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:
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(27) And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia.—In the absence of the name of any city in the province, Corinth naturally suggests itself as the place to which he went. Acts 19:1, and the mention of Apollos in 1Corinthians 1:12, turns this into a certainty. He felt, we may believe, that his training in the philosophical thought of Alexandria qualified him to carry on there the work which St. Paul had begun both there and at Athens. One who had written, or even read, the noble utterances of Wisdom 1, 2, was well qualified to carry an aggressive warfare into the camp of the Epicureans, while thoughts like those of Wisdom 7, 8, especially Wisdom Of Solomon 8:7, with its recognition of the four cardinal virtues of Greek ethics, “temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude,” would attract the sympathy of the nobler followers of Zeno.

The brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him.—This is the first instance of what were afterwards known technically as “letters of commendation” (see Note on 2Corinthians 3:1), written by one church to another in favour of the bearer. The fact that they were given by the Christian community at Ephesus shows now favourable an impression Apollos had made there. It is probable that St. Paul alludes indirectly to these letters in the passage just referred to. The partisans of Apollos had referred to them as one of the points in which he excelled St. Paul. He had come with letters of commendation. He had received them when he left Corinth. The Apostle answers the disparaging taunt in the language of a noble indignation. He needed no such epistle. The church which he had planted was itself an epistle, “known and read of all men” (2Corinthians 3:3).

Helped them much which had believed through grace.—The two last words admit, in the Greek as in the English, of being taken either with “helped” or “believed.” The former construction seems preferable. It was through the grace of God, co-operating with the gift of wisdom, that Apollos was able to lead men to a higher stage of thought. It will be noted that this exactly corresponds with the account which St. Paul gives of his relation to the teacher whom some set up against him as a rival: “I have planted; Apollos watered,” “I have laid the foundation and another buildeth thereon” (1Corinthians 3:6; 1Corinthians 3:10).

Acts 18:27-28. And when — Having received this more perfect instruction in the Christian faith; he was disposed to pass into Achaia — That he might preach the word at Corinth, and other places in that province; the brethren — Of Ephesus; wrote, exhorting the disciples there to receive him — With all affection and respect, as a person whose character well deserved it. And when he was come — To Corinth; he helped them much which had believed — Was eminently serviceable in edifying and confirming those who had embraced the gospel; (for Apollos did not plant, but water; which was the peculiar gift he had received;) through grace — Through which only any gift of any one is rendered profitable to another. For he mightily convinced the Jews — Which, from his great knowledge of the Scriptures, he was better able to do than to convert the heathen. Greek, ευτονως τοις Ιουδαιοις διακατηλεγχετο, he strongly, or vehemently, confuted the Jews; and that not only in private converse, but by public preaching; showing by the Scriptures — By appealing to many striking passages of them, which he quoted; that Jesus was Christ — The true and only Messiah; and that the salvation of men, of the Jews as well as Gentiles, depended upon their receiving and submitting to him. It seems Apollos tarried some time at Corinth, and became so zealous and useful a preacher there, that the fame of his labours reached the apostle during his abode in Ephesus; and occasioned him, in the letter which he wrote from that city to the Corinthians, to say, (1 Corinthians 3:6,) I have planted, Apollos watered.

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.Into Achaia - See the notes on Acts 18:12.

The brethren wrote - The brethren at Ephesus. Why he was disposed to go into Achaia the historian does not inform us. But he had heard of the success of Paul there; of the church which he had established; of the opposition of the Jews; and it was doubtless with a desire to establish that church, and with a wish to convince his unbelieving countrymen that their views of the Messiah were erroneous, and that Jesus of Nazareth corresponded with the predictions of the prophets, that he went there. Many of the Greeks at Corinth were greatly captivated with his winning eloquence 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4-5, and his going there was the occasion of some unhappy divisions that sprung up in the church. But in all this he retained the confidence and love of Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:3. It was thus shown that Paul was superior to envy, and that great success by one minister need not excite the envy, or alienate the confidence and good will of another.

Helped them much - Strengthened them, and aided them in their controversies with the unbelieving Jews.

Which had believed through grace - The words "through grace" may either refer to Apollos, or to the Christians who had believed. If to him, it means that he was enabled by grace to strengthen the brethren there; if to them, it means that they had been led to believe by the grace or favor of God. Either interpretation makes good sense. Our translation has adopted what is most natural and obvious.

27, 28. And when he was disposed—"minded," "resolved."

to pass into Achaia—of which Corinth, on the opposite coast (see on [2052]Ac 18:1), was the capital; there to proclaim that Gospel which he now more fully comprehended.

the brethren—We had not before heard of such gathered at Ephesus. But the desire of the Jews to whom Paul preached to retain him among them for some time (Ac 18:20), and his promise to return to them (Ac 18:21), seem to indicate some drawing towards the Gospel, which, no doubt, the zealous private labors of Priscilla and Aquila would ripen into discipleship.

wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him—a beautiful specimen of "letters of recommendation" (as Ac 15:23, 25-27, and see 2Co 3:1); by which, as well as by interchange of deputations, &c., the early churches maintained active Christian fellowship with each other.

when he was come, helped them much—was a great acquisition to the Achaian brethren.

which believed through grace—one of those incidental expressions which show that faith's being a production of God's grace in the heart was so current and recognized a truth that it was taken for granted, as a necessary consequence of the general system of grace, rather than expressly insisted on. (It is against the natural order of the words to read them, as Bengel, Meyer, and others, do, "helped through grace those who believed").

To pass into Achaia; to Corinth, which was in Achaia.

The brethren wrote; who were at Ephesus.

Helped them much which had believed through grace; Apollos helped them much by his eloquence, zeal, and constancy, which all are the gifts of God; but, especially, that they believed was through grace; for faith is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8, and it was given unto them to believe, Philippians 1:29.

And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, &c. The chief city of which was Corinth, and whither Apollos went, as appears from Acts 19:1. What disposed him to go thither, after he had received a greater degree of light and knowledge, was no doubt that he might communicate it, to the good of others, to which he was moved by the Holy Ghost, who had work for him to do there: according to Beza's most ancient copy, there were Corinthians sojourning in Ephesus, who when they had heard him (Apollos), besought him that he would go with them into their country; to which he agreeing, the Ephesians wrote to the disciples at Corinth to receive him, as follows:

the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; that is, the brethren at Ephesus, among whom Aquila was a principal one, wrote letters of recommendation to the brethren of the churches in Achaia, particularly at Corinth, not only that they would receive him into their houses, and hospitably entertain him as a Christian man, but admit him, and behave towards him as a preacher of the Gospel:

who when he was come; into Achaia, and to Corinth:

helped them much which had believed through grace; the phrase "through grace", is omitted in the Vulgate Latin version, but is in all the Greek copies, and may be connected either with the word "helped"; as the Syriac version, "he helped through grace"; and then the sense is, that Apollos, through the gifts of grace bestowed on him, or by the assistance of the grace of God, or both, greatly helped and contributed much to the advantage of the believers in those parts; as to the encouragement of their faith, and the increase of the joy of it; for the quickening, and comforting, and establishing them in the truths and doctrines of the Gospel, by his affectionate, fervent, and nervous way of preaching: or it may be connected with the word "believed", as it is in the Arabic version and in ours; and the meaning is, that he greatly assisted such who were already believers; and who became so, not of themselves, but through the grace of God; for faith is not of nature, nor the produce of man's free will, but is the gift of God's grace; it is a fruit of electing grace, an instance of distinguishing grace, it is owing to efficacious grace, and comes along with effectual calling grace, through the word preached, the means of grace; and is supported and maintained by the grace of God; the Ethiopic version renders it, "he preached much to them, who believed in the grace of God"; that is, in the Gospel, the doctrine of the grace of God, which they had received and professed; or in the love and favour of God, they were rooted and grounded in, and persuaded of.

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 {p} grace:

(p) Through God's gracious favour, or by those excellent gifts which God had bestowed upon him.

Acts 18:27. Διελθεῖν εἰς τ. Ἀχαΐαν] probably occasioned by what he had heard from Aquila and Priscilla concerning the working of Paul at Corinth.

προτρεψ. οἱ ἀδ. ἔγραψ. τοῖς μαθητ. ἀποδ. αὐτ.] The Christians already at Ephesus (doubtless but few at first, Acts 18:19 f.) wrote exhorting (issued a letter of exhortation) to the disciples (the Christians of Achaia) to receive him hospitably as a teacher of the gospel. So Luther, Castalio, and others, also de Wette and Ewald. The contents of their letter constituted a λόγος προτρεπτικός, Plat. Clit. p. 410 D. But many others, as Erasmus, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, following Chrysostom (προπέμπουσι κ. γράμματα ἐπιδιδόασιν), refer προτρεψ. to Apollos[92] as its object, not to the ΜΑΘΗΤΆς (“sua exhortatione ipsum magis incitaverunt fratres et currenti addiderunt calcar,” Calvin); according to which we should necessarily expect either a defining ΑὐΤΌΝ with ΠΡΟΤΡΕΨ., or previously ΒΟΥΛΌΜΕΝΟΝ ΔῈ ΑὐΤΌΝ.

] he contributed much (contulit, Vulg.; profuit, Cod. It.), helped much, Den. 558. 13; Plat. Legg. x. p. 905 C; Polyb. i. 2. 8, ii. 13. 1; Philo, migr. Abr. p. 422 D. This meaning, not disseruit (Acts 17:18), is required by the following γάρ.

τοῖς πεπιστευκόσι] Bengel appropriately remarks: “rigavit Apollos, non plantavit.” Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:6.

διὰ τῆς χάριτος] is not to be connected with ΤΟῖς ΠΕΠΙΣΤ. (Hammond, de Wette, Hackett, and others), but with ΣΥΝΕΒ. ΠΟΛΎ; for the design of the text is to characterize Apollos and his working, and not the ΠΕΠΙΣΤΕΥΚ. The ΧΆΡΙς is to be explained of the divine grace sustaining and blessing his efforts. Not only is the view of Hammond and Bolten, that it denotes the gospel, to be rejected, but also that of Raphel, Wetstein, and Heinrichs, that it signifies facundia dicendique venustas, in which case the Christian point of view of Luke, according to which he signalizes that συνεβάλ. πολύ, is entirely mistaken. Apollos thus laboured, not by his art, but by grace. But the reception of baptism is not presupposed by this χάρις (in opposition to Grotius); see on Acts 18:26.

[92] This reference is implied also in the amplification of the whole verse in D, which Bornemann has adopted.

Acts 18:27. διελθεῖν εἰς, cf. Luke 8:22, Mark 4:35, Latin, trajicere.—προτρεψ.… ἔγραψαν: “encouraged him and wrote,” R.V., so Chrysostom, Erasmus, Grotius, Bengel, Felten, Lumby, Rendall, Knabenbauer: “currentem incitantes” Bengel. But others refer it to the disciples, “wrote exhorting the disciples,” i.e., wrote letters of commendation, 2 Corinthians 3, so Luther, De Wette, Ewald, Zöckler, Alford, Wendt, Weiss, Nösgen, Hackett. Blass thinks that the word can be referred to neither in the sense of cohortari, and prefers the rendering in accordance with the Syriac anteverterunt, but cf. Wis 14:18, 2Ma 11:7 for the former sense, so in classical Greek; only here in N.T., classed not only by Hobart, but also by Vogel, as amongst the medical words in St. Luke, u. s., p. 17.—συνεβάλετο: only here in N.T. in middle, with dative of the person, profuit, so often in Greek authors, especially Polybius; Wis 5:8, Xen., Cyr., i., 2, 8; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6, “rigavit A. non plantavit” Bengel.—διὰ τῆς χ.: “helped much through grace them which had believed” R.V., margin. This connection of the words seems preferable, as stress is laid upon the fact that the gifts and eloquence of Apollos were only available when God gave the increase—the position of the words is not against this, as they may have been so placed for emphasis. Blass, who joins the phrase with πεπιστ., adds “quamvis ibi abundat”. It does not seem natural to explain the word χάρις here as the Gospel, or to refer it to the grace of the eloquence of Apollos.

27. And when he was minded to pass over into Achaia] The original expresses more than an inclination on his part; he wished to go. We find from Acts 19:1 that the centre of his labours there was Corinth. Being acquainted with the philosophy and learning of Greece he was well fitted to be a preacher to the Greeks as well as to the Jews, and he may have felt that Corinth was the place where he could do most good. We are not told of any Apostolic commission to Apollos, but we know from 1 Corinthians 1:12, &c. that he came to be regarded by some Corinthians as the equal of St Paul, and that there arose some strong party feeling in that Church, which is rebuked in St Paul’s letter to them. We cannot suppose that this was brought about by Apollos, for St Paul speaks of him as watering what he himself had planted, and it may be that the knowledge of the existence of such a spirit accounts for the unwillingness of Apollos to come back to Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:12) which we read of somewhat later.

the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him] Here the A. V. makes the disciples in Achaia the object of the exhortation. The construction in the original is not quite clear, but the order of the words seems in favour of the Revised rendering, “the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples, &c.” though the pronoun “him” is not expressed in the Greek. Here we find the first instance of letters of commendation sent from one Church to another. “The brethren” at Ephesus must have been a small number, but Aquila and Priscilla would be well known to the Christians in Corinth.

who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace] So far as the Greek is concerned the last two words may be connected either with “helped” or “believed.” But as the history is occupied with the work of Apollos, it seems more natural to explain the “grace” spoken of, as the gift which was already in Apollos, and which the more full instruction that he had just received had tended to increase. He had formerly been but partially enlightened. Now that he knows the truth in Christ, his former ability becomes more helpful still. His work seems rightly estimated by St Paul, “he watered” what the Apostle had “planted” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Acts 18:27. Βουλομένου, when he was wishing) The good wishes of good men ought to be furthered.—διελθεῖν, to pass through) He had without doubt heard what Paul had done in those localities, especially at Corinth.—προτρεψάμενοι) having exhorted him [but Engl. Vers., “exhorting the disciples to receive him”], thus inciting forward One who was already running.—ἔγραψαν, the brethren wrote) The subjects of their recommendation may be gathered from Acts 18:24-25.—τοῖς μαθηταῖς, the disciples) who were at Corinth, or even on the way leading to it.—συνεβάλετο) contributed much help, by the command which he had of useful words. Join with this verb the διὰ, through grace [but Engl. Vers., those who had believed through grace]. To him who believes, through the grace wherein he is strong, every power of all is rendered a means of profit.—τοῖς πεπιστευκόσι, to those who had been brought to the faith) Apollos watered, he did not plant [1 Corinthians 3:6]; and was better able to convince (confute) the Jews, than to convert the Gentiles.

Verse 27. - Minded for disposed, A.V.; pass over for pass, A.V.; encouraged him, and wrote to for wrote exhorting, A.V.; and... he helped for who... helped, A.V. To pass over into Achaia. Nothing can be more natural than the course of events here described. In his intimate intercourse with Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos had necessarily heard much of the great work at Corinth, and the flourishing Church there; and so he longed to see for himself and to exercise his powers in watering what St. Paul had so well planted (1 Corinthians 3:6). Priscilla and Aquila having heard his eloquent sermons at Ephesus, and being interested in the Corinthian Church, seem to have encouraged him, and to have joined with the other disciples at Ephesus in giving him commendatory letters to the Church of Corinth. Encouraged him; προτρεψάμενοι, a word found nowhere else in the New Testament, but used in classical Greek and in the Apocrypha, in the sense of "exhorting," "urging." Προτρεπτικοὶ λόγοι are hortatory words. In medical writers a "stimulant" is προτρεπτικόν. There is a difference of opinion among commentators whether the exhortation was addressed to Apollos, as the R.V. takes it, or to the brethren at Corinth, as the A.V. understands it. It seems rather more consonant to the structure of the sentence and to the probability of the case that the exhortation was addressed to the Corinthian Church, and not to Apollos, who needed no such encouragement, Προτρεψάμενοι ἔγραψαν is equivalent to "wrote and exhorted." Acts 18:27Exhorting (προτρεψάμενοι)

Originally, to turn forward, as in flight. Hence, to impel or urge. The word may apply either to the disciples at Corinth, in which case we must render as A. V., or to Apollos himself, as Rev., encouraged him. I prefer the former. Hackett very sensibly remarks that Apollos did not need encouragement, as he was disposed to go.

Helped (συνεβάλετο)

The radical sense of the word is to throw together: hence, to contribute; to help; to be useful to. He threw himself into the work along with them. On different senses of the word, see notes on Luke 2:19; and see on Luke 14:31; and compare Acts 4:15; Acts 17:18; Acts 18:27; Acts 20:14.

Through grace

Grace has the article, the special grace of God imparted. Expositors differ as to the connection; some joining through grace with them which had believed, insisting on the Greek order of the words; and others with helped, referring to grace conferred on Apollos. I prefer the latter, principally for the reason urged by Meyer, that "the design of the text is to characterize Apollos and his work, and not those who believed."

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