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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia.—We learn from 1Thessalonians 2:18, that the latter had come to St. Paul at Athens, but had been almost immediately sent back to Thessalonica to bring further news about the converts, for whose trials the Apostle felt so much sympathy and anxiety. They brought a good report of their faith and love (1Thessalonians 3:6), possibly also fresh proofs of their personal regard, and that of the Philippians, in the form of gifts (2Corinthians 11:9). This may, however, refer to a later occasion. The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was probably sent back by the brethren who had accompanied Silas and Timotheus on their journey to Corinth. The reader will note the parallelism (1) between the passage in 1Thessalonians 4:16-17, which treats of the Second Advent, with the teaching of 1Corinthians 15:51-52, and (2) between the few words as to spiritual gifts, in 1Thessalonians 5:19-21, with the fuller treatment of the same subject in 1 Corinthians 12-14.

Paul was pressed in the spirit.—The better MSS. give, “he was constrained by the Word.” The words describe something of the same strong emotion as the “paroxysm” of Acts 17:16. The Word was within him as a constraining power, compelling him to give utterance to it. His “heart was hot within him, and while he was musing the fire kindled” (Psalm 39:4). Whether there was any connection between the arrival of Silas and Timotheus and this strong feeling is a question which there are no sufficient data for answering. It is hardly satisfactory to say, as has been suggested, that they probably brought pecuniary supplies from Macedonia (2Corinthians 11:9), and that he was therefore relieved from the obligation of working for his livelihood, and able to give himself more entirely to the work of preaching. There is no indication of his giving up tent-making, and 1Corinthians 9:1 is decidedly against it. A more probable explanation may be found in the strong desire—of which he says, in Romans 15:23, that he had cherished it for many years—to see Rome and preach the gospel there. Now he found himself brought into contact with those who had come from Rome, who formed, in fact, part of its population, and the old feeling was stirred to a new intensity.

Acts

PAUL AT CORINTH

‘CONSTRAINED BY THE WORD’

Acts 18:5
.

The Revised Version, in concurrence with most recent authorities, reads, instead of ‘pressed in the spirit,’ ‘constrained by the word.’ One of these alterations depends on a diversity of reading, the other on a difference of translation. The one introduces a significant difference of meaning; the other is rather a change of expression. The word rendered here ‘pressed,’ and by the Revised Version ‘constrained,’ is employed in its literal use in ‘Master, the multitude throng Thee and press Thee,’ and in its metaphorical application in ‘The love of Christ constraineth us.’ There is not much difference between ‘constrained’ and ‘pressed,’ but there is a large difference between ‘in the spirit’ and ‘by the word.’ ‘Pressed in the spirit’ simply describes a state of feeling or mind; ‘constrained by the word’ declares the force which brought about that condition of pressure or constraint. What then does ‘constrained by the word’ refer to? It indicates that Paul’s message had a grip of him, and held him hard, and forced him to deliver it.

One more preliminary remark is that our text evidently brings this state of mind of the Apostle, and the coming of his two friends Silas and Timothy, into relation as cause and effect. He had been alone in Corinth. His work of late had not been encouraging. He had been comparatively silent there, and had spent most of his time in tent-making. But when his two friends came a cloud was lifted off his spirit, and he sprang back again, as it were, to his old form and to his old work.

Now if we take that point of view with regard to the passage before us, I think we shall find that it yields valuable lessons, some of which I wish to try to enforce now.

I. Let me ask you to look with me at the downcast Apostle.

‘Downcast,’ you say; ‘is not that an unworthy word to use about a minister of Jesus Christ inspired as Paul was?’ By no means. We shall very much mistake both the nature of inspiration and the character of this inspired Apostle, if we do not recognise that he was a man of many moods and tremulously susceptible to external influences. Such music would never have come from him if his soul had not been like an Aeolian harp, hung in a tree and vibrating in response to every breeze. And so we need not hesitate to speak of the Apostle’s mood, as revealed to us in the passage before us, as being downcast.

Now notice that in the verses preceding my text his conduct is extremely abnormal and unlike his usual procedure. He goes into Corinth, and he does next to nothing in evangelistic work. He repairs to the synagogue once a week, and talks to the Jews there. But that is all. The notice of his reasoning in the synagogue is quite subordinate to the notice that he was occupied in finding a lodging with another pauper Jew and stranger in the great city, and that these two poor men went into a kind of partnership, and tried to earn a living by hard work. Such procedure makes a singular contrast to Paul’s usual methods in a strange city.

Now the reason for that slackening of impulse and comparative cessation of activity is not far to seek. The first Epistle to Thessalonica was written immediately after these two brethren rejoined Paul. And how does the Apostle describe in that letter his feelings before they came? He speaks of ‘all our distress and affliction.’ He tells that he was tortured by anxiety as to how the new converts in Thessalonica were getting on, and could not forbear to try to find out whether they were still standing steadfast. Again in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, you will find that there, looking back to this period, he describes his feelings in similar fashion and says: ‘I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.’ And if you look forward a verse or two in our chapter you will see that a vision came to Paul, which presupposes that some touch of fear, and some temptation to silence, were busy in his heart. For God shapes His communications according to our need, and would not have said, ‘Do not be afraid, and hold not thy peace, but speak,’ unless there had been a danger both of Paul’s being frightened and of his being dumb.

And what thus brought a cloud over his sky? A little exercise of historical imagination will very sufficiently answer that. A few weeks before, in obedience, as he believed, to a direct divine command, Paul had made a plunge, and ventured upon an altogether new phase of work. He had crossed into Europe, and from the moment that he landed at the harbour of Philippi, up to the time when he took refuge in some quiet little room in Corinth, he had had nothing but trouble and danger and disappointment. The prison at Philippi, the riots that hounded him out of Thessalonica, the stealthy, hurried escape from Beroea, the almost entire failure of his first attempt to preach the Gospel to Greeks in Athens, his loneliness, and the strangeness of his surroundings in the luxurious, wicked, wealthy Greek city of Corinth-all these things weighed on him, and there is no wonder that his spirits went down, and he felt that now he must lie fallow for a time and rest, and pull himself together again.

So here we have, in this great champion of the faith, in this strong runner of the Christian race, in this chief of men, an example of the fluctuation of mood, the variation in the way in which we look at our duties and our obligations and our difficulties, the slackening of the impulse which dominates our lives, that are too familiar to us all. It brings Paul nearer us to feel that he, too, knew these ups and downs. The force that drove this meteor through the darkness varied, as the force that impels us varies to our consciousness. It is the prerogative of God to be immutable; men have their moods and their fluctuations. Kindled lights flicker; the sun burns steadily. An Elijah to-day beards Ahab and Jezebel and all their priests, and to-morrow hides his head in his hands, and says, ‘Take me away, I am not better than my fathers.’ There will be ups and down in the Christian vigour of our lives, as well as in all other regions, so long as men dwell in this material body and are surrounded by their present circumstances.

Brethren, it is no small part of Christian wisdom and prudence to recognise this fact, both in order that it may prevent us from becoming unduly doubtful of ourselves when the ebb tide sets in on our souls, and also in order that we may lay to heart this other truth, that because these moods and changes of aspect and of vigour will come to us, therefore the law of life must be effort, and the duty of every Christian man be to minimise, in so far as possible, the fluctuations which, in some degree, are inevitable. No human hand has ever drawn an absolutely straight line. That is the ideal of the mathematician, but all ours are crooked. But we may indefinitely diminish the magnitude of the curves. No two atoms are so close together as that there is no film between them. No human life has ever been an absolutely continuous, unbroken series of equally holy and devoted thoughts and acts, but we may diminish the intervals between kindred states, and may make our lives so far uniform as that to a bystander they shall look like the bright circle, which a brand whirled round in the air makes the impression of, on the eye that beholds. We shall have times of brightness and of less brilliancy, of vigour and of consequent reaction and exhaustion. But Christianity has, for one of its objects, to help us to master our moods, and to bring us nearer and nearer, by continual growth, to the steadfast, immovable attitude of those whose faith is ever the same.

Do not forget the plain lesson which comes from the incident before us-viz., that the wisest thing that a man can do, when he feels that the wheels of his religious being are driving heavily, is to set himself doggedly to the plain, homely work of daily life. Paul did not sit and bemoan himself because he felt this slackening of impulse, but he went away to Aquila, and said, ‘Let us set to work and make camel’s-hair cloth and tents.’ Be thankful for your homely, prosaic, secular, daily task. You do not know from how many sickly fancies it saves you, and how many breaches in the continuity of your Christian feeling it may bridge over. It takes you away from thinking about yourselves, and sometimes you cannot think about anything less profitably. So stick to your work; and if ever you feel, as Paul did, ‘cast down,’ be sure that the workshop, the office, the desk, the kitchen will prevent you from being ‘destroyed,’ if you give yourselves to the plain duties which no moods alter, but which can alter a great many moods.

II. And now note the ‘constraining word.’

I have already said that the return of the two, who had been sent to see how things were going with the recent converts in the infant Churches, brought the Apostle good tidings, and so lifted off a great load of anxiety from his heart. No wonder! He had left raw recruits under fire, with no captain, and he might well doubt whether they would keep their ranks. But they did. So the pressure was lifted off, and the pressure being lifted off, spontaneously the old impulse gripped him once more; like a spring which leaps back to its ancient curve when some alien force is taken from it. It must have been a very deep and a very habitual impulse, which thus instantly reasserted itself the moment that the pressure of anxiety was taken out of the way.

The word constrained him. What to do? To declare it. Paul’s example brings up two thoughts-that that impulse may vary at times, according to the pressure of circumstances, and may even be held in abeyance for a while; and that if a man is honestly and really a Christian, as soon as the incumbent pressure is taken away, he will feel, ‘Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.’ For though Paul’s sphere of work was different from ours, his obligation to work and his impulse to work were such as are, or should be, common to all Christians. The impulse to utter the word that we believe and live by seems to me to be, in its very nature, inseparable from earnest Christian faith. All emotion demands expression; and if a man has never felt that he must let his Christian faith have vent, it is a very bad sign. As certainly as fermentation or effervescence demands outgush, so certainly does emotion demand expression. We all know that. The same impulse that makes a mother bend over her babe with unmeaning words and tokens that seem to unsympathetic onlookers foolish, ought to influence all Christians to speak the Name they love. All conviction demands expression. There may be truths which have so little bearing upon human life that he who perceives them feels little obligation to say anything about them. But these are the exceptions; and the more weighty and the more closely affecting human interests anything that we have learned to believe as truth is, the more do we feel in our hearts that, in making us its believers, it has made us its apostles. Christ’s saying, ‘What ye hear in the ear, that preach ye on the housetops,’ expresses a universal truth which is realised in many regions, and ought to be most emphatically realised in the Christian. For surely of all the truths that men can catch a glimpse of, or grapple to their hearts, or store in their understandings, there are none which bring with them such tremendous consequences, and therefore are of so solemn import to proclaim to all the children of men, as the truth, which we profess we have received, of personal salvation through Jesus Christ.

If there never had been a single commandment to that effect, I know not how the Christian Church or the Christian individual could have abstained from declaring the great and sweet Name to which it and he owe so much. I do not care to present this matter as a commandment, nor to speak now of obligation or responsibility. The impulse is what I would fix your attention upon. It is inseparable from the Christian life. It may vary in force, as we see in the incident before us. It will vary in grip, according as other circumstances and duties insist upon being attended to. The form in which it is yielded to will vary indefinitely in individuals. But if they are Christian people it is always there.

Well then, what about the masses of so-called Christians who feel nothing of any such constraining force? And what about the many who feel enough of it to make them also feel that they are wrong in not yielding to it, but not enough to make their conduct be influenced by it? Brethren, I venture to believe that the measure in which this impulse to speak the word and use direct efforts for somebody’s conversion is felt by Christians, is a very fair test of the depth of their own religion. If a vessel is half empty it will not run over. If it is full to the brim, the sparkling treasure will fall on all sides. A weak plant may never push its green leaves above the ground, but a strong one will rise into the light. A spark may be smothered in a heap of brushwood, but a steady flame will burn its way out. If this word has not a grip of you, impelling you to its utterance, I would have you not to be too sure that you have a grip of it.

III. Lastly, we have here the witness to the word.

‘He was constrained by the word, testifying.’ Now I do not know whether it is imposing too much meaning upon a non-significant difference of expression, if I ask you to note the difference between that phrase and the one which describes his previous activity: ‘He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade’ the Jews and the Greeks, but when the old impulse came back in new force, reasoning was far too cold a method, and Paul took to testifying. Whether that be so or no, mark that the witness of one’s own personal conviction and experience is the strongest weapon that a Christian can use. I do not despise the place of reasoning, but arguments do not often change opinions; they never change hearts. Logic and controversial discoursing may ‘prepare the way of the Lord,’ but it is ‘in the wilderness.’ But when a man calls aloud, ‘Come and hear all ye, and I will declare what God hath done for my soul’; or when he tells his brother, ‘We have found the Messias’; or when he sticks to ‘One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see,’ it is difficult for any one to resist, and impossible for any one to answer, that way of testifying,

It is a way that we can all adopt if we will. Christian men and women can all say such things. I do not forget that there are indirect ways of spreading the Gospel. Some of you think that you do enough when you give your money and your interest in order to diffuse it. You can buy a substitute in the militia, but you cannot buy a substitute in Christ’s service. You have each some congregation to which you can speak, if it is no larger than Paul’s-namely, two people, Aquila and Priscilla. What talks they would have in their lodging, as they plaited the wisps of black hair into rough cloth, and stitched the strips into tents! Aquila was not a Christian when Paul picked him up, but he became one very soon; and it was the preaching in the workshop, amidst the dust, that made him one. If we long to speak about Christ we shall find plenty of people to speak to. ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.’

Now, dear friends, I have only one word more. I have no doubt there are some among us who have been saying, ‘This sermon does not apply to me at all.’ Does it not? If it does not, what does that mean? It means that you have not the first requisite for spreading the word- viz. personal faith in the word. It means that you have put away, or at least neglected to take in, the word and the Saviour of whom it speaks, into your own lives. But it does not mean that you have got rid of the word thereby. It will not in that case lay the grip of which I have been speaking upon you, but it will not let you go. It will lay on you a far more solemn and awful clutch, and like a jailer with his hand on the culprit’s shoulder, will ‘constrain’ you into the presence of the Judge. You can make it a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. And though you do not grasp it, it grasps and holds you. ‘The word that I speak unto him, the same shall judge him at the last day.’Acts 18:5-6. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia — Silas seems to have stayed a considerable time at Berea; but Timotheus, having come to the apostle while he was at Athens, and having been sent back by him to comfort and confirm the church at Thessalonica, now left that city to join Paul at Corinth; and in his way calling upon Silas at Berea, they travelled together to Corinth, where they found the apostle, and gave him the agreeable information that the Thessalonian brethren stood firm in the faith, bare the persecution of the unbelievers with exemplary fortitude, and entertained a grateful remembrance of him their spiritual father, 1 Thessalonians 3:5-6. These tidings, it seems, filled the apostle with joy, and encouraged him to deal more plainly with the Jews at Corinth than he had hitherto done. For he was pressed in spirit — And the more probably from what Silas and Timotheus related; and testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ — Confirming his testimony by arguments brought from the Scriptures, and by the miracles which he wrought. And when they opposed themselves — To his doctrine; and blasphemed — Jesus, by affirming that he was not the Christ, but an impostor; he shook his raiment — To signify that from that time he would refrain from them, and that God would soon shake them off as unworthy to be numbered among his people; and said, Your blood — That is, the guilt of your destruction; be upon your own heads: I am clean — From it, agreeably to God’s declaration, Ezekiel 33:2-9. By this wilful impenitence and unbelief, you are your own murderers; and, as God and man can testify that I have done all in my power to prevent so sad an event, I now desist from any further attempts of this kind; from henceforth — While I continue in this city, leaving the synagogue, I will go and preach to the Gentiles — Who will readily receive that gospel which you so ungratefully reject.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.And when Silas and Timotheus ... - They came to Paul according to the request which he had sent by the brethren who accompanied him from Thessalonica, Acts 17:15.

Paul was pressed - Was urged; was borne away by an unusual impulse. It was deeply impressed on him as his duty.

In spirit - In his mind; in his feelings. His love to Christ was so great, and his conviction of the truth so strong, that he labored to make known to them the truth that Jesus Was the Messiah.

That Jesus was Christ - That Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Compare Acts 17:16. The presence of Silas and Timothy animated him; and the certainty of aid in his work urged him to zeal in making known the Saviour.

5, 6. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia—that is, from Thessalonica, whither Silas had probably accompanied Timothy when sent back from Athens (see on [2045]Ac 17:15).

Paul was pressed in the spirit—rather (according to what is certainly the true reading) "was pressed with the word"; expressing not only his zeal and assiduity in preaching it, but some inward pressure which at this time he experienced in the work (to convey which more clearly was probably the origin of the common reading). What that pressure was we happen to know, with singular minuteness and vividness of description, from the apostle himself, in his first Epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians (1Co 2:1-5; 1Th 3:1-10). He had come away from Athens, as he remained there, in a depressed and anxious state of mind, having there met, for the first time, with unwilling Gentile ears. He continued, apparently for some time, laboring alone in the synagogue of Corinth, full of deep and anxious solicitude for his Thessalonian converts. His early ministry at Corinth was colored by these feelings. Himself deeply humbled, his power as a preacher was more than ever felt to lie in demonstration of the Spirit. At length Silas and Timotheus arrived with exhilarating tidings of the faith and love of his Thessalonian children, and of their earnest longing again to see their father in Christ; bringing with them also, in token of their love and duty, a pecuniary contribution for the supply of his wants. This seems to have so lifted him as to put new life and vigor into his ministry. He now wrote his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, in which the "pressure" which resulted from all this strikingly appears. (See [2046]Introduction to First Thessalonians). Such emotions are known only to the ministers of Christ, and, even of them, only to such as "travail in birth until Christ be formed in" their hearers.

Were come from Macedonia; according as was ordered by him, 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 Corinthians 2:4; such was his grief for the contumacy of the Jews, so great was his desire that they might be saved.

Jesus was Christ:

1. The Christ, or anointed, that excelled all other Christs or anointed ones, being anointed with oil above measure.

2. The Christ that was promised by the prophets. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia,.... Not from Berea in Macedonia, for from hence they came to the apostle while at Athens, and from whence he sent them, at least Timothy, to Thessalonica, to know the state of the saints there, as appears from 1 Thessalonians 3:1 and from hence they now came to the apostle at Corinth: when

Paul was pressed in Spirit; either by the Holy Spirit, by which he was moved and stirred up to preach the Gospel more frequently, and more powerfully; for he had not always the same measure of the Spirit, or was not always under the same influence; or else in his own spirit, and so the Arabic version renders it, "grief beset the spirit of Paul"; his soul was filled with trouble and sorrow, when he observed the nonrepenitence and unbelief, the contradiction and blasphemy of the greater part of the Jews; and being filled with zeal for their welfare, he continued preaching Christ unto them. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, instead of "in spirit", read "in speech", or "in word"; and the sense is, not that he was straitened in his speech, and knew not what to say to the Jews, or had not freedom of speech with them; but he was instant in preaching to them, and preached the word more frequently and fervently, upon the coming of Silas and Timothy to his assistance:

and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ; he continued to produce more testimonies out of the writings of Moses, and the prophets, to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, or Messiah, prophesied of in those writings, and promised to the Jews, and whom they expected.

And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul {c} was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

(c) Was very much grieved in mind: by which is signified the great earnestness of his mind, which was greatly moved: for Paul was so zealous that he completely forgot himself, and with a wonderful courage gave himself to preach Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 18:5. This activity on his part increased yet further when Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia (Acts 17:14 f.), in whose fellowship naturally the zeal and courage of Paul could not but grow.

The element of increased activity, in relation to what is related in Acts 18:4, is contained in συνείχετο τῷ λόγῳ: he was wholly seized and arrested by the doctrine, so that he applied himself to it with assiduity and utmost earnestness. Comp. Wis 17:20, and Grimm in loc. So in the main, following the Vulgate (“instabat verbo”), most modern interpreters, including Olshausen, de Wette, Baumgarten, Lange, Ewald. Against my earlier rendering: he was pressed in respect of the doctrine (comp. on Php 1:23), he was hard-beset (comp. Chrysostom, reading τῷ πνεύματι: ἐπηρέαζον αὐτῷ, ἐφίσταντο αὐτῷ), it may be decisively urged, partly on linguistic grounds, that the dative with συνέχεσθαι is always the thing itself which presses (comp. Acts 28:8; Luke 8:37),[77] partly according to the connection, that there results in that view no significant relation to the arrival of Silas and Timothy.

τὸν Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, as in Acts 18:28.

[77] Comp. also Thuc. ii. 49. 3, iii. 98. 1; Arrian, vi. 24. 6; Plat. Soph. p. 250 D; Xen. Oec. i. 21, and many other passages; Heind. ad Plat. Soph. 46; particularly Wis 17:20; Herodian i. 17, 22; Ael. V. H. xiv. 22.Acts 18:5. See note on Acts 17:15; McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 269, recognises this among the striking points of contact between Acts and the Epistles to the Corinthians. Here Silas and Timothy are said to have been with St. Paul in Corinth, cf. St. Paul’s own statement in 2 Corinthians 1:19, to the fact that the same two names occur in the salutations of 1 and 2 Thess., both of which were written from Corinth, see also Paley, Horæ Paulinæ, iv., 6, 7, and viii. 4.—συνείχετο τῷ πνεύματι: “he was wholly absorbed in preaching,” λόγῳ, so Ramsay; “in teaching the word,” Grimm-Thayer, cf. Wis 17:11 (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14). The verb occurs frequently in Luke, six times in his Gospel, three times in Acts, twice in St. Paul, only once elsewhere in N.T., but nowhere as in the particular phrase here. It looks as if St. Paul’s preaching in Corinth was specially characterised by “greater concentration of purpose and simplicity of method,” cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2. The philosophic style in which he had addressed the Athenians is now abandoned, and so too, at least primarily, the proclamation of the living and true God, and of the coming of His Son to save His people in the day of wrath, with which apparently he had commenced at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. Such methods and truths had their place, but in Corinth “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” was to be preached as the power of God and the wisdom of God, and in both his Epistles all that the Apostle says about the duties of the Christian life is brought into relation with this fundamental truth (see McGiffert, u. s., p. 266). Silas and Timothy found him wholly possessed by and engrossed in the word (so the imperfect, Page, Alford, Wendt). On the other hand it has been maintained that the arrival of Silas and Timothy brought St. Paul help from Macedonia, and that on the account, Php 4:15, 2 Corinthians 11:9, he was able to give himself up to preaching, as he was thus relieved from the strain of working for his bread (so Wordsworth, Lewin, Rendall). But 1 Corinthians 9:1 seems to imply that St. Paul still continued to work for his livelihood at Corinth. Blass seems to find in the uniqueness of the phrase a reason for its alteration; see critical note for his view. Plumptre refers the words to the Apostle’s desire to see Rome, which the Apostle cherished for many years, and which had been further kindled by finding himself in company with those who came from Rome; and the announcement of a journey to Rome, Acts 19:21, after the Apostle had been some time in the company of Aquila and Priscilla both at Corinth and Ephesus, is emphasised by Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 255. But on the whole, Ramsay’s interpretation is very striking, p. 252, cf. the remarks of McGiffert much to the same effect, Apostolic Age, pp. 263–266.—διαμαρτ., see above on p. 92.—τὸν Χ. .: “that the Anointed One is Jesus,” cf. Acts 17:3, so Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 226. So far the message was evidently for Jews. See critical note for reading in .5. And (But) when Silas and Timotheus were come (came down) from Macedonia] The particle at the beginning of the verse is better regarded as adversative. We have in this verse an account of a change in the character of the Apostle’s preaching after the arrival of Silas and Timothy, who had been left at Berœa (Acts 17:14). It may well be that he had encouragement by their presence in his work, and also that it was not so necessary for him to consume his whole time on his craft because the Philippians had sent a contribution for his support (Php 4:15; 2 Corinthians 11:9).

Paul was pressed in spirit] The best texts read, was constrained by the word (so R. V.) and the Vulg. “instabat verbo” is evidence in its favour. The sense seems to be, he was earnestly occupied in preaching the Word, and felt himself more urged on, and also more able, to preach, because of his freedom from the necessity of constant labour. It was apparently only on the Sabbath that he had reasoned with the people before. The usus loquendi favours the passive meaning. Meyer (3rd ed.) renders “he was apprehended, seized by the word” in the sense of internal pressure of spirit.

testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ] This sentence which is of the participial form in the original intimates the manner in which the greater earnestness of the Apostle was exhibited. He gave in all its fulness his solemn testimony, no doubt confirmed from Scripture and by the narrative of his own miraculous conversion, that this Jesus, whom he had formerly persecuted, was the Christ, the Messiah whom the Jews had long expected.Acts 18:5. Συνείχετο τῷ λόγῳ, was constrained by the word) The power of the word within urged Paul: comp. Jeremiah 20:9; Jeremiah 23:9, wherein there is added the parallelism, ἐγενήθην ὡς ἄνθρωπος συνεχόμενος ἀπὸ οἴνου, I became as a man constrained or PRESSED by wine. Instead of λόγῳ, some have written πνεύματι, from Acts 18:25, or else from ch. Acts 17:16.—[λόγῳ, a striking reading.—Not. Crit.[109]] Each one ought to observe even in his own soul such a ΣΥΝΟΧῊ, or constraining force, and, when he feels it what is right, to follow it. To do so causes the greatest joy; but to neglect doing so, the greatest sorrow. The tidings which Silas and Timothy had announced, stimulated Paul.

[109] ABDEde Vulg. support λόγῳ: Rec. Text, without any very old authority, πνεύματι.—E. and T.Verse 5. - But for and, A.V.; Timothy for Timotheus, A.V.; came down for were come down, A.V.; constrained by the Word for pressed in spirit, A.V. and T.R.; testifying for and testified, A.V.; the Christ for Christ, A.V. When Silas and Timothy, etc. It is probable that Silas had returned by St. Paul's directions to Beraea, and Timothy to Thessalonica from Athens. If there were extant a letter of Paul to the Beraeans, it would probably mention his sending back Silas to them, just as the Epistle to the Thessalonians mentions his sending Timothy to them. Now they both come to Corinth from Macedonia, which includes Beraea and Thessalonica. If they came by sea, they would probably sail together from Dium to Cenchreae (see Acts 17:14, note). Was constrained by the Word. As an English phrase, this is almost destitute of meaning. If the R.T. is right, and it has very strong manuscript authority, the words συνείχετο τῷ λόγῳ mean that he was seized, taken possession of, and as it were bound by the necessity of preaching the Word, constrained as it were to preach more earnestly than ever. In St. Luke συνέχεσθαι is a medical term: in Luke 4:28, R.T., "Holden with a great fever;" Luke 8:37, "Holden with a great fear;" Acts 28:8, "Sick of fever and dysentery;" and so frequently in medical writers ('Medical Language of St. Luke,' Hobart). But it is worth considering whether συνείχετο is not in the middle voice, with the sense belonging to συνεχής, i.e. "continuous," "unbroken," and so that the phrase means that, after the arrival of Silas and Timothy, St. Paul gave himself up to continuous preaching. St. Luke has not infrequently a use of words peculiar to himself. The Vulgate rendering, instabat verbo, seems so to understand it. It was probably soon after the arrival of Silas and Timothy that St. Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 2, 6). The Second Epistle followed some time before St. Paul left Corinth. If the T.R., τῷ πνεύματι, is right, it must be construed, "constrained by the Spirit," in accordance with Greek usage. Testifying, etc. Note how different St. Paul's preaching in the synagogue was from his preaching in the Areopagus. Was pressed in the spirit (συνείχετο τῷ πνεύματι)

Instead of spirit the best texts read λόγῳ, by the word. On pressed or constrained, see note on taken, Luke 4:38. The meaning is, Paul was engrossed by the word. He was relieved of anxiety by the arrival of his friends, and stimulated to greater activity in the work of preaching the word.

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