Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;F.—PAUL AT CORINTH; HIS ZEAL, HIS TRIALS, AND THE RESULTS OF HIS LABORS
1, After these things Paul [he]1 departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2And found a certain [found there a] Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from2 Rome,) and came [went] unto them. 3And because he was of the same craft [trade], he abode with them, and wrought [worked]: ([om. parenthetical marks] for by their occupation [trade]3 they were tentmakers.) 4And he reasoned [discoursed] in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded [sought to convince both] the Jews and the Greeks. 5And [But] when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit [impelled by the word4], and testified [to testify] to the Jews that Jesus was5 Christ6 [the (τὸυ) Christ]. 6And [But] when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook [out, ἐξτιν] his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads [your head, ·χεφαλὴν]; I am clean: from henceforth I will [head; as a clean person, I shall henceforth, χαθαρὸς ἐγὼ—πορεύσομαι] go unto the Gentiles. 7And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus7, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard [adjoined] to the synagogue. 8And [But] Crispus, the chief [om. chief] ruler of the synagogue, believed on [became a believer in] the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. 9Then spake the Lord [But (δὲ) the Lord spake] to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace [and keep not silence]: 10For I am with thee, and no man shall [will] set on thee to hurt [harm] thee: for I have much people in this city. 11And he continued [sat]8 there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 12And [But] when Gallio was the deputy [proconsul]9 of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against [with one accord assaulted] Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, 13Saying; This fellow [This person, οῦ̓τος] persuadeth men to worship God contrary to [against] the law. 14And [But] when Paul was now [om. now] about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong [were a wrong done] or wicked lewdness [a flagitious crime], O ye Jews, reason would that I should [I should with reason] bear with you: 15But if it be a question10 of words [concerning doctrine] and names, and of [om. of] your law, look ye [yourselves, αὐτοί] to it; for I will be no [I am not willing to be a] judge of such [of these, τούτων] matters. 16And he drave them [drove them away] from the judgment seat. 17Then all the Greeks [om. the Greeks]11 took [seized] Sosthenes, the chief [om. chief] ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things [And none of those things was matter of concern to Gallio].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ACTS 18:1. After these things, Paul [he] departed from Athens.—The wealthy commercial city of Corinth, situated on the isthmus between the waters of the Ionian and Ægean seas, was at that time also the political capital of Greece, inasmuch as it was the residence of the Roman proconsul. Here Paul met with Aquila, who was a native of Pontus, a province of Asia Minor. It has been conjectured that Πουτικὸν τῷ γένει may possibly be an error, occasioned by a misunderstanding of the name of Pontius Aquila (CICERO: Ad Fam. x. 33; SUET.: Caes. 78.), whose freedman the person met by Paul may have been [and whose name he may, according to the Roman custom, have assumed] (Reiche, on Rom. 16:3). This supposition, however, has no other foundation than such an arbitrary combination of the passages mentioned, and is, in view of the direct statement of Luke, entitled to no consideration. His wife Priscilla is called Prisca [Πρισκά] in Rom. 16:3. [“So, in Martial, Tacitus, and Suetonius, Livia and Livilla, Drusa and Drusilla, are used of the same person.” (Conyb. and H. I. 415. n. 8.—TR.]. Meyer has very successfully shown, (in opposition to the opinion of Neander, Ewald, and others), that she and her husband cannot be assumed to have already been Christian converts at the time when they met Paul in Corinth; for in the first place, Luke says simply τινα ʼΙουδαῖον, without appending πεπιστευκότα or μαθητήν; secondly, the words πάντας τοὺς ʼΙουδαίους distinctly include Aquila as one of the number; thirdly, the motive which led Paul to these two persons, Acts 18:3, was derived from the circumstance that they were all of the same trade and not from a common faith in Jesus. Still, we must assume that they were converted at an early period after their intercourse with Paul had commenced, since both are described in Acts 18:26 as already actively engaged in giving religious instruction to Apollos.
ACTS 18:2, 3. a. And found … tentmakers.—Aquila and Priscilla had quite recently come from Italy to Corinth (προςφάτως, nuperrime). They had doubtless resided in the city of Rome, as the cause of their departure from Italy is here traced to the banishment of the Jews from Rome. According to the passage before us, Claudius had commanded all the Jews by an edict to leave that city. This statement agrees with the well-known words of Suetonius: Judæos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit (Claud. 25.); but it appears to be in conflict with the account given by Dio Cassius, 60. 6., viz., that Claudius did not expel (οὐκ ἐξήλσε) the Jews, as such a measure seemed, in view of their large numbers, to be hazardous, but simply prohibited their assemblies. But there is no reason to assume that the present passage and that in Suetonius refer to precisely the same period of time of which Dio Cassius is speaking, and we have, consequently, the confirmatory statement of at least one witness. [Meyer supposes that the imperial act to which Dio Cassius refers, preceded the edict mentioned by Luke and Suetonius.—TR.]. We learn, however, from a subsequent chapter (Acts 28.), that Jews and Christians soon afterwards again established themselves in Rome.
b. And came unto them.—Paul visited (προςῆλθεν) these persons, who had come from Italy, and abode in their house, as his occupation was the same as that of Aquila; he accordingly worked with the latter as a σκηςοποιός, a tentmaker. It has often been supposed that this word necessarily indicated the manufacture of tent-cloth [weaving], especially of the Cilician hair-cloth, made of goats’ hair (cilicium), which was at that time a favorite material in the construction oftents. But the word σκηςοποιός indicates not the manufacture of the material, but the act of converting it into tents (Chrysostom: οκηνοῤρ́άφς).—It may here be remarked that we are indebted to the present passage for our knowledge of an interesting fact, viz., the particular branch of trade with which Paul was acquainted, as his own Epistles (e. g., 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8 [and comp. Acts 20:34]) merely state the general fact that he was accustomed to support himself by his own manual labor. [It was a rule among the Jews, which their high respect for trade in all its forms sufficiently explains, that boys, including the sons of the Rabbins, should learn a trade. “What is commanded of a father towards his son?” asks a Talmudic writer. “To circumcise him, to teach him the law, to teach him a trade.” (MEYER, ad loc.; CONYB. AND H. Vol. 1. p. 51. London, 1854.—TR.]
ACTS 18:4–6. And he reasoned [discoursed] in the synagogue.—Even at this early period the apostle neglected no opportunity which presented itself for preaching the Gospel; but he restricted himself to the sabbath-days, and, with regard to the locality, to the synagogue, where, however, he was enabled to proclaim the truth in Christ, not only to Jews, but also to those Greeks who attended the public worship. He was animated by a sincere desire to convince them (ἔπειθεν). The result, however, is not yet stated here; the first notice of it occurs in Acts 18:6.—But after Silas and Timotheus had come from Macedonia (comp. 17:14 ff; 1 Thess. 1:1; 3:6), a crisis occurred. Συνείχετο τῷ λόγω [see above, note 4, appended to the text.—TR.] may be taken either in the middle or the passive voice; in the former case, the sense would be: instabat verbo (Vulg.), totus occupabatur, i.e., he devoted himself to, or occupied himself earnestly with, the doctrine (Kuinoel, de Wette, Baumgarten, Lange, Ewald, p. 481); if taken as a passive verb, the sense would be: he was severely tried, assailed, in reference to the doctrine (Meyer, 2d edition). The New Testament usus loquendi is unquestionably in favor of the interpretation which assigns a strictly passive sense to συνέχεσθαι. But συνείχετο is also taken in a passive sense, if it be thus understood: he was impelled in reference to the word, he was entirely absorbed, engrossed by, the doctrine (Meyer, 3d edition); the word συνείχετο refers, according to this interpretation, not to adversaries, but to the inward impulse of his own mind [substantially agreeing—says Meyer—with the interpretation adopted by the Vulgate, etc., as stated above.—TR.].—But the Jews now began to oppose and blaspheme, in consequence of which conduct the apostle was induced to sever all the ties which connected him with the synagogue. ʼΕκτιαξ. τὰ ἱμάτια, i.e., he shook the dust out of his garments, as, Acts 13:51, he shook off the dust of his feet—in each case the act was a sign of renunciation so complete, that not even the slightest particle should continue to adhere as a bond of union.—The brief but energetic terms of the denunciation: τὸ αῖ̓μα—ὑμῶν [with which comp. Ezek. 33:4. Sept.—TR.], imply that the bloody end, the inevitable divine punishment, will, as he hopes, befall them personally (κεφαλήν) and not others. Καθἁρός, which, as conveying the leading thought, stands first in the clause, refers primarily to these words, viz., τὸ αῖ̓μα—ὑμῶν, in the sense: I am pure, free from guilt and responsibility, although you perish. [See the text, Acts 18:6, above; the punctuation in Luther’s and Lechler’s German translation, differs from that of the English Version. Alford prefers the former, and says: “I have adopted the punctuation of Lachmann, erasing the colon after ἐγώ, i.e., I shall henceforth with a pure conscience go to the Gentiles.”—TR.]
ACTS 18:7, 8.—And he departed thence.—Μεταβάς, i.e., he passed over to another house, contiguous to the synagogue, and belonging to a Gentile proselyte, whose name was Justus [of whom nothing is known, except that he was a proselyte, which fact is indicated, as elsewhere, by σεβόμενος.—TR.]. This rupture of Paul’s connection with the synagogue, led to an internal decision on the part of a ruler named Crispus. [“It may be presumed (from his office) that he was a man of learning and high character—Paul baptized him with his own hand. 1 Cor. 1:14.” (Conyb. and H. I. 430.—TR.]. And from this period many of the pagan inhabitants of the city (for they alone can be meant by Κορινθίων), who were hearers in the new place of assembly, became believers, and were baptized.
ACTS 18:9, 10.—Then spake the Lord … by a vision.—The appearance by night of Jesus, who addressed words of encouragement to the apostle, and directed him to speak with the utmost freedom, was designed to infuse a joyful spirit into the latter, while laboring at that post. For the apostle received, on the one hand, the promise that he should be divinely protected against the hostility and ill-treatment of his enemies (ἐπιθέσθαι, invadere, impetum facere), and, on the other hand, it was revealed to him that Christ possessed a numerous people in the city (λαός,, people of God, as contradistinguished from ἑ̓θνη). Both here, and in the words οὐδείς—σε, a revelation of facts not yet apparent must be understood; it cannot, therefore, refer to those who were already converted, but must indicate [“proleptically, comp. John 10:16; 11:52” (Meyer).—TR.] those alone who were yet to be converted, whom, however, the Redeemer already knew and described as His own people.
ACTS 18:11.—And he continued [sat].—In consequence of this revelation Paul remained (ἐκάθισε; comp. Lu. 24:49) a year and a half in Corinth, and taught the word of God among them (ἐν αὐτοῖς, i.e., the Corinthians). Bengel says, in allusion to ἐκάθισε: ‘cathedra Pauli Corinthia, Petri Romanâ testatior.’ It is usually assumed that the chronological statement in Acts 18:11, refers to the entire period of the apostle’s residence in Corinth, until he left the city, Acts 18:18. Rückert and Meyer understand Acts 18:11 as referring only to the time which preceded the accusation in Acts 18:12 ff., first, because Acts 18:12 seems to them to be antithetical to Acts 18:11, and, secondly, because ἔτι, in Acts 18:18, indicates the beginning of a new period of time. But it may be replied that Acts 18:12 does not, in point of fact, present a contrast with Acts 18:11; all, on the contrary, that follows Acts 18:10, to the word ἱκανάς in Acts 18:18, is the result and fulfilment of the divine revelation described in Acts 18:9, 10. The command and the revelation which Paul then received, induced him to remain in Corinth; the promise of Christ that none should harm the apostle is fulfilled in Acts 18:12–17, and, after this episode, Paul may still have remained a considerable time [Acts 18:18] in the city. The statement of the time in Acts 18:11, accordingly, refers to the entire period of the apostle’s abode in Corinth.
ACTS 18:12, 13. a. Gallio.—He was the proconsul of Achaia, that is, of the Roman province, which, after the conquest, 146 B. C., embraced Hellas and the Peloponnesus. Gallio was a brother of the philosopher Lucius Annæus Seneca; his original name was Marcus Annæus Novatus, but after he had been adopted by the rhetorician Lucius Junius Gallio, he received that of Marcus Annæus Gallio. Tiberius had converted Achaia, which was originally a senatorial province, into an imperial one, and had sent thither a procurator (TAC. Ann. I. 76), but Claudius restored it to the senate, (SUET. Claud. 25); hence, the term αʼνθυπατεύτος precisely agrees with well established facts of history. [See EXEG. note on Acts 13:4–8. c.—TR.]
b. The Jews made insurrection [assaulted] etc.—(Κατεφίστημι, insurgo contra). The event occurred during the administration of Gallio; the same spirit influenced all the Jews. (The very term ὁμοδυμαδόν is sufficient to refute Ewald’s conjecture that the Jews dragged Sosthenes, their own ruler of the synagogue, Acts 18:17, together with Paul, to the tribunal, supposing him to be favorably disposed to Jesus.). The charge referred to a violation of the law, i.e., of the Mosaic institutes; Paul was accused of influencing the people to adopt a different mode of worshipping God. ʼΑναπείθειν describes the act of unsettling and eradicating a conviction of the mind, by substituting other views and arguments. The comprehensive term τοὺς ἀνθρώπους is intentionally chosen, in order to exhibit Paul in an odious light, as a man whose general purpose it was to gain partisans.
ACTS 18:14, 15.—And when Paul, etc.—Gallio refuses to investigate the case even before Paul can find an opportunity to defend himself; the matter obviously referred, not to any violation of the civil law, but to the internal religious affairs of the Jews. [“It was out of Gallio’s province to take cognizance of such questions. The Roman laws allowed the Jews to regulate their religious affairs in their own way. Lysias (23:29) and Festus (25:19) placed their refusal to interfere on the same ground.” (Hackett.)—TR.]. Οῦ̓ν, the inference deduced from the nature of the charge itself. ʼΑίκημα, i.e., an act of injustice, a violation of private rights, constituting the ground of a legal process. ʼPᾳδιούργηυα πονηρόν, i.e., any malicious and reckless act, strictly speaking, a crime, subjecting the accused to a criminal prosecution. Εἰ with the imperfect, implies with sufficient distinctness, that such a case was not really submitted to Gallio. Κατὰ λογου, i.e., according to reason, or, reasonably, justly. The term ἀνέχεσθαι is purposely chosen, partly, in order to indicate the granting of a judicial hearing, but partly, too, in order to intimate to the Jews that the whole matter was an annoyance, and, indeed, an intolerable burden to the proconsul (in accordance with the proper sense of the word). The supposition which the latter then expresses (hypothetically, εἰ—ἐστι, Acts 18:15), is, according to his opinion, well founded. He indicates already by the term ζήτημα, technically employed in scientific or theoretical matters, in the sense of a question of the schools, a debated point, that the present case did not belong to a court of justice. This statement is still more emphatically repeated by Gallio when he mentions as illustrative features of the case doctrine [λόγου, Engl, version: “words.”—TR.], names (ὀνόματα represents the matter as a logomachy; the accusers had doubtless occasionally mentioned the names Messiah and Jesus of Nazareth), and, “your law” (νόμος ὁ καθʼ ὑμᾶς, i.e., specially, the Jewish law, not the Roman law, or any law of the country), ̓́Οψεσθε αὐτοί, i.e., ye may yourselves investigate and determine the matter. Κριτής emphatically precedes the other words of the clause; the sense is: The right to act as a judge in such cases, I have no wish to claim.—This conduct of Gallio fully agrees with his character as described by his brother Seneca, Quæst. Nat. IV. Præf. The latter extols not only his abilities, but also his disinterestedness, amiable disposition, and gentle manners; e. g., Cœpisti mirari comitatem, et incompositam suavitatem.—Nemo enim mortalium uni tam dulcis est quam hic omnibus. And thus, in consequence of Gallio’s purpose to confine himself to his strictly judicial functions, and of his personal kindness of disposition and humanity, the promise of the Redeemer that no harm should befall the apostle, is literally fulfilled.
ACTS 18:16, 17. And he drave them, etc.—As the result of the proconsul’s refusal to act, the accusers are at once dismissed. It is possible that the act of driving them away was occasioned by the continued and importunate representations of the Jewish leaders, who would not yield to the proconsul’s will, until the officers of justice compelled them to withdraw. The same obstinacy may also have led to the scene described in Acts 18:17 [for the omission of the word “Greeks” in Acts 18:17, see above, note 11, appended to the text.—TR.]. Πάντες, i.e., all who were present. They were unquestionably neither Jews (as Ewald supposes), nor Christians, but pagans, who were incensed on seeing the obstinacy and undisguised hostility of the accusers; encouraged, as they were, moreover, by the refusal of the judge, these pagans seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and the representative of the accusers, and beat him. The latter was either the successor of Crispus, who is mentioned in Acts 18:8, or his colleague (as, in Acts 13:15, several contemporaneous rulers of the same synagogue, are mentioned). It is not, however, probable that he is the Sosthenes described in 1 Cor. 1:1, as an associate of Paul (Theodoret and Ewald). The ruler was publicly beaten before the tribunal, without any interference on the part of Gallio. This was impartiality carried to an extreme, it is true, or, rather, it was undue indifference on Gallio’s part, for the act was an ἀδίκημα, Acts 18:14, a personal injury inflicted on another. Luke, however, mentions the circumstance only as an evidence that the promise in Acts 18:10 was completely fulfilled; while no harm whatever was done to Paul, his accusers suffered from the blows of pagans.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. However painful the parting scene described in Acts 18:6, may have been, it could not be conscientiously avoided. The apostle lays the whole burden of the guilt of those who opposed him and blasphemed, on their own conscience; his conscience—he declares—does not reproach him. It is probable that when he made this twofold declaration, the word of God in Ezek. 33:8 ff. occurred to his mind:—When the wicked man does not regard the warning, he shall die on account of his iniquity, but his blood will not be required at the hand of the watchman; his blood, that is, his bloody death, his punishment, his eternal destruction, must be considered as altogether his own work. There is a certain community of life among men, established not merely by nature, but also by the arrangement and revelation of God. He, to whom office, power and the word are intrusted for the benefit of others, is a partaker of their guilt, and is polluted by their sin, unless he delivers his testimony with all possible earnestness. -Indeed, even such a judicial declaration as we find in Acts 18:6, may produce a profound impression, and lead to repentance and conversion; such appears to have been the effect in the case of Crispus.
2. Christ had “much people” in the city (Acts 18:10), although the apostle, even if he knew that some souls had been won, saw before him only a comparatively small number of converts, whom he could individually name. “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” [1 Sam. 16:7]. And man can see only that which the present moment exhibits, but the Lord, to whom the future and past are “an eternal now” also sees that which is to come. The Redeemer said: “Other sheep I have” (John 10:16), although these had not yet heard his voice; they did not know him, but he knew them. Thus Christ knows his people in every place, whom he has chosen, and who will do homage to him. “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” 2 Tim. 2:19.
3. The conduct of the Roman, Gallio, does not deserve the unqualified praise which has often been lavished upon it. It is unquestionably true that he did not encourage an act of injustice in the case of Paul; nevertheless, he was the calm spectator of an act of gross injustice, and did not exercise his authority either by preventing, or by punishing it. The absolute indifference which he exhibited on this occasion, even renders it doubtful whether his refusal to listen to the application of the Jews, proceeded from the purest sentiments, and was the dictate of a noble character. Possibly a certain love of ease and pleasure, and the desire to be relieved from an unwelcome task, may, in part at least, have induced him to declare that he was not a competent judge in the case.—Independently, however, of his private motives, the principle which he avowed, viz., that violations of the law alone could be legally punished, and that doctrinal questions and internal religious affairs ought not to be removed from their own sphere, is certainly sound; it should exercise a controlling influence on the relations existing between a Christian government and ecclesiastical interests, and on those between a Christian state and the adherents of creeds and confessions of faith. In all cases, however, the principle should be practically carried out with a greater degree of consistency and conscientiousness than we can discover in the present instance, Acts 18:17.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
ACTS 18:1. Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth.—How great is the mercy of God! Nineveh, Sodom, Corinth—no city is so corrupt, that He does not send preachers of righteousness to the people. (Starke).—Christ is sometimes more readily received in faith by open and avowed sinners, than by the learned, and by those who are apparently righteous. Paul accomplished a greater work in the wicked city of Corinth, than in the learned city of Athens, (id.).—Paul had the pleasure of changing these impure and sinful souls into pure brides, whom he conducted to Christ, and to whom he could afterwards say: ‘Ye were thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners—but ye are washed—sanctified—justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.’ [1 Cor. 6:10, 11.]. Such a fact ought to strengthen our faith; it urges us to exhibit increased fidelity; it teaches us not to grow weary, even when we are dealing with the worst of men. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 18:2. And found a certain Jew named Aquila, etc.—As Paul walked faithfully in the path of duty, the paternal care of God attended him, and, even before he reached Corinth, provided a home, work, society, and an open door for the Gospel. The emperor banishes the Jews from Rome, in order that Aquila may proceed to Corinth, and there furnish Paul with an abode and support. Thus the overruling Providence of God avails itself of the plans of princes, and of the changes which occur in the world, in order to provide for His children, and extend His kingdom. (Ap. Past.).—Paul found Aquila and Priscilla; this word teaches us two lessons: I. That the servants and children of God very easily, and, as it were, by a secret elective affinity, find, and learn to know one another, even in foreign lands; II. That the apostle regarded these two upright persons as a precious treasure which he had found, from which he derived more real pleasure than from all the great and magnificent objects which he saw in the rich commercial city of Corinth. (From Ap. Past.).—He who has learned, like Paul, in whatsoever state he is, therewith to be content [Phil. 4:11], can always easily find a host. (Starke).—He who has himself experienced sorrow and affliction, knows how to succor them that are afflicted, (id.).—Paul and Aquila in Corinth, or, “Thy ways, O Lord, are wonderful, but they are ways of blessedness:” I. The Lord had conducted each in a wonderful way to Corinth; (a) Paul, who retired from Athens as a despised witness of the truth, scarcely hoping for greater success in the wicked city of Corinth; (b) Aquila, a son of Abraham, who was forcibly expelled from Rome, and who sought merely a temporary shelter in Corinth. II. They were led in a blessed way, and happily found each other in Corinth; (a) Paul, an entire stranger in that place, finds in Aquila a kind fellow-countryman [Cilicia and Pontus, both provinces of Asia Minor.—TR.] and host; (b) Aquila finds in Paul not only a fellow-craftsman and companion, but also a preacher of righteousness, and a guide to eternal life.—Aquila’s hospitable reception of Paul in Corinth, or, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” (Hebr. 13:2): I. The command; II. The promise. (Examples: the angel of the Lord with Abraham; Elijah at Sarepta; Jesus with Zaccheus, etc.).—The Lord, providing homes for his servants, even in foreign lands: I. Their heavenly Father accompanies them; II. They find brethren and sisters; III. They soon find employment, Acts 18:3 ff.
ACTS 18:3. And because he was of the same craft [trade], … wrought.—Let no mechanic be ashamed when he is found in the workshop, earning his bread or wages by manual labor; Paul was not ashamed of it. (Starke).—Let the teacher be as little ashamed of a trade, as Christ was ashamed that he was termed a carpenter’s son, or the apostles that they were fishermen. If we could support ourselves by other means, we would neither solicit favors of the ungrateful, nor be troublesome to the perverse, who hate the Gospel and the ministry of the word, when these subject them to expense, (id.).—Paul in the workshop: I. His course may put preachers of the Gospel to shame; even if it is not at present suited to the sacred office, it nevertheless puts to shame (a) much ecclesiastial pride of office, (b) much carnal luxury and sloth. II. It affords an encouraging example to mechanics: (a) Be not ashamed before God of thy trade—every honest calling is acceptable in his eyes; (b) but, with thy trade, be not ashamed of thy God and thy Christianity. Even when a man performs manual labor, he can be a servant of God, a Christian, an apostle in the family.—The Christian journeyman on his travels: I. The dangers encountered abroad (the temptations, the voluptuousness, of Corinth); II. The acquaintances made on the road (Aquila); III. The work at the trade, Acts 18:3; IV. The care for the soul (the word of God, the sanctification of God’s holy day, Acts 18:4).
ACTS 18:4. He reasoned [discoursed] in the synagogue every sabbath.—“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much,” [Lu. 16:10]. Even as Paul gained a living by working diligently with his own hands, so, too, he is equally diligent in discharging the duties of his office on every sabbath. (Starke).—The narrative emphatically states that the apostle taught on every sabbath, addressing Jews and Greeks, i.e., all men. Such is the close attention, with which God surveys the degree of diligence and fidelity exhibited by teachers, and so precious in his eyes is that servant, who neglects not a single opportunity, and overlooks Bet a single soul! (Ap. Past.).—The work of the week, and the sanctification of the sabbath—each requiring and sustaining the other: I. The former creates a hunger and thirst for the repose and the nourishment which the latter affords; II. The latter imparts strength and pleasure in doing the work of the week.
ACTS 18:5. When Silas and Timotheus were come … Paul was pressed.—A slothful servant is always ready to impose his portion of the work on others; when Paul, on the contrary, meets with fellow laborers, he becomes the more zealous. When a number of evangelical laborers work together in harmony, they encourage one another; for spiritual fellowship promotes the interests of the cause of God. Phil. 2:22. (Quesnel).—And testified that Jesus was Christ .—As Paul’s act of teaching on every sabbath is so plainly distinguished here from that of testifying that Jesus is the Christ, we may conjecture that his preliminary instructions were intended to prepare the way for an awakening among Jews and Greeks. Still, he cannot have been long occupied with the former work, as the love of Christ constrained him to proclaim with boldness the fundamental truth of the Gospel. (Rieger).—He had, doubtless, hitherto allowed the apostolical spirit to gleam forth occasionally, but had not yet ventured to discuss the main topic fully. (Williger).
ACTS 18:6. Your blood be upon your own heads!—As no blood-guiltiness, in a literal sense, had been here contracted, the words must refer to spiritual self-murder. When these people rejected the life which is in Christ, they became guilty of spiritual suicide. (Starke).—Such divine severity on the part of Paul, was due, not only to the dignity of the preached Gospel, but also to these obstinate souls themselves; it might possibly make a salutary impression on them. But a carnal zeal cannot justify itself by this example. Let him who desires to say with a clear conviction, like the apostle, that he is not stained with the blood of the lost, previously examine whether he has performed all that the apostle did in the case of these hardened men. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 18:7. Entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus.—Paul’s zeal was not diminished by the conduct of these obstinate sinners. With the same earnest spirit with which he parted from the blasphemers, he turned to the little band of awakened souls; thus he persevered in his work, and did not cause the whole flock to suffer for the fault of which the great majority was guilty. Many teachers here pursue a wrong course, when they obey the dictates of the flesh. (Ap. Past.).—His entrance into a house which was very near to the synagogue, proves that he would gladly have continued his labors in the latter; it likewise bore witness aloud to the Jews (as the house was probably henceforth the place where willing hearers assembled) concerning the blessing which they had rejected with scorn. (Williger).
ACTS 18:8. And Crispus, etc.—Crispus belonged to the number of those who enabled Paul at least to say: “not many wise men after the flesh,” instead of: “none at all.” 1 Cor. 1:26. (Williger).—We here have another instance of God’s care of his faithful servants. When Paul turned away with a sad spirit from the blaspheming Jews, God opened a door for him in the house of Justus, in the immediate vicinity of the synagogue, and filled his heart with joy on seeing the conversion of the ruler of the synagogue; the result was, that many of the Corinthians believed in the Lord. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 18:9. Then spake the Lord to Paul In the night by a vision.—Even the most eminent saints, and men endowed with an heroic faith, have had seasons of weakness, and hours of temptation, in which they needed encouragement and strength from above. For example: Abraham, before Abimelech; Moses, in the wilderness; David (psalms composed in seasons of affliction); Elijah, under the juniper tree; John, in the prison; Jesus, in Gethsemane; Luther, in his temptations. On one occasion Luther remarked: “Many persons, to whom I often seem to be cheerful in my outward appearance, suppose that I am always walking on roses: but God knows what my true condition is.”
ACTS 18:10. For I am with thee … much people in this city.—What a glorious safe-conduct is here presented to Paul! And every faithful shepherd may avail himself of it, although he should be dragged before a judge, or great calamities should seem to impend. And therefore, O teacher, keep not silence, or the beams of the house will cry aloud, and thou shalt hereafter stand speechless before the tribunal of God. (Starke).—The Lord’s comforting words: ‘Be not afraid !’ addressed to His servant who trembles when assigned to a post of danger (Installation sermon): the Lord directs the attention of his servant, I. To His own gracious presence: ‘I am with thee’ II. To the powerlessness of all enemies: ‘No man shall set on thee, to hurt thee’ III. To the blessing which shall attend His word, although it be not yet manifested: ‘I have much people in this city.’—The Lord’s words addressed to his servant: ‘I have much people in this city:’ I. They admonish him, in a solemn manner, to be faithful to the duties of his office (‘Feed my lambs; Feed my sheep’ [John 21:15,16]); II. They comfort and sustain him, when oppressed by the burdens and cares of his office (Say not: ‘I, even I only, am left.’ [1 Kings 19:10]).
ACTS 18:11. And he continued, etc.—Continued prayer, much patience, great confidence in God, fervent zeal—are the means by which the interests of the cause of God are promoted. (Quesn.).—At length Paul found repose, after these words of Jesus had been addressed to him, whereas previously, at Corinth, he had always seemed to himself to be a mere stranger and sojourner waiting for the intimation: ‘Now depart.’ He had hitherto remained so long in no other place. (Williger).
ACTS 18:12. The Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul.—The promises of divine aid and protection in this life, are not to be understood as excluding the bearing of the cross. (Starke).—The Jews refrained from disturbing Paul during a year and a half, not because their own inclinations dictated this course, but in accordance with the divine promise, and by the special providence of God. We can never trust the world—it always remains the same. As soon as God removes the barrier, the bitter feeling that had been repressed, breaks forth anew. Let us give heed to this fact, while we enjoy the repose which God at present grants us. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 18:13. Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.—We can easily persuade ourselves that any act which interferes with the indulgence of our passions, is contrary to the law of God. (Quesn.).—It is nothing new that those whose errors in religion are the most grievous of all, should, nevertheless, accuse others of heresy. (Starke).
ACTS 18:14. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said, etc.—As the Lord had promised to be Himself the protector of the apostle, the latter was not allowed to open, his mouth, in order to defend himself. The divine word of promise is the most trustworthy safe-conduct; it successfully claims the respect of the world and of the most imbittered foes, God shuts the mouths of enemies, as he shut the lions’ mouths in the case of Daniel. [Dan. 6:22.]. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 18:15. But if it be a question of words … look ye to it.—It is wise in magistrates to refrain from judging in matters of religion which they do not understand. But they by no means exhibit a devout spirit, when they are unwilling to learn and understand what religion really is, or to protect believers, as their office requires. (Starke).—When we view Gallio as a pagan judge, we cannot forbear to commend the moderation and impartiality which are here displayed. His course puts to shame that spirit of persecution and that thirst for blood, which so many rulers who bore the Christian name, have indulged, under the pretext of religion. But when Christian rulers refer to the present ease as one that justifies their indifference to all religion, the fallacy of their reasoning is easily exposed. This sinful Gallio-like spirit has unhappily extended in our day from the courts of kings (and through many judges and officers) even to the huts of the meanest peasants. (Ap. Past.). “Fulfil thy duties as a citizen, and I ask not what thy faith is” such is the principle which political wisdom adopts at present—but is it the true principle?
ACTS 18:17. They beat Sosthenes before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.—This incident illustrates the truth that the indifference of men to religion may easily lead them to be equally negligent in the administration of eivil justice. (Ap. Past.).—The praiseworthy and the censurable features of Gallio’s conduct as a judge, a source of instruction for all magistrates: I. The praiseworthy course adopted by Gallio on ascertaining the nature of the charge, Acts 18:12–15; he dismisses the Jews, as their complaint exclusively referred to a disputed point of religion. II. His censurable course, when the Greeks [see EXEG. note on Acts 18:16, 17.—TR.] proceeded to acts of violence, Acts 18:16, 17; here he betrayed indifference and unfairness. When ecclesiactical difficulties call for a decision on the part of the government, the latter is bound to distinguish between that which is above the law and that which is contrary to the law, and to condemn the guilty party, whichever it may be. (Lisco).—The pagan Gallio, not a suitable model for a Christian judge: for the latter should, I. Forbear to oppress the conscience or to interfere with the religious rights of men, but he himself should have a conscience and religion; and, II. Refrain from judging in matters of doctrine and faith, but should protect men of every creed against violence and ill treatment.
ON THE WHOLE SECTION, Acts 18:1–17.—The task assigned to the evangelical ministry: “Compel them to come in” [Lu. 14:23]: it is to be performed, I. With noble self-denial; Paul supports himself by the labor of his own hands; Acts 18:1–3, and comp. 1 Cor. 9:1 ff.; II. With unwearied zeal—a zeal that seizes every opportunity for doing good, Acts 18:4, delivers the message of salvation alike to all, Acts 18:4, is constantly enkindled anew by the Spirit of God, Acts 18:5, and exhibits Jesus to all men as the Christ, Acts 18:5; III. With unshaken courage in the presence of adversaries, Acts 18:6 ff. (Lisco).
Solemn admonitions and divine consolations, addressed to the heralds of salvation: I. The solemn admonitions; Speak—and hold not thy peace—even though thou mayest give offence, Acts 18:9; but let thy conduct agree with thy words, Acts 18:2–4. II. The divine consolations: I am with thee—and no man shall set on thee, to hurt thee. I have much people in this city, Acts 18:10. He who perseveres, shall receive a heavenly crown; comp. 2 Cor. 2:14 ff. (Lisco).
With what degree of confidence can we go forth and preach the Gospel to the heathen? I. The Lord commands: Speak, and hold not thy peace; II. The Lord comforts: I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee, to hurt thee; III. The Lord promises: I have much people even in this heathen city. (id.).
The decisive word in the preachers mouth: ‘Jesus is the Christ,’ Acts 18:5. It decides, I. As to the spirit in which he speaks—whether it be the spirit of man’s wisdom, the spirit that prompts men to court popularity, or whether it be the Holy Spirit of the Lord; II. As to the state of the hearts of the hearers; some oppose and blaspheme, others believe and are baptized; Christ is the rock, on which those that fall, shall be broken, but which is the firm support of others, Acts 18:5–8; III. As to the result of his labors; Paul had previously neither borne the cross of his office at Corinth, nor experienced its blessing; he now meets with both—the cross of Christ, Acts 18:6, and the blessing of Christ, Acts 18:9–11.
Paul in Corinth, or, “When I am weak, then am I strong,” 2 Cor. 12:10: I. The apostle was weak, (a) externally; he was an unknown stranger, a poor artisan, opposing with the foolishness of the preaching of the cross [1 Cor. 1:18], both the vices of the splendid city of Corinth, and the prejudices and hatred of his Jewish brethren; (b) internally; he was conscious of his weakness; and, possibly, still depressed by his limited success in Athens, he delays to proclaim the fundamental truth, viz., that Jesus is the Christ. But, II. The apostle is strong in the power of the Lord; (a) internally; the Lord renews his apostolical courage, and awakens in him the spirit of a bold witness, by the arrival of beloved fellow-laborers, and, in a still higher degree, by the consolations of His Holy Spirit, and the revelation of his personal and gracious presence, Acts 18:5, 9, 10; (b) externally: he is strong in the contest with his adversaries, whose sin the apostle throws back on their own heads, Acts 18:6, and whose mouth the Lord Himself shuts, Acts 18:10 ff.; he is, moreover, strong in consequence of the growth of the congregation, which, in increasing numbers, gathers around him, Acts 18:7, 8, 10, 11.
[Paul at Corinth: I. The difficulties which he encountered; (a) the notorious vices of the heathen population: (b) the religious prejudices of the Jews, Acts 18:6, 13; (c) his own insufficiency, 1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 2:16. II. The grounds of his hope of success; (a) the results of his previous labors; (b) the power of divine truth, Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 2:2–4; 2 Cor. 3:5, 6; (c) the special revelation and promise, Acts 18:9, 10. III. The result of his visit; (a) personal experience of the divine favor, Acts 18:2, 5, 7, 8, 12 ff.; 2 Cor. 12:12; (b) the conversion of large numbers, Acts 18:8; 2 Cor. 3:2; (c) the permanent establishment of a Christian congregation, 1 Cor. 1:5–7; 2 Cor. 9:2.—TR.]
Acts 18:1. ὁ IIαῦλος after χωρισθεὶς [of text. rec.], is wanting, it is true, only in a minority of the manuscripts [viz. in B. D., but also Cod. Sin.; Vulg.]; this reading is, however, without doubt, spurious, and was inserted simply because a new ecclesiastical reading lesson commenced at this place. [It is inserted in A. E.; it is omitted by Lach. Tisch. and Alf.—The two former omit also δὲ after μετὰ, with A. B. and Cod. Sin., but Alf. inserts it from D. E. G. H.—TR.]
Acts 18:2. άπὸ [before τῆς ̔Pώμης] is far better supported [by A. B. D. E. G. Cod. Sin.] than ἐκ [of text. rec. from H.], and has very properly been preferred by recent editors [Lach., Tisch., Born, and Alf., with whom de Wette, and Meyer (3d ed.) concur.—TR.]
Acts 18:3. The reading τῆ τἐχνη should be preferred, as far as the authority of the manuscripts is concerned, to the accusative τ.τέχνην [of text. rec.], which was undoubtedly the more usual form. [The ace. in H.; the dat. in A. B. E. G. Cod. Sin.; the latter is adopted by Lach., Tisch., and Alf. See WINER: Gr. § 32. 6. on the passage.—TR.]
Acts 18:5. a. The reading τῷ πνεύματι [of text. rec. after συνείχετο] is found only in one uncial manuscript [H.], whereas the rest exhibit, in place of it, τῷ λόγω, which, besides, as the more difficult reading, deserves the preference, [τῶ λόγῳ occurs in A. B. D. E. G. Cod. Sin., and is adopted by editors generally. The Vulg. has instabat verbo, in the received text; Cod. E. (Laudianus, Græco-Latin) exhibits urgebatur verbo. Robinson (Lex.) thus explains the received text of the Vulgate: “Paul now gave himself wholly to preaching the word,” ad verb. συνέχῶ—See the EXEG, note below, on the passage.—TR.]
Acts 18:5. b. [Lach. and Tisch. insert before τὸν Xρ. Iησ., from A. B. D. (and also Cod. Sin,); it is omitted in E. G. H.; Alf. concurs with text. rec. in omitting it; de Wette regards it as a gloss from Acts 18:28.—TR.]
Acts 18:5. c. [For the words: was Christ, the margin of the Engl; Bible presents the more accurate version: is the Christ, i, e., τὸν Xρ., the Messiah, as in Mt. 16:20; 26:63, and many other passages.—TR.]
Acts 18:7. The reading Tίτου, in place of ̓Iοὐστου, is found only in a single manuscript, namely E., and deserves no consideration. [The name, as exhibited in text. rec., is found in A. D (original). G. H., but E. inserts Tίτου, and B. D (corrected)., Tιτίου before Iουσ.; the Vulg. has Titi Justi; Cod. Sin reads; Tìτου ̓Iουστου. The former of the two names is generally regarded by editors as an interpolation, originating in a mistake of the copyists.—TR.]
Acts 18:11. [Instead of continued (Tynd., Cranmer, Geneva), the margin of the Engl. Bible presents the literal version: sat (Rheims). Comp. Lu. 24:49, where καθίζω occurs in the sense of to tarry or abide. In that passage the Vulg. translates sedete; here, sedit.—TR.]
Acts 18:12. [In place of the reading of the text. rec. ἀνθυπατεύοντος, from E. G. H., which Alf. adopts, Lach., Tisch., and Born., substitute άνθυπάτου from A. B. D. and Cod. Sin.; de Wette and Meyer, however, regard the latter reading as a gloss or a correction of the original but unusual participle.—TR.]
Acts 18:15. ζητήματα is found, it is true, in three manuscripts [D (original). G. H.], and has been adopted by Tisch; the singular, ζήτημα, should, nevertheless be regarded as the genuine reading, since it would not have occurred to any one to substitute it for the plural, if the latter had been originally employed; it is much more probable that the singular would have been altered, if it were original, especially as three points of inquiry are mentioned. [Lach., Tisch., and Alf. adopt the plural from A. B. D (corrected). E.; Cod. Sin. also exhibits the plural form, and the Vulg. has quæstiones.—TR.]
Acts 18:17. Four uncial manuscripts [D. E (G. H.?)]. insert οι ̔ìEλληνες [as in text. rec.] after πάντες, while some manuscripts of a later period [minuscules] read ̓Iουδαῖοι; both are interpolations, as the three oldest manuscripts, among which is Cod. Sin. [the others being A. B.], read simply πάντες. [Lach., Tisch., and Alf. omit οι ̓ìEλληνες—TR.]
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.G.—RETURN OF THE APOSTLE, THROUGH EPHESUS AND JERUSALEM, TO ANTIOCH
18And [But] Paul after this [om. after this] tarried there yet a good while [considerable time], and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into [to] Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having [, after he had] shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19And he [But they]12 came to Ephesus, and [he] left them there:13 but he himself [om. himself, αὐτός] entered into the synagogue, and reasoned [discoursed]14 with the Jews. 19[But,δὲ When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21But bade them farewell [took leave of them (as in Acts 18:18)]15, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you [saying, I will return unto you [om. the intermediate words16], if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 22And when he had landed at [And having come to] Cesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ACTS 18:18. a. And Paul … tarried … yet a good while—ʼΑποτάσσεσθαι τινι, valedicere alicui. He embarked at Cenchrea, which was the eastern port of Corinth, on the Saronic Gulf, nearly nine miles [seventy stadia] distant from the city; the western port was called Lechæum.
b. Having shorn his head in Cenchrea.—This act of shaving the head, and the vow connected with it, however brief the terms are in which they are mentioned, and, indeed probably because they are so slightly mentioned, have given rise to much discussion. With regard to the first particular, the question arises: Who shaved his head? Paul or Aquila? The name of the latter confessedly stands immediately before κειράμενος, and the circumstance attracts attention that it is placed after that of his wife [whereas, in Acts 18:2 and Acts 18:26, it precedes Priscilla’s name.—TR]. Some interpreters have hence inferred that Luke adopts the order of the names found in the present verse for the purpose of more distinctly pointing out that κειράμενος prefers to Aquila. [This argument acquires additional force, when it is remembered that the comma usually inserted in the printed text after ʼΑκύλας, is simple a modern addition to it, and that the most ancient uncial manuscripts exhibit no marks of punctuation, nor even spaces between the words.—TR.]. But it is remarkable that Priscilla’s name in a similar manner precedes that of her husband in Rom. 16:3 and 2 Tim. 4:9; the reason may be, that her personal character and acts gave her a more prominent position; she may have possibly labored in the Christian cause with more intelligence and with greater zeal than her husband. If this point be admitted, the order in which the names of this married couple occur here, can afford no aid when we seek for an answer to the question stated above. [Meyer observes that Paul may have been influenced by certain considerations in mentioning Priscilla first in these two passages, but that such could not have been the case with Luke, in preparing his narrative, since, elsewhere, Acts 18:2 and Acts 18:26, he first names Aquila.—TR.]. Besides, the very nature of the case, and also the form of the narrative, plainly exhibit Paul as the principal person, and assign a subordinate position to Aquila and his wife, so that it is by far the most natural course to refer the words κειράμενος … εὐχήν to the apostle; and, indeed, what significance could this statement have, if it referred to Aquila? [It may be importance, if it referred, not to Paul (comp. 15:1 ff.), but to Aquila, who had at a comparatively recent period embraced the Christian faith, and that, on this account, Luke so slightly mentions it, as Lechler himself concedes at the beginning of this note; the whole notice, accordingly, assumes the character of a parenthesis the attached to the name of the person to whom it refers.—TR]. It hence follows thatκειράμενος must be understood as referring to Paul. This is the view adopted, for instance, by Augustine, Erasmus, the Reformers, Bengel, and more recently, Olshausen, Neander, de Wette [who, however, speaks with some doubt.—TR.], Baumgarten, and Ewald [also, Alford, Hackett, and Alexander.—TR.]. On the other hand, the word is referred to Aquila already by the Vulgate [Pr. et Aquila, qui sibi totonderat], and this is regard ed as the correct interpretation by Theophylact and, subsequently, by Grotius, Kuinoel, Schneck enburger and Meyer [also, Wieseler, Niemeyer (Char. d. Bibel. I. 120. ed. 1830), and Howson (CONYB. AND HOWSON: Life, etc. of St. Paul. I 453).—TR.]. One of the principal motives which, whether expressly stated or not, has usually influenced those who adopt the latter view may be found in the circumstance that this external Jewish ceremony [cutting of the hair], and also the vow, seem to them to be inconsistent with the liberal views of the apostle of the Gentiles. [Not a trace can be found—says Meyer—indicating that Paul ever “became as a Jew unto the Jews” in such a sense, as making vows.—TR.]. This argument, however, possesses no weight, if our view of the liberal sentiments of the apostles, is derived, not exclusively from the imagination, but from facts. But the purpose for which this act of shaving the head was performed, can be considered only in connection with the next point—the vow.
c. For he had a vow.—The cutting off of the hair was connected with a vow, and, indeed, was done in consequence of it (εῖ̓χε γὰρ εὐχήν). But this expression itself is also indefinite in its character. Nothing whatever is said respecting either the nature of the vow, or the time of the cutting off of the hair—whether at the beginning, when the vow was made, or after the expiration of the time, when the vow was fulfilled. It was, at an earlier period (Wetstein, and others), supposed that the vow was that of a Nazarite. The individual, in this case, allowed his hair to grow during a specified period, in honor of God; the hair was cut off, at the expiration of the period, and thrown into the sacrificial fire. But these facts do not explain the present case, for the Nazarite could not be released from his vow, unless he presented himself in the temple, that is, in Jerusalem [whereas here Cenchrea is mentioned]; and the assertion that Jews who were travelling, were not bound by this regulation, has never been sustained by satisfactory evidence. And the assumption that the Nazariteship had been interrupted in this case by some Levitical uncleanness, and was now renewed by this, shaving of the head, can claim no attention, as such a renewal likewise could take place only in the temple (Numb. 6:9 ff.). Hence we may infer that this shaving of the head had no connection with the vow of a Nazarite, and that the present passage does not speak of any Levitical vow, closely connected with the temple. At all events, it appears from all that we learn from other sources respecting this subject, that the shaving of the head coincided, not with the assumption, but with the fulfilment of a vow, since it was the custom of the Hebrews to cut the hair from time to time, when its growth was too rapid. [HERZOG: Encyk. V. 434]. According to this view,εῖ̓χε would have the sense of: “he had had” [but see WINER: Gr. N. T. § 40. 3.—TR.].—Still, the occasion which led to this vow, and its precise character, cannot be determined, and the conjectures which have been hazarded, lead to no satisfactory conclusions [all which seems to sustain the view of those who suppose that the vow was a private and comparatively unimportant personal affair of Aquila, and not one which Paul had made.—TR.]
ACTS 18:19–21. And he [But they] came to Ephesus.—This is the first occasion on which Paul, who was returning from his second missionary journey, visited Ephesus. This ancient and celebrated city, the capital of Ionia, was also, at that time, the capital of proconsular Asia; it maintained an extensive commerce, and soon became the Christian metropolis of Asia Minor. Aquila and his wife remained here, when the apostle left the city; κατέλιπεν simply anticipates this fact [and αὐτὸς δὲ is not intended to imply that they did not accompany Paul, when he proceeded to the synagogue (de Wette).—TR.]. Before his departure, he endeavored to exercise an influence on the Jews, whose synagogue he visited; he was so successful, that they desired to retain him for a longer period among them, but, as he was anxious to proceed to Antioch, he could not comply with their request; he gave them, however, the promise that he would return, and soon afterwards, according to Acts 19:1, he fulfilled it. [Lechler here ascribes Paul’s refusal to remain at that time, to his desire to proceed to Antioch: he regards the words: “I must … in Jerusalem,” which assign a different reason for his refusal, as an interpolation; see note 5, appended to the text above. Those who receive this sentence as genuine, generally suppose, with Wieseler (Chron. d. Apost.) that the feast of Pentecost is meant. Ewald suggests the Passover; but the data do not enable them to decide the point with entire confidence.—TR.]
ACTS 18:22. And when he had landed at Cesarea.—Some of the earlier commentators, e.g., Calovius, Kuinoel, etc., supposed that ἀναβάς referred to Cesarea [see 10:1], in the sense that Paul ascended from the beach to the city, which was situated on higher ground. But it is not conceivable that Luke, who here (Acts 18:19–22, inclusive) relates the facts in so summary a manner, and who had already said: κατελθὼν εὶς Καισάρειαν, (which remark undoubtedly refers to the city itself, and not merely to the coast and harbor), should now pause in order to give special prominence to the circumstance that Paul ascended from the water to the higher ground on which the city lay. Moreover, the expression κατέβη εἰς ʼ Αντιόχειαν, would be inappropriate, if it referred to Cesarea, since Antioch was situated in the interior of the country [9:20], at a distance of nearly twenty miles from the Mediterranean, and was, consequently, more elevated than the sea-port Cesarea. But the same expression is perfectly appropriate, and corresponds to the usual phraseology of the Book of THE ACTS (comp. [9:27, and] 15:2: ἀναβαίνειν descriptive of the journey from Antioch to Jerusalem), if we assume that Jerusalem is the terminus ad quem for ἀναβάς and the terminus a quo for κατέβη and this interpretation appears to be indicated by ἡ ἐκκλησία (κατʼ ἐξοχήν [i.e., the mother-church of Jerusalem, not the church at Cesarea], without ἡ αῦ̓σα, Acts 13:1.). Still, it is an erroneous opinion which Meyer entertains, when he represents ἀναβάς as necessarily referring to Cesarea, if the sentence in Acts 18:21: δεῖ με - - Ἱερος. [see above], is assumed to be an interpolation; for the considerations just presented, retain their weight, even if that sentence is omitted. [Recent commentators almost unanimously adopt the view here presented, i.e., that ἀναβάς describes a brief visit to Jerusalem; but this interpretation apparently demands the recognition of the sentence:δεῖ με etc., as genuine, although Lechler does not here concede that point.—TR.].—It is, however, remarkable under all circumstances, that in this portion of the narrative, Luke exhibits such brevity and haste, and especially that he so slightly —with only five words—refers to a visit of Paul to Jerusalem, simply stating that he saluted the church. It cannot be doubted that Paul remained only a short time with the mother-church.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The vow, which is involved in an obscurity that will never be removed, was unquestionably made in the spirit of evangelical liberty; the motive which led to it, was furnished, as we assume, by a special circumstance, of which no record has been made.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
ACTS 18:18. And Paul—tarried there yet a good while.—Paul remained during this long period in Corinth, partly, for the purpose of ministering to that “much people” (Acts 18:10) which had been indicated to him by the heavenly appearance, and, partly, for the purpose of availing himself, as far as it was practicable, of Gallio’s moderate course, and laboring for the kingdom of Christ. (Rieger).—For he had a vow.—Pay thy vows unto the Most High! [Ps. 50:14]: I. The vows which we are permitted to make; (a) none that are unevangelical—with a view to serve God in this way by dead works, and to purchase his grace; (b) but the vows, in the heart, of repentance, of faith, and of new obedience. II. The manner in which we are to pay them; (a) by doing all that is possible, with conscientious zeal; (b) by humbly disclaiming all personal merit.
ACTS 18:19. He came to Ephesus—entered into the synagogue—reasoned with the Jews.—The society of his most beloved brethren was not so attractive to him, as to induce him to interrupt his intercourse with the people who were so hostile to him, or to discontinue the efforts which he had already made for their conversion. Here he presents a model, as a servant who labors not for himself, but for his Lord and Master Jesus. He is always willing to be himself scorned and oppressed, and it is his only aim to glorify his Saviour.
ACTS 18:20. Desired him to tarry longer—he consented not.—He furnishes us with an instructive example, in maintaining an intercourse with brethren. He was connected with the believers by tender bonds of love, and yet he did not blindly obey them; he refused to comply with a request, which did not seem to him to accord with the mind and will of the Lord. This example should teach us that we ought not to yield to every wish even of beloved brethren and devout souls, but that we should love God and the Saviour even more than the brethren, and obey the divine will, rather than the will of any human being. (Ap. Past.).—“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” Mt. 10:37.
ACTS 18:21. I must by all means keep this feast that cometh at Jerusalem (according to Luther’s version [and the English Bible.—TR.]). May God grant even to us such an earnest zeal in pursuing our journey to the heavenly Jerusalem, and may He teach us to oppose this holy “I must” to all the allurements of the world and of our own flesh! (From Ap. Past.).—I will return … if God will.—He was as prompt and humble in submitting to the will of God, as he was heroic in pursuing his prescribed course. He was a lion in his contest with the world, but, like a lamb, obeyed the voice of his Lord, (id.)
ACTS 18:22. When he had … gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.—As the mention of his departure from Jerusalem is so closely connected with that of the salutation, we may conjecture that on this occasion also, he found no suitable field of labor in that city. (Rieger.)
‘I must work while it is day’ [John 9:4]—the motto of the ambassadors of Christ: I. Where do they work? Wherever the Lord shows a way, and opens a door; II. How do they work? With unwearied zeal, and yet with humble attention to every intimation of the Lord; III. For what do they work? Not for their own glory and gain, but, in everyplace, for the kingdom of God, and, accordingly, for the salvation of men.—The longing desire for Christian fellowship: I. How strong it was in Paul! It induced the apostle, who was himself so richly endowed, and who had received such an abundant measure of grace, to proceed from a distant point, to Jerusalem; II. How great its strength should be also in us! (Lisco.).—Paul as a traveller, a model as a servant of God obeying the divine will: I. The hatred of no enemies intimidates him, when the Lord sends him, Acts 18:19; II. No fraternal love restrains him, when the Lord calls him away, Acts 18:20; III. No place is too distant for him; he hastens thither, when the Spirit draws him, Acts 18:21; IV. No place is too pleasant to him; he departs, when the Lord no longer requires his services in it, Acts 18:22.—‘I must go up to Jerusalem’—the watchword of the pilgrim of God: it enables him to resist every temptation—in sorrow and in joy—whether it proceeds from friend or from foe.
Acts 18:19. a. The pluralκατήντησαν is found in four uncial manuscripts [A. B. E., and Cod. Sin.], whereas the singular, κατήτησε [of text, rec.], occurs only in two [G. H.; also Vulg.]. The singular undoubtedly corresponds to the style of the narrative in the context [verbs and participles in the singular, especially κατέλιπεν], but, precisely on that account, would not have been changed [by copyists] into the plural, if it had been originally employed. [D. has κατάντησας Lach., Tisch., and Alf. adopt the plural.—TR.]
Acts 18:19. b. [In place of αύτοῦ after κατέλιπεν, of text. rec. from B. G. H., ἐκεῖ is found in A. D. E., and Cod. Sin., and is substituted by Lach. and Born.; Alf. retains αὐτοῦ, regarding ἐκεῖ as an alteration to the more usual word, and Meyer adopts the same view.—TR.]
Acts 18:19. c. [In place of διελἐχθη, of text, rec. from E. G. H., Lach. and Tisch, adopt διελέξατο, from A. B., and Cod. Sin., which, however, Alf. regards as a later correction to the more usual form; comp. Acts 17:2.—TR.]
Acts 18:21. a. Not less than four uncial manuscripts [A. B. D. E.; also Cod. Sin.] exhibit [in place of ἀπετάξατο αὐτοῖς εἰπών, of text, rec.] the following: ἀποταξάμενος και εἰπών, according to which construction, the direct narrative is not resumed till at the word ἀνήχοη; only two manuscripts, of the ninth century, viz.: G. H. read ἀπετάξατο, which is an easier construction [and is hence regarded as probably a later correction of the original participle; the latter is, accordingly, adopted by Lach. and Tisch. Alford retains the verb of the text. rec. here, and also the sentence which follows (Δεῖ -- Ἱερ.; see next note), and thinks that the variations in this place were occasioned by the omission of that sentence; Meyer (3d ed.) is also inclined to recognize the reading of the text. rec. as genuine.—TR.]
Acts 18:21. b. The entire sentence: Δεῖ με πάντως τὴν ἑρχομἐνην ποιῆσαι εἰς ̔Iεροσόλυμα, is omitted in four important ancient manuscripts, viz.: A. B. E., and Cod. Sin., as well as in nine minuscules, and in several ancient versions [Vulg. etc.], whereas it is found in D. G. H., [and is inserted in text. rec.]. The whole sentence, like so many other interpolations in the Acts, seems to have been inserted [suggested, as some suppose, by Acts 20:16] at a later period, because the terms: πάλιν -- θέλοντος [if immediately succeeding εἱπών] seemed to be too brief or abrupt. Mill and Bengel, and, after their day, Griesbach, Heinrichs, and Kuinoel, took exception to the sentence, believing it to be an interpolation, and Lach. and Tisch. [and also Born.] have rejected it. [The manuscripts vary considerably in the entire verse. Alford says that no imaginable reason for the later insertion can be assigned, and, like Meyer, believes that the omission may be explained by assuming that ἀναβὰς in Acts 18:22 had been misunderstood by copyists and translators; they could find no immediate and explicit mention of such a journey to Jerusalem; whereas ἀναβὰς really indicates (see EXEG. note on Acts 18:22) the journey up to Jerusalem, not up from the shore into the city of Cesarea, and κατέβη) informs us that Paul went down from Jerusalem to Antioch.—TR.]
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.SECTION IV
THE THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY OF THE APOSTLE PAUL: TO ASIA MINOR, MACEDONIA, AND GREECE; HIS RETURN TO JERUSALEM
A.—FIRST PART OF THIS JOURNEY: THE LABORS AND EXPERIENCES OF THE APOSTLE IN ASIA MINOR, SPECIALLY AT EPHESUS
§ I. Commencement of the journey, and visit to the churches in the interior of Asia Minor
23And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order [travelled in succession through the Galatian territory and Phrygia], strengthening all the disciples.
§ II. Intermediate narrative concerning Apollos, and his labors in Ephesus and Corinth
24And [But] a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25This 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 [diligently concerning Jesus17], knowing only the baptism of John. 26And he [this man, οὑτός, (as in Acts 18:25)] began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla18 had heard, they [synagogue. But A. and P. having heard him] took him unto them, and expounded [explained] unto him the way of God19 more perfectly [thoroughly]. 27And when he was disposed [But as he wished] to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to [the brethren encouraged him (to go), and wrote to the disciples that they should] receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace [greatly helped, through grace, them who had believed]: 28For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly [For he publicly convinced the Jews with power], shewing by [means of] the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ20 [that Jesus is the Christ].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ACTS 18:23. He departed.—[“A chapter might conveniently have been begun here, at the opening of Paul’s third foreign mission.” (Alex.).—TR.]. This third missionary journey (about A. D. 54 or 55), was, precisely like the second, at first directed only to congregations which had already been formed. It will be noticed that Galatia and Phrygia alone are named, and that no mention is made of Pisidia, Pamphylia, and Lycaonia. It cannot now be determined whether the names of these provinces are omitted, simply for the sake of brevity, or whether Paul at this time really visited those congregations only which had been established during his second journey in Galatia and Phrygia. [“Καθεξῆς implies—taking the churches in order—as they lay in his route” (Alf.); this is also the view of Alex. and Hack.; but the position of the word in the sentence rather seems to imply that Paul went first to Galatia, and afterwards to Phrygia.—TR.].—The names of those who accompanied him, are not stated here, but we learn from Acts 19:22, that Timotheus and Erastus must have travelled with him.
ACTS 18:24. a. And a certain Jew.—Before Luke mentions the arrival of Paul at Ephesus, and describes his labors in that city, he introduces the present narrative concerning Apollos. Baumgarten suggests that its interest and importance are due to the circumstance that Apollos had become the substitute and representative of Paul in Corinth. But the place which this episode occupies, rather indicates that Luke’s attention was directed to Ephesus, and that he described the appearance of Apollos in that city, as it occurred not long before the arrival of the Apostle himself.
b. Apollos is an abbreviation of Ἀπολλώνιος, which is, indeed, the reading found in Cod. Cantabrig. [or Bezæ, marked D.—TR.]. He was a native of Alexandria, and a Jew by birth and education. [“Alexandria was the great seat of the Hellenistic language, learning, and philosophy (see Acts 6:9). A large number of Jews had been planted there by its founder, Alexander the Great. The celebrated LXX. version of the Old Test. was made there under the Ptolemies... A masterly exposition of the Scriptures by a learned Hellenist of Alexandria formed the most appropriate watering (1 Cor. 3:6) for those who had been planted by the pupil of Gamaliel.” (Alf.).—TR.]. He was an eloquent man (λόγιος means both learned and eloquent; as the main fact, however, viz., that he was learned in the Scriptures, is specially mentioned, the word is to be here taken in the latter sense). As his knowledge of the Scriptures is represented as having been very great (δυνατὸς ἐν τ. γρ., i.e., it constituted his strength), it is quite probable that, as an Alexandrian, he was indebted both for his skill in the interpretation of the Old Testament, and for his eloquence, to the school of Philo.
ACTS 18:25, 26. This man was instructed.—With regard to the Christian knowledge of Apollos, Luke describes him as a man acquainted, to a certain extent, with the way of the Lord, that is, with the divine plan of salvation, or the divine purpose to enlighten and redeem Israel, and, indeed, all mankind, through the Messiah (κύριος cannot here refer to Jesus of Nazareth, but must be understood of God the Father.) Still, he needed more precise explanations and instructions respecting the way of God, Acts 18:26. His deficiency is thus described by Luke: ἐπιστ. μόνον τὸ β. I. The word ἐπίστασθαι does not here literally mean: expertum esse (Grotius), but, in accordance with the ordinary usus loquendi: to know, to know objectively, and so thoroughly as to be qualified to teach. It is, at the same time, to be understood, for obvious reasons, that Apollos had received merely the baptism of John; and he had, perhaps, been instructed by some of the disciples of John. He had, accordingly, not yet been baptized in the name of Jesus, and, in connection with this circumstance, without doubt, lacked the knowledge both of the crucified and risen Redeemer, and of the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Comp. 19:2. Alford says: “He knew and taught accurately the facts respecting Jesus, but of the consequences of that which he taught, of all which may be summed up in the doctrine of Christian baptism, he had no idea.”—TR.]. Notwithstanding all these deficiencies, the man was filled with a glowing zeal and an enthusiasm which prompted him to make every sacrifice, and constrained him to speak (ζέων). Hence he spake and taught (ἐλάλει, referring to conversations and private intercourse; ἐδίδασκε, to formal didactic discourses) concerning Jesus with accuracy (ἀκριβῶς may mean: exacta cura et diligentia, but it may also mean: exacte; the former in a subjective, the latter, in an objective sense [the former referring to the subject or person, the latter, to the object—the matter.—TR.]. But as ἀκριβῶς cannot be taken in a different sense from that of ἀκριβέστερον in the following verse, the objective sense claims the preference, although the accuracy cannot have been absolute, but only relative or limited. It was in this manner that Apollos spake and taught concerning Jesus; he even began to speak in the synagogue, and, indeed, with boldness. Then Aquila and Priscilla, who had heard him speak, faithfully exerted themselves in his behalf; they perceived alike these favorable traits, which were so full of promise, and also the deficiencies which still remained. These wants they endeavored to supply by imparting to him a more thorough, complete, and profound knowledge (ἀκριβέστερον ἐξέθ.) of the way of God. It was obviously one of their objects to convey to him a more thorough knowledge of the Person and the Work of Jesus Christ.
ACTS 18:27, 28. a. And when he was disposed [But as he wished] to pass into Achaia.—This wish which Apollos entertained, after he had made further progress in knowledge by means of those private instructions, may have been prompted by two considerations. A feeling of delicacy may have restrained him, after receving such large accessions of knowledge, from presenting himself again in public as a teacher, in the same spot, in which his previous teaching had been, in various respects, marked by crudeness and deficiencies. It is, further, possible that the information which Aquila and his wife had communicated to him, respecting the congregation in Corinth, may have directed his attention to that city. We learn, indeed, from Acts 19:1, that he proceeded to that place, although in the present passage the name of the entire province, Achaia, is introduced, of which Corinth was the political capital. Προτρεψάμενοι is referred by Meyer, after the example of Luther and others [e. g., Engl. version; de Wette, Alf.; Hackett,], to the μαθηταί in Achaia, i.e., wrote, exhorting them. This is incorrect, as προτρεψ. precedes ἔγραψαν; the former word refers to Apollos himself [as its object], and means: ad cursum incitare, instigare, ut progrediatur, [i.e., they exhorted or encouraged Apollos.—TR.]. This is the interpretation of Chrysostom, and has been adopted by Erasmus, Grotius, Bengel [Calvin, Howson (Conyb. and H. II. 8), and, apparently, J. A. Alexander.—TR.]. There is no ground for maintaining [with Meyer and others] that αὐτόν should, in that case, have been inserted, since that word is obviously to be understood as indicating the object.—The letter addressed by the Christians of Ephesus to those of Corinth, was the first (Christian) letter of commendation (ἐπιστολὴ συστατική), [and is, possibly, alluded to in 2 Cor. 3:1. (Hackett).—TR.]
b. When he (Apollos) was come, he afforded efficient aid to the converts at Corinth (συμβάλλομαί τινι frequently occurs in classic writers in the sense: prosum, adjuvo.). Λιὰ τ. χάριτος, as a more definite specification, belongs to συνεβ πολύ [so Calvin, Bengel, Grotius, Kuinoel, Olsh., Meyer.—TR.], and not to πεπιστ. as de Wette [followed by Alf.; Howson; Hackett, and, apparently, J. A. Alex.—TR.] understands it. For Luke’s attention is here directed to Apollos and his labors, not to the Corinthian Christians; the sense of διὰ τ. χάριτος, then, is: for the aid which those Christians received from Apollos, they were indebted to the grace of God, which was with him. The fact stated in Acts 18:28, is introduced by γάρ, and is intended to furnish the evidence of that gracious influence which strengthened Apollos: he refuted the arguments of the Jews with great power, and with entire success (εὐτόνως, intentis omnibus virium nervis). The words διακατηλέγχετο (middle voice) τ. Ἰουδ. is to be thus understood: the evidence which he furnished of his assertion, in opposition to the Jews, was complete and decisive [“he argued them down.” (Alf.).—TR.]. The word δημοσίᾳ [the antithesis of which (Xen. Hiero. 11. 9) is ἰδίᾳ. (Meyer).—TR.] is, probably, not to be taken in a restricted sense, as if the synagogue alone had been the scene of the conflict; at least, other terms are employed in such cases, e. g., Acts 18:26; Acts 19:8: it rather seems to refer to scenes occurring in public places. The statement here made respecting the nature and character of the labors of Apollos, fully agrees with the remarks of Paul himself in 1 Cor. Acts 1–ch. 4. Paul had planted, Apollos watered; the latter had not laid the foundation, but he built thereon (1 Cor. 3:6, 10), that is, forwarded the work which had already been commenced.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Although the knowledge which Apollos possessed, was still defective and incomplete, he labored and taught with comparative thoroughness and success. He was fitted for this work, partly by his natural gifts and his education in a pre-Christian school (probably that of Philo), and, partly, by his knowledge of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, combined with a knowledge concerning Jesus which was, at the time, of a somewhat limited extent. But it is his glowing zeal which specially claims consideration; it impelled him to teach and to labor.—Even a light that is dim, is, nevertheless, a light; and he who faithfully applies a few talents that are intrusted to his care, shall receive more. The heart that is sincerely and earnestly devoted to the cause of truth, may not indeed bear in itself the full and sacred fire of the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, but it is at least capable of being ultimately guided into all truth [John 16:13]. There is a difference between him who, as a beginner, and from the necessity of the case, holds a low rank, and him, who, by his own fault, recedes from Christ.
2. It is an instructive circumstance that a man like Apollos, who became so important and influential in the apostolical age, should have in fact been prepared for his office as a teacher by Aquila and Priscilla—a plain married pair—and have been indebted to them for his thorough knowledge of the positive truths of Christianity. Those two persons formed an accurate judgment of his personal character, and of the rich fruits which his gifts, when rightly applied, would produce, but they also perceived at once the points in which his knowledge was defective. They were the persons who initiated him more completely into a knowledge of Christian truth, although he was unquestionably superior to them in intellectual power and in learning. They afforded him their aid when he proceeded to Corinth, and contributed their share in assigning to an important post a man who was precisely fitted for it. Thus two persons here present themselves, who belong to the laity, one of whom, moreover, is a woman, of devout sentiments, possessing a full and practical knowledge of Christian truth; and they perform a work, which, according to our long established usages, belongs to theological seminaries and ecclesiastical authorities. The whole fact is itself an evidence of the common priesthood of believers in the apostolic age. It also illustrates in a striking manner the relation between causes and effects in the kingdom of Christ. The apostle Paul had become connected by certain ties with Aquila and his wife in Corinth, and had probably been the instrument of their conversion. After having had further intercourse with him, and, undoubtedly, after having obviously grown in grace, they accompanied him to Ephesus. Here they became acquainted with Apollos, took a deep interest in him, and imparted to him a more complete knowledge of Christian truth. And now, Apollos, after being thus prepared by these two persons, who were the apostle’s friends, proceeded to Corinth, and there entered the apostle’s field of labor. Thus the streams of divine grace widely diffuse themselves, and the blessings which they impart to one individual, extend their benign influence to others. The seed is carried in different directions, and the evidences of its vitality and productive power, are apparent in many spots, but the hand of the Lord of the church controls every movement and every result.
3. If Apollos greatly promoted the internal growth of the Christians at Corinith, Acts 18:27, the whole was a gift of grace [see Exeg. note, Acts 18:27, 28, b.—TR.]. Whenever men obtain positive advantages and the blessing of God, these are to be ascribed, not to the natural abilities of any individual, not to the school in which he was trained, not to the persons who communicated to him a thorough knowledge of Christian truth, not to his own enthusiasm, and his own personal zeal, but to the operations of the grace of God. Neither he that planteth, nor he that watereth, is anything, but God that giveth the increase. [1 Cor. 3:7].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
ACTS 18:23. Went over … Galatia … strengthening all the disciples.—There are many whose whole attention is absorbed in the work of awakening men. But when they neglect that of strengthening and establishing awakened persons, or pay no further attention to the latter, and do not fan the spark when conversion begins, all their work and labor are totally in vain. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 18:24–26. Apollos.—He furnishes a very beautiful illustration of the combination of the gifts of nature and those of grace, in a teacher. I. He was eloquent, by a natural gift, Acts 18:24; II. Mighty in the Scriptures—to which circumstance his natural eloquence owed its power and value; III. Instructed in the way of the Lord, Acts 18:25—having advanced from a mere acquaintance with the letter of the Scriptures, to a Christian knowledge of God’s plan of salvation, although that knowledge was at first imperfect; IV. Fervent in the spirit—filled with a noble zeal in employing the knowledge which he had acquired, by laboring for the extension of the kingdom of God; V. In possession of an admirable quality, rarely found in combination with so many gifts, namely, docility—he earnestly desired to be conducted by Aquila and Priscilla—two plain, practical Christians—to a more profound acquaintance with Christianity.—Apollos, a model as a Christian teacher: the teacher should be, I. Learned—in human art and science, but, specially, in the Scriptures; II. Apt to teach [1 Tim. 3:2]—a quality which is not identical with natural eloquence, but, preëminently, depends on the presence of holy zeal and love (“fervent in the spirit”); III. Willing to learn—so that he may continually advance in knowledge, not only by his own personal studies, but also by the lessons which, in an humble spirit, he receives from Christians who are endowed with spiritual life.—An eloquent man.—Eloquence is a noble gift of God, when it is properly employed, whether in ecclesiastical or in secular affairs; but when it is abused, it is like a sword in the hand of a madman. (Starke).—Mighty in the Scriptures.—It is not the mere knowledge of the literal sense of the Scriptures, but a blessed experience of the power of divine truth in the heart, by which a teacher becomes mighty in the Scriptures. (Ap. Past.).—Instructed in the way of the Lord; every Christian should be so instructed, especially the teacher; otherwise, he is a blind leader of the blind. (Starke).—Being fervent in the spirit, he spake.—When the teacher’s own heart is filled with the love of Jesus, and burns with the fire of the Holy Ghost, the flame extends, and enkindles the hearts of others. (Ap. Past.).—But it is very sad when the fire expires with the hour, and zeal is laid aside with the manuscript; in such a case, the preacher is a lifeless stock, receiving neither spirit nor power from Christ. (Starke).—Knowing only the baptism of John.—At different periods, in the history of the Christian Church, particularly when a new and important advance was to be made, or a new development of the kingdom of God was approaching, teachers have arisen who have, not unaptly, been compared with John the Baptist. They were appointed to direct the attention of men to new events which were at hand, and to a new life, in comparison with which the present state was that of death. But such a new order of things, they were not of themselves competent to establish. They stood at the door of the new ecclesiastical era of the Church, and the bright light which they diffused, enabled their disciples to see the entrance, but they were not able to conduct the latter into the interior. It was necessary that these disciples should look beyond their teachers, and fix their eyes on Him who is the sole and true Teacher. An illustration is furnished in the case of the distinguished Schleiermacher. (Williger).—Aquila and Priscilla …took him … more perfectly.—He who truly knows Jesus, is competent to give scriptural instruction even to the most learned man. (Ap. Past.).—It is a sign of an humble spirit, when a man, however learned he may be, is willing to learn still more from another, although it should be from a plain mechanic. (Starke).—Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians shows that the believers at Corinth were “much helped” by Apollos. “Whether Paul, or Apollos…all are yours.” (1 Cor. 3:22). In such terms the apostle, who was a stranger to envy, expressed the joy with which he surveyed the noble gift of Apollos, who coöperated with him in conducting this beloved congregation in the way of salvation.
ACTS 18:27. Helped them much which had believed through grace.—With all his noble gifts and his ability, it was only through grace that he helped them [see EXEG. note on Acts 18:27, 28, b. TR.]. It is solely by grace that the word produces fruit and imparts spiritual life. (Ap. Past.).
ACTS 18:28. Convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the Scriptures.—In the schools of science, a mathematical demonstration is regarded as the most convincing of all; in the church of God, no demonstration is more worthy of confidence than one that is taken from the Holy Scriptures. (Starke).—Apollos, an illustration of the truth, that learning and mental culture may greatly promote the interests of the kingdom of God. (Lisco).—The circumstances under which a high degree of mental culture can render services to the kingdom of God: I. When true faith constitutes its foundation, Acts 18:25; II. When it closes no avenue to additional light, Acts 18:26; III. When it is judiciously exhibited, Acts 18:27, 28. (id.).—On growth in Christian knowledge: I. It is necessary in the case of every one, even though he already possesses rich gifts, Acts 18:24; II. It is regularly maintained, in the case of the humble and docile, Acts 18:26; III. It results in rich fruits—in blessed acts which extend the kingdom of God, Acts 18:27, 28.—Apollos in Alexandria (Acts 18:24), and Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18:26); or, The high school of secular learning, and the humble school of religious experience: I. The knowledge acquired in the former; II. The knowledge acquired in the latter alone.—The blessed progress which Apollos made; or, ‘Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance’ [Mt. 13:12]: I. What did Apollos possess? Not only (a) a noble talent—natural gifts, Acts 18:24, but also (b) an honest zeal in employing that talent—by learning, and by teaching, Acts 18:26; II. What was given to him, so that he had more abundance ? (a) To his knowledge was added the full light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, Acts 18:26; (b) to his labors was added the omnipotent power of divine grace, Acts 18:27, 28.—Paul and Apollos, two different, and yet two blessed instruments of the Lord; I. The material of which, II. The manner in which, III. The purpose for which, the Lord prepared these two instruments.
Acts 18:25. The reading Ἰησοῦ is sustained by the oldest manuscripts [A. B. D. E. and Cod. Sin.], as well as by a number of minuscules and versions [Vulg. etc.]: whereas only the two later manuscripts, G. and H., exhibit τοῦ κυρίου [of text. rec.]. The change was made by those who supposed that the reading Ἰησοῦ was inconsistent with the fact stated in the clause: ἐπιστάμενος--- ̓Iωάννου. [See EXEG. note; Lach., Tisch., and Alf. read Ἰησοῦ.—TR.]
Acts 18:26. a. The transposition ΙΙρ. καὶ Aκ., is sustained by only some of the authorities, whereas this order, which is found in Acts 18:18, is there sustained by all the authorities; the same order here, Acts 18:26, seems to have been copied from Acts 18:18. [The text. rec. reads Α. καὶ II., with D. G. H.; but A. B. E., with Cod. Sin. and Vulg. transpose the names, and this order, viz., II καὶ A. is therefore adopted by Lach., Tisch., and Alf. Meyer receives the order of text. rec., and, with Lechler, believes that it was altered by copyists to suit Acts 18:18.—TR.]
Acts 18:26. b. [τοῦ θέοῦ is inserted before ὁδόν in text. rec. from G. H. Lachmann reads, with A. B., τὴν ὁδόν τοῦ θεοῦ.—E. exhibits τ. ὁδ. τ.κυρὶου, as in Acts 18:25, and so Vulg. (Domini, in the printed copies; Dei, in Cod. Amiatinus.). On account of these variations, Tisch., Born., and Alf., with whom de Wette concurs, prefer the simple reading τὴν ὁδόν, but are, sustained only by D. Meyer prefers Lachmann’s reading, which, as it now appears, is found also in Cod. Sin.—TR.]
Acts 18:28. [For was Christ (Tynd., Cranmer., Geneva), the margin of the Engl. Bible proposes: is the Christ. The original is: εἶναι τὸν Xρισιὸν Ἰησοῦν; comp. notes 5 and 6, appended to 18:1–17, text.—TR.]