|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 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 σκηοῥῤάφοι, 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; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And because he was of the same craft, Art, occupation, or trade:
he abode with them; in the same house in which they were:
and wrought; with his own hands, to support himself, for he was a stranger in this place; and as yet here was no church to minister to him; and when there was, he would take nothing of them, that the false teachers, who rose up among them, might not make any handle of it against him, and to the prejudice of the Gospel; though otherwise he thought it his just due to receive a maintenance from the churches; and insisted upon it as an ordination of Christ. He learned a trade whilst among the Jews, with whom it was common for their greatest doctors to be brought up to some trade or another; See Gill on Mark 6:3.
for by their occupation they were tent makers; either for the soldiers, and which were made of sack cloth of hair, or of leather, and of the skins of various animals (f), sewed together; hence the phrase, "sub pellibus", "under the skins", is used for to lie in tents (g): or those tents they made, were canopies made of linen, and other things, which were erected in the summer season to shade and screen from the heat of the sun; though others take them for a sort of tapestry, or hangings, which they made for theatres, palaces, and stately rooms; and according to the Syriac version, they were horses' trappings which they made: perhaps they were of the same occupation with Menedemus the philosopher, who was "a sewer of tents" (h).
(f) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 1. c. 12. (g) Caesar. Comment. l. 5. de Bello Africano. p. 471. Liv. Hist. l. 5. in principio. (h) Laert. Vit. Philosoph. l. 2. p. 172.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. tentmakers—manufacturers, probably, of those hair-cloth tents supplied by the goats of the apostle's native province, and hence, as sold in the markets of the Levant, called cilicium. Every Jewish youth, whatever the pecuniary circumstances of his parents, was taught some trade (see on Lu 2:42), and Paul made it a point of conscience to work at that which he had probably been bred to, partly that he might not be burdensome to the churches, and partly that his motives as a minister of Christ might not be liable to misconstruction. To both these he makes frequent reference in his Epistles.
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