:8, Acts 19:9; Acts 20:7, Acts 20:9; Acts 24:25. As regards the expression, left them there, it probably arises from some actual detail which made it the natural one to use. If, for example, the synagogue was just outside the city, and Paul, parting with Aquila and Priscilla in the city, had gone off immediately to the synagogue, the phrase used would be the natural one; or the words, "he left them there," may be spoken with reference to the main narrative, which is momentarily interrupted by the mention of St. Paul's visit to the synagogue. Note the extreme importance of this brief visit to Ephesus, where the foundation of a vigorous and flourishing Church seems to have been laid. He who knows "the times and the seasons" sent St. Paul there now, though two years before he had forbidden him to go to Asia.

Acts 18:20

And when they asked for when they desired, A.V.; abide a for tarry, A.V.; time for time with them, A.V. He consented not; οὐκ ἐπένευσεν, only here in the New Testament, but found in Pray. Acts 26:20; Acts 2:1-47 Mace. Acts 4:10, etc., and frequently in medical writers; literally, to bend the head forward by the proper muscles (Hobart).

Acts 18:21

Taking his leave of them, and saying for bade them farewell, saying, A.V.; I will return for I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem; but I will return, A.V. and T.R.; he set sail for and he sailed, A.V. and T.R. Taking his leave; as in Acts 18:18, note. I must by all means, etc. This clause is not found in א, A, B, E, and several versions, and is omitted in the R.T. But Alford, Meyer, Wordsworth, and others consider it to be genuine. It is certainly difficult to account for such words being inserted in the text if they were not genuine; whereas it is easy to account for their omission, either by accident or from the fact that the brevity of the allusion to his visit to Jerusalem in Acts 18:22 might easily mislead a copyist into thinking that St. Paul did not go to Jerusalem at this time, and therefore that the words were misplaced. Observe how St. Paul's fixed purpose to reach Jerusalem as soon as possible tallies with the account of his vow. This feast (A.V.). Iris not clear what feast is meant. Alford, Wordsworth, ' Speaker's Commentary,' and others, following Wieseler, think it was the Feast of Pentecost, being influenced by the consideration that sailing was dangerous and very unusual so early as before the Passover. But Meyer thinks it uncertain. But the expression, "I must by all means," would cover the risk of a voyage in the stormy season. I will return again. The fulfillment of this promise is related in Acts 19:1, etc. If God will (see James 4:13-15).

Acts 18:22

He went up for and gone up, A. g.; and went for he went, A.V. When he had landed at Caesarea; i.e. Caesarea Stratonis, or Sebaste, or Παραλιός, as it was variously called, to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi (see Acts 8:40; Acts 9:30; Acts 10:1, etc., and frequently elsewhere in the Acts). "Caesarea, whither probably the vessel was bound, was the military capital of the Roman province of Judea, of which Felix was at this time procurator. It was also the harbor by which all travelers from the West approached it, and from whence roads led to Egypt on the south, to Tyre and Sidon and Antioch on the north, and eastward to Nablous and Jerusalem and the Jordan" (Howson, 1.455). He went up and saluted the Church; meaning, without any doubt, he went up to Jerusalem, as both the word ἀναβὰς, and the object of his-going up, "to salute the Church," conclusively show. For ἀναβαίνω, whether coupled with εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα as in Matthew 20:17, Matthew 20:18, or standing alone as in John 7:8, John 7:10, and John 12:20, is the regular word for going up to Jerusalem (see Acts 11:2; Acts 15:2; Acts 21:12, Acts 21:15; Acts 24:11; Acts 25:1, Acts 25:9); and ἡ ἐκκλησία, the Church, which Paul went to salute, can mean nothing but the mother Church of Jerusalem. No doubt he was received officially by the apostles, represented by James and the elders and the Church, as in Acts 15:4; and gave a formal account of the result of his second missionary journey, and of the great event of the introduction of the gospel into Macedonia and Achaia. It is a remarkable example of St. Luke's great brevity at times that this is the only notice of his arrival at Jerusalem, where his vow was to be fulfilled. Went down to Antioch; from whence he had started with Silas, after his separation from Barnabas, some three years before, "being recommended by the brethren to the grace of God" (Acts 16:40; comp. Acts 14:26, Acts 14:27; Acts 15:30).

Acts 18:23

Having for after he had, A.V.; through the region for over all the country, A.V.; stablishing for strengthening, A.V. Having spent some time there (Acts 15:33, note). How long we have no means of knowing; probably under six months; "quelques mois"; "four months". According to Renan, Lewin, 'Speaker's Commentary,' and many others, it was at this time that the meeting with St. Peter occurred to which St. Paul refers in Galatians 2:11, etc. And Renan ingeniously connects that perversion of the faith of the Galatians which led to St. Paul's Epistle being addressed to them, with the visit to Antioch of James's emissaries, Lewin also identifies the journey of St Paul to Jerusalem mentioned in Galatians 2:1 with that recorded in our verse 22. But neither of these theories is borne out by any known facts, nor is in itself probable. There is no appearance of Barnabas or Titus being with St. Paul at this time, and it is very unlikely that any should have come from James to Antioch so immediately after St. Paul's salutation of the Church at Jerusalem and the fulfillment of his vow there. The time preceding the visit of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, as related in Acts 15:1-41., is far the most likely for the encounter of the two apostles (see Acts 14:28; Acts 15:1, and note). Went through; διερχόμενος, as in Acts 8:4, Acts 8:40; Acts 10:38; Acts 13:6; Acts 16:6; Acts 17:23, etc. The region of Galatia and Phrygia. In Acts 16:6 the order is inverted, "the region of Phrygia and Galatia," R.V., or "Phrygia and the region of Galatia," A.V. The natural inference from this is, as Lewin says, with whom Farrar agrees, that on this occasion St. Paul went straight from Antioch to Galatia, passing through the Cilician Gates and by Mazaca, or Caesarea, as it was called by Tiberius Caesar, in Cappadocia, and not visiting the Churches of Lycaonia. £ He proceeded from Galatia through Phrygia to Ephesus. The distance from Antioch to Tarsus was one hundred and forty-one miles, from whence to Tavium in Galatia was two hundred and seventy-one miles, making the whole distance from Antioch to Tavium in Galatia four hundred and twelve miles, or about a three weeks' journey including rest on the sabbath days. From Galatia to Ephesus would be between six hundred and seven hundred miles. The entire journey would thus be considerably more than a thousand miles, a journey of forty days exclusive of all stoppages. Six months probably must have elapsed between his departure from Antioch and his arrival at Ephesus; Lewin says "several months". In order; in the same order, though inverted, in which he had first visited them, leaving out none. Stablishing, etc. (ἐπιστηρίζων); see above, Acts 14:22; Acts 15:32, Acts 15:41.

Acts 18:24

Now for and, A.V.; an Alexandrian by race for born at Alexandria, A.V.; learned for eloquent, A.V. (λόγιος); came to Ephesus; and he was mighty, etc., for and mighty in the Scriptures, came, etc., A.V. From Acts 18:24 to Acts 18:28 is a distinct episode, and an important one, as containing the first mention of a very remarkable man, Apollos (a short form of Apollonius, like Epaphras for Epaphroditus) of Alexandria, a city destined to play a conspicuous part in Church history, as the traditional Church and see of St. Mark, the school of the Neoplatonists, the scene of the labors of Origen, Clement, and many other men of note, and the birthplace of the Gnostic leaders Cerinthus, Basilides, and Valentinus. The notices of Apollos in the New Testament are Acts 19:1; 1Co 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4, 1Co 3:5, 1 Corinthians 3:6, 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1Co 4:6; 1 Corinthians 16:12; Titus 3:13; and all show St. Paul's high esteem for him. It was no more his fault than St. Peter's and St. Paul's that the factious Corinthians elevated him, or rather degraded him, into the leader of a party, Eloquent seems to be a better translation of λόγιος here than learned. The Greek word, which only occurs here in the New Testament, has both meanings.

Acts 18:25, Acts 18:26

Had been for was, A.V.; spirit for the spirit, A.V.; carefully for diligently, A.V.; things concerning Jesus for things of the Lord, A.V. and T.R.; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him for whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, A.V. and T.R.; carefully for perfectly, A.V. Knowing only the baptism of John. It is difficult at first sight to conceive how at this time any one could know the baptism of John without knowing further that of Christ. But a possible account of it is that Apollos living at Alexandria, where as yet there was no Christian Church. had met some Jews who had been in Judaea at the time of John's ministry, and had heard from them of John's baptism and preaching, and of his testimony to Jesus as the Messiah, but had had no further opportunity of careful instruction in the faith of Jesus Christ till he happened to come to Ephesus and make the acquaintance of his compatriots, Aquila and Priscilla. They hearing him speak with fervor and eloquence, but perceiving that his knowledge was imperfect, immediately invited him to their house, and instructed him in the fullness of the truth of the gospel. This necessarily included the doctrine of Christian baptism, which we cannot doubt was administered to him (John 1:33; Acts 1:5; Acts 2:38).

Acts 18:27

Minded for disposed, A.V.; pass over for pass, A.V.; encouraged him, and wrote to for wrote exhorting, A.V.; and he helped for who helped, A.V. To pass over into Achaia. Nothing can be more natural than the course of events here described. In his intimate intercourse with Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos had necessarily heard much of the great work at Corinth, and the flourishing Church there; and so he longed to see for himself and to exercise his powers in watering what St. Paul had so well planted (1 Corinthians 3:6). Priscilla and Aquila having heard his eloquent sermons at Ephesus, and being interested in the Corinthian Church, seem to have encouraged him, and to have joined with the other disciples at Ephesus in giving him commendatory letters to the Church of Corinth. Encouraged him; προτρεψάμενοι, a word found nowhere else in the New Testament, but used in classical Greek and in the Apocrypha, in the sense of "exhorting," "urging." Προτρεπτικοὶ λόγοι are hortatory words. In medical writers a "stimulant" is προτρεπτικόν. There is a difference of opinion among commentators whether the exhortation was addressed to Apollos, as the R.V. takes it, or to the brethren at Corinth, as the A.V. understands it. It seems rather more consonant to the structure of the sentence and to the probability of the case that the exhortation was addressed to the Corinthian Church, and not to Apollos, who needed no such encouragement, Προτρεψάμενοι ἔγραψαν is equivalent to "wrote and exhorted."

Acts 18:28

Powerfully confuted for mightily convinced, A.V.; the Christ for Christ, A.V. Powerfully confuted; διακατηλέγχετο,, one of St. Luke's peculiar compounds, found nowhere else; εὐτόνως here and Luke 23:10 (vehemently), but nowhere else in the New Testament. The adjective εὔτονος, meaning "nervous," "vehement," and the adverb εὐτόνως, meaning "vigorously," "with force," are very frequent in medical writers; εὐτόνως is also found in the LXX. of Joshua 6:7, Σημαινέτωσαν εὐτόνως, "Let them blow a loud blast." Showing by the Scriptures, etc. The same line of preaching as St. Peter and St. Paul always adopted when address-lug Jews (see Acts 2:1-47; Acts 13:1-52; Acts 17:3; Acts 18:5, etc.). It is remarkable that the success of Apollos at Corinth seems to have been chiefly among the Jews, who had opposed themselves so vehemently to St. Paul (Joshua 6:6). It is one of the many proofs of the singleness of eye and simplicity of purpose of the great apostle, that the success of this novice where he himself had failed did not excite the least jealousy (1 Corinthians 16:12). St. Luke, too, Paul's friend and biographer, here speaks of the powers and work of Apollos with no stinted measure of praise.


Acts 18:1-3

Christian friendship.

Unselfish friendship, the union of human souls in the bands of a close, unworldly, self-sacrificing love, has always been a spectacle that has fascinated men, one on which they have dwelt with peculiar fondness. Among the Greeks, Pylades and Orestes, Damon and Pythias; in the Old Testament David and Jonathan, and in the New Testament Peter and John, are examples of such friendships, and of the admiration which men cannot help having for them. But there is not any more beautiful and touching picture of human friendship to be found anywhere than that which rises up before us in the case of Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. We first find the group in a humble workman's dwelling at Corinth. Drawn together by being ὁμότεχνοι, men of the same trade, they are lodging in the same house. They were brought there indeed from different causes, and from different parts of the world. Paul from Antioch, urged westward by his ardent desire to add new realms to the kingdom of Christ; Aquila and Priscilla driven eastward by the cruel edict of a despot forcing them from their home and all its interests in Italy. They met in Corinth, and dwelt under one roof. There we see the men busy at their trade of tent-making, while the wife, the woman of the house, added that comfort and cheerfulness to the home which the presence of a bright, energetic, intelligent woman is so well fitted to afford. A common trade, a common race, and the common interests arising from both, would soon cement a friendship between two virtuous men thus thrown together in a foreign land. But a much closer bond of union soon knit the two men together. Whether Aquila and Priscilla brought with them from Rome the rudiments of the Christian faith, or whether they first learnt that Jesus is the Christ from the lips of Paul, we have no means of deciding. What is certain is that many words concerning the kingdom of God passed between them in their hours of work. While Paul's industrious hands were travailing and stitching night and day to earn his bread, his eloquent tongue was discoursing of Jesus Christ and his great salvation. Aquila, doubtless well read in the Scriptures, like his later namesake and fellow-citizen in Pontus, was not slow to take in his words; while Priscilla, taking perhaps the woman's part in cutting out and preparing the materials for their work, listened with intense interest to the words of eternal life uttered by the apostle. The friendship begun in earthly relations was soon perfected in the bonds of the love of Christ. We can fancy the hours of united prayer when those two or three were gathered together in the name of Jesus. We can fancy the close fellowship induced by the common enmity of their unbelieving and blaspheming fellow-countrymen. We can fancy their common joy when first one and then another of their Jewish brethren was brought to the Shepherd and Bishop of souls. We seem to feel their common anxiety when Paul was brought before the bema of Gallio, and to hear their common praises when the conspiracy was defeated and the apostle was set free. We no longer wonder to read that when Paul set sail for Syria, Aquila and Priscilla went too (Acts 18:18), and all that follows follows so naturally. Their labor at Ephesus as the apostle's delegates; their faithful instruction of Apollos; their patient continuance at Ephesus after St. Paul's return (1 Corinthians 16:13); the Church in their house, both at Ephesus and at Rome (1 Corinthians 16:9; Romans 16:3); their unbroken attachment to the very latest moment to which our knowledge extends (2 Timothy 4:19);—all is of a piece with that first holy friendship which was born in the workshop at Corinth, and nourished in the fellowship of faith. The picture leaves a deep impression upon the mind that human friendship, like all else that is good or beautiful in human life, attains its perfect growth, and produces its fairest fruits, when it is laid in a common fellowship with God, and is fostered by a constant partnership in loving labors for the glory of Christ and. for the increase of his Church.

Acts 18:4-17

The testimony.

The kernel of the gospel is the truth that Jesus was the Christ. He was the Person spoken of by all the prophets as to come. Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, born in the reign of Augustus Caesar, and crucified in that of Tiberius; known to his contemporaries in Judaea and Galilee as a Teacher and a Prophet, known to later ages by the Gospels which record his life and death and resurrection from the dead; is God's Christ. He came into the world, in accordance with the eternal purpose of God, to be the Teacher, the Savior, the Judge, the Lord, the King of the whole earth, the Head of the human race. He fulfilled in his own person all the predictions of the prophets; he accomplished by his work all that God had in store for the redemption of the sons of men. Whatever the Holy Ghost spoke of the Godhead, of the priesthood, of the sacrifice, of the reign, of the glorious kingdom of Messiah, has its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus. The truth, therefore, that Jesus was the Christ is the kernel of the whole gospel. But further, this is either a fact or it is not a fact. There is no cloudland of uncertain existence, no matter of doubtful disputation or of fluctuating opinion. Those who have told us these things are witnesses of what they knew, not disputers about what they thought. What they have delivered to us is their testimony. We must either accept it as true or reject it as false. It has met with both treatments in the world, and, whether believed or disbelieved, has been a potent factor in men's behavior. When believed, it has made the kind of man that Paul was, the kind of men and women that Aquila and Priscilla were. It has made men pure, holy, upright, patient, meek, kind, unselfish, self-denying, laboring for the good of others rather than for their own gain; with affections set on heavenly more than on earthly things; conscientious, true, faithful to their word; to be trusted and relied upon; great benefactors to their race, full of love to mankind. When disbelieved, it has not simply been set aside as a thing unworthy of credit, but it has set in action the most malignant passions in the human breast. Envy and jealousy, hatred and malice, have blazed up in all their fury against the authors and abettors of this testimony. You would think, judging by the fierce rage of the opponents, that there could not be a greater crime against humanity than to teach men to love God, to abstain from all evil, and to live in peace and good will towards one another. Judging by the rage of the opponents, you would think that a greater wrong could not be done to men than to tell them of life and rest and happiness in the eternal reach beyond the grave, as encouragements to patient well doing on this side the grave. Jews and heathens, so unlike one another in everything else, were exactly alike in their reception of this testimony. The Jews blasphemed and cursed and persecuted, and brought for punishment before the Roman tribunals those who gave testimony for Christ; the heathen, tolerant of every form of idolatry, let loose fire and sword and wild beast against the harmless disciples of the Lord Jesus. The accomplished philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, gave Justin Martyr to the executioner and Polycarp to the flames, with as little scruple as Nero tortured his Christian subjects at Rome. The scornful hatred of Tacitus for the pestilential superstition of the Christian was as bitter as the scurrilous wit of Lucian. In our own day many tongues are let loose against the testimony. New philosophers, new exponents of the physical laws by which the world consists, new pretenders to superior wisdom and wider intelligence in the various departments of human knowledge, however differing among themselves in the fundamental principles of their several schemes, agree in the scornful rejection of "the testimony of Jesus Christ." 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. For that truth the Church is ready now, as she ever was, to endure the scorn and hatred of mankind or to suffer imprisonment and death. Her office is to testify that Jesus is the Christ. By the grace of God she will continue that testimony until the Lord comes, and her witness to the absent is swallowed up in her adoration of the present, in visible power and glory.

Acts 18:18-23

The concise narrative.

The grain of mustard seed becomes a great tree, and the fowls of the air lodge in its branches. Could we unfold all that is covered under these few words, whole volumes of surpassing interest might be evolved. The occasion and motives of Paul's vow; the first visit to the capital of Proconsular Asia, to be afterwards the scene of such great events; Pentecost at Jerusalem; the interview with James and the elders of Jerusalem; his thoughts in the metropolis of Christianity, in the stronghold of Judaism, about the aspects of the Church, and the relations of his Corinthians converts to the believing priests and Pharisees at Jerusalem; the execution of his vow, and the state of his feeling towards the temple and its services: his return to Antioch, the metropolis of Gentile Christianity, the new Rome, as it were, of the Christian world; his meeting with old disciples; his narratives of God's work in the new world of Europe, just conquered for the God of Israel; his possible meeting again with Barnabas there, and their tearful reconciliation, and the binding up of the old wound so painful to two good and loving hearts; and then the long and wearisome journey, full of labor and peril, through Phrygia and Galatia; the aspect of old friends and old enemies; the new conquests for Christ, the new triumphs of the gospel, perhaps fresh disappointments from the fickleness of the Gaulish character; were all this told, and the skeleton verses before us filled in with all this life and action, what volumes we should have! But it has pleased God to seal up all these books, and hide them from our eyes. It is our part to be thankful for what we have, and to draw the lesson that the silence of Scripture is as surely ordered as its revelations are, anti that we must read, not to satisfy our curiosity, but to edify our souls.

Acts 18:24-28

The episode.

The five verses which make up this section are unique in this respect, that the historian, leaving his hero engaged in unknown labors in Phrygia and Galatia, gives us in them a view of what was going on meanwhile at Ephesus. And a most curious narrative it is. It introduces to us one of the most remarkable men of his age, the Alexandrian Apollos, a Jew of great learning, great ability, and great eloquence; and relates his accession to the Church and to the ranks of the Christian ministry, under most singular circumstances. It further gives us a very striking instance of the devotion of Aquila and Priscilla to the work of Christ, and of their eminent services in the infant Church. Of the after career of Apollos we know next to nothing. We see him for a moment, like a blazing comet in the ecclesiastical heavens, striking down opposition and unbelief with the onslaught of his fervid and logical eloquence; we see the reflex of his great influence at Corinth, in the repeated mention of him in St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4-6; 1 Corinthians 4:5), written from Ephesus; but the only evidence we have of his continuance in the work which he so brilliantly began, is to be found in St. Paul's brief order to Titus, "Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them" (Titus 3:13). Yet how manifold, in all probability, were the evangelic labors of Apollos in that interval! How many must have been convinced by him that Jesus is the Christ, and found eternal life in his Name! And if the conjecture of Luther, followed by many since, and recently supported at length by Dr. Farrar ('Early Days of Christianity,' vol. 1.Acts 17:1-34., Acts 17:18.), that he was the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, be true, what a wide extension is given, in time and space, to the Christian influence of this man "mighty in the Scriptures;" and yet for nearly eighteen centuries has all this labor of love, this precious knit of devoted zeal and spiritual power, been unknown to the Church of God. Surely the reward of the successful evangelist and pastor is not to be looked for in fame and worldly reputation, or the applause of men. And as surely every word spoken for Christ, and every labor endured for the Master's sake, will not be forgotten, but will be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Then perhaps the last will be first, and the first last.


Acts 18:1-11

Truth before the citadel.

When the apostle of Jesus Christ confronted the heathenism of Corinth, we may say that, in his person, Divine truth was opening its attack on the very citadel of sin; such was its "abysmal profligacy," its intemperance, its dishonesty, its superstition. In the brief account we have of Paul's work in this city we are reminded—

I. THAT CHRISTIAN BLAMELESSNESS SHOULD ANSWER TO THE DEPRAVITY IT ENCOUNTERS. (Acts 18:3.) At such a city as Corinth it was eminently desirable that the apostle of truth and righteousness should be, in all respects, above reproach. There must not be the shadow of suspicion of self-seeking upon him; he must show himself, and be seen to be, the disinterested, missionary he was. Therefore he worked away with his own hands, laboriously maintaining himself all the while that he was laboring in spiritual fields (see 1 Corinthians 9:15-18). This is the spirit in which it becomes all earnest men to act. We should give ourselves trouble, we should deny ourselves pleasure, according to the necessities of the case before us. Though "free from all," we should become "the servants of all, that we may gain the more" (1 Corinthians 9:19). There are circumstances in which we are perfectly justified in using our liberty; there are others in which we are constrained to forgo our freedom, and impose hardships on ourselves, that we may gain those whom, otherwise, we should not win.

II. THAT WHEN MEN PERSISTENTLY REJECT THE BEST WE CAN BRING THEM, WE MUST PASS ON TO OTHERS. (Acts 18:5, Acts 18:6.) When Silas and Timotheus rejoined Paul at Corinth, they found him "earnestly occupied in discoursing;" "he was being constrained by the Word;" he was striving with his whole strength to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But his most zealous efforts were all unavailing, His opponents resisted his arguments; they opposed him and blasphemed his Lord. Then he turned, sorrowfully and indignantly, away from them, and gave himself to the work of God among the Gentiles (Acts 18:6). This was not more sensible and obligatory then than it is now. If we have been laboring devotedly, prayerfully, patiently, among certain men, and they determinately reject our message, it is both foolish and wrong of us to waste our resources there; we must pass on to others who may welcome our word as the truth of God.


(1) the joy of spiritual success (Acts 18:8); also

(2) the assurance of his protecting care (Acts 18:9, Acts 18:10).

The exact measure of his success we do not know, but it was probably considerable; the Church at Corinth became of such importance that Paul paid it great attention, and spent on it much strength in after years. T he vision which the Savior granted was supernatural, and of a kind which we do not expect him to repeat continually. But we may confidently reckon that, if we are found faithful by our Master, we shall have:

1. A good measure of success in our work. Earnest Christian effort rarely, if ever, fails. We may, indeed, be ill adapted to the special work we have undertaken, and then we must pass on to other fields; but if we are in our right place, we shall assuredly have some increase for our toil: "In due season we shall reap."

2. The inspiration which comes direct from God. Christ will come to us, not in such vision as that he granted Paul, but he will visit us; be will vouchsafe to us those renewing influences of his Holy Spirit, which will make us

(1) wilting to endure what we may have to suffer;

(2) willing to wait his time for sending the harvest;

(3) strong to speak his truth in his Name and in his Spirit.—C.

Acts 18:12-17

Fanaticism, pride, calmness, short-sightedness.

I. JEWISH FANATICISM. (Acts 18:12,Acts 18:13.) The Jews could not or would not understand that Paul was not against the Law, but only against their interpretation of it; that Christianity was not so much the abrogation as the fulfillment of the Law, its reinstitution in another and a better form, the one and only thing which could perpetuate and immortalize it. They regarded the apostle as a renegade, as an iconoclast, as a traitor; their opposition became hatred; their hatred grew into murderous passion; their passion seized on the earliest opportunity to compass his imprisonment or death. We see in every act the attitude, we hear in every word the tone, of bitter and even furious fanaticism, as they hale Paul before the proconsul and exclaim, "This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the Law." This fierceness on their part was characteristic of them; it was of a piece with the rest of their national behavior before and after that time. It was not unlike the fanaticism of other nations, though it was more violent than that which is commonly displayed. All companies of men are liable to be carried away with passion which they are unable to control at the moment, but which they afterwards regret. Far better than this is—

II. CHRISTIAN CALMNESS. "Paul was … about to open his mouth" (Acts 18:14). We are not told by the historian what was his demeanor. There was no need to tell us. It may be assumed, without the smallest shade of uncertainty, that the "prisoner at the bar" was unmoved by the violence of the mob, and untroubled by the power of the magistrate. His quietness of soul did not proceed from his consciousness of strength, his assurance that he could make out his case against his accusers; it arose entirely from a sense that he stood at that bar as "the prisoner of the Lord," there for conscience' sake; and also from the sense that One stood by him who would not fail him, who would certainly redeem his word (Acts 18:10), beneath the shelter of whose care he was safe from Jewish spite and Roman power. "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). What time we have reason to be afraid, we will trust in him (Psalms 56:3).

III. ROMAN SUPERCILIOUSNESS. (Acts 18:14-17.) We can feel an intense Roman pride breathing in every line of this passage. Gallic considered any contention respecting Jewish laws or customs a matter of utter unimportance. Anything outside the circle of Roman citizenship was beneath the regard of such men as he was. And what if certain Greeks vented their wrath on a despicable Jew! Was that to trouble him? We see a haughty disdain on that Roman brow; we hear a contemptuous scorn in those magisterial tones; we perceive a lofty derision in that swift dismissal, in that absolute unconcern. This was the pride that was born of power and of authority. But, however it may have resulted, here, in impartiality and justice, it is not a lovely nor a worthy feature of human character. We are all of us too near one another in proneness to error and liability to overthrow and disaster, to make it right or wise to take such a tone. Human pride is

(1) always based, in part, on error; it is

(2) always on the way to ruin.

IV. HUMAN SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS. How little did the actors in this scene imagine that they were playing a part on which posterity would always look with interest! How little did Gallic suppose that he would be known to the end of time by reason of his association with that Jewish prisoner whom he contemptuously dismissed from his presence! How imperfectly we measure the importance of the scenes through which we pass, of the actions we perform, of the men with whom we have to do! Let us act rightly, kindly, graciously at all times and toward all people. Who can tell whether we may not be rendering a service to some chosen ambassador of Christ, or lending a helpful hand in some incident on which the gravest issues may hang, or supplying the one link that is wanted in a chain which connects earth with heaven? They who are conscientious and kind in humblest matters will be surprised one day to find

(1) what excellent things they have done;

(2) what valuable commendation they have earned;

(3) what large rewards await them (Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:37-40).—C.

Acts 18:18-23

The strength which is of man.

The most suggestive sentence in these verses is that with which they conclude; but we may gather lessons from others also. We may learn—

I. THAT THE DIVINE SPIRIT LEAVES US TO LEARN SOME TRUTHS BY THE TEACHING OF EVENTS. (Acts 18:18.) We are a little surprised that Paul should think it necessary to trouble himself with ceremonies which, in Christ Jesus, have become obsolete. But this is one of those things which, among many others in our New Testament, show that God does not directly lead his people into the whole truth; he wishes us to learn his mind by the teaching of events, as the early Christians came gradually, and through the lessons of Providence, to understand that they were emancipated from the injunctions and prohibitions of that which was "positive" in the Mosaic Law.

II. THAT OPPORTUNITIES OF USEFULNESS SHOULD BE EAGERLY EMBRACED. There was time for a hasty visit to Ephesus, and Paul did not fail to avail himself of it (Acts 18:19).

III. THAT EVERY MAN MUST BE ALLOWED TO JUDGE HIMSELF IN MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE. (Acts 18:20, Acts 18:21.) Those Ephesian Jews may have thought—and we may be disposed to agree with them—that it was of greater consequence that they should have the truth preached to them than that Paul should go on to visit an unsympathizing Church. But it was a matter of conscience to him that he should go, and he therefore resisted their entreaties. We must form our judgments respecting the decision of others; we may offer our opinion and even urge our request; but we are bound to remember that it is every man's duty to decide for himself, in the last resort, what he should do and whither he should go. Our urgency should never be pushed so far as to disregard this individual obligation.

IV. THAT THE CHRISTIAN COURTESIES SHOULD BE STUDIOUSLY OBSERVED. (Acts 18:22.) It became Paul to salute the Church at Jerusalem. It was the mother Church, with which the other apostles were so intimately connected; it would have been ungraceful on his part not to have maintained friendly, or, at any rate, courteous, relations with it from time to time. It is very probable that there was no cordiality existing between its leaders and himself. Nevertheless, it was better to pay it an amicable visit, as he now did. Cordiality is vastly better than courtesy; but courtesy is decidedly better than disrespect or impropriety, and the irritation which proceeds therefrom. If possible, let unaffected, warm-hearted love prevail and abound; if that be hopeless, then let there be a studious observance of that which is courteous and becoming.

V. THAT THE BUSIEST LIFE SHOULD INCLUDE SOME SEASONS OF REFRESHING REST AND COMMUNION. Even the energetic and anxious apostle, with all his cares and projects, found it well to "go down to Antioch and spend some time there" (Acts 18:22, Acts 18:23).

VI. THAT THE WISE TEACHER WILL CARE TO STRENGTHEN HIS DISCIPLES as well as to make converts (Acts 18:23). Paul was always solicitous to "strengthen his disciples." He was the last man in the world to forget that God was the ultimate Source of all spiritual strength. But he knew that there was much that he, as a Christian teacher, had to do to make his disciples strong. He had

(1) to impart a fuller knowledge of the truth;

(2) to warn against those doctrines and those habits which would bring spiritual weakness;

(3) to incite to holy earnestness by his own spirit of devotion;

(4) to counsel his converts to maintain close intercourse with Jesus Christ;

(5) to see that they were at their post in the Church and in the field of holy usefulness.—C.

Acts 18:24-28

Variety in Christian service.

We learn—

I. THAT GOD ENDOWS HIS SERVANTS WITH VARIOUS GIFTS We have been following the course and rejoicing in the good work of Paul; now we come to another Christian workman of different make,—Apollos. God furnished him with opportunities and faculties that fitted him for service other than that which the great apostle of the Gentiles rendered. Apollos:

1. Had an acquaintance with Greek thought, gained at Alexandria, superior to that which Paul would obtain at Tarsus.

2. Had the great advantage of readiness and force of language; he was "an eloquent man" (Acts 18:24). He shared with his more illustrious co-worker

(1) a large knowledge of Scripture, and

(2) great fervor of spirit (Acts 18:25).

It is certain that Paul could do what Apollos would never have accomplished; it is equally certain that Apollos could effect some things which were not within the compass of the apostle. Like faithful Christian men, they rejoiced in one another. Instead of underestimating, and disparaging one another because they differed in gifts and methods, they valued one another's special work and heartily co-operated in the mission field. Few things are more unworthy and discreditable than petty jealousies and disputations between Christian workmen of different types of excellence; few things are more admirable than the hearty appreciation by one man of the work rendered by another which is beyond his own powers of accomplishment.


1. The service of enlightenment. This was rendered to Apollos by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26). They had learnt "the way of God" from Paul, and they could and did teach it to Apollos, so that he understood it more perfectly. The little child in a Christian home could teach the profoundest philosopher who was ignorant of revealed truth things which, in spiritual worth, would weigh down all the speculations of his life. Two simple Christian disciples at Ephesus could and did inform the mind of the cultured and eloquent Apollos so that, instructed by them, he would become a great power for truth and Christ in the whole neighborhood. It is within the power of the simplest and humblest to breathe those words of truth and grace which may make a man a fountain of blessing to his kind. 2. The service of introduction (Acts 18:27). Unknown brethren wrote a letter, and this, reaching the right hands, introduced a valuable exponent of Christian truth to a large and important sphere. If the act of introduction be regarded as it surely should be, not merely as cans of obliging a friend, but as something in which the Master himself and his Church may be importantly served, then, by the conscientious writing of "a letter of commendation," one who is of humble rank may do excellent work for his kind—he touches a spring whence healing and refreshing waters flow.

III. THAT ONE CHRISTIAN TEACHER MAY FOLLOW ANOTHER WITH THE GREATEST ADVANTAGE. (Acts 18:28.) "Apollos mightily convinced the Jews;" perhaps more successfully than Paul would have done. When one Christian workman goes and another comes, the latter supplements the former in two ways.

1. He deepens the impression which the former has made. By bearing the same testimony he constrains the people to feel more convinced of the truth and value of that which they have heard.

2. He brings additional light. He puts the same truth in other forms and phases; he presents it as it has shaped itself to his own mind and has been colored by his own experience. Thus he meets the need of some whose necessity had not been met, and wins some that would have remained unwon.

IV. THAT THE COMING OF A STRONG SERVANT OF CHRIST SHOULD BE BUT A REINFORCEMENT TO THOSE ALREADY IN ACTIVE SERVICE. The Church at Corinth was not in a state of inactivity and uuaggressiveness when Apollos arrived. What he did there was, not to originate a mission, but to help those already in the field (Acts 18:27, Acts 18:28). He helped them by ably sustaining their endeavors to advance the cause of Christ. The Churches of the Savior should always and everywhere be in a state of evangelistic activity; then they will be prepared to welcome as a timely reinforcement the coming of a specially powerful advocate who will master and secure those whom he encounters.—C.


Acts 18:1-17

Paul at Corinth.


1. Its humble and self-denying beginning. (Acts 18:1-4.).

(1) He came to Corinth a city notorious for its pleasures and its vices. Often is the gospel more gladly received in such places than in the haunts of learning and the strongholds of philosophy. The rejected of Athens finds a welcome at Corinth. To the Corinthians the apostle will write by-and-by, "Ye were thieves, robbers," etc.; "but ye are washed, ye are sanctified," etc. Yet to conquer these hearts, danger and self-denial must be undergone.

(2) Paul works to earn his bread while he is teaching. It was a wholesome custom practiced and taught by eminent rabbis; probably enough by Gamaliel, at whose feet Paul had sat. Christ was the carpenter's Son," and the apostles fishers. Happy he who can afford to prove his entire disinterestedness as a teacher of the truth, and so silence that gainsaying of the ungrateful and the miserly, who object to the gospel and its preaching solely on account of its cost, If his example cannot be exactly followed in the present day, at least it may be taken as a rebuke to the pride of office in the teacher; and to unspiritual luxury and idleness in general. Also as an encouragement to the honest, craftsman; every honorable calling is well-pleasing to God. Act well your part; there all the honor lies." Again, willingness to work is one of the best passports everywhere. "Waiters on Providence" do not see most of the ways of Providence. Had not Paul been a worker at his craft, good Aquila had not fallen in his way. Driven out of Rome, those pious Jews came to Corinth, to afford shelter and food to the apostle. God "seldom smites with both hands." He is a good Worker, but he loves to be helped;" so old proverbs say. (3) His sabbath employment. "Every sabbath." Unwearied zeal characterizes him. Faithful in that which is least, he is faithful in that which is much. The week-day work and the sabbath consecration help one another. Work makes the sacred rest sweet; and the sacred rest gives new energy for work.

2. Courageous progress. (Acts 18:5-8.) When Timothy and Silas came, Paul, instead of throwing the work upon their shoulders, only redoubles his activity. How useful and how happy "the tie that binds" men's hearts in Christian love and work (Philippians 2:22)! tie continues to witness to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. The previous work in the synagogue had probably been preparatory. But the love of Christ constrains him, and he cannot keep back the main matter of his message, certain as it is to awaken violent opposition. Opposition and blasphemy break out; but the constancy of the servant of Christ is the more illustrated. There is no paltering, no drawing back, no compromise. "Your blood be on your heads!" Thus he clears himself from complicity in the guilt of their spiritual suicide. But before any can venture to imitate Paul's example in this, let them see whether they have done all in their power to raise and save, like the apostle. Driven from the public place of meeting, he goes into the private house of Justus; rejected by Jews, he turns to the heathen. The conversion of Crispus rewards his efforts. Not "many" wise are called (1 Corinthians 1:26). At the same time, there are exceptions. Paul goes out by the front door of the synagogue, so to speak, to find his way in again by the back.

3. The blessed result. (Acts 18:9-11.) The Divine voice came, saying, "Fear not! speak, and be not silent!" Times of weakness and discouragement and self-conflict are for all. The mightiest spirits know the deepest dejection, Recall Abraham before Abimelech, Moses in the desert, psalmists of the Captivity, and prophets, Elijah under the juniper, John in prison, Jesus in Gethsemane, Luther and his violent crises. The latter said, "Many think because I am so cheerful in my outward walk that I tread on roses, but God knows how it stands with me." But saith the voice: "I am with thee; none shall set upon thee to hurt thee; much people have I in this city." "I am with thee:" a word of might, that each and all in every humble or important path of duty may lay to heart, and go forward with his work, clear in speech and strong in action. "I have much people in this city:" the seed and the leaven of the Word works with secret might when we observe it not; sleeping echoes waiting to be roused; seven thousand hidden ones who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

II. OPPOSITION TO THE WORK. A year and six months passed in prayer, patience, confidence in God, diligent toil. These are the means by which the work of God is furthered. But the incidents that followed teach that men must suffer for their work, and that all true work involves its cross. The world is the world still; and offences must come.

1. The charge against Paul. "He persuades the people to worship God contrary to the Law." How easily do men persuade themselves that what is against their own pleasures is contrary to God's Law! It is nothing new that those who are most given to error in religion are most ready to accuse others of heresy.

2. The conduct of Gallio. He referred disputes about the Jewish Law to the Jews themselves. It is wise that magistrates should not pass judgment in matters of religion which they do not understand. But it is not well if magistrates are indifferent to religion, its genuine reality, and fail to protect sincere believers in the enjoyment of their religious belief. Gallio is a fine example of moderation, putting to shame the bloodthirsty spirit which has so often prevailed in the Christian Church. But it is an abuse if the example be used as a plea for indifferentism. Gallio, who was cold to religious sympathy, would consent to see a man's civil rights injured. Gallio, on the whole, is a mixed example. Let us say that the duty of a Christian judge is

(1) to have a conscience and a religion of his own;

(2) not to intermeddle in the affairs of conscience of others;

(3) to protect men against violence, of whatever faith they may be.—J.

Acts 18:18-22

Return of-Paul to Antioch.

We do not know the exact nature of the vow he was under. But the following lessons may be drawn from his conduct:—

I. WORK WHILE IT IS DAY. Where God opens the door, let the ready servant enter. The voice of the Almighty saith, "Upward and onward evermore," Work, not for glory and gain, out for the kingdom of God and the salvation of men.

II. TARRY NOT TO CONFER WITH FLESH AND BLOOD. Foes might have deterred him in the front; loving friends might have held him back; difficulties might have made him quail; but he hears but one voice, sees but one hand, and goes forward. He who proceeds in this spirit, "unhasting, unresting," is always setting out, always arriving; and, passing unhurt through perils which, if dwelt upon in the imagination, would appear insurmountable, can with thankfulness exclaim, at the end of every step of the life-journey, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us!"—J.

Acts 18:24-28

The eloquent Apollos.

I. PAUL AND APOLLOS: A CONTRAST. "I planted, Apollos watered." Different Divine instruments, shaped out of different material, prepared in different ways, destined for different objects. The unity in variety in Christian character is one of the chief beauties in the garden of God.

II. APOLLO AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE USE OF CONSECRATED LEARNING IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST. Here learning is kindled by sacred enthusiasm; it is rooted in faith; it is united with docility; it is applied in the right place and way.

III. AS AN EXAMPLE OF GROWTH IN GRACE. It is the need of all. It is attainable by all who seek it in the right way. It becomes blessed and fruitful in new activity in the kingdom of God.

IV. AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE, VARIED SCHOOLS OF LIFE-EXPERIENCE. In the great school of Alexandria Apollos is among the aristocracy of intellect; at Ephesus he is in the company of tent-makers. It is good to know life on all sides; good to find virtue and grace in the most diverse society; and, above all, to detect in each scene the leading hand and educating wisdom of God.—J.


Acts 18:1-4

A glimpse into apostolic life.

Corinth. Change of method. In Athens a public challenge offered both to the philosophers and to the citizens generally in the market-place, as well as reasonings with the Jews in the synagogue. In Corinth, a more mercantile and less intellectual city, the preaching was more private and more decidedly on the foundation of the Old Testament, until Paul's separation from the synagogue, Notice—

I. The apostolic SIMPLICITY AND SINGLENESS OF MOTIVE. The Jew who had learned Christ at Rome was at once associated with Paul. There was no attempt to isolate himself from those who may have learned the truth in a somewhat different manner.

II. THE SELF-SACRIFICE of the apostle's daily life. The tent-making supplied temporal wants. Jewish education on the right principle. The cultivation of independence. If not possible in exact repetition, the spirit of such a method should be ours.

III. BROTHERLY LOVE the support of zealous service. The messenger of Christ should be full of sympathy. Fellowship with congenial minds is absolutely necessary to refresh and enlarge the feelings.

IV. GUIDANCE OF CIRCUMSTANCES in Christian labor. Corinth did not require the same method as Athens. A longer stay seemed advisable. Worldly indifference is more hard to meet and overcome than intellectual opposition. Corinth was pleasure-loving and sensual. The synagogue was made the center of work, that time might be given to lay hold of popular interest. Patience and prudence necessary.—R.

Acts 18:5-11

(or Acts 18:9, Acts 18:10)

Faithful ministry.


1. Testify by a special access of zeal in preaching the Word. Times when we should make unusual efforts to persuade men. We need to guard against monotony. The presence of sympathetic fellow-workers is a great encouragement and incitement.

2. Called out by the blaspheming opposition of unbelievers. If Christians knew what is said against Christ, they would not be so quiet as they are.

3. By Divine intimations encouraging and stimulating. Many of the greatest preachers, Luther, Wesley, Savonarola, have had such visions. In our intercourse with God in prayer we receive such gifts of preparation for our work. Every public man should have his seasons of approach to the throne, that his strength may be fed with the invisible stream of grace.

II. THE MINISTRY OF PAUL AT CORINTH IN ITS RELATION TO THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AND THE WORLD. (Compare the Epistles.) The commercial influence of Corinth would help the diffusion of the truth. While the people were luxurious they were highly cultured. Greek thought was there, and the close intercourse with Athens would give the gospel the opportunity to lay hold of Greece as a whole. "The Lord had much people in that city." The two elements of difficulty evinced in the Epistles were the Greek contentiousness, especially developed at Corinth, and the sensual tendencies of a voluptuous, wealthy people. Hence the importance of the Jewish portion of the Corinthian Church. Crispus the ruler of the synagogue, and Titus Justus the proselyte, would both become important fellow-workers with Paul. Notice, therefore:

1. The union of the Jewish and Greek elements in the early Church and in the development of Christian life; seen in the union of fact and doctrine, of the practical and theoretic, especially in Paul and his teaching (cf. the Epistles throughout).

2. The remarkable guidance of Providence. The opposition of the synagogue leading to a more decided ministry among the Gentiles; and hence to the rapid spread of truth among Greeks, and so through Europe. A merely Jewish religion would never have laid hold of the Greek and Latin minds; Christianity did. We may compare the influence of France during the Middle Ages and since the Reformation, in diffusing ideas among surrounding nations. So we are taught that it is not by human agencies alone that the victims of the gospel are won, but by innumerable instrumentalities and influences working with God's ministers. The conversion of the world may be much nearer than we suppose. Under the surface are hidden operations of God.—R.

Acts 18:12-17

Contrasts in the attitude of men towards the gospel.

I. LEGALISM. The whole idea of the opponents of Paul was his inconsistency with the Law.

1. It was not reverence for God's Law, but for men's traditions.

2. It was a form of self-worship. "He followeth not with us."

3. It was moral pedantry, a common sin; questions about words, names, and law, hiding realities.

II. SECULARITY. Gallio an amiable and wise man, but doubtless influenced by the prevailing Roman spirit, which was indifference to all religion. "Reason" was his guide. But, while he refused to be a party to religious persecution, he did not put forth his power, as he might have done, to maintain liberty of speech.

III. HEATHENISM IGNORANCE AND DISORDER. The gospel best prospers in the calm atmosphere of peace and reasonable thought. When we excite men's passions against one another, we hinder the cause of truth. Sosthenes, doubtless, was ringleader of the Jews, but the Greeks did no service to the gospel by beating him. Gallio's indifference to the gospel was probably increased by seeing it identified with disorder. The men of the world are not to be won by fanaticism.—R.

Acts 18:18-23


An interval in Paul's labors; how long cannot be known. Probably a needed rest; possibly connected with a vow. Employed in visiting Ephesus, sailing to Caesarea, his long fellowship with the Church there, repairing to Antioch and recounting his successes, for some time; and then revisiting the scene of his labors in Galatia and Phrygia. Thus it was a time of comparative bodily rest, of reflection and preparation for the future, and of confirmed intercourse and fellowship with brethren. Notice, therefore—


1. Mingle pauses of rest and thought with activity.

2. Revisit places where seed of truth has been scattered, both to watch the doctrine and strengthen the confidence of new converts.

3. Maintain brotherly sympathy with those laboring for the same Master, but in different ways and places. We should avoid mere individualism in Church life and evangelistic efforts. Paul constantly referred himself to Antioch, and never forgot that he had been recommended to the grace of God by his brethren.


1. The absences of Paul from his converts the occasions of his letters, so of his instruction to the universal Church.

2. Apollos made way for at Ephesus. His mission important. Possible necessity among the Ephesians of other elements besides the Pauline; hence both Apollos and, subsequently, the Apostle John.

3. The immense influence of Paul's personal narration of his successes at Antioch, and of his confirmation of the disciples in the infant Churches of Asia Minor. "Man proposes, God disposes," wonderfully illustrated in the early history of Christianity.—R.

Acts 18:24-28


Alexandria's mission. Its broader view of Judaism. Its intermediate position between Palestine and the Christian Church. Variety of human talent and acquirement all serviceable to Christ. Humility of the truly good man, who, though himself learned, is willing to be taught by those who have more of the grace of God. Ministers may get help from their people. Apollos in the footsteps of Paul. He was no rival, but a fellow-laborer. Hence willingly forwarded in his proposal to visit Corinth, and carry on there the good beginning made by the apostle. An example of:

1. Consecrated learning.

2. Rapid growth in grace, because the spirit of the man was humble.

3. Brotherly co-operation. What a rebuke to later times!

4. The blessing of God on a pure and active Christianity.—R.

Acts 18:20

Zeal without knowledge.

And he began to speak, etc. The true knowledge is not learning, not even knowledge of the Scriptures as a written Word, but knowledge of the way of God. Priscilla and Aquila may know more, in this sense of knowledge, than Apollos. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.


1. Much harm is done by zeal without true knowledge.

2. Progress cannot be rapid where knowledge is imperfect.

3. No amount of fervor in the spirit should be allowed to supersede a careful knowledge of the truth.


1. Many things about Jesus may be known, and still the saving truth of spiritual life in him may be unknown.

2. Repentance preparatory to faith, not instead of it.

3. The way of God in Christ is not a reformed Judaism, but an entirely new method of religion; spiritual, not formal; by the law of love, not by the law of works. New wine in new bottles. Defective views of the gospel still prevalent. Morality substituted for faith, ritualism for spiritual religion. The way of God is the way of a new creation.—R.


Acts 18:3, Acts 18:4

Tent-making a sermon.

Paul has left the mockers, the procrastinators, and the believers, each to reap the fruits he has sown, and, departing from Athens, has reached Corinth. And here we find him the center of so natural a touch of history, that it speaks its own fidelity. No "cunningly devised" history would have interpolated such an incident as this before us. Nothing but the truth of history could find its niche here. So distinctly as it is recorded, it must be charged with some useful suggestions.

I. PAUL PUTS HONOR ON MERE LABOR WITH THE HANDS. It were of those matters of exceedingly curious interest, not vouchsafed to us, and not necessary to "our learning," if we had been told, what Paul earned as wage; or otherwise how he sold what he made. Of one thing we will be sure, he did neither ask nor take more than was the right price.

II. PAUL PUTS ITS REAL HONOR ON THE APOSTOLIC AND MINISTERIAL OFFICE. He does this partly, in one of the most effective of ways, viz. by withdrawing from that office its merely superficial honor. He strips it of mere dignity, of case, and of professionalism.

III. PAUL PUTS HONOR ON INDEPENDENCE, EVEN IN THE APOSTOLIC OFFICE. True, in Christianity as in Judaism, that those who minister at the altar have right to live by the altar, and that the exchange of things temporal and "carnal" (1 Corinthians 9:11-14) for things spiritual is sure to be to the preponderating gain of those who part with the former. Yet there may be times when the day shall be won by one clear proof, and that the proof of disinterestedness (1 Corinthians 9:15-18).

IV. PAUL PUTS HONOR ON THE FREEDOM OF CHRISTIANITY FROM ANY SET AND ARTIFICIAL CLASS DISTINCTIONS. The man who speaks and who does the right and the good is the disciple of Christ. And discipleship is not determined, or regulated, or modified, in any way whatsoever by the kind of work to which it puts its hand. A man who prays in all the secrecy of the closet may do more than the man who preaches in all the publicity of the Church. A man who gives may haply, on occasion, do more than either. And a man who works at the humblest craft may not only be not second to an apostle, hut may be truest apostle himself. How often have heart and mind died away, and nothing been reaped for want of hand and foot! The union of the practical with the devotional is often just as truly the sine qua non, as the union of the devotional with the teaching and preaching of the highest seraph-tongue.

V. PAUL STRIKES AT THE DEEP-LYING PRINCIPLE, SO WELCOME AND HONORED WHEN RIGHTLY EMBRACED, OF THE SELF-SUPPORTING CHARACTER OF CHRISTIANITY. This is its honest pride. It asks air and light. And it asks love and faith, trust and trial. And it thereupon asks nothing more, till of it, it comes to be asked, and passionately, what devout, grateful, adoring return in its surpassing condescension it is willing to receive. Beneath not infrequent disguises, Christianity has been a long history of giving and not taking, giving and not even receiving, till hand and heart have become one. And men, suppliant in loving and overflowing devotion, have begged their Master, Lord, and Savior to accept of themselves and their all.—B.

Acts 18:9-11

The complement to human uncertainty found in Divine fidelity.

It must be supposed either that the omniscient eye saw some signs of failing in Paul, or else that the greatness of the work and the severity of the trials before him were judged by Divine compassion to ask some special help. Notice, therefore, how true it is that—

I. THE BEST AND STRONGEST OF HUMAN DEVOTION IS LIABLE TO SOME UNCERTAINTY. No reference is here made to the fickleness that owns to no real devotion, nor ever sprang from depth of root. We are to note that the longest human perseverance may yet break, the stoutest human heart may have its weaker moments, during which irretrievable damage may be done to its cause and discredit to itself, and the warmest devotion may under certain circumstances cool.

1. Exceeding weariness of the flesh may overcome, some unexpected hour, the truest human devotion, if it get left as it were just a moment to itself.

2. An exceedingly baffled state of the mind and of faith may throw that determined human devotion. The vicissitude of the world, the Divine conduct of its history, and, not the least, the Divine conduct of the grand forces of Christianity, when they seem awhile to halt or to be mocked by their own professed friends into discredit,—these often offer to baffle each deepest thinker, each most observant reflector.

3. The exceeding keenness of the soul's own peculiar disappoint-mort, when the beauty and the persuasiveness and the unchallengeable merit of Christ do nevertheless count, to all present appearance, for nothing before the brute force of the powers of evil,—this threatens the patience of human devotion.

II. THE UNFAILING SUCCOUR OF DIVINE INTERPOSITION. That interposition rests on three very thoughts of mercy. They are:

1. The Divine observingness of "all and each," and of the most secret heart and need of each.

2. The Divine sympathy. This is one of the great ultimate facts of a risen, ascended, glorified Savior, who had been once with us, and who still shares, high aloft as he, is our nature.

3. The Divine practical methods of rescue in the hour of danger a provision against its over-storming rage. Among such methods may be ranked:

(1) Divine suggestions. These are angels of angels oftentimes to the depressed, the doubting, the darkened, yet the loving and true of heart—they are like nothing, more than those rays of light, which are the brighter arid more exactly defined for the darkness of the clouds past which they travel.

(2) The triumph of a quickened faith. Surely this is "the gift of God." If faith itself be so, the brightest flashings forth of the very pride of faith, if it be possible to say so, might be yet more inscribed the gifts of God—so opportune, so enlightening, so banishing to doubting darkness and to darkest doubting. There is a moment when perfection is to the fragrance of blossom, the color of flower, the ripeness of fruit, the light on the landscape, and there are moments when Faith knows and does her very best. And it is at such moments that God "restores the soul" of his servant. The miracle of vision and dream is nothing more pronounced, more certain, more conclusive, to conviction than these triumphal moments, when faith is in its pride and glory, and achieves its best.

(3) The direct promise (Psalms 91:1, Psalms 91:3-6, Psalms 91:11, Psalms 91:12, Psalms 91:14, Psalms 91:15; Psalms 23:1-6. Psalms 23:4; Psalms 73:23). The promise made to Paul in this vision gathers round the center that had drawn already, then, ages and generations round it; and how many more by this time! "I am with thee." And that central promise is good for all bearings of it, "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). It holds from such a statement of fact as this, to the immortal Christian charter-promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world!" The direct promise, in the midst of our human uncertainty and unsteadiness of performance, is clear, exact, steady, and certain. Resting our faith, it feeds hope, and draws closer and closer the bands of love.

(4) The conviction of there being, in spite of all appearances, a large harvest to be gathered. The true servant, after all, loves work, and loves his Master's work, and must remember that he is neither the Master nor gifted with Master's sight and knowledge. And with what fresh alacrity has he not infrequently resumed toil, when amid all things that look against himself and his toil, he hears, or seems to hear, the authoritative assurance of the Master, "For I have much people in this city," though at present they "wander as sheep having no shepherd"!—B.

Acts 18:12-17

A novel instance of retribution.

The common sense of the unlearned has much more mercy than the refinement of the theologian, and the straightforwardness of a heathen will show to more advantage than the crookedness and narrowness of a man better known for professing than for practicing religion. We have here a noteworthy instance of some who, would-be punishers of another, succeed in letting themselves only in for punishment. And this just consummation in this case was due exclusively to the ready perception and blunt, uncompromising action of one who evidently had no inclination to lend himself as the tool of iniquitous bigotry and persecution. When it is said, indeed (Acts 18:17), that "Gallio cared for none of these things," it is possible that, in strict justice, he ought to have cared for so much of them as concerned the lynch law, which, in the very presence of the "judgment-seat," the multitude of the Greeks inflicted upon Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue. Obviously, however, the Greeks were not exceeding the unwritten law or custom of Corinth in their act, and the inaction of Gallio may be sufficiently accounted for by this consideration. Notice—

I. A LARGE NUMBER OF MEN MAKING COMMON CAUSE AGAINST ONE UNBEFRIENDED MAN, IN A RELIGIOUS MATTER AND BEFORE A FOREIGN COURT. If their perverted animosity of mind did not see the anomaly, the unperverted, unwarped mind of Gallio saw it promptly, and felt it decisively.


1. The facts of the accusers are not true—scarcely to the letter, not at all to the spirit.

2. If. they had been so, it is not this which was likely to give the Jew cause of complaint. The Greek of Corinth might possibly have had some pretence for bringing the matter into prominence, but not the Jew. And Gallio saw through it at once.



V. THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNJUST ACCUSERS SUMMARILY PUNISHED HIMSELF, HIS INIQUITY RETURNING UPON HIS OWN PATE, AND THAT BY THE DEED, NOT OF HIM WHOM HE HAD DONE HIS BEST TO INJURE, BUT BY THE SPONTANEOUS CONCERT OF OTHERS. And every stage of these events spoke to the retributive observation of One who "is angry with the wicked every day," let them be who they may, and their pretences what they may. And every step also spoke the observing and sympathizing care of Christ for one to whom he had just made the promise, "No man shall set on thee to hurt thee; I am with thee." How happy are all they who serve him with all their might, in that they may trust him with all their heart!—B.

Acts 18:24-28

The opportunities vouchsafed to fitness.

The doctrine of man's opportunity is the correlative of that of God's providence. A world of opportunity there ever is, ever is even for every man. How much of it mournfully perishes for lack of fitness in those who should be fit! A wonderful quantity and variety of fitness there is which waits upon opportunity, hangs precarious on it, but which often pines away because the opportunity given is not seen, or seen is not rightly appraised and humbly accepted. Pride often stands in the way of fitness accepting opportunity. So the whole Jewish nation sinned, and "knew not their King, God's everlasting Son." Whim often stands in the way; one kind of opportunity had been preferred and counted upon, and that which actually comes, though no doubt much better in reality, looks so strange that it is disdained. Impatience often stands in the way; for how much of opportunity depends on ripeness, ripeness of time fitted to the exact ripeness of character, and many will not wait, nor believe, nor trust I In all such cases, the waste, the sacrifice, the absolute unqualified loss are what only the omniscient eye can see, and are such that the eye of Jesus would "weep" over them. A much happier view of fitness, which courted opportunity, and of opportunity which was divinely vouchsafed to fitness, is here before us. Let us observe—

I. THE FITNESS. It is illustrated in two instances.

1. The instance of Apollos.

(1) He was eloquent. It was very possibly a native gift with him. If it were such, it was used—used in a good cause, improved by use. Many a natural advantage is not used; or is so sluggishly used that it wins no improvement and earns no talent beside itself; or used, it is used to inferior ends or to really bad purpose. So far from its being able to be described as "improved," it both desecrates and is desecrated.

(2) He had the fitness of one who had acquired knowledge of the Scriptures, and very hearty, thorough knowledge of them. He understood their parts and their harmony. He could, no doubt, quote them, compare them, vindicate them against misinterpretation or very weak interpretation. And thoroughness of acquaintance with them raised their meaning and value and admirableness incomparably for him. A very scanty, meager acquaintance with Scripture is dishonor offered to it and its high worthiness; but, furthermore, it has no value for the subject of it. He is stricken with famine in the presence of rich abundance, and the strickenness is all his own doing. The average modern Christian loses, perhaps, beyond all that is supposed, from this one source.

(3) He had been instructed and had taken the graft of such instruction respecting the Messiahship of Jesus. "This word," upon which all turned for the Jew of that day, he had "received with meekness." And this word, though at present he had not got beyond the "baptism of John," and knew little of the "baptism of the Holy Ghost," was bearing already "much fruit."

(4) He owned to the great qualification of "fervor in the Spirit." It was a fervor assuredly not all his own, not altogether native in gift. The Spirit had condescended to descend and light upon him.

(5) He had a certain fitness of practical aptitude at speaking. And he did not bury it. He began by "speaking" as if in conversation with one or more. He went on to "teaching," and neither his teaching nor any who heard it rebuked his advance, it would appear, till he found himself "preaching boldly" in public in the synagogues. It is just as though impulse had been faithfully obeyed, and felt its way, felt it rightly from step to step.

(6) He had also a certain missionary fitness. No large language boasts it to us, but the significant language of his deeds speaks it. He was "disposed" to pass onward. This is the disposition of the gospel. It refuses to stagnate. It refuses to be partial. It refuses to forget "the ends of the earth." It refuses to stay its course till it shall "cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea."

2. The instance of Aquila and Priscilla. Behind the all-brief allusion to them, what a background, we may be well assured, lies! What loss of worldly business, what vexation, what fatigue, what wounded hearts and painful aspects of human life, and strange estimates of the great Invisible, must have been the oft visitants of those banished Jews of Rome! Yet

(1) they had fallen in with Paul, and not been afraid of him, nor of his truth, which was one with him, and they had "learned of him." Ay, it was the foundation of all fitness for them. But

(2) they had admitted Paul to be "partners" with them, or workman for them at wages, and had received him as an indoor servant. So they had not only learnt the first outline and elements of Christian truth, but they had enjoyed the priceless advantage of learning ever so much more by question and answer, at many an odd moment, when the light burst in on them like a flash of lightning, only with healing instead of alarming effect. They had learned in many a nicely disposed frame of mind, when a quarter of an hour gave more than a week would have otherwise given. They had also been relieved and cheered through long stretches of wearisome toil, yet the time sped all too quickly. And many a time they said, in thinking of it all, "Did not our heart burn within us?" They were qualifying for nothing different from this—to "expound the way of God more perfectly" to others.

(3) They had come to feel themselves, if it might at all be so, "inseparable" from Paul They must go with Paul (verse 18) into Syria and to Ephesus (verse 19). "There," it is significantly said, "he left them" (verse 19), for it was time their own separate usefulness and ministry should begin.


1. For Apollos. He seemed made for usefulness.

(1) He had begun work right heartily before Aquila and Priscilla had told him the latest and the best. So he had ,already found his work out of the various fitnesses which lay in him, which he had not neglected, not resisted, not despised.

(2) The opportunity of large accessions of knowledge are thrown in his way, and he embraces them and owns them. Possibly the tent-making couple, man and wife, did not ordinarily stand very high in repute with the learned and polished of Alexandria (verse 24). But as surely as they recognize the right ring about him, so does he about them. And he is glad of the providential opportunity held out to him, to have "the way of God expounded" to him more completely and fully.

(3) The opportunity is opened to him of passing on to other ground, accredited by "{he brethren," till he finds himself the true living center of a people to God's glory. He is the "much helper" of them, who had already "believed through grace," and he is the effective, trenchant, and successful convincer of many others, of "the truth as it is in Jesus." What a lesson for young men! And how many persons of great gifts not used, misused, or sluggishly used, are sternly rebuked by the example of Apollos! While he is an example of how God will find the work and the opportunity and the glorious usefulness for those who have and improve and dedicate to him their fitness, of whatever kind, for his work.

2. For Aquila and Priscilla. These had been blessed themselves. Very likely, indeed, they had been a real help and comfort in private and in traveling to Paul. We can see them, wherever the modest opportunity offered, modestly stepping in and using it for the glory of Christ and the good of the brethren and others. But they had never thought of anything beyond such silent, unknown, unrecorded usefulness. But no, it shall not be so. A new opening occurs; they see it, and use it. They teach the teacher. They furnish the armory of the capable, skilful, valiant warrior. Not a victory that Apollos won afterwards, but their share was registered up above; and not a tender plant he watered (1 Corinthians 3:6), but the refreshingness came partly of their work, while "God g-we the increase." For love, and care, and study, and zeal for him, Christ will never long withhold that best present reward, the reward of sufficient opportunity.—B.


Acts 18:1

Corinth as a model sphere of missionary labor.

The service of the apostle no city or district is more fully detailed than his service at Corinth, and there is so much of interest connected with that city, that we may consider somewhat fully the work that had to be done, and the work that was done there. A general sketch of the place, its character, and its history will suggest the directions in which, further study and research may be hopefully pursued. The most complete and careful note is the following, by Dean Plumptre:—"The position of Corinth on the isthmus, with a harbour on either shore, Cenchreae on the east, Lechaeum on the west, had naturally made it a place of commercial importance at a very early stage of Greek history. With commerce had crone luxury and vice, and the verb Corinthiazein, equal to 'live as the Corinthians,' had become proverbial, as early as the time of Aristophanes, for a course of profligacy. The harlot priestesses of the temple of Aphrodite gave a kind of consecration to the deep-dyed impurity of Greek social life, of which we find traces in 1Co 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9-19. The Isthmian games, which were celebrated every fourth year, drew crowds of competitors and spectators from all parts of Greece, and obviously furnished the apostle with the agonistic imagery of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. On its conquest by the Roman general Mummius, many of its buildings had been destroyed, and its finest statues had been carried off to Rome. A century later, Julius Caesar determined to restore it to its former splendor, and thousands of freedmen were employed in the work of reconstruction. Such was the scene of the apostle's new labors, less promising, at first sight, than Athens, but ultimately far more fruitful in results." Taking the point of view indicated in the heading of this homily outline, we notice that—

I. CORINTH WAS THE PLACE TO TEST THE ADAPTATION OF THE GOSPEL TO ALL CLASSES OF SOCIETY. The experience of long years and many missionary journeys was epitomized at Corinth. Not even Rome presented such an assemblage of all classes and grades, of all nationalities and races. It was just the place wherein to show what "almighty grace can do." And the great apostle sought it with much the same instinct that leads the revivalists of our day to seek London, or Glasgow, or Paris. The population of Corinth was largely democratic, and its aristocracy was that of wealth rather than of birth. Commerce brought to it sailors and merchants from all parts of the world. There was a considerable Greek population, and a large number of Roman settlers. And we may add that the Jewish nation was well represented. St. Paul preached the gospel to them all, and it proved the power of salvation unto all who believed.

II. CORINTH WAS THE PLACE TO TEST THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL ON MEN UTTERLY DEBASED AND CORRUPTED BY SIS. The moral iniquity of Rome, as described in Romans 1:1-32., may help us to realize the profligacy of Corinth. F.W. Robertson says, "The city was the hotbed of the world's evil, in which every noxious plant, indigenous or transplanted, rapidly grew and flourished; where luxury and sensuality throve rankly, stimulated by the gambling spirit of commercial life, till Corinth now in the apostle's time, as in previous centuries, became a proverbial name for moral corruption." Can the gospel cleanse the unclean, deliver those enslaved by vice, break the bondage of degrading habits, and give men command over their passions? Can even worse than Jerusalem sinners be saved? And is there hope for the most abandoned nations? St. Paul's successes at Corinth are the sufficing answer.

III. CORINTH WAS THE PLACE TO DEVELOP THE RELATIONS OF CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES TO SOCIAL AND FAMILY LIFE. Show how the common everyday life and relations of the people had been toned by their idolatrous religion. The practical question comes to every man who yields his heart to Christ—What changes will the Christian principles make in my conduct? Illustrate how St. Paul had to decide many details, and illustrate the working of the Christian principles in his letters to the Corinthian Church. And he thus has rendered invaluable service to the Church of all the ages.—R.T.

Acts 18:6

Personal religious responsibility.

"Your blood be upon your own heads." Introduce by reference to St. Paul's relations with the Jews. Up to this time he had been strictly loyal to the Jews, and wherever he went he had taken the gospel first to them. No doubt the hindrance of their prejudices, and the violence of their opposition, had weaned him from them and prepared the way for the separation of the Gentile from the Jewish Christians, which took place at Ephesus (Acts 19:9). The terms that are used to describe the conduct of the Jewish party are very strong ones, and help to explain the intense feeling of indignation excited in the apostle. "Opposed themselves" is a military term, implying organized and systematic opposition, How strong St. Paul's feelings were is indicated in his act of "shaking his raiment." "As done by a Jew to Jews, no words and no act could so well express the apostle's indignant protest. It was the last resource of one who found appeals to reason and conscience powerless, and was met by brute violence and clamor." The phrase which the apostle used is evidently a proverbial one; it must not be regarded as a mere passionate imprecation; it is a last solemn warning. With it should be compared such passages as 1 Kings 2:32, 1Ki 2:33, 1 Kings 2:37; Ezekiel 3:18; Ezekiel 33:4; Matthew 23:1-39. Matthew 23:35. St. Paul did not from this time entirely give up preaching to the Jews, but he gave up preaching to those who lived at Corinth. The point on which we fix attention is that St. Paul had recognized and borne responsibility for them as their teacher; but that responsibility he refused to bear any longer; he cast it back altogether on themselves.

I. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TEACHER. This is fully dealt with, in relation to the ancient prophets, by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:17-21; Ezekiel 33:1-19). The prophet, or teacher, or preacher, is:

1. A man set in relation with others who is one of them; who can speak to, or influence, others.

2. A man with a message to be given to others. He is a recipient of Divine truth for the sake of others. He has a sphere and a message. Out of these two things comes his responsibility. For the time and occasion, he actually takes upon himself the responsibility of the souls of those to whom he is sent, since their eternal well-being may be dependent on his faithfulness in the delivery of his message. Illustrate that Jonah took upon himself the fate of Nineveh as a nation. So every true preacher now, who has a message from God, finds that the secret of his power lies in the measure in which he can take the responsibility of his audience upon himself, and feel that his testimony will be a savor of "life unto life," or of "death unto death." He can only be cleared of his responsibility before God in two ways.

(1) By fully delivering his message.

(2) By the willful rejection of his message.

Impress what a burden on the Christian preacher's heart is the burden of souls; and with what an agony of feeling he sometimes would cast off the burden, saying, "Who is sufficient for these thins?" But what is overwhelming responsibility from one point of view is holy joy of service from another point of view. Who would not willingly stand with Christ, and feel how "he bare our infirmities and carried our sorrows"? "It is enough for the servant that he be as his Lord."

II. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE HEARER. It may be said—s it not better to have the people without the knowledge of the truth, if such knowledge increases their responsibility and final judgment? The answer is:

(1) We must preach the gospel, whatever may prove to be the issues of our work.

(2) Bearing responsibilities, and lifting ourselves to meet them well, are the conditions of moral growth.

No man can reach a full manhood save under the pressure of responsibilities. Those of the hearer are:

(1) To listen to the teacher of Divine truth.

(2) To recognize the personal relations of the truth he hears.

(3) To decide for himself the acceptance or rejection of the message.

(4) To bear all the present and future consequences of whatever decision he may make.

Impress that the most painful thing about the woe of lost souls will be the conviction that they were themselves to blame. "Their blood was upon their own heads."—R.T.

Acts 18:9, Acts 18:10

God's grace in times of depression.

The point of this gracious and comforting manifestation of God to his servant is that it came at a time of much perplexity, anxiety, and depression. It told of the Divine care of the earnest and faithful apostle, and gave him the restful assurance that, however men might oppose and trouble him, God accepted his service, and would surely guard him from all evil until his work in that city was complete. We may compare the proverbial assurance which has often brought comfort to our hearts, "Man is immortal till his work is done." It was one of the marked peculiarities of the Divine dealing with St. Paul, that at the great crises of his life special visions were granted to him. At the time of his conversion, he had seen and heard the Lord (Acts 9:4-6). When in a trance at Jerusalem, he heard the same voice and saw the same form (Acts 22:17). When on the ship, during the great storm, an angel form appeared to him with a gracious and assuring message (Acts 27:23, Acts 27:24). When called to appear before his judge, he seems to have had an unusual sense of Christ's nearness, for he says, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me" (2 Timothy 4:17). And he gives a full account of his remarkable uplifting to see unspeakable things in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7. But all who are so sensitively toned as to have such seasons of spiritual elevation are singularly liable to answering moods of depression. They who can thus rise high can also sink low; and St. Paul did but tell of actual and painful experiences when he said, "Without were fightings and within were fears." At Corinth circumstances greatly troubled him. Some measure of success attended his preaching, but he seemed to make more and worse enemies than ever; he separated the Christian disciples from the synagogue in the hope of getting some quietness and peace, but the prejudiced Jews of the synagogue continued their persecutions, until St. Paul's spirit was well-nigh broken, and he had almost made up his mind to leave Corinth, and seek for other and more hopeful spheres. And yet he felt that this would be running away from his work, and forcing God's providence, seeing that no directions for his removal from Corinth had been given to him. It was just at this period of anxiety and depression that the comforting message came to him. Illustration of similar moods of feeling, in other servants of God, may be found in Elijah (1 Kings 19:4-14); in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6-8; Jeremiah 15:15-21); and in John the Baptist's sending from his prison to Jesus, asking, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Having this incident and its surrounding circumstances well before us, we may consider two things:

(1) what the incident tells us of St. Paul; and

(2) what the incident tells us of the Lord Jesus Christ.


1. That he suffered from bodily frailty. A burden of physical weakness constantly oppressed him and affected his spirits. Compare Richard Baxter or Robert Hall, men whose holy labors were a continual triumph of will and of heart over pain and weakness. Show the subtle connections between bodily conditions and apprehensions of Divine truth. It is most comforting to be assured that God "knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust,"

2. That he was naturally of a most sensitive and nervous constitution, so that he felt everything most keenly. Such natures yearn for love with an intense passion, and they feel slights and unkindness, and seeming failure and unfaithfulness, in those they trust, with a passion equally intense. They have altogether higher joys than most men can know, but they have answering sorrows deeper than most men can sound. To such natures alone can spiritual visions come: they gain the truth by power of insight; and, often at the cost of extreme personal suffering and distress, they become the great thought-leaders and teachers of the age. Such men are amongst us still, and they need the tenderest consideration and sympathy. They will reward us by thoughts and views of Christ and of truth such as never can be won by mere study. Their love and faith alone can sound the deep things of God.


1. The first thing is the assurance it gives of Christ's actual presence with his servants. He may not always be felt, but he is always present.

2. He is never failing in his gracious and tender interest in their doings, and in them.

3. He is ready to make manifestations of himself, and of his will, to his servants, in exact adaptation to their needs.

4. He may show his nearness, and assure his servants of his sympathy and help in unique ways. The point of all our Lord's manifestations to his people is the need for keeping up in their souls the conviction that he is really with them. All comfort, strength, and security for Christian workers come with this conviction. So St. Paul elsewhere declares, "I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me."

We may learn:

1. That times of depression are no unusual experience for God's people.

2. That they may even come in the very midst of our work.

3. That they are under the gracious watching of the Master whom we serve.

4. And that they are only the sides of weakness that belong to natures endowed with special capacities for special work.—R.T.

Acts 18:12-17

Gallio's indifference.

It is a singular thing that altogether unworthy ideas should have been associated in Christian minds with this man Gallio. He is known to have been the brother of Seneca, and a man of singular amiability of character. "Seneca dedicated to him two treatises on Anger and the Blessed Life; and the kindliness of his nature made him a general favorite. He was everybody's 'Dulcis Gallio,' was praised by his brother for his disinterestedness and calmness of temper, as one who was loved much even by those who had but little capacity for loving.' "F.W. Robertson remarks on the expression, "Gallio cared for none of those things;" "that is, he took no notice of them, he would not interfere. He was, perhaps, even glad that a kind of wild, irregular justice was administered to one Sosthenes, who had been foremost in bringing an unjust charge. So that instead of Gallio being, as commentators make him, a sort of type of religious lukewarmness, he is really a specimen of an upright Roman magistrate." But a careful judgment of the incidents which bring Gallio before us leaves the impression that the general idea of his character is in great measure the correct one; his easy-going gentleness was only too likely to lead him to connive at wrong-doings, and fail adequately to punish wrong-doers. From the narrative we may learn such things as these—

I. SOME THINGS ARE BEST TREATED WITH CONTEMPT. In life we often meet with difficulties which are made by treating trifling matters seriously.

1. Certain forms of opposition to Christian truth are best "left alone." They grow into importance by being treated as if they were serious.

2. Officious and intermeddling persons are best treated with a quiet scorn; by making much of them utterly incompetent persona are lifted into positions for which they are wholly unfitted. In the practical relations of society and of the Church there is a mission for burnout, satire, and even scorn; and in the use of such weapons we have the example of St. Paul. But it is manifest that such weapons are dangerous, and may only be used with due caution and reserve.

II. RELIGIOUS QUARRELS MAY OFTEN WISELY BE TREATED WITH CONTEMPT. The disputes and contentions which arise in religious communities seldom bear relation to principle; they usually come from petty misunderstandings, or aroused personal feeling. Mischief comes by fostering them, giving them importance, and letting them develop their evil influence. There is often needed, in religious associations, the strong firm ruler who, like Gallio, will refuse to hear miserable contentions about words and names, or to heed the reports of slanderers and backbiters. It is seldom found possible to heal religious quarrels, and it is practically wiser to treat them as we treat spreading diseases—stamp them out, by the refusal to recognize them. Let them die out; and this they will surely do if we take care not to fan the flame.

III. THE CLAIMS OF RELIGIOUS TRUTH AND DUTY MAY NEVER BE SET ASIDE WITH CONTEMPT. Whoever may present them, udder whatever circumstances they may be presented, they demand our attention, our calm, careful consideration. Nothing of truth may we leave alone, whether it be old truth set before us with a new vividness and force, or new truth which is apparently opposed to all our prejudices. All truth comes to us with a "Thus saith the Lord;" and, as God's voice to us, we dare not be indifferent, much less may we be contemptuous. Show what truths and duties may come before us; apply especially to the gospel offer; press the demand for immediate attention on this ground, "It is not a vain thing for you; it is your life."R.T.

Acts 18:18

St. Paul's personal relations with Judaism.

"Having shorn his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow." For the various explanations of this allusion which have been offered, reference must be made to the Exegetical portion of this Commentary. For some reason, which St. Paul regarded as sufficient, he had allowed his hair to grow for a time, and now, the time of the vow being nearly expired, he had his hair cut (not shaved) before starting on his journey into Syria. The point to which we bend attention, as suggesting suitable lessons for us, is that, being a born Jew, St. Paul found himself bound by rules and ceremonials which he did not feel justified in pressing upon his Gentile converts. This may give a seeming inconsistency to St. Paul's conduct, but it really reveals the nobility of his spirit, and the self-mastery and self-rule which he had won. We should carefully distinguish between the limitations under which a good man and wise teacher may please to confine his own personal conduct, and the freedom from such personal limitations which he may enjoin in his public teachings. As an illustration, reference may be made to such matters as card-playing and going to theatres. The Christian teacher who feels that no rule on such matters can be laid down, is quite consistent with such teaching if he pleases to put himself under rule, and will neither play cards nor attend theatres. And this was the position of St. Paul. He felt that personally he did not wish to break off the familiar Jewish bonds of his lifetime; but while he personally met all Jewish claims, he resolutely championed the freedom of the Gentile Christians from all such restrictions and limitations. Impress that the details of a man's conduct are fully within his own management, and that in our public relations we can only deal with principles, leaving all direct applications to the judgment and conscience of the individual. Still, it should be noticed that the apparent diversity between St. Paul's personal conduct and public teachings gave his enemies a seemingly fair ground of accusation. We remark that—


(1) the "accent of conviction;" and

(2) the "note of sincerity."

The force behind a man must be the force of the man himself. We mast know him, and have adequate assurance that the things he speaks have a living power upon himself. We properly require something more than consistency; we ask for a harmony between words and works which wilt show that each are set to the same keynote. if St. Paul's enemies were right, and his Judaical practices were out of harmony with his public teachings, then they pluck the life and power from his teaching. Impress that still all public teaching is ineffective which is beyond the personal attain-merit of the speaker. He can only utter it as intellectual knowledge or as current sentiment. A man only speaks with power when he tells what he has himself "tasted and handled and felt of the Word of life."

II. A MAN'S PRIVATE LIFE MAY BE RULED BY CONSIDERATIONS WHICH HE DOES NOT FEEL BOUND TO PRESS ON OTHERS. This is the point suggested by our text, and a simple illustration will show us St. Paul's position. A Christian teacher nowadays may be personally impressed with the examples of David and Daniel, and may feel that to adopt a rule of praying three times a day will be of direct service to his spiritual life. But he may feel that he has no right to press his rule upon his congregation as a binding one for all. He commends the duty of prayer, but he puts himself under limitations which are for himself alone. Many Christian people make intellectual and spiritual advances, which we might think would give them a large freedom in conduct, and yet the fact is that, to the end of their days, they voluntarily keep up their old habits and practices, preferring to set themselves within what they find to be well-ordered limitations. In such cases it is rather an over-severe consistency than anything like inconsistency which we find. Modern evil rather goes in the direction of over-demand of personal liberty as new aspects of Divine truth gain prominence. There is too little of Pauline self-regulation on the Christian principles.

III. A MAN'S PERSONAL LIMITATIONS NEED NOT CONFUTE HIS PUBLIC TEACHINGS. They may be matters of dispute, on which the Church is divided. He need not make his decisions, for the ordering of his own private life, keep him from the public utterance of the great principles and duties. The readiest illustration of this point may be taken from the use of fermented drinks. A Christian teacher may decide that it is necessary for his well-being that he should use such drinks regularly and moderately. Now, such a man is not debarred by his own personal habit from publicly dealing with the great social evil of drunkenness. He can in no way be charged with inconsistency, since the matter is one of personal limitation, and not one of scriptural principle. St. Paul claimed the right to preach as a Gentile, and to limit himself by Jewish rules, if it pleased him to do so.—R.T.

Acts 18:23

Strengthening disciples.

St. Paul's method of itinerating involved something like a systematic revisitation of the Churches he founded, and the keeping up of a connection with them by letter, when he could not give his bodily presence. He seems only to have remained long enough in any one place to gain a number of disciples, and to start them fairly, with something like Church order, self-government, and adequate teaching force, from among themselves. Ills plan tended to develop the self-dependence of the early Christians; and it made very real St. Paul's doctrine of the actual presence and Divine leading of the Holy Ghost. But we can also see that it placed the young Churches in grave peril, and there can be no reason for surprise if we find that in doctrine they yielded to the influence of bold but imperfect or false teachers; and in practical life felt the contaminating influence of surrounding immoralities. It is plain that occasional visits or letters from the older teachers were imperatively necessary, and the work done by such visits or letters is variously styled confirming, or strengthening, the disciples (Acts 14:22; Acts 15:32-41). The word "strengthening" seems, however, to suggest that St. Paul found some weakening of faith, and failure of character and conduct, which he knew would only too readily develop into doctrinal and practical heresies. We may take this term "strengthening" and apply it to some of the forms of pastoral and ministerial service in our own times. Something is done in the way of visiting and confirming the Churches by our older and honored chief pastors, but it may be urged that here is a sphere of hopeful service which may be much more fully occupied.

I. "STRENGTHENING" AS APPLIED TO THE RENEWALS OF MORAL FORCE IN TIMES OF PERSECUTION. Our Lord fairly forewarned his disciples that they must look for persecution. It came heavily upon the young Churches, not only in those open forms of which history has preserved the records, but also in those thousandfold more searching forms which belonged to family and social life. Power of resistance and steadfast endurance came indeed from the grace of God and the leadings of the Holy Ghost, but these ever fit in with, and work through, a due and careful culture of moral character. There are principles, considerations, and sentiments which strengthen and steady men to endure persecution. And these still form one great theme of pastoral treatment, since, in subtler ways, it is found true to-day that "they who wilt live godly must suffer persecution."

II. "STRENGTHENING" AS APPLIED TO ESTABLISHMENT IN CHRISTIAN TRUTHS. Three processes are ever going on which need careful watching and wise correction.

1. Men who at one time grasp truth strongly, and make it a power on heart and life, gradually get to loosen the grasp, and lose the practical influence of the truth on the conduct.

2. Men who do not at first get a really clear hold of truth soon come, unwittingly, to misrepresent it and injure it; not from an intention of introducing freshness, or from any desire to encourage heresy, but simply from feebleness of mental grip and inability to apprehend truth clearly. The evils which Christian doctrine has suffered from this cause have never been duly estimated.

3. Men who are of inquisitive and restless dispositions are too easily attracted by heretical notions. St. Paul had to deal with all these forms of evil, and he strove to correct them by establishing more firmly than before, in mind and heart, the great Christian foundations; going over, again and again, the "first principles of the doctrine of Christ."

III. "STRENGTHENING" AS APPLIED TO PRACTICAL HELP IN CHRISTIAN LIVING. Many practical questions arose in those times out of the relations of Christian principles to pagan customs, such as the eating of meat which had been offered in sacrifice to idols. And though Christians, under the apostolic guidance, would at first take a decided stand in relation even to the details of private and social life, we can well understand that daily association would gradually wear down their resistance, and they would fail to keep the strictness of moral purity, and the full power of Christian charity, under the influence of daily surroundings. It is too seldom duly considered how the worship and ministry of each returning sabbath day helps to keep up the moral standard of life and conduct among Christian people.

IV. "STRENGTHENING" AS APPLIED TO THE QUICKENING OF ZEAL IN CHRISTIAN ENTERPRISE. The Christian Church is essentially an aggressive Church. It has its mission, and that mission is to the world. It has no right of existence save as it seeks to extend and enlarge itself. A selfish regard for its own interests is simply ruinous to its own best interests. And yet we find that individuals and Churches are ever liable to flag in energy and enterprise, and weakly to fall back upon mere self-culture, or upon the excuse that they must attend to their self-culture. Apostles, and earnest men in all ages, have to arouse the Church to a sense of its duties and responsibilities, and to strengthen it for duly meeting and fulfilling them. And so we find, in St. Paul's letters to the Churches, indications of the various spheres and departments in which he found it necessary to "strengthen the disciples." Illustrate by the tender scene in the life of David, when his friend Jonathan found him out, in his time of depression and seemingly hopeless failure, and "strengthened his hand in God."—R.T.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Acts 18". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/acts-18.html. 1897.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile