Matthew Poole's Commentary
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;Acts 18:1-8 Paul worketh for his subsistence, and preacheth Christ
at Corinth, first to the Jews, and, upon their opposing
and blaspheming, to the Gentiles with more success.
Acts 18:9-11 He is encouraged by the Lord in a vision, and abideth
there a long time.
Acts 18:12-17 The Jews accuse him before Gallio the deputy, who
will have nothing to do with them.
Acts 18:18-23 Paul passeth from city to city, confirming the disciples.
Acts 18:24-28 Apollos, instructed more perfectly in the Christian
doctrine by Aquila and Priscilla, preacheth it at
Ephesus, and afterward in Achaia, with great efficacy.
The metropolis of Achaia, being a rich sea town, and situate in the very isthmus which joins Peloponnesus unto Achaia; made a Roman colony, and now flourishing with learned men. Here St. Paul gathered a famous church, unto which he wrote two of his Epistles.
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.Pontus; a country between Cappadocia and the Black Sea, Acts 2:9, whither the progenitors of Aquila, in one of the dispersions, might flee from Judea to inhabit there.
Claudius; the Roman emperor, who, at the beginning of his reign, gave liberty to the Jews freely to exercise their religion, but about eight years after took away that privilege from them; which Suetonius makes mention of, though very much mistaking the reason. With the Jews, it is thought that the Christians were banished too; for the pagan Romans did not care to distinguish between them, they both worshipping but one God, and agreeing in opposing their idolatry.
And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.Of the same craft; the most learned amongst the Jews did always learn some handicraft, and it was one of those things which they held a father was bound to do for his child, viz. to teach him some trade. And one of their rabbi’s sayings is, That whosoever does not teach his child a trade, does as bad as if he did teach him to play the thief.
And wrought; St. Paul wrought with his hands, not so much because as yet there was no church there that could maintain him, but:
1. Because he would not be burdensome unto them, they being probably most mean persons that believed there, as appears, 1 Corinthians 1:26. Or:
2. That he might show how that he did not covet theirs, but them, and to gain nothing but souls amongst them. Yet he asserted his right, and the right of ministers, by Divine appointment, to live of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:6,11,12.
Tent-makers; tents were used by soldiers, and in those hot countries by others also, being usually made of skins sewn together to keep off the violence of the weather.
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.He reasoned in the synagogue; or argued and disputed, giving his reasons out of Scripture, and answering their objections.
And persuaded the Jews; not only using cogent arguments, but, as some understand the verb, such as did prevail upon them.
And the Greeks; not such as were of the Jewish race, and after the dispersion used the Scripture in the Greek tongue; but such as were Gentile Greeks, Greeks by descent.
And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.Were come from Macedonia; according as was ordered by him, Acts 17:14,15.
Pressed in the spirit; more than ordinarily affected, the Spirit of God influencing his spirit, so that he felt an anguish or pain at the heart, as 2 Corinthians 2:4; such was his grief for the contumacy of the Jews, so great was his desire that they might be saved.
Jesus was Christ:
1. The Christ, or anointed, that excelled all other Christs or anointed ones, being anointed with oil above measure.
2. The Christ that was promised by the prophets.
And when 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.Blasphemed; they blasphemed Paul, miscalling of him, but especially Christ, whose dishonour grieved Paul most.
He shook his raiment; his upper garment, as the manner was, Matthew 26:65, that none of the dust of that place where such blasphemy was spoken might stick unto him. See Acts 13:51.
Your blood be upon your own heads; or, You are guilty of your own deaths and damnation, 2 Samuel 1:16 Matthew 27:25;
Felo de se. This expression is borrowed from the witnesses laying their hands on the head of the guilty person; or the sacrificer’s laying his hand on the head of the beast which was to be slain; Exodus 29:10 Leviticus 1:4.
I am clean; free from their blood, or the loss of their souls, having warned them, and shown the way of life unto them. Ezekiel 33:4; he had blown the trumpet, and warned the people.
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.Justus; some read Titus, some both Titus and Justus, making Justus a surname, as Acts 1:23 Colossians 4:11; after the manner of the Romans.
One that worshipped God; had forsaken the polytheism of the heathen.
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.The chief ruler: there were several rulers in a synagogue, which we find frequent mention of, as Matthew 9:18 Mark 5:22. Their office and place was, to advise and give order about the affairs of the synagogue, that all things might be performed according to their prescribed rules.
Many of the Corinthians believed; amongst whom are reckoned Gaius, Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1, and Epenetus, Romans 16:5.
Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:In the night by a vision; as Acts 16:9; it may be, by an angel.
Speak, and hold not thy peace; it is doubled again and again, as of greatest consequence:
1. To the Corinthians, whose salvation by this means might be procured.
2. To Paul himself, whose soul, howsoever, should be delivered, he having discharged his duty, Acts 20:26,27.
The fierceness of the enemies of God and his truth, should kindle a greater fervour in his servants for his glory. Should Satan have better servants than God? Should they dare for their master beyond what the servants of God are willing to do or suffer for him? Isaiah 62:1 Jeremiah 1:17,18.
For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.Christ, in this vision, useth two arguments to persuade Paul to continue preaching the gospel at Corinth:
1. Because he would be with him, to supply, support, and deliver him; as it is promised to Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:19, and to all the faithful ministers of Christ, Matthew 28:20. This promise was fulfilled to Paul, and to other of God’s servants; whatsoever troubles they met with, even when they were killed, they were not hurt, Romans 8:36-39.
2. The other reason why Paul was commanded to tarry was, because there were many that God would have called by his ministry; and thus those who were not his people God calleth his people, as Hosea 1:10 2:23.
And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.He sat there as his fixed place; which implies his continuance and constancy in the work of the ministry.
And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,This Gallio was brother to that deservedly famous Seneca, (who was tutor to Nero), and hath great commendations given him, as being a man of excellent disposition, beloved by all men, an enemy to all vice, and especially a hater of flattery.
Deputy of Achaia; this man was proconsul, governing Achaia and all Greece absolutely, or with the power of a consul.
With one accord; wicked men in their evil deeds are unanimous, for Satan knows that his kingdom would not stand if it were once divided.
Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.Contrary to the law, of the Romans, who, to avoid tumults and confusions, did forbid any to set up any new worship without leave; and the Jews in these parts having here no power to punish St. Paul as they had at Jerusalem, maliciously incite the governor against him. Or by the law here may be meant the law of Moses, which they accuse Paul to have broken, and so not to be comprehended in that licence which they had to exercise their religion.
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:To open his mouth; to make his apology, and to speak in his own defence.
A matter of wrong; as murder, theft, or any such injury, which judges do usually determine of.
Reason would that I should bear with you; I would endure any trouble to hear and understand it, I should think it my duty to suffer you to say as much as you would in your case.
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.A question of words; which have been spoken about the controversies of religion.
And names; as, whether Jesus was to be called Christ or the Messiah; and whether his disciples might be called Christians.
And of your law; concerning circumcision, as whether none may be saved without it.
I will be no judge of such matters; he acknowledges his unfitness and unwillingness to determine such things as did not belong unto him, or he did not understand.
And he drave them from the judgment seat.He commanded them to be gone, having dismissed their case; and, if need were, added threatening and force.
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.All the Greeks; not the converted Greeks, though St. Austin thought they beat Sosthenes, as an enemy to Paul, (yet surely they had not so learned Christ), but the unbelieving or Gentile Greeks, who cared for neither Paul nor Jews, but favoured Gallio, who would have them driven away.
Sosthenes; some think him to have been the same with Crispus, Acts 18:8; others, to have succeeded him in that office; and some think that he was chief ruler of another synagogue (for in great cities there might be more than one); and others, that there might be several called chief rulers over one and the same synagogue.
Gallio cared for none of those things; either slighting the Jews and all their controversies, or prudently declined intermeddling with them.
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.A good while; a year and a half in all, as some think, which is mentioned Acts 18:11, by a prolepsis; or, besides that year and a half there spoken of.
Took his leave of the brethren; ordering every thing as if he were to have taken his last farewell of them, as it fell out accordingly: howsoever, holy men live in a constant expectation of their dissolution.
Priscilla and Aquila: that the wife’s name is here put before the husband’s, have caused various conjectures; and it is observed, that in St. Paul’s Epistles, whereas there are three times only mention of them both together, viz. Romans 16:3 1 Corinthians 16:19 2 Timothy 4:19, the wife’s name is twice placed first, to show, that in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, Galatians 3:28.
Cenchrea; which was a town at the entering into the haven belonging to Corinth, Romans 16:1.
For he had a vow; to wit, St. Paul had; and therefore had shaven his head, according unto the law, Numbers 6:18. To the Jews he became as a Jew.
And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.Ephesus; the metropolis of the Lesser Asia, where afterwards that famous church was, unto which St. Paul wrote an Epistle, as also St. John wrote another, Revelation 2:1.
Left them there; that is, Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus, to confirm the believing Ephesians; whilst Paul
entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews; out of an extraordinary love for his nation, although he had suffered all those indignities from them, yet he would give them precept upon precept, and line upon line.
When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;They desired; that is, Aquila and Priscilla, whom Paul would not yield unto.
He consented not; by God’s wonderful providence, which overrules all our inclinations; Paul having greater things to do and suffer for the glory of God elsewhere.
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.This feast; the feast of the passover; which is meant where feast is put absolutely, unless some after expression qualifies it: not that this holy man did out of conscience to the feast intend to observe it, for Christ is the end of the law to them that believe, Romans 10:4; but because of the vast concourse from all places to Jerusalem at that time, which would give him an opportunity of making Christ known to such multitudes, and to gain their souls unto him.
If God will; though he was an apostle, and had the Spirit of prophecy, and might know whether he should return or no, yet he does not absolutely promise them to return to them, but conditionally, if the Lord will; to teach us what caution we should use in all our promises and resolutions, as Jam 4:15, being we know not what a day may bring forth. Besides, in our owning of God’s will and pleasure, we acknowledge a providence of God in all things, especially in our concerns, which we desire to refer all unto.
And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.Caesarea; not that Caesarea that was in Syria, but that which was in Palestine, called Caesarea Stratonis; and which was the safest way to Jerusalem; for the way by Joppa, though shorter, was accounted more dangerous. The church; either the church of Caesarea in his journey, or that at Jerusalem at his journey’s end, which for its populousness might be called eminently, the church.
Antioch; that Antioch that was in Syria.
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.Had spent some time there; this work might take up the constant care and indefatigable pains of the apostle.
Galatia; where he had converted many.
Phrygia: see Acts 16:6.
Strengthening all the disciples; though the seed be duly sown, yet it must be seasonably watered; and redit labor actus in orbem.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.Apollos; who is thought also to be called Apelles, Romans 16:10.
Born at Alexandria; his parents having lived there.
An eloquent man; a rational, prudent, and learned man. Though the kingdom of God is not in any excellency of speech, 1 Corinthians 2:1,4, yet this Egyptian jewel may be used to adorn the tabernacle.
Mighty in the Scriptures; in quoting, explaining, and urging of them.
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.Instructed; catechised, or taught, viva voce. In the way of the Lord; Christ, who hath by his precepts and example tanght us the way to happiness.
Fervent in the spirit; very zealous to promote God’s glory, and men’s salvation, as Romans 12:11.
Knowing only the baptism of John; who baptized with water, but could not baptize with the Holy Ghost, Matthew 3:11; that is, they had not those extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost which followed upon baptism after that Christ was ascended, and the Spirit poured out, Acts 2:4. But John was a preacher of repentance, and of faith in Christ, pointing at the Lamb of God; and he baptized his disciples into this doctrine; which is the same with the baptism and belief of the apostles afterwards; only now they knew many things more fully than were revealed in the Baptist’s time.
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.If we allow Priscilla to have contributed towards the instruction of Apollos, as doubtless we may, it is certain it was only in private discourse; which being joined with a meek and humble behaviour, might be very effectual for the conversion of souls, 1 Peter 3:1,2. Thus Timothy was indebted for his knowledge in the things of God to his mother and grandmother, 2 Timothy 1:5. But otherwise it is not lawful for a woman to teach, 1 Timothy 2:11,12.
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:To pass into Achaia; to Corinth, which was in Achaia.
The brethren wrote; who were at Ephesus.
Helped them much which had believed through grace; Apollos helped them much by his eloquence, zeal, and constancy, which all are the gifts of God; but, especially, that they believed was through grace; for faith is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8, and it was given unto them to believe, Philippians 1:29.
For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.Mightily; with great constancy, perseverance, and enduring of opposition.
Showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ; as Acts 17:3. Some think that Christ ought to be the subject, and Jesus the predicate; and then the sense is, that Christ is our Jesus, or Saviour. The Messiah, that was sent from God, is the Saviour of the world.