HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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The Book of ACTS
THEME: The second missionary journey of Paul continued (Paul in Corinth; Apollos in Ephesus)
We are still on the second missionary journey of Paul. He is in Athens alone waiting for Timothy and Silas to come and join him and to bring reports from the churches in Berea and Thessalonica. After his missionary thrust in Athens Paul proceeds on his journey to Corinth.
The Ministry Of Paul At Corinth (Acts 18:1-17)
Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; (KJV)
After these things . . . meaning Paul's sermon in Athens. Paul probably walked to Corinth. It would take a while to walk that distance but it would be a beautiful walk. Corinth was a place of great commercial advantages; and at the time of Paul's visit, was the chief city of all Greece. Its advantages for trade had attracted the large Jewish population which the apostle found there.
Corinth was probably the most wicked city of that day. It was the Hollywood and the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire. It was the place where you could go to live it up. Sex, booze and all other sensual pleasures were there. People came from all over the empire to the city of Corinth.
See what Paul does on his first visit to Corinth.
Acts 18:2 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. (KJV)
In Corinth, Paul found a Jewish couple, recently moved from Rome. The reason they left Rome was anti-Semitism which had rolled like a wave over the Earth. At this time Claudius commanded all Jews to leave Rome. Among those who got out of Rome were Aquila and Priscilla.
Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. (KJV)
Aquila had come there because they were in business of making tents. They opened up their shop, and one day there came this Jew who had traveled all the way from Antioch. They got acquainted and he invited Paul to stay with them.
What do you think they talked about? Paul was never silent about the Lord Jesus, and Paul led both Aquila and Priscilla to the Lord. In the synagogue there were others who also turned to the Lord. BUT . . . there was also great opposition against Paul among the Jews.
Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. (KJV)
He reasoned in the synagogue . . . or argued and disputed, giving his reasons out of Scripture, and answering their objections.
And persuaded the Jews . . .using convincing arguments. And the Greeks . . . those of the Greek language. Greeks by descent.
Acts 18:5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. (KJV)
Were come from Macedonia. . . according as was told by Paul (Acts 17:14-15). Pressed in the spirit; more than ordinarily affected, the Spirit of God influencing his spirit, so that he felt an anguish or pain at the heart, as (2 Cor.2:4); such was his grief for the stubbornness of the Jews, so great was his desire that they might be saved.
And testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ . . . Paul continued to produce more testimonies out of the writings of Moses and the prophets, to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ (Messiah), prophesied of in those writings, and promised to the Jews, and Whom they expected.
Paul had waited in Athens for Timothy and Silas to come, but they didn't show up. Now they come to him in Corinth and bring the report from the churches in Macedonia. In the first letter to the Thessalonians, we will find that Paul wrote it during this period, after he had received Timothy's report. Now Paul feels that he must speak out, and he testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 18:6 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. (KJV)
It seems that it was at this time that Paul made the break that took him to the Gentile world. From here on, Paul's ministry was mostly to the Gentiles. He was a Jew, and he loved his people, but he just could not get through to them.
Acts 18:7 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. (KJV)
Justus . . . some say Titus, some both Titus and Justus, making Justus a surname, as Acts 1:23; Col.4:11; after the way of the Romans.
One that worshipped God . . . he had forsaken the polytheism and witchcraft of the heathen.
Acts 18:8 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. (KJV)
The chief ruler . . . there were several rulers in a synagogue (Mat.9:18; Mark 5:22). It was their job to advise and give order about the affairs of the synagogue, that all things might be done according to their prescribed rules.
Many of the Corinthians believed; amongst whom are reckoned Gaius, Sosthenes (1 Cor.1:1), and Epenetus (Rom.16:5).
Paul spent about 18 months in the city of Corinth where he had a tremendous ministry. When the Jews opposed him, he turned to the Gentiles. The Lord now speaks to Paul because he is coming into a new part of his missionary job.
Acts 18:9-10 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. (KJV)
Corinth was about the last place that you would expect the Lord to "have much people." Paul had been in Corinth for a while, and I am sure that he wondered about that city. I think it is possible the reason the Lord spoke to Paul, was that Paul may have been discouraged. The Lord's words certainly would have lifted him up.
Acts 18:11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (KJV)
After Paul has had 1 1/2 years of ministry in Corinth, opposition rose again.
Acts 18:12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, (KJV)
This "judgment seat" is the Bema seat (Mat.27:19; John 19:13). They brought Paul to the Bema seat, and there they brought the charge against him.
Acts 18:13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. (KJV)
They did not mean contrary to the law of the Roman Empire or contrary to the law of Corinth . . . they meant contrary to the law of the Mosaic system.
Acts 18:14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: (KJV)
To open his mouth . . . to make his apology, to speak in his own defense. A matter of wrong . . . as murder, theft or injury, which judges usually determine of. Reason would that I should bear with you . . . I would endure any trouble to hear and understand it, I should think it my duty to listen to you to say as much as you would in your case.
Acts 18:15 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. (KJV)
But if it be a question of words . . . what the Jews called the Word of God, which Gallio did not pretend to understand. . . and names . . . as the Names of God, of Jesus and of Christ, whether he is God and the Messiah . . . and of your law . . . concerning circumcision, whether these Christians, and the proselytes they make, are obliged unto it . . . look ye to it . . . he was saying that this was a matter that lay before them, and they were the proper judges. They must decide for themselves, since they had the free right to exercise their religion. For I will be no judge of such matters . . . Gallio would not interfere with religious affairs, any further than to preserve the public peace.
Acts 18:16 And he drave them from the judgment seat. (KJV)
Gallio drove them all out, saying that He would not hear nor try the case, but dismissed them and told them not to bring such affairs of that kind to him any more.
Acts 18:17 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. (KJV)
All the Greeks . . . not the converted Greeks. They beat Sosthenes, as an enemy to Paul, who cared for neither Paul or the Jews, but favored Gallio who drove them away. Sosthenes . . . some think him to have been Crispus (Acts 18:8), and some think that he was chief ruler of another synagogue, for in great cities there might be more than one ruler. Gallio cared for none of those things . . . Gallio really was saying, "Handle the matter yourself and don't bother me."
Paul Sails For Antioch (Acts 18:18-23)
Acts 18:18 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. (KJV)
Many find fault with Paul because he made a vow. They say that this is a man who preached that we are not under law but we are under grace, and so he should not have made a vow. Under grace, if you want to make a vow, you can make it. And if you do not want to make a vow, you don't have to. Paul didn't force anyone else to make a vow. In fact, he said emphatically that no one has to do that. But if Paul wants to make a vow, that was his business. If a person wants to eat meat, there is freedom to eat meat. If they want to observe a certain day, there is freedom to observe it. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1Cor. 10:31). The important thing is to do all, everything, to the glory of God. Eating meat will not commend you to God and neither will abstaining from meat commend you to God.
Paul is now returning from his second missionary journey, going back to Antioch. He sails from Cenchrea, which is the seaport on the east side. There is a canal through the Corinthian peninsula today, but there was none in that day. They would actually pull the boats overland. Paul is not going westward any farther; he is sailing for home.
Acts 18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. (KJV)
You remember that when he came out on this second journey, the Holy Spirit would not allow him to go to Ephesus. Now, on his way back, he does stop at Ephesus, but he does not stay long.
Acts 18:20-21 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21 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. (KJV)
Someone may ask what business Paul has in keeping feasts. Remember his background. He is a Jew like Simon Peter. His background was the Mosaic system. He knows a lot of his friends will be in Jerusalem for the feast. He wants to witness to them. He feels that he must by all means keep this feast that is coming in Jerusalem. He is under grace and if he wants to do that, that is his business.
But, Paul did see that there was a great door open in Ephesus. He has the heart of a missionary, and he wants to return to them. Ephesus was one of the great cities of the Roman Empire.
Acts 18:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. (KJV)
He landed at Caesarea. Caesarea and Joppa were the ports from which a person could go to Jerusalem. He went to Jerusalem and gave his report there. Then he went back up north to his home church, which was in Antioch. This ends the second missionary journey of Paul.
It will not be very long before he starts out on his third journey.
Acts 18:23 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. (KJV)
This is Paul's third trip through the Galatian country. He will go to Ephesus on his third missionary journey. He is going to have great success there. But right now someone else has come into Ephesus. He is Apollos, another great preacher in the early church. He is not as well known as Paul, but we can learn a great deal from him.
Apollos In Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28)
Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. (KJV)
Apollos was a Jew, which meant he had the background of the Mosaic Law. His name, Apollos, is Greek. So he was a Hellenist of the Diaspora. He had not been born in Greece or in that area of Macedonia; he was born at Alexandria in North Africa. Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great, was one of the great centers of Greek culture. A great university was there and it had one of the finest libraries in the world. It was there that a Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, was made. There was a Jewish temple in Alexandria. The great center of the early church moved from Jerusalem and Antioch to Alexandria, and it remained important for several centuries of early church history. Athanasius, Tertullian and Augustine, three great men of the early church, came from there. Philo, a contemporary of Apollos, mingled Greek philosophy with Judaism. This combined Platonism and Judaism. Apollos was obviously influenced by all this.
We are told that he was "an eloquent man," a great preacher. Also he was "mighty in the scriptures," which means he was well trained in the Old Testament.
Acts 18:25 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. (KJV)
That he had been "instructed in the way of the Lord" means he had an education by word of mouth . . . NOT by revelation. And he was "fervent in the spirit" . . . NOT the Holy Spirit. He had a passion for the things of God. This is the Holy Spirit's testimony about him. He was a great and outstanding man.
Apollos spoke and taught "diligently the things of the Lord." He taught everything that he had learned, but he knew only about the baptism of John. He couldn't go any further than that. He had not heard of Jesus.
Acts 18:26 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. (KJV)
Aquila and Priscilla invited Apollos to their home for dinner after the service. They realized that his information was very limited; so they told him about Jesus.
Acts 18:27 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: (KJV)
Apollos was a brilliant man, but up until the time Aquila and Priscilla took him home for dinner, he did NOT know the Gospel of the grace of God. Here is a case where a woman helped a preacher a great deal. She taught him something that he didn't know.
Acts 18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. (KJV)
"He mightily convinced" the Jews, showing them by the Scriptures . . . the Old Testament, that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. He had taught zealously the things of the Old Testament up through the ministry of John the Baptist. He knew nothing beyond the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla had the privilege of teaching him the Truth and and also to conversion. Apollos then went to Achaia, visiting the churches in Greece, including Corinth and Athens, preaching Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour. When we become "Christians" we also must preach (tell, witness) that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah and Saviour of the world!
Book of Acts
Ch.1 . . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5 . . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Ch.23 . . Ch.24 . . Ch.25 . . Ch.26 . . Ch.27 . . Ch.28