William Kelly Major Works Commentary
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;Acts Chapter 18
In marked distinction from Athens is the dealing of divine grace with Corinth, the wealthy capital of Achaia, the southern province of Greece under the Roman empire. Thither the apostle repaired after his brief visit to Athens: with what result the record stands, not in the inspired history alone, but in the two great Epistles to the church of God in Corinth.
'After these things he1 departed from2 Athens and came unto Corinth And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, of Pontus by race, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded2 all the Jews to depart from2 Rome. And he came unto them; and because he was one of the same trade, he abode with them, and [? they]3 wrought, for by their trade they were tent-makers. And he was discoursing in the synagogues every sabbath, and persuading Jews and Greeks' (vers. 1-4).
1 Good MSS. add ὁ Παῦλος as in Text. Rec., the Authorized and other Versions but the best omit.
2 The form varies in copies, with the same sense in substance in all the words thus marked.
3 'They' wrought is sustained by pm B, Coptic and Origen, for one can scarce add the loose Æthiopic Version. It seems strange that the Revisers should adopt so precarious a reading in the face of all other authorities.
The ways of grace are wholly above man's thoughts. None could have anticipated that God would raise a trophy to His Son, not in intellectual Athens, but in demoralized Corinth. Was there any antecedent link, or natural suitability whatever, between the Holy One of God and this proverbial seat of impurity? The grace of God gives no account of its matters, but works to the glory of Christ; and most of all where man is most needy. Even so the apostle asked in the beginning of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, 'Where is [the] wise? Where [the] scribe? Where [the] disputer of this age? Did not God make foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God the world through wisdom knew not God, God was pleased through the foolishness of the preaching to save those that believe. Since Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto Gentiles foolishness, but unto the called themselves, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [the] power of God, and [the] wisdom of God, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.' The wisdom of this age had proved its folly in Athens; the compassion of God yearned over Corinth in the face of all its dissolute manners and corruption.
'For behold your calling, brethren, how that there are not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God chose the foolish things of the world that He might put to shame the wise, and God chose the weak things of the world that He might put to shame the strong things, and the base things of the world, and the things despised, did God choose, and the things that are not, that He might bring to naught the things that are; that no flesh should glory before God.' Never was this more realized than in Corinth, where in due time a numerous assembly was formed from both Jews and Gentiles, for the most part of no great account in this world.
Paul was not long alone. He found in Corinth a certain Jew, called Aquila, who though of Pontus by race (like his namesake of a later date, who, however, was a Jewish proselyte and translated the Old Testament into Greek most literally), had just come from Italy, with Priscilla, his wife. This is their first mention in scripture. We hear of them afterwards in Ephesus and of the assembly at their house. Later still they were found once more in Rome, and saluted as Paul's fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, 'who for my life staked their own necks, to whom not I only am thankful, but also all the assemblies of the Gentiles' (Romans 16:3-4). There also we hear of the assembly at their house. In the last Epistle which our apostle ever wrote he bids Timothy salute them once more and for the last time in Ephesus.
The occasion of their coming from Italy at this time was because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Suetonius, the Roman biographer of the Caesars, states that this emperor, because of a Jewish outbreak, 'impulsore Chresto', expelled them from Rome. The Latin words cited are probably an error on his part, but may allude to violence on the side of unbelieving Jews against those who believed, or may be a confusion (owing to Roman jealousy) with the preaching of the Messiah elsewhere. Bp. Pearson is of opinion that this expulsion happened about A.D. 52, in which year Tacitus (Ann. xii. 52) puts the Senate's decree for expelling the 'mathematici' or 'Chaldaei'; but whether they were identical or connected is uncertain. It is known that Claudius was deeply indebted to Herod Agrippa the First for his nomination to the empire, and did not forget him but rewarded the Herod family: so one could hard]y suppose so hostile an attitude towards the Jews, while Herod Agrippa was in Rome; and we can easily understand that, if enacted in his absence, the decree soon fell through. This consideration clears up the statement of Dio Cassius (Ix. 6), which some have supposed to contradict St. Luke, as well as Suetonius, that the emperor did not expel them, but ordered them not to congregate in Rome. If we distinguish the times, all is clear and true.
But God made use of the edict to bring Aquila and his wife into lifelong communication with the apostle. Whether they were converted or not before they first met is not quite certain. Much stress has been laid on Aquila's description as 'a certain Jew', rather than as a disciple; but this may be satisfactorily enough accounted for, both as qualifying the place of his birth, and as furnishing the ground of his quitting Rome for Corinth. Then we must bear in mind that, as the Romans and strangers in general did not in these early days distinguish Christian Jews from their brethren after the flesh, so Paul repeatedly designates himself a Jew afterwards in this Book (Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3). The apostle never speaks of them as his children in the faith, however warmly he may greet or characterize them. Certain it is that they were abundantly blessed through him, as he graciously owns the large debt due to them, not by himself only, but by all the assemblies of the Gentiles.
We never hear of this devoted pair in Judea, they were widely known outside the land among the Gentiles where assemblies met. Their wealth or their trade afforded the means to welcome the gathering of saints at their own house; a circumstance not unusual in those days (or even much later, as we know from the Acta Martyrii S. Justini, Ruinart). So we see also in the cases of Nymphas and Philemon. It abides now a happy resource where a few can only thus be gathered to Christ's name according to His word. That they should first wait for a bishop is either an Ignatian tradition or a notion at the present day flowing from the same unbelieving superstition which gave birth to the tradition in the past. Only the ever-living truth of 'one body and one Spirit' would call for fellowship in such an act. Independency is a denial of true church action.
Another fact in solving a principle of deep practical moment comes out in verse 3: 'And because he was one of the same trade, he abode with them and wrought; for by their occupation they were tent-makers.'1 God was pleased so to order things that the great apostle, in the wealthiest and most luxurious city of Greece, should carry on an honest occupation for necessary wants. What a death-blow to clericalism on the one hand, and to worldliness on the other! Yet, in the circumstances of both Paul himself and Corinth, it was just the course which was worthy of the gospel of the grace which sent it out. It is unreasonable to suppose that this blessed servant of the Lord failed in ordinary foresight for his missionary journey, or that the assemblies of the saints were lacking in care for him or in zeal for the work, especially in the regions beyond those where the faithful were already gathered together unto Christ's name.
1 It is known that among the Jews of that day it was usual for a son to learn a trade. Some, if not all, of the greatest Rabbis exercised a handicraft. Indeed in the Talmud Rabbi Juda says, He that does not teach his son a trade, virtually teaches him to be a thief; and Rabban Gamaliel compares a man with a trade to a vineyard that is fenced.
The apostle had pushed forward alone without means into a quarter of abounding ease and distinguished elegance, to say nothing of the dissoluteness of morals which followed in their train; and here, labouring with his own hands for the necessities of others not less than his own, as was his wont, he truly represented the Master Who came not to be ministered unto but to minister. It was for the Son of man alone to give His life a ransom for many, it was His exclusively to suffer once for sins, Just for unjust, to bring us to God. But the apostle of the Gentiles was Christ's follower, or imitator, with energy of devotedness unparalleled not among saints or servants only, but among the apostles, whom God set foremost in the church. And grace gave his single eye to discern how best to please and glorify Christ in such circumstances. At a later day he exhorted the presbyters of the Ephesian assembly in his affecting farewell charge at Miletus; for he was not the man to urge on others what he shrank from himself. Neither did he hesitate to commend such a path of gracious self-abnegation to those whose function it is to feed or tend the flock of God.
The labourer is indeed worthy of his food, and of his hire for there are other necessities beyond food; and the Lord forgot none, as is plain from this twofold statement (Matthew 10:10, Luke 10:7, as cited in 1 Tim. 5: l 8): so the apostle declares (1 Corinthians 9:14), the Lord ordained that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel, as the law had done before for those that ministered about holy things. But, while insisting on a title so just and true for others, we see the blessed man foregoing it for himself in the same context: 'But I [emphatically] have used none of these things; and I write not these things that it may be so done in my case; for it were good for me rather to die than that any man should make my glorying vain. For if I preach the gospel I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel. For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That in preaching the gospel, I make the gospel without charge, so as not to use for myself [or, to the full] my title as to the gospel' (1 Corinthians 9:15-18). Here was not letter but spirit, not self but Christ, in the full stream of that love which displayed itself to sinners in Christ sent that we who were dead might live through Him and that He might die a propitiation for our sins. It was meet that the highest witness of grace among men should be a manifest giver in his measure as God is infinitely.
So he told the Thessalonians in his earliest Epistle, that he sought not glory of men, 'neither from you nor from others, when we might have been a burden as apostles of Christ.' None ever so well felt the value of Christ's words, It is more blessed to give than to receive. His reason was far more elevated than that which Calvin imputes - because the false apostles taught freely without taking anything, that they might craftily insinuate themselves. In 1 Cor. 9, where his motives are shown, there is no allusion to these evil workers, and in fact there could be no such persons in Corinth when Paul came to preach, and no assembly as yet existed. It was a heart filled with love, and burning to illustrate the gospel in deed and in truth as he proclaimed it in word, without question of adversaries yet to arise and set up cheap and vaunting pretensions to similar grace. In his Second Epistle (2 Cor. 11) no doubt he does speak of his keeping himself in everything from being a burden to the saints in Corinth, and of his determination so to keep himself, that he might cut off the occasion of those wishing for an occasion, that wherein they boasted they might be found even as we [not we even as they].
'And he was discoursing in the synagogue every sabbath and persuading Jews and Greeks' (ver. 4).
The same word means either 'discoursing' in general, or in particular 'reasoning', or even 'disputing', as in Mark 9:34; Acts 17:2; Acts 24:12; Judges 1:9. Here as in Acts 20:7; Act 20:9; Hebrews 12:5, the more general force seems preferable; in others 'reasoning' may be right as between the extremes. Context alone can decide. As the synagogue was the scene of the discourses, we may gather assuredly that the testimony of the Old Testament was the ample ground-work on which Paul appealed to his hearers, who were not exclusively Jews, for we are expressly told that (not Hellenists but) Greeks were the objects of his habitual persuasion. If they were not proselytes, they must have been men whom the licentious excesses of heathenism drove them there, and no wonder, when, as another has said, their religion itself corrupted man; and he made of his corruption a religion.
Nowhere was this more deeply and conspicuously true than in Corinth, where the worship of Aphrodite with her infamous ἱερόδουλοι prevailed (the counterpart of Venus at Rome, and of Astarte, or Hebrew Ashtoreth in Syria). Abandoning all fear or thought of the true God, they fell below even the natural decency of man, and dishonoured themselves in the dishonour of God. The synagogue cold as it was, attracted consciences which revolted from evil which philosophy indulged in, or at best was far too weak to supplant or restrain, and Greeks there listened with Jews, to the holy and persuasive discourses of the apostle. We shall find a crisis that went farther ere long, but not till the apostle had the companionship of beloved fellow-labourers.
It may be added that too much has been made of the word 'persuade' in verse 4, as if it meant to 'induce by little and little'. It is on the contrary the word by which the apostle himself expresses the preaching of the gospel to win souls in view of the awful reality of Christ's tribunal for the hard or heedless (2 Corinthians 5:10-11). Paul's word was not certainly in persuasive words of wisdom, as he told the Corinthians in his First Epistle (1 Corinthians 2:3-5), but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, at the very time when he was with them, from his coming in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. He was not there as a philosopher or as 'the power of God which is called great', but as much of a contrast as one can conceive; and this, that the faith of such as believed might stand, not in man's wisdom but in God's power. But, as the effect of his discoursing in the synagogue, he was persuading Jews and Greeks.
When his companions arrived, this was what they found, and more soon followed. Great is the virtue, even for an apostle, of fellowship in labour, and cheering was the news then brought.
'And when both Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was engrossed with (or constrained by) the word,1 testifying to the Jews that Jesus was2 the Christ. But as they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own head; I [am] pure; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And departing thence he went into a certain man's house, by name Titus3 Justus, a worshipper of God, whose house adjoined to the synagogue' (vers. 5-7).
1 λόγῳ ABDE, six cursives, Vulg. Memph. Theb. Syrr. Arm. Aeth.; πνεύματι (as in Text. Rec.) has quite inferior authorities.
2 εἱναι is read by the best witnesses.
3 Titus, or Titius, is vouched for by BDgr2 E, four cursives, Vulg. Memph. Syr.-Harcl. Arm. Indeed Syr.-Pesch. and Theb. gave Titus only; and a cursive corrects Justus by Titus.
It will be noticed that the two fellow-labourers are said to have come down from 'Macedonia', as the Roman province of northern Greece was called in distinction from Achaia, of which Corinth was the metropolis. Macedonia is the natural phrase, if Silas and Timothy came down from different quarters, and the repeated article would well fall in with this. They were no doubt together at Berea; and Timothy, if not Silas, joined Paul at Athens, whence he was dispatched to Thessalonica with a view to establish them and encourage on behalf of their faith, that none should be disturbed in the afflictions then and there so severe. Both Silas and Timothy now joined the apostle at Corinth, but not necessarily at the same moment, any more than from the same point of departure. 1 Thessalonians 3:6. omits all mention of Silas as the companion of Timothy on this mission to Thessalonica, who brought to Paul the glad tidings of the Thessalonian saints, whereas the apostle speaking of the preaching at Corinth joins Silas and Timothy with himself in the address of that Epistle (2 Corinthians 1:19). The apostle had forewarned these young converts of the tribulation that befell them; but this only the more increased his desires for them; and now he could rejoice that the tempter had failed, and that they were steadfast The apostle was then occupied earnestly with the word when the two came down; and assuredly their joint labours with him were as cheering to his heart as the good report brought about his beloved Thessalonians. Not the least ground seems to support the notion that their arrival with supplies enabled Paul to give up tent-making for the exclusive preaching of the word: certainly the verb suneivceto does not mean anything of the sort, but rather that the state of absorption with the word, by which he was characterized, went on, for it is the imperfect, not the aorist as it should have been if indicative of a fresh act or course consequent on their coming.
But there is another word which has to be taken into account, in order to a sound judgment. Were πνεύματι genuine, I cannot but think Erasmus (pace Bezae) right, and that the meaning would then be 'straightened in spirit'. But it is not so. The Received reading πνεύματι ('spirit') is not sustained by the best authorities which give λόγῳ ('word'), πνεύματι having crept in from Acts 17:16; Acts 18:25; Acts 19:21, et al. Hence such a rendering as Wakefield's must be summarily and on every ground discarded, 'the mind of Paul was violently disturbed', and none the less because the translation is commended by its author in his notes as perfectly agreeable to the original. Similarly erroneous is the turn given by Hammond, Mill, and Wolf, as if the apostle's spirit was vexed at the unbelief of the Jews; or the opposite notion of Beza and others, who construe it into the zealous ardour which carried him away. Others again like Casaubon, Grotius, et al., depart still farther and consider 'the spirit' to mean the Holy Spirit by Whose impulse he was borne away at this time: a rendering which is in every way faulty, for the verb cannot bear such a force, and the reading is certainly erroneous. If genuine, it would rather require the article absent (unless ἁγίῳ were expressed): its insertion simply would point to one's own spirit.
It is needless, however, though instructive in some measure, to discuss these departures from the truth, for it may be laid down as certain that the passage intimates that the apostle was occupied in the word when his fellow-workmen came from Macedonia. He was testifying thoroughly (διαμαρτυρόμενος) to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah, the constant stumbling-block of that blinded people. Undoubtedly Jesus is much more than 'the Christ'; and none ever preached His higher glory, both personal and conferred, more than Paul. But none the less did he press on the Jews that Jesus is the Christ, as the break-up of their unbelief, and the necessary hinge of all further light and blessing.
'But as they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes and said unto them, Your blood [be] upon your own head: I [am] pure, from henceforth I will go [proceed] unto the Gentiles' (ver. 6).
With rare exceptions such is the spirit of the Jews, and in it they fulfil the awful warnings of their prophets from Moses downwards. They are a perverse and crooked generation, and very froward withal, children in whom is no faith, moving Jehovah to jealousy with that which is not good, and provoking Him to anger with their vanities; as He has moved them to jealousy with those which are not a people, and provoked them to anger with a foolish nation. Ignorance is bearable and claims patient service in presenting the truth; but opposition is quite another thing, especially in the face of ample and convincing testimony; and speaking injuriously, or blasphemy yet more, is worse still, seeing that it is grace and truth in Christ which is thus outrageously rejected. This is fatal. Those who despised Jesus on earth had a fresh testimony concerning Him risen and glorified and still waiting to be gracious. There is no third, no other, witness to render unto those who reject Him speaking from heaven, as He is now - nothing but judgment for His adversaries when He appears in glory.
The apostle accordingly answered in significant deed as well as word: 'he shook out his clothes, and said unto them . . .' It was the spirit if not the form of Matthew 10:14, as even more rigidly carried out by himself and Barnabas at the Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:51). It was as if the dust of the place they dwelt in defiled, and must be shaken off1 as a testimony against them, Sodom and Gomorrah were more tolerable.
1 Think of Wakefield, while he retains the ordinary version, saying, 'I am partly inclined to think it means here - throwing off his garment: which exhibits a striking image of the conduct of the apostle: As I throw off this cloak, so I relinquish all further concern with you.'
Paul said also, Your blood [be] upon your own head. So, and yet worse, had those cried who actually urged on the Lord to the cross when Pilate would have let Him go, His blood be upon us and upon our children. And so it is until this day. 'I [am] pure,' added the apostle, 'henceforth I will proceed unto the Gentiles.' It was in perfect harmony not only with his own course elsewhere, but, what is of deeper importance still, with the ways of God in the gospel. The Jews were to have testimony first, and so they had and not quite in vain. Some did hear to the salvation of their souls; there is an elect remnant. But when the mass reject the gospel with hatred and blasphemy, the stream of blessing flows, though it is not lost but blessed amid the barren sands of the Gentiles.
It may interest some to know that, even in so simple a passage as the last, men of learning have differed. Lachmann suggested, and Alford followed, a punctuation which yields the sense, 'I shall henceforth with a pure conscience go to the Gentiles.' Wakefield follows the Peschito Syriac in breaking it up thus: 'From this moment I am clean therefrom, I go to the Gentiles.' In his note he says, 'This disposition gives a degree of abruptness to the periods more suitable to an angry man'! The irreverence of the translator seems to my mind as manifest as his lack of judgment, and the ordinary division most consistent, dignified, and impressive.
'And departing thence he went into a certain man's house, by name Titus Justus, a worshipper of God, whose house adjoined to the synagogue' (ver. 7).
Many, from Chrysostom to Alford, et al, have understood that the apostle removed from his quarters with Aquila1; and they have sought to assign motives and reasons in justification of the change. But there is no need to take the trouble, for it was a question of leaving not his lodgings, but the synagogue, and of finding therefore, not new quarters for his abode, but a suited place wherein to continue the testimony rendered previously in the synagogue. And this appears to me strikingly confirmed by the contiguity to the synagogue of the house, the use of which was offered at once by the devout Gentile whose heart was opening to the truth. If it were a mere lodging, why speak of its joining hard to the synagogue, on which Paul was henceforth turning his back? But if a suited room were wanted for testimony, two conditions met in the house of Justus; one, that the owner was himself a Gentile, and hence most proper to win the attendance of Gentiles, as well as to accentuate the grave and new step of the apostle; the other, that it was close enough to the synagogue to attract both Jews who might have a conscience about the rejected truth of God, and Gentile proselytes who had been in the habit of attending the synagogue, like Justus. The school of Tyrannus in the following chapter exactly answers to the change here. There nobody questions that a place for meeting apart from the synagogue is meant. We need not therefore infer that the apostle ceased to reside with Aquila, because the house of Justus furnished a suitable place for preaching when the synagogue no longer served. The apostle was not consulting for himself but for others without allowing Calvin's idea, 'that he might the more nettle the Jews' - a petty and evil motive, very far from his heart who had just forewarned them of their obstinacy and danger of destruction. To remind them of the baneful consequences of impenitence was of God; to 'nettle' them by abandoning the house of his godly friends, Aquila and Priscilla, for that of a Gentile proselyte, seems inconsistent with Christ, with godly wisdom and right feeling. But with the gainsaying and blaspheming of the synagogue it was impossible to go on without constant strife; and therefore to use for testimony the house of one who valued the gospel, became the evidently proper step, particularly as it was hard by the synagogue, whence any disposed or in earnest might the more readily come.
1 Indeed, instead of ἐκεῖθεν the Codex Bezae and a cursive (137) expressly change 'thence' into 'from Aquila's', which marks how strong was the current in this direction. Of course it was a mere gloss, and even a misinterpretation to boot.
Remarkable blessing followed the decision of the apostle not among Gentiles only, but among the Jews themselves.
'And Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed the Lord with all his house, and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. And the Lord said by night1 through a vision to Paul, Fear not, but speak and be not silent; because I am with thee, and no one shall set on thee to harm thee, because I have much people in this city. And he settled down a year and six months, teaching among them the word of God' (vers. 8-11).
1 The order of the words differs in the MSS.
It is not a small thing that the Holy Spirit singles out the name of any man for everlasting record in scripture. Thus 'Crispus' is mentioned as believing the Lord; and the rather, as he had been 'the ruler of the synagogue'; nor this only, for 'the whole of his household' believed also, though nothing is said of their baptism. Their faith, the great matter, was no slight cheer to the labourers, and a powerful appeal to the Jews generally. The phraseology is peculiar: not here believing 'on' the Lord as object of faith, though this was true also, but believing what He says. 1 Corinthians 1:14 states that the apostle baptized him, but not a word about his house, yet assuredly they too, also accepting His testimony, were baptized though not by the apostle, who did but little in it, as he tells the Corinthians. Under the Lord's keeping he had been preserved from any appearance of prominence personally.
'And many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.' The work now went on vigorously under the blessing of the Lord. It was a time of rich ingathering. These were clearly not Jews but Greeks, but none the less did many of them hear and believe the gospel; and, as became them, they submitted to the outward mark which severs the confessor of Christ from the careless or hostile world. They were buried with Christ through baptism unto death. In that act, had they been dumb, they said they died with Christ to sin; not only that He had died for their sins, now remitted on their faith, but that they were to reckon themselves to be dead to sin and alive in Him to God. Sin, therefore, was not to reign in their mortal body. What a change and deliverance for men once bondmen of sin unto death, now made free from sin, and become bondmen of righteousness, bondmen to God, having their fruit unto sanctification and the end eternal life! For in Corinth abounded fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with men, thieves, covetous drunkards, revilers, extortioners; 'and such were some of you,' said the apostle, to the Corinthians who believed (1 Corinthians 6:11). In no way had they been exempt from those vile corruptions.
Grace does not find, but makes, the saints after a new and heavenly pattern, as will be manifest when they are manifested with Christ in glory. It levels all in an utter condemnation, but it freely and fully sets in Christ all who believe according to the good pleasure of God's will which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our offences, according to the riches of His grace. This men hate, because it makes nothing of human distinctions in which the pride of man exalts and loses itself. It forbids all glorying in flesh that the sole glorying may be in the Lord. For there is but one man who is of all weight in the eyes of God, not the first, but the Second, even the Man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all, the testimony in its own times, which becomes the turning-point of every soul: if heard, he lives; if rejected, he perishes in his sins, whatever the appearances or pretensions.
For in believing, man best owns his guilt and God's grace, reversing the world's sentence and endorsing heaven's estimate of the Crucified One. Baptized in His name he becomes His to serve, where he was once Satan's slave, in not a few cases shamelessly. Henceforth by virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, he is, whatever the condition, to please Him in all things; if a slave, he is Christ's freedman; if free, noble, royal, none the less is he Christ's bondman. You cannot have the heavenly and everlasting privileges without the responsibility meanwhile here below. Of this, for the individual, baptism is the sign; as the Lord's supper is the sign of communion corporately. And none had the significance of the latter so fully laid open to them, as the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 10, and 11. They needed the instruction and the warning peculiarly; and therefore grace gave them both.
But the Lord was pleased also to vouchsafe extraordinary encouragement to His servant. Paul had a vision, in which he heard as well as saw. At his conversion he had seen and heard the Lord by day (Acts 9); as afterwards in a trance or ecstasy, when he returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, he saw Him Who bade him to get out of Jerusalem for his mission to the Gentiles (Acts 22:17-21). 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 records his translation (whether in the body or out of the body, he did not know) to the third heaven. Thus visions and revelations were comparatively frequent with the apostle. At this time the design was practical. The Lord said to him, 'Fear not, but speak and be not silent' (ver. 9). The structure of the phrase implies that he was anxious. He needed a spring of courage beyond what his fellow-labourers could supply, and the Lord gave accordingly. Natural boldness is a force wholly unsuited to spiritual warfare, where the rule is, 'When I am weak, then am I strong.' All, to be safe and of God, must be in dependence on the grace of Christ. Then, as He Himself said to the apostle, 'My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is perfected in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9). Most gladly, therefore, the apostle could say, will I rather glory in my weakness, that the strength of Christ may spread a tabernacle over me. So it was now: instead of fearing more he was to persevere in speaking and not to hold his peace, of which he was in danger, though (as the form of the phrase implies) he had not begun to yield to it.
In the next verse the Lord condescends to give two reasons: the first, 'because I am with thee, and no one shall set on thee to harm thee', the second, 'because I have much people in this city.' What could be more consolatory to the tried servant? The Lord bound Himself, on the one hand, to give His gracious and mighty presence against all adversaries and, on the other, to open to him a great door and effectual in his work. Rage as Satan's emissaries might the Lord had many to bring to Himself as His own in that depraved an] godless city.
It is lamentable to hear such remarks as those of Limborch, who will have the Lord to mean, not so much objects of mere and sovereign grace to magnify His own mercy in redemption, as virtuous and well-disposed brethren, for this reason called His people here, and His sheep in John 10:16. To mistakes we are all liable, and not least those who flatter themselves to be most secure from them, but an error of this kind undermines the gospel, as it indicates the feeblest sense of man's utter ruin, and of our need of grace to the last degree. No one doubts God's wisdom in bringing such a one as Cornelius under the gospel, when He first sent it out publicly to the Gentiles by Peter; but the great apostle of the Gentiles tells a very different tale (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) of the characters whom grace deigned to bless at Corinth. Again, the Lord, in the parable of the marriage-feast for the king's son, directs His bondmen to go into the thoroughfares of the highways, and as many as they could find, to invite to the feast. Accordingly they went out into the highways, and, gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good, and the wedding-feast was filled with guests (Matthew 22:1-10). They are men met and, in believing the gospel, saved indiscriminately to the praise of the riches of God's grace; for the 'good' discover through the truth of Christ that they too sinned and come wholly short of the glory of God, while the 'bad' find in His plenteous redemption that His grace justifies freely, the same One being Lord of all, and rich toward all that call upon Him. There is no difference, as at bottom in the ruin, so in result in the salvation, that as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
At Corinth, in the face of all difficulties, the apostle abode longer than we have yet heard of elsewhere. 'And he settled down a year and six months, teaching among them the word of God' (ver. 11).
The result was, not only the salvation of many souls, but the church of God there: holy, catholic, apostolic, if ever there was such an assembly anywhere. It was planted by one inferior to none; it was watered by others who were not surpassed by any, and God gave the increase beyond controversy. Yet how soon the fair scene is blighted, not merely by the presence in their midst of such sin as was unheard of ordinarily among the Gentiles, but by the low, fleshly, and worldly-minded condition of the saints generally! So much so, that the apostle had to vindicate his own office before the self-assumed bar of his own children in the faith, and put off a visit in their dire need of his help, because he must have come then with a rod, and he wished rather to see them in love and in a spirit of meekness; and this could only be on their self-judgment which in fact his First Epistle wrought in them. Men picture the apostles going about and their words received implicitly, and their presence had but to be known in order to secure unhesitating deference among the saints. This was not so. Miracles, inspiration, and the highest place in the church produced no more submission then and there than when an analogous place was given Moses and Aaron in the congregation of Jehovah of old.
But the failure at Corinth in so brief an interval was turned to God to the double end; first, of refuting the folly that a true assembly may not err and become corrupt, even in a few short years, in both doctrine and practice; and, secondly, of drawing from God the suited correction at any time for all saints who are enabled by faith to gather on the footing of God's church according to His word and by His Spirit. No doubt, recovery was the fruit of the apostle's writing, as his Second Epistle bears witness; but how long this lasted, who can say? Certain it is that the second century, if not the first, A.D., saw the assembly everywhere, departed from the very aim our gracious God and Father had in gathering the saints - the glory of Christ therein by the Spirit. Christ's coming was no longer an object of hope but rather of fear, His word became more and more overlaid by human authority and tradition, and the world began to seem a prize to possess and enjoy increasingly, instead of a scene of suffering and testimony, till He come Whose right it is, when we shall reign with Him in glory.
During the apostle's stay at Corinth an event occurred which was of interest enough for the Holy Ghost to claim a place in the inspired narrative and thus to carry on the design of the work given to Luke for accomplishing.
'But when Gallio was pro-consul1 of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul, and brought him before the judgment-seat, saying, This [man] persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If indeed it were some wrong, or wicked villainy, O Jews, with reason should I have borne with you, but if they are questions about a word and names and your own law, ye shall look yourselves:2 I do not intend to be judge of these things. And he drove them from the judgment-seat. And having all3 laid hold on Sosthenes the ruler of the synagogue, they beat [him] before the judgment-seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things. And Paul having remained yet many days, took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow' (vers. 12-18).
1 ἀνθυπατεύοντος is the Text. Rec. supported by most cursives, but ABD with several good juniors give the two words ἀνθυπάτου ὄντος. The additions of Codex Bezae are numerous here as elsewhere, but hardly call for remark.
2 Text. Rec., supported by four uncials and most cursives, adds γάρ 'for'; but the oldest MSS. and Versions do not give it.
3 Text. Rec. with most adds οἱ Ἒλληνες, 'the Greeks', but the best authorities are adverse.
The testimony went forth fearlessly; the vision answered its purpose. Paul was not afraid but spoke and held not his peace; and while much people came forth to the Lord's name, none else was allowed to do His servant harm. If not a sparrow falls on the ground without our Father if the very hairs of our head are all numbered, if the Lord Himself will confess before His Father him that confesses the Son before men, there is ground for good courage, not for fear of man. And the impotence of the most exasperated was proved in an unexpected way and quarter, but not without the Lord.
Gallio was notoriously one of the most amiable of men. 'None of mortals,' said the famous Seneca of him, 'is so sweet to one man, as he to all men.' This no doubt expressed the admiring affection of a brother; but the general character of the Roman governor is indisputable. And the Jews hoped to profit for their rancorous hostility by his pliant temper and love of approbation against the uncompromising witness of the one true God the Father, and of one Lord Jesus Christ. But malice defeats itself against grace and truth whenever God is pleased so to order it; and here, as He had distinctly promised to be with Paul and that none should injure him, so it came to pass in a way strikingly different from the apostle's experience elsewhere.
It may be well to notice again the precise position of Gallio. He was 'pro-consul' of Achaia. It is the more striking, because the province under both Tiberius and Caligula had been imperial, and hence under the authority then of a pro-praetor. Claudius, the reigning emperor, had restored Achaia to the senate, which involved the change of its former government to that of a pro-consul. Accordingly at this time Luke speaks accurately not of a pro-praetor, but of a pro-consul. We saw a similar instance in Sergius Paulus the pro-consul of Cyprus, which, like Achaia, had been under imperial authority, but was afterwards transferred to the senate, and thus became pro-consular. The inspired historian made no mistake in these details, where it was exceedingly easy to do so if he had not been under divine guidance, and the more so, as the early Christians notoriously kept aloof from all meddling with political administration. But in scripture we are entitled to look for the truth in things small and great; and this should be recognized by giving as exactly as possible the reproduction of its meaning.
In fact Luke had been supposed in one at least of these instances to have erred by applying the term erroneously according to the state of things which had existed before the transfer to the senate, till a passage was found in an historian not read generally which confirmed the change, and coins with the new title made it still more evident. Had there been no coins, no statement in Dio Cassius, extraneous evidence would have failed, yet the truth would have remained all the same in scripture: only even Christians would have trembled because history did not speak in support of scripture. It is such incredulity which is so deplorable, and this among not heathens and Jews only but the baptized. But how sad that men bearing the Christian name should be swayed in a moment by human testimonies, after showing their readiness to doubt even when they had the inspired word for it! Can anything evince more clearly that men naturally distrust God and His word? These things ought not so to be.
The Jews then with one accord rose up against Paul, and brought him to the well-known seat of the governor whence they counted on a sentence favourable to their desires. 'This [man]', said they, 'persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.' Gallio saw through the case in a moment, and that it needed no defence. 'The law' in their mouth meant the law of Moses. This was enough for the Roman, whose pride was roused for his own. 'And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews . . .' He had heard enough to be sure that neither state law, nor public morality, nor private rights, had been violated, and it was no business of his to inquire farther. The contempt in which Jews were generally held no doubt strengthened his decision, of which the accused reaped the benefit. His amiable indifference did not wish to be troubled with what the apostle had to say. Religious opinion or the worship of God, as a question between the Jews and one they blamed, did not concern him or his office; God was in none of his thoughts, and he preferred to hear no more. The time would come when Christ's servants would be brought before governors and kings for His sake, for a testimony to them and the Gentiles, when it should be given them in that hour what was to be spoken. Here it was not the time to speak, though Paul was arraigned before the bema. The Lord guarded the interests of the gospel, and of its blessed witness, through employing providentially the careless amiability of the judge; who assuredly could not be accused of any real partiality for the apostle, and the less if he entertained views akin to those of his philosophic brother. Seneca's Stoicism was as far from appreciating the faith and humility of the Christian as from receiving the revelation of the Father and the Son, or the eternal life and redemption which the Holy Spirit now makes the known portion of the believer.
The Roman left the Jews to settle their religious questions in their own way. Gallio declined to have his hand forced, he had no mind to be a judge of these things. 'Were it indeed some wrong, or wicked villainy, O Jews, with reason I should have borne with you; but if it be questions about a word and names and your own law, look to it yourselves: I am not minded to be a judge of these things.' The kindest and most courteous may be contemptuous enough when the truth is concerned, of which he knows nothing. 'And he drove them from the judgment-seat' (ver. 16). Even if physical force was not used, there is implied at the least peremptoriness.
Such an issue on the part of an official so exalted would unavoidably act on an impressionable people who shared the prevalent scorn of the heathen towards Jews disappointed of their prey. It is not needful to specify that 'all were Greeks', who assailed the prominent Jew who complained in the case, though there is large and good authority for this addition, adopted in the Text. Rec. Certainly the reading of some cursives, which attributes the assault to 'all the Jews', refutes itself as intrinsically worthless and absurd. Had not Sosthenes but Crispus been said to be the object of animosity, such a reading could be understood. But Sosthenes would seem to have succeeded Crispus in that office, without a hint of his conversion as yet, though he may have been the one who is later spoken of as a brother. The best, though not the most considerably authenticated, variant is that which is found in the Sinaitic, Alexandrian, and Vatican Uncials, and some of the most ancient versions. These witnesses simply say that they 'all' laid hold of Sosthenes the ruler of the synagogue, and were beating him before the judgment-seat, and that Gallio gave himself no trouble about the matter. Thus did God in His providence bring to naught the malicious attack of the Jews on Paul, while manifesting the unbelieving easiness of Gallio.
It is interesting to note also that the apostle did not quit Corinth at once as indeed the failure of the Jews before the governor left him free. 'And Paul having remained yet many days took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence unto Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow' (ver. 18). It was during his stay at Corinth that the two Epistles to the Thessalonians were written, with an interval between them, short but sufficient to show what mischief could befall the saints in a brief time, so mistaken are those who think it was only after centuries that error was able to enter. So it also was, as we know, among the assemblies of Galatia in a more fatal way, and on a subject yet more fundamental. And both occasions were where the saints had the inestimable benefit of an apostolic planting, which Rome had not any more than other places, which vaunted as proudly as with scanty reason. Indeed Corinth itself was to manifest the same liability to go astray, though it was chiefly in ecclesiastical truth and order, though by no means confined to it and yet there Paul stayed many days before the charge made to Gallio, and, as we are told, 'yet many days' after. But at length he bade the brethren adieu and sailed thence unto Syria, and with him his beloved companions Priscilla and Aquila.
There is a clause at the end of verse 18 which has afforded matter for debate. The ancients do not seem to have doubted that Paul himself is in question, the preceding words being parenthetical. Others, especially of late, as Wieseler and Meyer, have been more willing to attach the vow, and shaving of the head, to Aquila. But the great apostle went far in compliance with, and in condescension to, Jewish forms in certain circumstances which left the grace of the gospel untouched. It was the effort to impose the law on the Gentiles who believed, which roused a tempest of feeling and irresistible argument, as indeed his whole soul was engaged with burning zeal at once for the cross of his Master, and for the liberty of the souls imperilled by that effort. Some ancients indeed, not the Aethiopic Version only, gave the sense that more than one shaved the head according to vow; but I see no sufficient reason to doubt that it was Paul; for he is the one before the mind of the inspiring Spirit, rather than to speak of Aquila.
Not only was Paul's head shorn in Cenchreae, and this as a vow, but we ought to gather from the subsequent history, if not from the immediate context, that it was of the Spirit to reveal the fact as important for us to observe in the account He is giving of that blessed man and of his labours. Not that we are meant to infer that Paul in thus acting was at the height of the fresh revelations of Christ given to him, but that along with these he acted thus with a good conscience. He was apostle of the Gentiles and minister of the church, but he was also, as he said, a Pharisee, son of Pharisees, who even after this charged himself to his nation with alms and offerings, and was found purified in the temple. Grace was bringing out its new and hitherto unrevealed wonders in Christ, and in the church, to God's glory; but the most deeply taught and fully furnished witness of heavenly truth heartily loved the ancient people of God and never forgot that he too was an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin; and this, not only within the precincts of Jerusalem and the land, but, as we see here, among the Greeks. This is often a great difficulty to those imbued with the spirit and habits of traditional Christianity, but it is because they are and would be logical, where the Holy Spirit is giving in those most honoured of the Lord things just as they were. Prejudices and prepossession are not so quickly shaken off, even where we behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile. The Lord deals pitifully with a true heart, where a cold intellect can only spy out an inconsistency; but the criticizing mind could not follow that heart for a moment either in its zealous service or in the spiritual might and power which pursues the service to the Lord's glory. We shall see that more follows of a similar character, which in the inspired record points beyond controversy to no less a man than the apostle.
'And they1 arrived at Ephesus, and he left them there;2 but he himself, entering into the synagogue reasoned3 with the Jews. And when they asked him to remain4 for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking his leave and saying, [I must by all means keep the coming feast at Jerusalem;]5 I will return again unto you if God will, he sailed from Ephesus. And landing at Caesarea, he west up and saluted the church, and went down unto Antioch. And having spent some time he departed, going through the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, establishing all the disciples' (vers. 19-23).
1 So read ABE, et al., Sah. Syr.-Pesch. Are Aeth. pp; Dgr καταντήσας, the rest supporting the Text. Rec., as in the A.V., et al.
2 Some ancient authorities omit, or transpose, this clause, to make the narrative more flowing, and there is much conflict of testimony as to αὐτοῦ or ἐκεῖ for there'.
3 διελέξατο has the best suffrages, διελέχθη the most numerous, διελέγετο has a few MSS. and Versions of value, but is hardly consistent with the next
4 'With them' (or 'there'), is added by some, as in Text. Rec., but the best omit.
5 Very weighty witnesses omit the words in brackets; as to which Tischendorf refers to Acts 19:21, Acts 20:16.
There is no doubt considerable and good authority in support of the Received Text, followed by the A.V. and most others. But the best witnesses and versions sustain the plural form in the first clause, which gives additional force to the singular in the second, in which all agree. 'And they arrived at Ephesus' is the reading given by the Sinaitic, Alexandrian, Vatican, and Laud's Bodleian, with some cursives. The Greek of Beza's MS. is probably a mere clerical error, as it makes no grammatical coherence, and the Latin agrees with the oldest authorities and several of the best ancient versions. It is certainly true that they all reached Ephesus. It is only a matter of emphasis that the apostle entered into the synagogue and discoursed to the Jews: though he did leave them there, there was no need of giving prominence to such a circumstance. Still less is it implied that they did not accompany him to the synagogue, or that aujtou' if genuine instead of ejkei' suggests that the synagogue was outside the city; which inferences appear alike unfounded.
'And when they asked him to remain for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking his leave and saying, [I must by all means keep the coming feast at Jerusalem,] I will return again unto you if God will, he sailed from Ephesus' (vers. 20, 21). It is well known that the clause within the brackets is not in the Uncials of the highest character, though it is attested by abundant and good authority. Hence it becomes very much a question of internal evidence. Meyer lays stress on the reference of ajnabav" in verse 22; but 'going up', though unquestionably to Jerusalem, need not have been to keep a Jewish feast, unless it was expressly so explained. The only thing recorded as a fact is his saluting the church. This in no way disproves the purpose to keep the feast there; but it undoes the force of the argument founded on ajnabav". The truth is that both may be true; verse 21, if genuine, stating what he meant to do in Jerusalem, though nothing is said of its accomplishment, and verse 22 letting us know that his heart had other objects before him than the purpose he had mentioned to the Jews of Ephesus. And the history shortly after informs us that he did soon return to Ephesus for one of the most blessed services even of his wonderful life.
Such statements as these test the heart of the readers. If vain or proud irreverent or self-righteous, they will probably yield to the snare of thinking and even speaking disrespectfully of the great apostle to the damage of their own souls and the injury of others. For nothing is easier than for persons superficially conscious of their own grave faults to mark with eagerness and self-satisfaction any acts of Paul, a servant of Christ so deeply taught and devoted, which sprang from his excessive attachment to the ancient people of God, and to the habits of their religious life. It is easy also to forget that it is to his inspired writings, more than to all other sources put together, that they owe the means of sitting in judgment on him in this respect. But is this the return that divine grace would produce in hearts which have truly profited? Does it become us? Is it not a wiser and a holier conclusion to see how affections of the sweetest kind may entangle even the most faithful and spiritual, and to watch that we who have it all set before us by the unwavering and impartial hand of the Holy Spirit may learn from it, so that, far behind in self-abnegation and untiring labours and sufferings for Christ, we slip not through less elevated affections into far more serious delinquency?
It was after this visit to Jerusalem that the apostle went down to Antioch (ver. 22). Was it not then, as it was certainly there (Galatians 2:11-13), that Cephas, blessed man as he was, must needs be resisted to the face? Indeed he stood condemned, for his conduct was no mere lingering respect for Jewish institutions, nor self-sacrificing love for the people of whom, as to flesh, the Messiah came, but a wavering compromise of God's gospel to the Gentiles through fear of the circumcision; and this, after not only a special revelation to him when he went to Caesarea, but his stand with the apostles and elders at the council in Jerusalem. It was not condescension to Jewish feeling, but what Paul did not hesitate to call dissimulation and not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel; and it was so much the worse and more dangerous because of the eminence and influence of the defaulters. True, it was very far from the awful evil which began to rise up against the truth or teaching of Christ in the 'last hour' of John, which this apostle of love vindicated so sternly (1 John 2:18-19). But hitherto men had not sunk to the unclean reasoning that heinous sin is to be excused, because it is practised by those who claim to be dear children of God, though even they had had the warning that one who boasted of his readiness to lay down his life for Christ was precisely the man who at that very moment was on the eve of denying Christ repeatedly with oaths.
All that we are told by Luke is that, having spent some time (i.e., at Antioch), Paul 'departed, going through the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, establishing all the disciples' (ver. 23). When the apostle planted the gospel in Galatia, he had entered the country from Phrygia, which lay to its south and south-west (Acts 16:6). But now coming from a different direction, he traversed Galatia before Phrygia. And as it was a second visit, we hear of his passing through the country 'in order', that is, where assemblies existed, and establishing 'all the disciples' who had already received the gospel. This is of much interest in its bearing on the Epistle which was certainly written not long after their calling: 'I wonder that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ, unto a different gospel, which is not another' (Galatians 1:6). Such is man even where the foundation had been laid a little before by the greatest of apostles.
Here is introduced an incident of importance in its bearing on the history of souls passing out of the transition state, which John the Baptist's teaching represents, into the full light of gospel. The episode indeed is twofold, one part closing Acts 18, the other opening Acts 19, both tending to illustrate the same thing in substance: only the former deals with it as a question of truth, the other, of the consequent power of the Spirit which was received on the faith of the gospel. Let us look at each in due order, and first at the conclusion of the chapter before us.
'But a certain Jew, Apollos1 by name, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent [or learned] man, arrived at Ephesus, being mighty in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way2 of the Lord, and being fervent in his spirit he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus,3 knowing only the baptism of John, and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla4 and Aquila heard him, they took him up, and more accurately expounded to him the way of God.5 And when he was minded to go through into Achaia, the brethren wrote and urged the disciples to receive him; and he, on coming, contributed much to those that had believed through grace. For he forcibly confuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ' (vers. 24-28).
1 The Sinaitic pm, two cursives, the Coptic and the Arm. confound Apollos with Apelles (Romans 16:10).
2 Beza's uncial with more than fifteen cursives reads 'word' for 'way'.
3 For 'the Lord' in Text. Rec. (supported by HP, et al.), the best witnesses have 'Jesus'.
4 The order in the inferior uncials, etc., is 'Aquila and Priscilla' but ABE with Vulg. Cop. Aeth. as above.
5 The order, and even words, fluctuate in the copies.
There simply comes before us a Jewish workman, who soon needed not to be ashamed, however unformed at first. He was a native of the city which was afterwards to play a notorious part in the corruption of heavenly truth by earthly wisdom, himself a man of learning, or eloquence (for the word lovgio" is used for both), and able in the scriptures. Nor was he merely a scholar and otherwise competent, but already instructed in the way of the Lord. Born of God, he was as to intelligence in advance of a God-fearing Jew, but short of the fuller truth which the gospel affords as the foundation for the mystery to be revealed, with all its wonderful light on God's counsels and ways. Further, being fervent in his spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things 'concerning Jesus' (for the right reading helps to clear the true sense). He was ignorant of all truth beyond 'the baptism of John'. Nor was he lacking in moral courage or zeal; 'and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue'.
This raised the question, practically of great moment, how souls thus endowed, yet little acquainted with the truth, are to be dealt with? Grace answers and settles all according to its own power. The latest advance beyond the dead level of orthodox tradition is to be hailed and cherished. How lamentable to despise those today who are where we were yesterday! 'Who maketh thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive, why dost thou glory as if not receiving?' So at a later moment did the apostle reprove the vain Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:7). Far different was the feeling of the godly pair with whom he had abode in that very city. 'But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him up and expounded to him the way of God more accurately.'
Nor did the learned Alexandrian resent the private instruction, not only of the Christian Jew, but of his wife, who, as we may gather from the unusual order, seems to have entered into the truth with a more spiritual mind than her husband. Was it inconsistent with the apostolic exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:12? In no way. A woman might possess the highest spiritual gift, as we find (Acts 21:9) that the four daughters of Philip did in fact; and assuredly there is room, not to say responsibility, for the due exercise of that and every other gift from the Lord, without collision with His word, nay only carrying it out the more. To him that hath shall be given. Apollos had enough to encourage those who knew the grace of Christ better to set out the truth according to the word, as he had enough true knowledge of the things concerning Jesus to value and welcome for his soul all that Priscilla and Aquila could open from the scriptures. Ought He not to have suffered unto death for our sins and to enter into His glory? 'Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Christ to suffer and to rise from among the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all the nations' (Luke 24:46-47).
This rises far beyond the promised Messiah which was the substance of John's teaching, with repentance urged on the souls that received it. Apollos knew no more, however eloquently he might proclaim its value and however ably he might fortify its truth by apt proofs from the Old Testament scriptures. It may be argued, no doubt, that John went farther in his preaching because he testified of Jesus as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. But the conclusion is invalid that John knew or taught redemption by His blood. Not even the apostles did till the Lord rose from the dead. John spoke in the Spirit beyond anything which he personally apprehended. He thoroughly knew that He, Who was standing in the midst of those who knew Him not, was the Christ and Son of God in a sense peculiar to Himself alone. And therefore, did he preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, owning the One mightier, Whose sandals he was not fit to unloose, Who should baptize with the Holy Spirit. The efficacy of His death, the power of His resurrection, the glory of His place on high, John did not enter into as the disclosed and enjoyed objects of his faith; nor did any other till the mighty facts took place, and were set out in the Spirit from the word of God.
Thus the help of the Christian pair was as welcome to Apollos as they were needed to supply the defects of his instruction. And we may observe how distant and different were the means employed of God from the formal methods of a divinity school. Can the moderns boast of superior efficiency? This may well be doubted by those who know what fertile hotbeds of heterodoxy theological schools have proved in all ages and lands, Protestant as well as Catholic or any other. They may be more or less learned, they may cultivate for a few terms Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and the like; they may teach their own peculiar traditions and dogmas, with the commonplaces of theology, they may exercise their students in composition and elocution. But the truth of God must be known by faith, and to faith only can it be entrusted profitably; and these are commodities so rare in the schools as never to be reckoned on, though of course now and then to be found there, but even where they enter, all is unfavourable for growth: so encumbered are they with that which is extraneous and human. The means afforded by grace to Apollos, and recorded for our guidance by the inspiring Spirit, would, I fear, find scant favour in the eyes of the professors, or even of the divinity students, that believe; and would be assuredly scorned by all who believe not, whether leaders or led.
But God has deemed it good and wise to let us know how Apollos fared under his tuition. 'And when he was minded to go through into Achaia, the brethren wrote and urged the disciples to receive him; and he on coming contributed much to those that had believed through grace.' For he forcibly confuted the Jews in public strewing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.' His progress was thus manifest to all; and arrogant opposers were put to shame, as the faithful were built up by his means. For Apollos could work with a force beyond those who privately had led him on. Such is the scriptural way of obtaining a good degree, and much boldness in faith that is in Christ Jesus.
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.
And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
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.
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.
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.
Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,
Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
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:
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.
And he drave them from the judgment seat.
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.
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.
And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
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.
And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
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.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
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.
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.
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:
For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.