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Acts Chapter Eighteen


I. Content of the Chapter


Paul Ended the Second Journey

I. In Corinth:

  A. He sought shelter from Aquila and Priscilla (v.1-3).

  B. He preached in the synagogue every Sabbath (v.4).

  C. He testified Christ to the Jews, however, he was opposed (v.5-6).

  D. Many of the Corinthians believed and were baptized (v.7-8).

  E. The Lord spoke to Paul by a vision and he was encouraged (v.9-10).

  F. He continued in Corinth a year and six months, teaching among men (v.11).

  G. He was accused by the Jews, however, Gallio took no notice of these things (v.12-17).

II. The return journey:

  A. He sailed from Corinth and came to Ephesus (v.18-20).

  B. He sailed from Ephesus, passed through Jerusalem and returned to Antioch (v.21-22).

III. He started his third journey (v.23).


The Ministry of Apollos

I. He came to Ephesus and taught men the things of the Lord (v.24-25).

II. He received the correction of Aquila and Priscilla (v.26).

III. He went to Achaia and helped many believers (v.27).

IV. He preached vigorously and refuted the Jews publicly (v.28).


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Acts. 18:1 “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.

   YLT: “And after these things, Paul having departed out of Athens, came to Corinth,”

   Literal Meaning: After these things” “These things” indicate all the accidents that Paul met in Athens.

  “And went to Corinth” “Corinth” was about seventy five kilometers from Athens and on the west bank of the Isthmus of Corinth. Corinth was a great commercial city and in the city temples stood in great numbers. It was famous for licentiousness. The famous temple of Asailodia (god of love) had thousand prostitutes to attract guests all over the world. At that time “Corinthianization” means “moral collapse, ruin and dissipation”. It is no wonder that the problem of “sex” became a great trouble to the church in Corinth (1Cor. 5).

    The city of Corinth was the capital town of the province of Achaia. Most of its residents were the Greek and there were also many Romans who spoke Latin. There were many Jews settling down there.


Acts. 18:2 “And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.

   YLT: “and having found a certain Jew, by name Aquilas, of Pontus by birth, lately come from Italy, and Priscilla his wife -- because of Claudius having directed all the Jews to depart out of Rome -- he came to them,”

   Meaning of Words: Aquila”: eagle; “Priscilla”: little one, noble woman; “came to”: come unto, draw near, go near.

   Literal Meaning: born in Pontus” “Pontus” was in the northeast of Asia Minor and it was in the province along the coast of the Black Sea and between Bithynia and Armenia (Acts. 2:9).

  “Because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome.” “Claudius” was the Roman Empire (A.D.41-54). Between A.D.49-50, he originated the so-called “the disturbance of Chrestus” (it may be the disturbance that was caused by the Judaists’ persecuting Christians) among the Jews in Rome. And Claudius did not ask about the circumstances or causes and decreed that all the Jews should be expelled out of the city of Rome. But this decree had not been executed completely (See Acts. 28:17; Rom. 16:3).

  “And he came to them” “Came to” shows that Aquila and Priscilla had been Christians before they met Paul, otherwise, Paul would not ask for help from them casually (1Cor. 9:18; 3John. 7).

   Enlightenment in the Word: Jessie Penn-Lewis said that, “when God opens the door of work for you, He must provide you the economic necessities and all that you need (including person, thing) to enter into the door” (it is translated from the Chinese version).


Acts. 18:3 “So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.

   YLT: “and because of being of the same craft, he did remain with them, and was working, for they were tent-makers as to craft;”

   Literal Meaning: for by occupation they were tentmakers” “Tentmakers” in the original mean cobblers.

  So, because he was of the same tradeCilicia, the hometown of Paul, was famous for producing a kind of clothe (Cilicium) which was made of goat hair. It could be used to make tents, carpets, curtains, capes and etc. It was the duty of the Jewish rabbis to teach men the Bible and they did not charge fees and therefore they had to have another craft to make a living. Probably, Paul had learned the craft of making tents with goat hair since childhood. At that time he went out to preach the word for the Lord and he still supported himself by his own labor through this craft when the provisions were lacked (Acts. 20:34).

    Some Bible exegetes held that Paul only returned to his former career of making tents when he dwelled in Corinth and Ephesus for a long period of time and he did not make a living by this in other places of the journey. The reasons were as follows: 1) the journey of Paul was quite compact and he did not stay long in other places and it seemed that there was not spacious time for him to make a living by making tents; 2) the tools and clothes that were used to make tents were quite heavy and they cannot be moved easily; 3) according to Paul’s burden and ambition of preaching, unless the circumstances were special, he would give himself to preaching and wouldn’t have spare time and energy in doing the worldly work; 4) except the church in Corinth, Paul did not reject others’ provision and actually he received the help from relatives and friends and the churches in various places many times (Acts. 24:23; 2Cor. 11:9; Pill. 2:25; 4:16). However, it seemed that he did not stay long in Thessalonica (Acts. 17:1-10) and he worked with labor and toil night and day (2Thess. 3:7-8).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Believers should respect jobs through which men make a living. If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat (2Thess. 3:10).

2) The Lord’s workers sometimes serve the Lord wholeheartedly and sometimes serve Him with jobs and it is all determined by the arrangement of the Lord. If one wants to serve the Lord with a job, his job is also one part of the service and he should not be careless or perfunctory because it is the worldly job.

3) Many outstanding works of the gospel are done by those who have jobs to support themselves.

4) If we stick to our jobs, we may find our spiritual companions from the jobs, just like Paul found Aquila and Priscilla.

5) Aquila and Priscilla opened their house for the use of the Lord and received the Lord’s servants. It is the good example of living for the Lord.

6) It is fair better that believers have the same trade, work and dwell together, show consideration for each other and take care of each other (Ps. 133:1).

7) It is the expression of loving the Lord for a Christian to love preachers; conversely, a Christian who loves the Lord will love preachers.


Acts. 18:4 “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

   YLT: “and he was reasoning in the synagogue every sabbath, persuading both Jews and Greeks.”

   Meaning of Words: “persuade”: convert, win over.

   Literal Meaning: And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath” Paul went to the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath in order to make use of the opportunity to preach the gospel instead of keeping the Sabbath.

  “And persuaded both Jews and Greeks” It shows that these “Greeks” also went to the Jewish synagogue to listen to the word of God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Christians should work diligently on weekends and on the Lord’s day, we should not forget to gather together to remember the Lord.

2) “And persuaded both Jews and Greeks” We believers should not have the narrow racial notions or merely preach the gospel to the ethnic Chinese because the Lord whom we believe in is the Savior of all men (1Tim. 4:10).


Acts. 18:5 “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.

  YLT: “And when both Silas and Timotheus came down from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the Spirit, testifying fully to the Jews Jesus the Christ;”

   Meaning of Words: “compel”: press, constrain, keep in, urge; “testify”: earnestly and seriously testify.

   Literal Meaning: When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia” Paul was persecuted in Berea and brothers sent him away to Athens. At that time Silas and Timothy still abode in Berea (Acts. 17:14). Paul gave the brothers a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed (Acts. 17:15). Obviously they obeyed the commandment immediately and met with Paul in Athens, however, they were sent by Paul to Macedonia instantly: Timothy was sent to Thessalonica (1Thess. 3:1-2) and Silas was sent to another place and it might be Philippi.

  Paul was compelled by the Spirit” It shows that he was full of burden within himself and he was devoted to preaching the word of the Lord because they had brought the glad tidings from Macedonia (1Thess. 3:6) that compelled Paul. Some Bible exegetes explained this sentence that “Paul made all his effort in preaching” because their material needs for a living had been supplied by the gifts brought by Silas and Timothy from the churches in Macedonia (2Cor. 11:9).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Though Silas and Timothy were the junior fellow-workers of Paul, their coming unexpectedly strengthened the burden of Paul so that he testified to men that Christ is the Lord greatly. It shows that the cooperation of fellow-workers is extremely important in testifying Christ.

2) When good fellow-workers cooperate with each other, they will all be spiritually held high and it is the reality of the members’ connecting and caring one for anther in the body (Rom. 12:5; 1Cor. 12:25).

3) Probably Silas and Timothy brought the economic provision from Macedonia so that Paul could preach the word wholeheartedly. Concerning whether a preacher serves the Lord full-time or with a job, two decisive factors should be considered: 1) whether he is fully occupied by the spiritual burden so that he has to give every effort to do it; 2) whether he has the sufficient economic source under the outer circumstance so that he could rely on it for a living.


Acts. 18:6 “But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’”

   YLT: “and on their resisting and speaking evil, having shaken [his] garments, he said unto them, `Your blood [is] upon your head -- I am clean; henceforth to the nations I will go on.'”

   Meaning of Words: “oppose”: resist, withstand, obstruct.

   Literal Meaning: he shook his garments” “Shaking his garments” means to shake the dusts on the garments and previously it was the act that the Jews showed to the Gentiles that they broke off their acquaintance with them (See Neh. 5:13; Acts. 13:51). Through this Paul showed to the unbelieving Jews that if they were still obstinate and did not believe, they must take upon themselves the consequences.

  Your blood be upon your own heads” When the Jews killed the Lord Jesus, they expressed that they and their children would bear the sin of the blood of the Lord (Matt. 27:24-25). And therefore if they believe in the Lord, the blood of the Lord would cleanse them, otherwise, the blood shall be on them.

  I am clean” means that I do not have the dirtiness of sin or that it cannot become the accusation to me.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) He who rejects the gospel is an opponent of himself. Whom that the unbelievers harm the most are themselves.

2) Believers are paying their debts when they preach the gospel (Rom. 1:14-15). If we have preached the gospel faithfully and others still do not believe, the debt is no longer on us but on those who are obstinate and do not believe.


Acts. 18:7 “And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.

   YLT: “And having departed thence, he went to the house of a certain one, by name Justus, a worshipper of God, whose house was adjoining the synagogue,”

   Literal Meaning: And he departed from there” According to the context, “there” does not refer to Corinth and it does not mean that he no longer abode with Aquila and Priscilla. It refers to the place where he preached previously and it might be the Jewish synagogue (See v.4).

  “A certain man named Justus” “Titus” was a common Roman name and here the surname “Justus” was added here in order to differentiate it from another “Titus” (2Cor. 2:13; 7:13-14; 8:16, 23) probably. Some people held that the “Gaius” (1Cor. 1:14) that Paul mentioned in the Book of Corinthians was Titus Justus and his full name might be Gaius Titus Justus. This surmise may be right because Paul mentioned that Gaius received him and the whole church in the Book of Romans (Rom. 16:23).

  “One who worshiped God” indicates he was a devout man who feared God (Acts. 10:2). This word is used to describe the Gentiles who joined the worship of the Jewish synagogue and had not been circumcised.

  “Whose house was next door to the synagogue” “Next door” means “adjacent”.

   Enlightenment in the Word: whose house was next door to the synagogue”, so that the gospel came to his household. Believers should choose their domicile carefully for the faith of the household.


Acts. 18:8 “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

   YLT: “and Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue did believe in the Lord with all his house, and many of the Corinthians hearing were believing, and they were being baptized.”

   Literal Meaning: Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household” Paul once baptized “Crispus” (1Cor. 1:14). The word “all his household” shows that the household of believers is the complete unit of God’s salvation (Acts. 11:14; 16:15, 31-34).

  “Believed and were baptized” It shows that “believing” and “being baptized” are linked together and there is not the gap of time between them. The moment one has believed in the Lord, he is able to be baptized and there is not any other conditions.

   Enlightenment in the Word: Though many people opposed (See v.6), it was usually of more effect (1Cor. 16:9) and therefore we should not loose heart because of others’ opposition when testifying the Lord.


Acts. 18:9 “Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent;

   YLT: “And the Lord said through a vision in the night to Paul, `Be not afraid, but be speaking and thou mayest be not silent;”

   Literal Meaning: Now the Lord spoke to Paul by a vision” Paul saw the vision many times (Acts. 9:1-9; 22:17-21; 27:23-26). Every time God took the initiative to appear to him and it was not gained by his own pursuit.

  Do not be afraid” It implies that Paul was afraid in his heart. When Paul arrived in Corinth, he was indeed “in fear and in much trembling” (1Cor. 2:3).

Paul in the Acts of the Apostles was quite similar to the image of the afflicted servant in the Book of Isaiah who had experienced all the suffering and preached the gospel to islands and the ends of the earth finally. And therefore the words that the Lord encouraged Paul were similar to the words of Jehovah God to His servant (Is. 43:1-5).

  “But speak, and do not keep silent” The tense of the word “speak” in the original means to ask him to “continue” speaking.

   Enlightenment in the Word: The main reason that believers dare not bear witness with their mouth is “being afraid”------they are afraid of being mocked, persecuted and etc because they had not spoken well.


Acts. 18:10 “for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.’”

   YLT: “because I am with thee, and no one shall set on thee to do thee evil; because I have much people in this city;'”

   Literal Meaning: and no one will attack you to hurt you” This promise of the Lord was proved to be fulfilled in the record from v.12 to v.17 that the attack of the Jews was not effective.

  “For I have many people in this city” It indicates that there would be many people believing in the Lord in Corinth and they were the harvest that Paul should reap.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) When we are conscious that God is with us, we will be confident under every circumstance (Is. 41:10).

2) In such a licentious city as Corinth, there are many people of the Lord unexpectedly and therefore we should not conclude that there isn’t the Lord’s testimony in a certain place because of the circumstance merely.


Acts. 18:11 “And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

   YLT: “and he continued a year and six months, teaching among them the word of God.”

   Meaning of Words: “continue”: sit down, settle down.

   Literal Meaning: And he continued there a year and six months” It is about from the autumn of A.D. 50 to the spring of A.D. 52. In this period of time, Paul might go out to preach the gospel in the whole of Achaia (2Cor. 1:1).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Paul changed his convention that he did not stay long in a place in the past and settled down in Corinth. He travelled everywhere to preach the gospel and he settled down in a place to edify the church. Though preaching the gospel is important, edifying the church is also essential.

2) Our Lord is not satisfied that there are churches on the earth and He hopes that the churches in various places increase and be edified (Eph. 4:12-13, 16).


Acts. 18:12 “When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat,

   YLT: “And Gallio being proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a rush with one accord upon Paul, and brought him unto the tribunal,”

   Literal Meaning: When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia” “Junius Gallio” was the brother of Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, who was the tutor of Nero the Roman Emperor. He was honored as a very fair and sober man. Concerning religion he held the attitude of letting things go their own way with on restraint and as long as the religion did not hinder the politics, he would not make inquiry about it. “Proconsul” was the governor of province that was directly controlled by the Roman Senate and its position was equal to governor. According to the inscription which was found in the Greek city of Delphi, we could know that Gallio was the proconsul of Achaia from A.D. 51 to 52. This data helps us identify the time when Paul came to Corinth in the second journey and the date that he wrote the first and second books of Thessalonians.

  “And brought him to the judgment seat” “The judgment seat” refers to the court that was directed by the Proconsul. It was usually set on the stone step in the town center. When the Jews persecuted the apostles previously, they seemed to only ask help from the disturbance of the public and appeal to the rulers of the city (Acts. 16:19-22; 17:5-8). And today they further complained to the governor of the province.


Acts. 18:13 “saying, This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.’”

   YLT: “saying -- `Against the law this one doth persuade men to worship God;'”

   Meaning of Words: “persuade”: incite; “contrary to”: against, disobey, past.

  Literal Meaning: persuades men to worship God contrary to the law” Here “the law” has two meanings: 1) it refers to the Roman law. At that time it was forbidden within the border of the Roman Empire to preach to the people the religion that was not acknowledged and approved by the Roman law. Judaism was listed as one of the legal religions by the Roman Government. These Jews may accuse Paul that what he preached was not the Judaism. 2) it refers to the law of Moses. By the word “your own law” in v.15 that was said by Gallio, we could know that they may accuse Paul of not obeying the Law of Moses. However, probably Gallio had found out that they accused Paul in the name of disobeying the Roman law and actually they only had discrepancy in the explanation for the Jewish law.

   Enlightenment in the Word: those who do not have the revelation will think that grace and the law are opposite. Actually the law brings men to know grace.


Acts. 18:14 “And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.

   YLT: “and Paul being about to open [his] mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, `If, indeed, then, it was anything unrighteous, or an act of wicked profligacy, O Jews, according to reason I had borne with you,”

   Meaning of Words: “wrongdoing”: evil doing, unrighteous; “wicked crimes”: crafty and vicious; “be reason”: according to reason; “bear with”: endure, pardon.

   Literal Meaning: a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes” refers to the civil and penal matter.


Acts. 18:15 “But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.’”

   YLT: “but if it is a question concerning words and names, and of your law, look ye yourselves [to it], for a judge of these things I do not wish to be,'”

   Literal Meaning: But if it is a question of words and names and your own law” “words” refers to reasons and statements; “names” refers to the religious titles; “law” refers to the explanation for the Law of Moses. These are matters of disagreement in the religious belief.

“Look to it yourselves” in the original is “you should look to it by yourselves”.

  “For I do not want to be a judge of such matters” Gallio held that the accusation that the Jews charged Paul was not against the Roman law and Christians had not disobeyed the regime of the Roman Government and therefore he did not want to be a judge of such matters. Such sentence of Gallio later became the precedent that the governors and proconsuls in various places cited and therefore it played a role in protecting Christianity from the fiftieth to the sixtieth.


Acts. 18:16 “And he drove them from the judgment seat.

   YLT: “and he drave them from the tribunal;”

   Meaning of Words: “drive”: drive away.

   Literal Meaning: drove them from the judgment seat” It means that he was no longer willing to listen to their accusation.

   Enlightenment in the Word: those who want to harm brothers by the earthly power bring contempt upon themselves.


Acts. 18:17 “Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

   YLT: “and all the Greeks having taken Sosthenes, the chief man of the synagogue, were beating [him] before the tribunal, and not even for these things was Gallio caring.”

   Meaning of Words: “take”: firmly grasp, catch up; “take no notice”: show no concern, pay no attention to.

   Literal Meaning: Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue” “All” has two meanings: 1) the Gentiles who listened to the trial alongside; thereby they gave vent to their hostility towards the Jews. 2) the unbelieving Jews; they executed the punishment of the synagogue towards those who changed their belief. “Sosthenes” may be the one with whom Paul jointly signed the first book of Corinthians (1Cor. 1:1); the two “rulers of the synagogue” who were mentioned in this chapter (See v.8) were the predecessor and the successor. They all received the gospel that Paul preached and became Christians.

  “And beat him before the judgment seat” We do not know whether Sosthenes was beaten because he believed in the Lord or he became a Christian because he was beaten.

  But Gallio took no notice of these things” It shows that he was willing to have a hand in the matters of the Jewish law and custom.

   Enlightenment in the Word: The Lord shall reward those who suffer for Him. Men’s unfair-treatment towards us is the prelude of the Lord’s blessing.


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

   YLT: “And Paul having remained yet a good many days, having taken leave of the brethren, was sailing to Syria -- and with him [are] Priscilla and Aquilas -- having shorn [his] head in Cenchera, for he had a vow;”

   Literal Meaning: So Paul still remained a good while” Paul dwelled in Corinth eighteen months all together (See v.11).

  “And Priscilla and Aquila were with him” Please note that when this couple was mentioned here and in many other scriptures, Priscilla, the name of the wife was put in front (See v.26; Rom. 16:3; 2Tim. 4:19). Probably she was more active than her husband in the church and her measure in the Lord was much outstanding.

  “For he had taken a vow” “He” refers to Paul; “had taken a vow” probably refers to the temporary vow of a Nazarite (Num. 6:1-21); when the Jews were sick or suffered danger, they usually made a vow and generally the vow lasted a month and during this period of time they were forbidden to cut their hair, eat meat or drink. Luke did not explain the reason why Paul took a vow. Some people surmised that he might take the vow of thanksgiving because the Lord appeared to him in the vision and promised to keep him safe and as a result, he was free from the attack of the enemies so that he could preach smoothly (See v.9-10, 12-16).

  He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea” “Cenchrea” was in the east of Corinth and it was the Port of Aegean Sea on the eastern coast of Corinth (See the note in v.1; Rom. 16:1). “Having his hair cut off” has two meanings: 1) one used it as a resolution when he took a vow and he would not have his hair cut off until the vow was carried out; 2) having one’s hair cut off shows that the vow expired (Acts. 21:23-24) and one cut off the hair that was grown during the period of the vow and brought it to Jerusalem and burnt it on the alter as a sacrifice to God. Some Bible exegetes held that the reason why Paul had his hair cut off should belonged to the former because he had to carry out the vow within a month and he was not allowed to stay more days in Ephesus (See v.20).

   Enlightenment in the Word: in the house of God, the order is not according to the innate identity or gender. Men are esteemed on the principle of the attainments in the Spirit and truth and the performance of service (1Tim. 5:17).


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

   YLT: “and he came down to Ephesus, and did leave them there, and he himself having entered into the synagogue did reason with the Jews:”

   Literal Meaning: And he came to Ephesus” “Ephesus” was the provincial capital of the province of Asia and click to the details in the nineteenth chapter.


Acts. 18:20 “When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent,

   YLT: “and they having requested [him] to remain a longer time with them, he did not consent,”

   Literal Meaning: he did not consent” Probably Paul wanted to return to Jerusalem before the coming of the Passover and therefore he was not allowed to stay more days. Usually the sea transportation of the Mediterranean Sea was halted in winter and it was reopened on March 10 probably. And the Passover of A.D. 52 was in mid April and therefore he could not stay long in Ephesus.


Acts. 18:21 “but took leave of them, saying, I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing. And he sailed from Ephesus.

   YLT: “but took leave of them, saying, `It behoveth me by all means the coming feast to keep at Jerusalem, and again I will return unto you -- God willing.' And he sailed from Ephesus,”

   Literal Meaning: but I will return again to you, God willing” About in the autumn of A.D.52, Paul fulfilled his promise (Acts. 19:1).

   Enlightenment in the Word: believers should obey the arrangements of God in everything and we should say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James. 4:15).


Acts. 18:22 “And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch.

   YLT: “and having come down to Cesarea, having gone up, and having saluted the assembly, he went down to Antioch.”

   Literal Meaning: and gone up and greeted the church” The word “gone up” means that they had gone up to Jerusalem. The reason why Paul went to Jerusalem was not explained here and probably he went to the holy temple to carry out the vow (See v.18) and had communion with the church there incidentally. It was surmised that Paul returned to Jerusalem for a short-term visit in spring of A.D. 52 and it was during the Passover.

According to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul had gone to Jerusalem at least three times up to this time (Acts. 11:30; 15:2; 18:22). However, according to the book of Galatians, he only mentioned that he went to Jerusalem two times (Gal. 1:18; 2:1). They were not contradictory to each other and it even could be used to prove that the time that Paul wrote the book of Galatians was before his going to Jerusalem this time.

  “He went down to Antioch” “Antioch” refers to the Antioch in Syria (Acts. 11:26; 13:1); it was on the north of Jerusalem, however the word “down” was used here because Antioch was lower.

  Paul’s second journey ended in this verse.

   Enlightenment in the Word: and gone up and greeted the church” The church in Jerusalem was not established by Paul, however, he was still willing to have good communion and relation with the church there. We Christians should not have the narrow Sectarian ideas and ideas of synagogue.


Acts. 18:23 “After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

   YLT: “And having made some stay he went forth, going through in order the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”

   Literal Meaning: from this verse, Paul started his third journey and it was in the summer of A.D. 52 probably. In the three journeys of Paul, he all began with Antioch (See v.22; Acts. 13:1-3; 15:35, 40).

  “And went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order” Paul had also passed these places in his second journey (Acts. 16:6).


Acts. 18:24 “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.

   YLT: “And a certain Jew, Apollos by name, an Alexandrian by birth, a man of eloquence, being mighty in the Writings, came to Ephesus,”

   Literal Meaning: born at Alexandria” “Alexandria” was on the northwest coast of Egypt’s Delta and it was the second important city in the Roman Empire. And there were many Jews there.

  “And mighty in the Scriptures” “The Scriptures” refers to the Old Testament because the New Testament had not been written at that time.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The eloquence and the knowledge of the Bible are useful and eloquence could serve the knowledge of the Bible.

2) The learning of the world makes men stress on rationality and be ice-cold to the word of the Lord, however, the more believers are educated, the more they will be fervent for the word of the Lord (See v.25).


Acts. 18:25 “This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.

   YLT: “this one was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in the Spirit, was speaking and teaching exactly the things about the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John;”

   Literal Meaning: “being fervent in spirit” Concerning the word “spirit”, many people held that Apollos had been born from above and had received the Holy Spirit.

  “He spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord” Since Apollos was quite familiar with the Old Testament (See v.24), he compared all the life of Jesus with the prophecies of the Old Testament and therefore he was firmly persuaded that Jesus is the Messiah. What he spoke and taught was probably that Jesus is the Messiah.

  “Though he knew only the baptism of John” “The baptism of John” stresses on the negative dealing-with. It shows that one had ended the sin that he had abandoned God in the past by immersing himself in water and therefore it is also called “the baptism of repentance” (Acts. 19:3-4). It is different from the baptism of Christians who are baptized in the name of the Lord because the baptism of Christians stresses on the union with Christ which includes the negative burial------die with Christ together and the positive resurrection------live with Christ together (Rom. 6:3-5).

    Apollos only understood justice, morality, the hatred of sins, repentance for sins and etc at that time and he did not understand the gospel of grace.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) “The way of the Lord” is not the doctrines of the Lord. Christians not only believe in some doctrines but also put what they believe into practices.

2) If we want to preach the gospel freely, we should “be so fervent in spirit” that we could disregard our reputation, shyness or opposition.

3) The fervent preachers may not understand the truth of salvation and even some of them have not been saved.

4) Sinners should both come out of sin and enter in Christ------be united to Christ and then they could be counted as gaining the perfect salvation.

5) Believers should not only be familiar with “the Bible” (See v.24) but also know “the Spirit” well. We should not only have the knowledge of the Bible but also enjoy the salvation.


Acts. 18:26 “So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

   YLT: “this one also began to speak boldly in the synagogue, and Aquilas and Priscilla having heard of him, took him to [them], and did more exactly expound to him the way of God,”

   Meaning of Words: “explain”: reveal, expound; “more accurately”: more correctly, more perfectly.

   Literal Meaning: they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” when Aquila and Priscilla moved to Corinth (See v.2-3), they received Paul first and abode with him in Ephesus (See v.18-19). The church in Ephesus may gather together in their house when the church was established in the beginning (1Cor. 16:19). Now they received Apollos and helped him in the spiritual matters. The two servants who were greatly used by the Lord all gained the material and spiritual benefit from them.

    Aquila and Priscilla had the knowledge of “the way of God” at that time probably because they had received the teachings of Paul when they abode with him about a half and a year (See v.11).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Apollos spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord (See v.25) and Aquila and Priscilla explained the way of God more accurately. None of us is able to understand the things of God thoroughly and therefore we should never be conceited and cease pursuit.

2) It is commendable that an eloquent man (See v.24) could modestly listen to the teachings of the common people who were tent-makers (See v.3). Those who are proud and look down upon others accomplish nothing in the way of God.

3) Preachers should not firmly believe that the content and way that they preach are completely right, relying on their eloquence (See v.24) and they should modestly listen to the appraisal of the church and listeners.

4) Only those who have the ears of the learned and are willing to listen to others are able to have the tongues of the learned and know how to help the weary with words (Is. 50:4).

5) In the church, both workers who preach the gospel and workers who train others are needed. Preaching the gospel is sowing and training is watering (1Cor. 3:6). The two should be closely connected.

6) The communion among workers is an important part in the building of the church and it is also the testimony of the body of Christ. It is the important lesson in withstanding the enemies.

7) The workers’ communication of truth, obedience to truth, not being obstinate to their own lack and wrongness are a kind of weapon to hit Satan. 

8) The wisdom of Aquila and Priscilla is that they “received” him in love instead of “criticizing” him and they helped him “in private” instead of criticizing him “publicly”.


Acts. 18:27 “And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;

   YLT: “and he being minded to go through into Achaia, the brethren wrote to the disciples, having exhorted them to receive him, who having come, did help them much who have believed through the grace,”

   Literal Meaning: the brethren wrote, exhorting” The word “the brethren” shows that there were believers in Ephesus at that time.

  “He greatly helped those who had believed through grace” Some people also translated this sentence into that “by grace he greatly helped those who had believed”.

Apollos greatly helped believers in the church in Corinth so that Paul talked about him that, “I have planted, Apollos watered” (1Cor. 3:6). Though some believers in Corinth wanted to regarded him as the leader of the party to compete with Paul, Paul and Apollos did not have partisan ideas towards each other obviously (See 1Cor. 16:12).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) “Those who had believed through grace” It shows that it is not merely that men shall receive grace because they have believed in the Lord but that they are able to believe in the Lord because they have been bestowed grace. If men have not been bestowed by God the heart of faith, they cannot believe in and receive the Lord.

2) We should not hold that it is enough that we have believed in the Lord and been delivered from perdition. After we have believed in the Lord, we still need to get help from other members in order to fill our spiritual life.

3) Apollos needed the help from believers concerning “the way of God”------experiencing the way of God (See v.26), however, concerning the knowledge of the Bible and the further spiritual growth, believers needed the help from this preacher. Preachers and believers should help and complement each other.


Acts. 18:28 “for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

   YLT: “for powerfully the Jews he was refuting publicly, shewing through the Writings Jesus to be the Christ.”


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Example of Aquila and Priscilla

I. They received the works of the Lord (v.2-3).

II. They walked and worked with the Lord’s workers (v.18).

III. They opened the Lord’s workers so as to accomplish his ministry (v.26).


The Example of Paul

I. He labored and supported himself (v.3).

II. He seized the opportunity and was devoted to preaching the gospel (v.4).

III. He was compelled by the spirit (v.5).

IV. Though he was resisted and slandered by men, he still preached everywhere unceasingly (v.6-8).

V. Though he declared that he would turn to the Gentiles, he did not have the heart to give up his kinsmen (v.6, 19).

VI. He had the vision and commission of the Lord (v.9-10).

VII. He built the church of God (v.11).

VIII. He was persecuted for the sake of the Lord (v.12-13).

IX. He took a vow of thanksgiving (v.18).

X. He did not forget preaching the gospel wherever he arrived (v.19).

XI. His steps were determined by the will of God (v.20-21).

XII. He did not have the narrow sectarianism and was willing to have communion with and greet the church that was established by other fellow-workers (v.22).

XIII. He strengthened all the disciples (v.23).


The Way that Paul’s Preaching

I. Reasoning (v.4, 19).

II. Persuading (v.4b).

III. Testifying (v.5).

IV. Teaching (v.11).

V. Strengthening (v.23).


The Support of Paul in the Conflict

I. The cooperation and support of fellow-workers (v.5).

II. The Lord’s appearance and encouragement in the vision (v.9-10).


The Differences and Similarities between Paul and Apollos

I. Paul was compelled by the Spirit (v.5); Apollos was fervent in spirit (v.25).

II. Their works were to testify that Jesus is Christ (v.5, 28).

III. Paul had the vision of the Lord and understood the way of God clearly (v.9, 11); Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures (v.24).

IV. Paul taught the word of God among them (v.11); Apollos taught accurately the things of the Lord (v.25).

V. Paul strengthened all the disciples (v.23); Apollos greatly helped those who had believed through grace (v.27).


The Example of Apollos

I. He had gift and was mighty in the Scriptures (v.24).

II. He was fervent in spirit (v.25a).

III. He taught accurately the things of the Lord (v.25b).

IV. He began to speak boldly (v.26a).

V. He was able to receive others’ correction modestly (v.26b).

VI. He greatly helped those who had believed through grace (v.27).

VII. He vigorously refuted the Jews publicly (v.28a).

VIII. He knew how to bear witness from the Scriptures (v.28b).


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren