Acts Chapter Eighteen
At Thessalonica Paul twice received succour from Philippi; at Corinth, where money and commerce abounded, he does not take it, but quietly works with two of his countrymen of the same trade as himself. He again begins with the Jews, who oppose his doctrine and blaspheme. The apostle takes his course with the boldness and decision of a man truly led of God, calmly and wittingly, so as not to be turned aside. He shakes his garments in token of being pure of their blood, and declares that now he turns to the Gentiles according to Isaiah 49, taking that prophecy as a command from God.
In Corinth God has "much people." He therefore uses the unbelieving indifference of Gallio to defeat the projects and malice of the Jews, jealous as ever of a religion that eclipsed their importance, whatever might be its grace towards them. Paul, after labouring there a long time, goes away in peace. His Jewish friends, Priscilla and Aquila, go with him. He was going himself to Jerusalem. He was also under a vow. The opposition of the Jews does not take away his attachment to his nation-his faithfulness in preaching the gospel to them first-in recognising everything that belonged to them in grace before God. He even submits to Jewish ordinances. Possibly habit had some influence over him, which was not of the Spirit; but according to the Spirit he had no thought of disallowing that which the patient grace of God granted to the people. He addresses himself to the Jews at Ephesus. They are inclined to hear him, but he desires to keep the feast at Jerusalem. Here he is still a Jew with his feasts and vows. The Spirit has evidently introduced these circumstances to give us a true and complete picture of the relationship that existed between the two systems-the degree of freedom from the influence of the one, as well as the energy that established the other. The first remains often to a certain degree, where energy to do the other is in a very high degree. The liberty that condescends to prejudices and habits is not the same thing as subjection to these prejudices in one's own person. In our feebleness the two mingle together; but they are in fact opposed to each other. To respect that which God respects, even when the system has lost all real force and value, if called to act in connection with this system when it is really nothing more than a superstition and a weakness, is a very different thing from putting oneself under the yoke of superstition and weakness. The first is the effect of the Spirit; the last, of the flesh. In us, alas! the one is often confounded with the other. Charity becomes weakness, giving uncertainty to the testimony.
Paul takes his journey; goes up to Jerusalem, and salutes the assembly; goes down to Antioch, and visits again all the first assemblies he had formed, thus binding all his work together-Antioch and Jerusalem. How far his old habits influenced him in his ways of acting, I leave the reader to judge. He was a Jew. The Holy Ghost would have us see that he was as far as possible from any contempt for the ancient people of God, for whom divine favour will never change. This feeling was surely right. It appears elsewhere that he went beyond the limits of the Spirit and of spirituality. Here we have only the facts. He may have had some private reason that was valid in consequence of the position in which he stood. One may be in circumstances which contradict the liberty of the Spirit, and which, nevertheless, when we are in them, have a certain right over us, or exercise an influence which necessarily weakens in the soul the energy of that liberty. We may have done wrong in putting ourselves into those circumstances, but, being in them, the influence is exercised, the rights assert their claim. A man called to serve God, driven out from his father's house, walks in the liberty of the Spirit. Without any change in his father, he goes into the paternal house: the rights of his father revive-where is his liberty? Or a man possessed of much clearer spiritual intelligence places himself in the midst of friends who are spiritually altogether below him: it is almost impossible for him to retain a spiritual judgment. However it may have been here, the link is now formed voluntarily on the part of him who stood in the place of liberty and grace, and the Christians in Jerusalem remain at the level of their former prejudices, and claim patience and indulgence from him who was the vessel and the witness of the liberty of the Spirit of God.
This, with the supplement of his work at Ephesus, forms the circle of the active labours of the apostle in the gospel, to shew us in him the ways of the Spirit with men.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Acts》
Paul at Corinth, with Aquila and Priscilla. (1-6) He continues to preach at Corinth. (7-11) Paul before Gallio. (12-17) He visits Jerusalem. (18-23) Apollos teaches at Ephesus and in Achaia. (24-28)
Commentary on Acts 18:1-6
(Read Acts 18:1-6)
Though Paul was entitled to support from the churches he planted, and from the people to whom he preached, yet he worked at his calling. An honest trade, by which a man may get his bread, is not to be looked upon with contempt by any. It was the custom of the Jews to bring up their children to some trade, though they gave them learning or estates. Paul was careful to prevent prejudices, even the most unreasonable. The love of Christ is the best bond of the saints; and the communings of the saints with each other, sweeten labour, contempt, and even persecution. Most of the Jews persisted in contradicting the gospel of Christ, and blasphemed. They would not believe themselves, and did all they could to keep others from believing. Paul hereupon left them. He did not give over his work; for though Israel be not gathered, Christ and his gospel shall be glorious. The Jews could not complain, for they had the first offer. When some oppose the gospel, we must turn to others. Grief that many persist in unbelief should not prevent gratitude for the conversion of some to Christ.
Commentary on Acts 18:7-11
(Read Acts 18:7-11)
The Lord knows those that are his, yea, and those that shall be his; for it is by his work upon them that they become his. Let us not despair concerning any place, when even in wicked Corinth Christ had much people. He will gather in his chosen flock from the places where they are scattered Thus encouraged, the apostle continued at Corinth, and a numerous and flourishing church grew up.
Commentary on Acts 18:12-17
(Read Acts 18:12-17)
Paul was about to show that he did not teach men to worship God contrary to law; but the judge would not allow the Jews to complain to him of what was not within his office. It was right in Gallio that he left the Jews to themselves in matters relating to their religion, but yet would not let them, under pretence of that, persecute another. But it was wrong to speak slightly of a law and religion which he might have known to be of God, and which he ought to have acquainted himself with. In what way God is to be worshipped, whether Jesus be the Messiah, and whether the gospel be a Divine revelation, are not questions of words and names, they are questions of vast importance. Gallio spoke as if he boasted of his ignorance of the Scriptures, as if the law of God was beneath his notice. Gallio cared for none of these things. If he cared not for the affronts of bad men, it was commendable; but if he concerned not himself for the abuses done to good men, his indifference was carried too far. And those who see and hear of the sufferings of God's people, and have no feeling with them, or care for them, who do not pity and pray for them, are of the same spirit as Gallio, who cared for none of these things.
Commentary on Acts 18:18-23
(Read Acts 18:18-23)
While Paul found he laboured not in vain, he continued labouring. Our times are in God's hand; we purpose, but he disposes; therefore we must make all promises with submission to the will of God; not only if providence permits, but if God does not otherwise direct our motions. A very good refreshment it is to a faithful minister, to have for awhile the society of his brethren. Disciples are compassed about with infirmity; ministers must do what they can to strengthen them, by directing them to Christ, who is their Strength. Let us earnestly seek, in our several places, to promote the cause of Christ, forming plans that appear to us most proper, but relying on the Lord to bring them to pass if he sees good.
Commentary on Acts 18:24-28
(Read Acts 18:24-28)
Apollos taught in the gospel of Christ, as far as John's ministry would carry him, and no further. We cannot but think he had heard of Christ's death and resurrection, but he was not informed as to the mystery of them. Though he had not the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, as the apostles, he made use of the gifts he had. The dispensation of the Spirit, whatever the measure of it may be, is given to every man to profit withal. He was a lively, affectionate preacher; fervent in spirit. He was full of zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of precious souls. Here was a complete man of God, thoroughly furnished for his work. Aquila and Priscilla encouraged his ministry, by attendance upon it. They did not despise Apollos themselves, or undervalue him to others; but considered the disadvantages he had laboured under. And having themselves got knowledge in the truths of the gospel by their long intercourse with Paul, they told what they knew to him. Young scholars may gain a great deal by converse with old Christians. Those who do believe through grace, yet still need help. As long as they are in this world, there are remainders of unbelief, and something lacking in their faith to be perfected, and the work of faith to be fulfilled. If the Jews were convinced that Jesus is Christ, even their own law would teach them to hear him. The business of ministers is to preach Christ. Not only to preach the truth, but to prove and defend it, with meekness, yet with power.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Acts》
 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
Claudius, the Roman emperor, had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome - All who were Jews by birth. Whether they were Jews or Christians by religion, the Romans were too stately to regard.
 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
They were tent makers by trade — For it was a rule among the Jews (and why is it not among the Christians?) to bring up all their children to some trade, were they ever so rich or noble.
 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia — Silas seems to have stayed a considerable time at Berea: but Timotheus had come to the apostle while he was at Athens, and been sent by him to comfort and confirm the Church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. But now at length both Silas and Timotheus came to the apostle at Corinth.
Paul was pressed in spirit — The more probably from what Silas and Timotheus related. Every Christian ought diligently to observe any such pressure in his own spirit, and if it agree with Scripture, to follow it: if he does not he will feel great heaviness.
 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
He shook his raiment — To signify he would from that time refrain from them: and to intimate, that God would soon shake them off as unworthy to be numbered among his people.
I am pure — None can say this but he that has borne a full testimony against sin.
From henceforth I will go to the Gentiles — But not to them altogether. He did not break off all intercourse with the Jews even at Corinth. Only he preached no more in their synagogue.
 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
He went into the house of one named Justus — A Gentile, and preached there, though probably he still lodged with Aquila.
 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
And many hearing — The conversation of Crispus, and the preaching of Paul.
 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
I am with thee: therefore fear not all the learning, politeness, grandeur, or power of the inhabitants of this city.
Speak and hold not thy peace — For thy labour shall not be in vain.
For I have much people in this city — So he prophetically calls them that afterward believed.
 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
He continued there a year and six months — A long time! But how few souls are now gained in a longer time than this? Who is in the fault? Generally both teachers and hearers.
 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,
When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia — Of which Corinth was the chief city. This Gallio, the brother of the famous Seneca, is much commended both by him and by other writers, for the sweetness and generosity of his temper, and easiness of his behaviour. Yet one thing he lacked! But he knew it not and had no concern about it.
 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.
But if it be — He speaks with the utmost coolness and contempt, a question of names - The names of the heathen gods were fables and shadows. But the question concerning the name of Jesus is of more importance than all things else under heaven. Yet there is this singularity (among a thousand others) in the Christian religion, that human reason, curious as it is in all other things, abhors to inquire into it.
 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
Then they all took Sosthenes — The successor of Crispus, and probably Paul's chief accuser, and beat him - It seems because he had occasioned them so much trouble to no purpose, before the judgment seat - One can hardly think in the sight of Gallio, though at no great distance from him. And it seems to have had a happy effect. For Sosthenes himself was afterward a Christian, 1 Corinthians 1:1.
 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
Paul continued many days — After the year and six months, to confirm the brethren.
At Cenchrea — A seaport town, at a small distance from Corinth.
 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
I must by all means keep the feast at Jerusalem — This was not from any apprehension that he was obliged in conscience to keep the Jewish feasts; but to take the opportunity of meeting a great number of his countrymen to whom he might preach Christ, or whom he might farther instruct, or free from the prejudices they had imbibed against him.
But I will return to you — So he did, Acts 19:1.
 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
And landing at Cesarea, he went up — Immediately to Jerusalem; and saluted the Church - Eminently so called, being the mother Church of Christian believers: and having kept the feast there, he went down from thence to Antioch.
 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
He went over the country of Galatia and Phrygia — It is supposed, spending about four years therein, including the time he stayed at Ephesus.
 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
An eloquent man, mighty in the Scriptures — Of the Old Testament. Every talent may be of use in the kingdom of God, if joined with the knowledge of the Scriptures and fervour of spirit.
 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
This man had been instructed — Though not perfectly, in the way of the Lord - In the doctrine of Christ.
Knowing only the baptism of John — Only what John taught those whom he baptized, namely, to repent and believe in a Messiah shortly to appear.
 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
He spake — Privately; and taught publicly. Probably he returned to live at Alexandria, soon after he had been baptized by John; and so had no opportunity of being fully acquainted with the doctrines of the Gospel, as delivered by Christ and his apostles.
And explained to him the way of God more perfectly — He who knows Christ, is able to instruct even those that are mighty in the Scriptures.
 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
Who greatly helped through grace — It is through grace only that any gift of any one is profitable to another.
Them that had believed — Apollos did not plant, but water. This was the peculiar gift which he had received. And he was better able to convince the Jews, than to convert the heathens.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Acts》
Chapter 18. A Model Couple
To Receive on
the One Hand
To Give on the Other
I. Help the Elder Paul
II. Work in Corinth
III. Instruct Young Apollos
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Corinthians (18:1-11)
1. Following his limited success at
, Paul went to nearby Athens
a. An economic center of
, known for its immorality Greece
b. It became an important focus of Paul's ministry
1) Where he stayed a year and a half on his second missionary
2) Where he visited once and possibly twice on his third journey
c. A well-known church was established, the recipient of at least
two epistles by Paul
2. The establishment of the church is described in Ac 18:1
we read of...
a. Paul's work in the local synagogue
b. The conversion of many Corinthians, including the ruler of the
3. We also read something about their conversion in 1 Co 1:14-17...
a. Where Paul expresses thanks for personally baptizing just a few
of the Corinthians
b. In which some have concluded that Paul was declaring the
non-essentiality of baptism
4. In this study we shall examine the conversion of "The
a. Once again, to glean what we can about the gospel's message and
b. To determine whether Paul was actually demeaning the importance
of baptism in his epistle to the Corinthians
[Turning to Ac 18:1-11, let's review Luke's account of...]
I. THE CONVERSION OF THE CORINTHIANS
A. PAUL'S ARRIVAL IN
1. He meets up with
Aquilaand Priscilla - Ac 18:1-2
2. Of the same trade (tentmakers), Paul stays with them - Ac 18:3
B. PAUL'S MINISTRY AT
1. He goes to the synagogue, as was his custom - Ac 18:4; cf.
a. He "reasons" with the people, as he did with...
1) Those at Thessalonica - cf. Ac 17:2
2) Those at
- Ac 17:17 Athens
3) Those at
- Ac 18:19; 19:8-9 Ephesus
4) Felix the governor - Ac 24:25
5) Festus and Agrippa - Ac 26:25
-- The gospel is designed to appeal to the mind as well as
the heart! - cf. Mt 22:37
b. He "persuades" both Jews and Greeks...
1) As he did at Thessalonica - Ac 17:4
2) As he did at
- Ac 19:8 Ephesus
3) As he came close to doing with King Agrippa - Ac 26:28
-- Again, the gospel appeals to the reasoning processes of
2. When Silas and Timothy arrive, Paul is constrained to preach
even more - Ac 18:5
a. He "testified" to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ
- cf. Ac 20:21,24; 23:11; 28:23
b. Such testimony likely involved:
1) Using the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament
- Ac 17:2-3
2) His eyewitness testimony as an apostle - cf. Ac 26:16
3. Rejection by some of the Jews sends him to the Gentiles
- Ac 18:6-7
a. Just as it did at Antioch of Pisidia - Ac 13:45-46
, Paul has only to go next door, to the home of Corinth
4. The gospel bears fruit in
- Ac 18:8 Corinth
a. Crispus, ruler of the synagogue, believes with all his
household - cf. 1 Co 1:14
b. Many of the Corinthians believe and are baptized
5. Encouraged by the Lord in a vision, Paul stays for a year and
a half - Ac 18:9-11
[With Luke's description, we see a similarity with what we have read
before. Upon hearing the gospel, those persuaded both believe and are
baptized (cf. Ac 8:12; 18:8). This is certainly in keeping with the
commission of our Lord (cf. Mk 16:15-16).
But often people will use Paul's comments in 1 Co 1:14-17 to say that
baptism has nothing to do with conversion (salvation). Is that true?
Let's take a close look at...]
II. PAUL'S COMMENTS TO THE CORINTHIANS
A. THE CONTEXT...
1. The church at
was badly divided - 1 Co 1:10-11 Corinth
2. People were aligning themselves as followers of different men
(perhaps based upon who baptized them) - 1 Co 1:12-13
3. Paul illustrates the absurdity of calling themselves after men
with several rhetorical questions
a. "Is Christ divided?"
b. "Was Paul crucified for you?"
c. "Were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
-- The implied answer to each question was "NO!"
5. But notice what else is implied by each question...
a. Christ is not divided
b. It was Christ (not some man) who was crucified for you
c. You were baptized, not in the name of some man, but in the
name of Christ!
-- So the context itself implies what we read in Ac 18:8
("...many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were
B. PAUL'S COMMENTS...
1. "I thank God that I baptized none of you except..."
- 1 Co 1:14
a. Paul should be understood in light of the context
b. Since some of the Corinthians were dividing over who may
have baptized them, Paul was grateful that he had not
PERSONALLY baptized many of them
c. His reason?
1) Not because he did not consider baptism important
2) But as he states himself: "...lest anyone should say
that I had baptized in my own name." - 1 Co 1:15
d. The Corinthians had been baptized - cf. Ac 18:8; 1 Co 1:13
1) As a result of Paul's preaching, by the way
2) But not many by Paul personally, for which he was later
2. "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the
gospel..." - 1 Co 1:17
a. Are we to understand Paul to say that he did not preach
1) Clearly he did to
and the Philippian jailor Lydia
- Ac 16:14-15; 32-33
2) Clearly he did to the Corinthians - Ac 18:8
3) He taught baptism as the means by which one puts on
Christ - Ga 3:27
4) He taught baptism as the means by which one dies to sin
- Ro 6:1-7
b. Rather, we are to understand that Paul was emphasizing his
function as apostle
1) He was sent to preach the gospel (which includes the
command to be baptized - Mk 16:15-16)
2) It was not his primary function to perform the baptisms
of those who responded to the gospel!
a) Though he did in some cases - 1 Co 1:14,16
b) But he was often accompanied by others (e.g., Silas,
Timothy, Luke), and they were likely the ones to
handle the physical act of immersing people
3) In view of what later occurred at
, he is simply Corinth
thankful that his involvement in the act of baptizing
others was rather limited
-- Such was the point of Paul's comments, and they should not
be understood as Paul demeaning the value or place of
baptism in the process of conversion!
1. The conversion of "The Corinthians" confirms what we have seen in
previous examples of conversions in the book of Acts...
a. The gospel concerning Jesus as the Christ was proclaimed
b. Those "persuaded" by the gospel message believed and were
2. The conversion of "The Corinthians" also stands out because of the
impact the gospel had in their lives...
a. As mentioned, the city of
was known for its immorality Corinth
b. Many of the members of the church had lived immoral lives - cf.
1 Co 6:9
c. Yet through their faith and obedience to the gospel of Christ,
Paul could write:
"But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of
our God." (1 Co 6:11)
Such is the power of the gospel of Christ to the obedient believer.
Have you been "washed", "sanctified", and "justified"? Let the
conversions in the book of Acts show you how!