As a reader of this article have you ever wondered if God knows in advance who will and who won’t accept his son as Lord and Savior? We find a verse addressing this question in this chapter of Acts.
There are several key points in Acts 18:
- Paul taught and remains in Corinth for some time
- Paul goes to Antioch for the last time; takes a vow
- Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla from Italy
- Paul along with his new companions from Italy go to Ephesus
- Paul begins his third missionary journey beginning in Galatia and Phrygia.
- Apollos, like Paul, becomes a great spokesperson and testimony.
Background: Back to the future! In the future from this point of time, Israelis were expelled from many places. We know of 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Spanish and Catholic Church had begun the inquisition; 1492 – 1503. The inquisition was little more than an attempt to rid Spain of Judaism and establish the Catholic Church as the one and only religion. Prior to this they had been expelled from their homelands both the Northern Kingdom of Israel (720 B.C.) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah 116 years later. In 19 C.E. Tiberius expelled the Jews from Rome. Now according to Acts 18:2, Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Italy, that is Rome sometime during his reign, 41 B.C. And 54 B.C. Interesting, back In 139 BC the Jews were expelled after being accused of Judaizing among the local Gentiles.
The expulsion by Emperor Claudius is why Priscilla and Aquila leave Rome and finally meet Paul. They originally lived in Italy but were now homeless. Paul had just left Athens and went to Corinth. This is where he meets them. Aquila and Paul were both tradesmen in tent making. Paul provided for his financial needs using his trade skills. He remained with his new found Jewish friends working at tent making together, but Paul every Sabbath went to the synagogue to teach Christ and salvation through him.
Life’s best revelations flash upon us while we abide in the fields of duty. Keep to your daily bread winning and amid your toils you shall receive great benedictions and see glad visions. … The shop or office or warehouse may become as the house of God. Do thy work and do it diligently: In it, thou mayest find rare soul fellowships, as did Aquila and Priscilla. (a quote from an unknown author)
As soon as Silas and Timothy arrive from Macedonia (v5), they find Paul in another precarious situation. It must have been a deep issue with Paul for upon the arrival of his friends from Macedonia, he (v6) “…when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” From now on I will go to the gentiles? If Paul was at the synagogue when he was confronting these Jews or Israelis of Judaism, he had but a short walk ahead of him. His next stop was at the home of Titius Justus. He lived next door to the synagogue.
Something happens between verses 7 and 8 but we are not told. Paul goes from shaking his garment as dust on the earth over the Jews rejecting his message to somehow convincing the ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, to follow Jesus as the true Messiah. Paul continued to preach Christ, many of the gentiles (Greek Corinthians). Many accepted the gift of God being Jesus Christ and were baptized.
This is where our opening question gets answered. God tells Paul in his vision that ”I have many in this city who are my people.” The fact that Paul is to remain even after telling the Jews in verse 6 that he would now take his message to the gentiles, suggest that “this city having many of God’s people” indicates these are gentiles to which God calls the “many.”
In a vision Paul is assured by the Lord that no harm will come to him at this time and to continue in his message in Corinth. He stays another 18 months most likely reaching the “many” revealed to him in his vision.
Then a new proconsul of *Achaia named Gallio comes to town. The leadership of the synagogue see this as an opportunity to challenge Paul in front of the Roman tribunal and the new guy, Gallio.
*Achaia is the southern end of the Greek peninsula territory extending into the Mediterranean Sea between the Aegean and Ionian Sea. Athens and Corinth are two cities within the territory of Achaia.
The Jews bring Paul before the Tribunal leader, Gallio. He immediately rejects their claims of Roman laws being broken by Paul. This only agitates him. He is insulted that this matter is not of Roman law but of Jewish law and was even brought before him. Were the Jews despised by the Greek gentiles? Now with the support of an insulted Gallio who had the accusers physically removed from his council, the Greek gentiles jumped on the opportunity to possibly settle old scores They beat then ruler of the synagogue, Sosthenes while still in front of Gallio. Gallio paid no attention to Sosthenes’ beating as if it was deserving of him.
JIV NOTE: Sometime between verse Acts 18:8 and 18:12 -17, the ruler of the synagogue had changed from Crispus to Sosthenes.
Due to this event at the Tribunal of Gallio, Paul remained in Corinth teaching, preaching and establishing a church of believers. Acts 18:18 tells us that Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla, probably along with Luke, Timothy and Silas, set sail to Syria (Ephesus) where Paul will end his second missionary trip. Something odd happens in verse 18 and without explanation by Luke. There was a custom back then to shave one’s head if he takes a vow. Verse 18 states that Paul took a vow while in Cenchreae and in route to Ephesus; shaving his head. The mystery is the vow. Luke does not define it and no where else in the bible is it explained. A guess at this point would be speculation. The vow spoken of ever so briefly is just another in indication of Paul’s dedication and determination.
Do we need support or more evidence of how Paul thinks? In verse 19 when this group reaches Ephesus, Paul leaves the others behind but enters the synagogue there; alone.
Whoever asked Paul to stay in Acts 18:20, be it where he was housed, those at the local synagogue, a new church body or his traveling companions, Paul declined and left Ephesus by ship to Caesarea. A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria (Egypt), came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Old Testament Scriptures.
History is once again a place to go to enhance one’s bible understanding. Alexandria is located in north-western Egypt built by Alexander the Great and named after him. He took thousands of Jews from the lands of Judah relocating them in Alexandria. It should be of no surprise that by now someone of the character of Apollos would come from there. What is somewhat of a surprise is that he was a devoted believer of The Way, well studied in the Old Testament but not The Way of God and Jesus Christ. He knew well of John the Baptist but needed tutoring in New Testament ways. This became the responsibility of Aquila and Priscilla. They took him under their wing of instruction.
He was a powerful orator and could stand well against anyone in the synagogue or among the Jewish leadership proving that Jesus was the Messiah using Old Testament scriptures. Next in chapter 19 we discuss the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
Rev Dr. Jstark