Acts 18

 

 

1 "After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;"

He for Paul, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. After these things, etc.

No hint is given by Luke as to the length of Paul's sojourn at Athens. But as the

double journey of the Beraeans, who accompanied him to Athens, back to Beraea,

and of Timothy from Beraea to Athens, amounted to above five hundred miles,

we cannot suppose it to have been less than a month; and it may have been a good

deal more. His reasonings in the synagogue with the Jews and devout Greeks,

apparently on successive sabbaths, his daily disputations in the Agora, apparently not

begun till after he had "waited" some time for Silas and Timothy, the knowledge he

had acquired of the numerous temples and altars at Athens, and the phrase with which

this chapter begins, all indicate a stay of some length. Came to Corinth. If by land,

a forty miles' or two days' journey, through Eleusis and Megara; if by sea, a day's sail.

Lewin thinks he came by sea, and that it was in winter, and that possibly one of the

shipwrecks mentioned in II Corinthians 11:25 may have occurred at this time.

Corinth, at this time a Roman colony, the capital of the province of Achaia, and the

residence of the proconsul. It was a great commercial city, the center of the trade

of the Levant, and consequently a great resort of the Jews. It had a very large Greek

population. Ancient Corinth had been destroyed by Mummins, surnamed Achaicus,

B.C. 146, and remained waste (ἐρήμη - eraemae) many years. Julius Caesar founded

a Roman colony on the old site (Howson), "consisting principally of freedmen,

among whom were great numbers of the Jewish race." Corinth, as a Roman colony,

had its duumviri, as appears by coins of the reign of Claudius (Lewin, p. 270.

 

 

 

Corinth as a Model Sphere of Missionary Labor (v. 1)

 

The service of the apostle in no city or district is more fully detailed than his

service at Corinth, and there is so much of interest connected with that

city, that we may consider somewhat fully the work that had to be done,

and the work that was done there. A general sketch of the place, its

character, and its history will suggest the directions in which, further study

and research may be hopefully pursued. The most complete and careful

note is the following, by Dean Plumptre: — “The position of Corinth on

the isthmus, with a harbour on either shore, Cenchreae on the east,

Lechaeum on the west, had naturally made it a place of commercial

importance at a very early stage of Greek history. With commerce had

crone luxury and vice, and the verb Corinthiazein, equal to ‘live as the

Corinthians,’ had become proverbial, as early as the time of Aristophanes,

for a course of profligacy. The harlot priestesses of the temple of

Aphrodite gave a kind of consecration to the deep-dyed impurity of Greek

social life, of which we find traces in I Corinthians 5:1; 6:9-19. The

Isthmian games, which were celebrated every fourth year, drew crowds of

competitors and spectators from all parts of Greece, and obviously

furnished the apostle with the agonistic imagery of I Corinthians 9:24-27.

On its conquest by the Roman general Mummius (B.C. 146), many of

its buildings had been destroyed, and its finest statues had been carried off

to Rome. A century later, Julius Caesar determined to restore it to its

former splendor, and thousands of freedmen were employed in the work of

reconstruction. Such was the scene of the apostle’s new labors, less

promising, at first sight, than Athens, but ultimately far more fruitful in

results.” Taking the point of view indicated in the heading of this homily

outline, we notice that:

 

  • CORINTH WAS THE PLACE TO TEST THE ADAPTATION OF

THE GOSPEL TO ALL CLASSES OF SOCIETY. The experience of long

years and many missionary journeys was epitomized at Corinth. Not even

Rome presented such an assemblage of all classes and grades, of all

nationalities and races. It was just the place wherein to show what

“almighty grace can do.” And the great apostle sought it with much the

same instinct that leads the revivalists of our day to seek London, or

Glasgow, or Paris. The population of Corinth was largely democratic, and

its aristocracy was that of wealth rather than of birth. Commerce brought

to it sailors and merchants from all parts of the world. There was a

considerable Greek population, and a large number of Roman settlers. And

we may add that the Jewish nation was well represented. Paul preached

the gospel to them all, and it proved the power of salvation unto all who

believed.  (Romans 1:16)

 

  • CORINTH WAS THE PLACE TO TEST THE POWER OF THE

GOSPEL ON MEN UTTERLY DEBASED AND CORRUPTED BY SIN.

The moral iniquity of Rome, as described in Romans 1, may help us to

realize the profligacy of Corinth. F.W. Robertson says, “The city was the

hotbed of the world’s evil, in which every noxious plant, indigenous or

transplanted, rapidly grew and flourished; where luxury and sensuality

throve rankly, stimulated by the gambling spirit of commercial life, till

Corinth now in the apostle’s time, as in previous centuries, became a

proverbial name for moral corruption.” Can the gospel cleanse the unclean,

deliver those enslaved by vice, break the bondage of degrading habits, and

give men command over their passions? Can even worse than Jerusalem

sinners be saved? And is there hope for the most abandoned nations?

Paul’s successes at Corinth are the sufficing answer.

 

  • CORINTH WAS THE PLACE TO DEVELOP THE RELATIONS

OF CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES TO SOCIAL AND FAMILY LIFE. Show

how the common everyday life and relations of the people had been toned

by their idolatrous religion. The practical question comes to every man

who yields his heart to Christ — What changes will the Christian principles

make in my conduct? Illustrate how Paul had to decide many details,

and illustrate the working of the Christian principles in his letters to the

Corinthian Church. And he thus has rendered invaluable service to the

Church of all the ages.

 

2 "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." He found for found, Authorized

Version; a man of Pontus by race for born in Pontus, Authorized Version; because

for because that, Authorized Version; the Jews for , Jews, Authorized Version;

he came for came, Authorized Version. Aquila. A Roman name, Graecized into

Ἀκύλας - Akulas. Knights and tribunes and others of the name occur in Roman

history. Whether the Jewish family residing in Pontus took the name of Aquila

from any of these Romans is not known. Aquila, the translator of the Old Testament

into Greek about A.D. , was also a Jew of Pontus, the old kingdom of Mithridates.

That there was a considerable colony of Jews in Pontus appears also from ch. 2:9

and I Peter 1:1. Priscilla. Also called Prisca (II Timothy 4:19). So in classical authors,

Livia and Livilla, Drusa and Drusilla, are used of the same persons (Howson, p. 415).

Prisca is a not uncommon name for Roman women. The masculine Priscus occurs

very frequently. Aquila and Priscilla were among the most active Christians, and the

most devoted friends of Paul (vs. 18, 26; Romans 16:3-5; I Corinthians 16:19;

II Timothy 4:19); and were evidently persons of culture as well as piety. Lately;

προσφάτως - prosphatos -  (i.q. πρόσφατον - prosphaton - , Pindar, etc.), only

found here in the New Testament. But it occurs in the Septuagint of Deuteronomy

24:5 and Ezekiel 11:3, and in the and apocryphal books repeatedly, and in Polybius.

The adjective πρόσφατος, which is also used by the Septuagint and the Apocrypha

and in classical Greek for "new," is used only once in the New Testament,

in Hebrews 10:20. It means properly "newly killed," hence anything "recent," "fresh,

or "new." Both the adjective and the adverb are very common in medical writings.

Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. Suetonius mentions the

fact, but unfortunately does not say in what year of Claudius's reign it took place.

His account is that, in consequence of frequent disturbances and riots among the Jews

at the instigation of Chrestus, Claudius drove them from Rome. It seems almost certain,

as Renan says, especially combining Tacitus's account ('Annal.,' 15:44) of the spread

of Christianity in the city of Rome before the time of Nero, that Chrestus (Greek

Ξρηστός,) is only a corruption of the name Christ, similar to that found on three or

four inscriptions before the time of Constantine, where Christians are called

Ξρηστιανοί, and to the formation of the French word Chretien - in old French

Chrestien; and that the true account of these riots is that they were attacks of the

unbelieving Jews upon Christian Jews, similar to these at Jerusalem (ch. 8.), at

Antioch in Pisidia (ch.13:50), at Iconium and Lystra (ch.14.), and at Thessalonica

and Beraea (ch. 17.). The Romans did not discriminate between Jews and Christian

Jews, and thought that those who called Christ their King were fighting under His

leadership (compare ch. 17:7; Luke 23:2; see Renan, 'St. Paul,' p. 101). Tertullian and

Lactantius (quoted by Lewin, p. 274) both speak of the vulgar pronunciation,

Chrestianus and Chrestus. Howson also adopts the above explanation. But Meyer

thinks that Chrestus was, as Suetonius says, a Jewish leader of insurrection at Rome.

The question bears on the passage before us chiefly as the solution does or does not

prove the existence of Christians at Rome at this time, and affects the probability of

Aquila and Priscilla being already Christians when they came to Corinth, before they

made Paul's acquaintance.

 

3 "And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought:

for by their occupation they were tentmakers."  Trade for craft, Authorized

Version; they wrought for (he) wrought, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;

trade for occupation, Authorized Version. (τέχνῃ - technae - trade). Of the same

trade; ὁμότεχνον - homotechnon - like trade. This word occurs here only in the

New Testament, but is of frequent use in Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Galen

(Hobart, as before). Tent-makers; σκηνοποιοί - skaenopoioi - tentmakers, which

is paraphrased by σκηοῥῤάφοι - skaeorraphoi - tent-stitchers or tailors, by

Chrysostom and Theodoret. Hug and others erroneously interpret it "makers of

tent-cloth," from the fact that a certain kind of cloth made of goats' hair, called

κιλίκιον - kilikion, was manufactured in Paul's native country of Cilicia. But the

fact of such manufacture would equally lead persons who were living in Cilicia

to exercise the trade of making tents of the cloth so manufactured. Paul alludes to

his manual labor in ch. 20:33-35; I Corinthians 4:12; I Thessalonians 2:9;

II Thessalonians 3:8-9.

 

 

 

Christian Friendship (vs. 1-3)

 

Unselfish friendship, the union of human souls in the bands of a close,

unworldly, self-sacrificing love, has always been a spectacle that has

fascinated men, one on which they have dwelt with peculiar fondness.

Among the Greeks, Pylades and Orestes, Damon and Pythias; in the Old

Testament David and Jonathan, and in the New Testament Peter and John,

are examples of such friendships, and of the admiration which men cannot

help having for them. But there is not any more beautiful and touching

picture of human friendship to be found anywhere than that which rises up

before us in the case of Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. We first find the group

in a humble workman’s dwelling at Corinth. Drawn together by being

ὁμότεχνοιhomotechnoi - men of the same trade, they are lodging in the same

house. They were brought there indeed from different causes, and from

different parts of the world. Paul from Antioch, urged westward by his ardent

desire to add new realms to the kingdom of Christ; Aquila and Priscilla driven

eastward by the cruel edict of a despot forcing them from their home and

all its interests in Italy. They met in Corinth, and dwelt under one roof.

There we see the men busy at their trade of tent-making, while the wife,

the woman of the house, added that comfort and cheerfulness to the home

which the presence of a bright, energetic, intelligent woman is so well fitted

to afford. A common trade, a common race, and the common interests

arising from both, would soon cement a friendship between two virtuous

men thus thrown together in a foreign land. But a much closer bond of

union soon knit the two men together. Whether Aquila and Priscilla

brought with them from Rome the rudiments of the Christian faith, or

whether they first learned that JESUS IS THE CHRIST from the lips of Paul,

we have no means of deciding. What is certain is that many words concerning

the kingdom of God passed between them in their hours of work. While

Paul’s industrious hands were travailing and stitching night and day to earn

his bread, his eloquent tongue was discoursing of Jesus Christ and his great

salvation. Aquila, doubtless well read in the Scriptures, like his later

namesake and fellow-citizen in Pontus, was not slow to take in his words;

while Priscilla, taking perhaps the woman’s part in cutting out and

preparing the materials for their work, listened with intense interest to the

words of eternal life uttered by the apostle. The friendship begun in earthly

relations was soon perfected in the bonds of the love of Christ. We can

fancy the hours of united prayer when those two or three were gathered

together in the name of Jesus. We can fancy the close fellowship induced

by the common enmity of their unbelieving and blaspheming fellow-

countrymen.  We can fancy their common joy when first one and then

another of their Jewish brethren was brought to the Shepherd and Bishop

of souls. We seem to feel their common anxiety when Paul was brought

before the bema of Gallio, and to hear their common praises when the

conspiracy was defeated and the apostle was set free. We no longer

wonder to read that when Paul set sail for Syria, Aquila and Priscilla went

too (v. 18), and all that follows, follows so naturally. Their labor

at Ephesus as the apostle’s delegates; their faithful instruction of Apollos;

their patient continuance at Ephesus after Paul’s return (I Corinthians 16:13);

the Church in their house, both at Ephesus and at Rome (ibid. v. 9; Romans

16:3); their unbroken attachment to the very latest moment to which our

knowledge extends  (II Timothy 4:19); — all is of a piece with that first holy

friendship which was born in the workshop at Corinth, and nourished in the

fellowship of faith. The picture leaves a deep impression upon the mind

that human friendship, like all else that is good or beautiful in human life,

attains its perfect growth, and produces its fairest fruits, when it is laid in a

common fellowship with God, and is fostered by a constant partnership in

loving labors for the glory of Christ and. for the increase of His Church.

 

4 "And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews

and the Greeks."  Jews and Greeks for the Jews and the Greeks, Authorized

Version.  Observe again the influence of the synagogue upon the Greek population.

Reasoned (see ch.17:2, 17, note).

 

 

 

Tent-Making a Sermon (vs. 3-4)

 

Paul has left the mockers, the procrastinators, and the believers, each to

reap the fruits he has sown, and, departing from Athens, has reached

Corinth. And here we find him the center of so natural a touch of history,

that it speaks its own fidelity. No “cunningly devised” (II Peter 1:16) history

would have interpolated such an incident as this before us. Nothing but the

truth of history could find its niche here. So distinctly as it is recorded, it must

be charged with some useful suggestions.

 

  • PAUL PUTS HONOR ON MERE LABOR WITH THE HANDS. It

were of those matters of exceedingly curious interest, not vouchsafed to

us, and not necessary to “our learning,” if we had been told, what Paul

earned as wage; or otherwise how he sold what he made. Of one thing we

will be sure, he did neither ask nor take more than was the right price.

 

  • PAUL PUTS ITS REAL HONOR ON THE APOSTOLIC AND

MINISTERIAL OFFICE. He does this partly, in one of the most effective

of ways, viz. by withdrawing from that office its merely superficial honor.

He strips it of mere dignity, of case, and of professionalism.

 

  • PAUL PUTS HONOR ON INDEPENDENCE, EVEN IN THE

APOSTOLIC OFFICE. True, in Christianity as in Judaism, that those who

minister at the altar have right to live by the altar, and that the exchange of

things temporal and “carnal” (I Corinthians 9:11-14) for things

spiritual is sure to be to the preponderating gain of those who part with the

former. Yet there may be times when the day shall be won by one clear

proof, and that the proof of disinterestedness (ibid. vs. 15-18).

 

  • PAUL PUTS HONOR ON THE FREEDOM OF CHRISTIANITY

FROM ANY SET AND ARTIFICIAL CLASS DISTINCTIONS. The

man who speaks and who does the right and the good is the disciple of Christ.

And discipleship is not determined, or regulated, or modified, in any way

whatsoever by the kind of work to which it puts its hand. A man who prays

in all the secrecy of the closet may do more than the man who preaches in

all the publicity of the Church. A man who gives may haply, on occasion,

do more than either. And a man who works at the humblest craft may not

only be not second to an apostle, but may be truest apostle himself. How

often have heart and mind died away, and nothing been reaped for want of

hand and foot! The union of the practical with the devotional is often just

as truly the sine qua non, as the union of the devotional with the teaching

and preaching of the highest seraph-tongue.

 

  • PAUL STRIKES AT THE DEEP-LYING PRINCIPLE, SO

WELCOME AND HONORED WHEN RIGHTLY EMBRACED, OF

THE SELF-SUPPORTING CHARACTER OF CHRISTIANITY. This is

its honest pride. It asks air and light. And it asks love and faith, trust and

trial. And it thereupon asks nothing more, till of it, it comes to be asked,

and passionately, what devout, grateful, adoring return in its surpassing

condescension it is willing to receive. Beneath not infrequent disguises,

Christianity has been a long history of:

 

Ø      giving and not taking,

Ø      giving and not even receiving,

 

till hand and heart have become one. And men, suppliant in loving and

overflowing devotion, have begged their Master, Lord, and

Savior to accept of themselves and their all.

 

5 "And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed

in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ."  But for and,

Authorized Version; Timothy for Timotheus, Authorized Version; came down for

were come down, Authorized Version; constrained by the Word for pressed in spirit,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; testifying for and testified, Authorized

Version; the Christ for Christ, Authorized Version. When Silas and Timothy, etc.

It is probable that Silas had returned by Paul's directions to Beraea, and Timothy to

Thessalonica from Athens. If there were extant a letter of Paul to the Beraeans, it

would probably mention his sending back Silas to them, just as the Epistle to the

Thessalonians mentions his sending Timothy to them. Now they both come to

Corinth from Macedonia, which includes Beraea and Thessalonica. If they came by

sea, they would probably sail together from Dium to Cenchreae (see ch. 17:14, note).

Was constrained by the Word. As an English phrase, this is almost destitute of meaning.

If the Received Text is right, and it has very strong manuscript authority, the words

συνείχετο τῷ λόγῳ - suneicheto to logo - was pressed by the word - mean that he was

seized, taken possession of, and as it were bound by the necessity of preaching the

Word, constrained as it were to preach more earnestly than ever. In Luke συνέχεσθαι

is a medical term: in Luke 4:28, Received Text, "Holden with a great fever;"

Luke 8:37, "Holden with a great fear;" Acts 28:8, "Sick of fever and dysentery;"

and so frequently in medical writers ('Medical Language of St. Luke,' Hobart).

But it is worth considering whether συνείχετο is not in the middle voice, with

the sense belonging to συνεχής - sunechaes - i.e. "continuous," "unbroken,"

and so that the phrase means that, after the arrival of Silas and Timothy, Paul

gave himself up to continuous preaching. Luke has not infrequently a use of

words peculiar to himself. The Vulgate rendering, instabat verbo, seems so to

understand it. It was probably soon after the arrival of Silas and Timothy that

Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 1:1;  3:1-2, 6).

The Second Epistle followed some time before Paul left Corinth. If the Textus

Receptus, τῷ πνεύματι - to pneumatic -  is right, it must be construed, "constrained

by the Spirit," in accordance with Greek usage. Testifying, etc. Note how different

Paul's preaching in the synagogue was from his preaching in the Areopagus.

 

 

6 "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."  Shook out for shook, Authorized Version.

For this action of shaking his raiment, compare ch. 13:51. It was in accordance with

our Lord's direction in Matthew 10:14, where the same word (ἐκτινάξατε - ektinaxate

 - shake off ye) is used. It is "much employed in medical language" (Hobart, ' Medical

Language of St. Luke,' p. 240). The idea seems to be having nothing henceforth in

common with them. Your blood, etc. (see Ezekiel 33:4-9). Paul's keen sense of the

perverseness of the Jews breaks out in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians

(ch. 2:14-16), written about this time. See note to v. 5.

 

 

Personal Religious Responsibility (v. 6)

 

“Your blood be upon your own heads.” Up to this time Paul had been strictly loyal

to the Jews, and wherever he went he had taken the gospel first to them. No

doubt the hindrance of their prejudices, and the violence of their

opposition, had weaned him from them and prepared the way for the

separation of the Gentile from the Jewish Christians, which took place at

Ephesus (ch. 19:9). The terms that are used to describe the conduct

of the Jewish party are very strong ones, and help to explain the intense

feeling of indignation excited in the apostle. “Opposed themselves” is a

military term, implying organized and systematic opposition, How strong

Paul’s feelings were is indicated in his act of “shaking his raiment.” “As

done by a Jew to Jews, no words and no act could so well express the

apostle’s indignant protest. It was the last resource of one who found

appeals to reason and conscience powerless, and was met by brute violence

and clamor.” The phrase which the apostle used is evidently a proverbial

one; it must not be regarded as a mere passionate imprecation; it is a last

solemn warning. With it should be compared such passages as I Kings

2:32-33, 37; Ezekiel 3:18; 33:4; Matthew 23:35.  Paul did not from

this time entirely give up preaching to the Jews, but he gave up preaching

to those who lived at Corinth. The point on which we fix attention is that

Paul had recognized and borne responsibility for them as their teacher;

but that responsibility he refused to bear any longer; he cast it back

altogether on themselves.

 

  • THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TEACHER. This is fully dealt with,

in relation to the ancient prophets, by Ezekiel (3:17-21; 33:1-19). The

prophet, or teacher, or preacher, is:

 

Ø      A man set in relation with others who is one of them; who can speak to,

or influence, others.

 

Ø      A man with a message to be given to others. He is a recipient of Divine

truth for the sake of others. He has a sphere and a message. Out of these

two things comes his responsibility. For the time and occasion, he actually

takes upon himself the responsibility of the souls of those to whom he is

sent, since their eternal well-being may be dependent on his faithfulness in

the delivery of his message. Illustrate that Jonah took upon himself the fate

of Nineveh as a nation. So every true preacher now, who has a message

from God, finds that the secret of his power lies in the measure in which he

can take the responsibility of his audience upon himself, and feel that his

testimony will be a savor of “life unto life,” or of “death unto death.”

(II Corinthians 2:16)   He can only be cleared of his responsibility before

God in two ways.

 

o        By fully delivering his message.

o        By the willful rejection of his message.

 

The burden on the Christian preacher’s heart is the burden of

souls; and with what an agony of feeling he sometimes would cast off the

burden, saying, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (ibid.)  But what is

overwhelming responsibility from one point of view is holy joy of service

from another point of view. Who would not willingly stand with Christ,

and feel how “He bare our infirmities and carried our sorrows”?

(Matthew 8:17)  “It is enough for the servant that he be as his Lord.”

          (ibid. ch. 10:25)

 

  • THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE HEARER. It may be said — Is it

not better to have the people without the knowledge of the truth, if such

knowledge increases their responsibility and final judgment? The answer is:

 

Ø      We must preach the gospel, whatever may prove to be the issues of

ourwork.

Ø      Bearing responsibilities, and lifting ourselves to meet them well, are

the conditions of moral growth.

 

No man can reach a full manhood save under the pressure of responsibilities.

Those of the hearer are:

 

Ø      To listen to the teacher of Divine truth.

Ø      To recognize the personal relations of the truth he hears.

Ø      To decide for himself the acceptance or rejection of the message.

To bear all the present and future consequences of WHATEVER

DECISION HE MAY MAKE!

 

The he most painful thing about the woe of lost souls will be the

conviction that they were themselves to blame. “Their blood was upon

their own heads.”   (I should think that the major self-reproach of the

individual separated from God throughout eternity will be “HOW DID I

MISS THIS?  - CY – 2018)

 

7 "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."

Went for entered, Authorized Version; the house of a certain man for a certain

man's house, Authorized Version; Titus Justus for Justus, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus.  Thence. Clearly from the synagogue, where he had been

preaching to the Jews, not from Aquila's house, as Alford and others. It does not

appear to be a question here of where Paul lodged, but where he preached. Justus

had probably a large room, which he gave Paul the use of for his sabbath and other

meetings. As Howson truly says, he continued to "lodge" (μένειν - menein) with

Aquila and Priscilla. It is only said that he "came" (ῆλθεν - aelthen - he came)

to the house of Justus from the synagogue. So Renan, "Il enseigna desor-mais dans

la maison de Titius Justus" (p. 216). One that worshipped God (σεβομένον τὸν Θεόν -

sebomenon ton Theon - one revering the God ); i.e. a Greek proselyte of the gate

(see ch.13:43, 50; 16:14; 17:4, 17, etc.) Cornelius is called εὐσεβὴς καὶ φοβούμενος

τὸν Θεόν - eusebaes kai phoboumenos ton Theon - devout and fearing the God.

Whose house, etc. Either his proximity to the synagogue had led to his attending

there, or, being already a proselyte, he had taken a house hard by for the convenience

of attending. Joined hard; ῆν συνομοροῦσα - aen sunomorousa - was being adjacent,

found only here either in the New Testament or elsewhere.

 

8 "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."

Ruler for chief ruler, Authorized Version; (ἀρχισυνάγωγος archisunagogos

chief of the synagogue,  as in ch. 13:15); in for on, Authorized Version.  Crispus

(a common Roman name) was one of the very few whom Paul himself baptized,

probably on account of his important position as ruler of the synagogue, as we

learn from I Corinthians 1:14. With all his house (compare  ch. 16:33-34).

Many of the Corinthians; i.e. of the Greeks and Romans, who composed the

population of the city. It is seldom that we have the names of so many converts

preserved as we have of this Achaian mission. Besides Crispus and Gaius, we know

of Epaenetus and Stephanas, who would seem to have been converted together

(Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:15); and probably also Fortunatus and Achaicus

(ibid. v. 17). Gaius, from his name (Caius) and his salutation to the Church at Rome,

was probably a Roman. Fortunatus and Achaicus also belonged, perhaps, to the

Roman colony. Here too were many heathen converts (I Corinthians 12:2),

though mostly of the lower rank (I Corinthians 1:26-29).

 

9 “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but

speak, and hold not thy peace:”  And the Lord said unto for then spake the

Lord to, Authorized Version.  A vision (ὅραματος horamatos - vision); literally,

a thing seen, but always used of a wonderful "sight:" Matthew 17:9 of the

Transfiguration, ch. 7:31 of the burning bush. But more commonly of a "vision,"

as in ch. 9:10, 12; 10:3, 17, 19; 11:5; 12:9; 16:9. So in the Septuagitn

(Genesis 46:2, etc.). Paul received a similar gracious token of the Lord's

watchful care of him soon after his conversion (ch. 22:17-21). He tells us

that then he was in an "ecstasy," or trance. The ἔκστασις  - ekstasistrance,

describing the mental condition of the person who sees an ὅραμα (vision).

 

10 “For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have

much people in this city.”  Harm for hurt, Authorized Version. I have much

people, etc. We may infer from this intimation from him who "knoweth them

that are His" (I Timothy 2:19), which led to Paul staying on at Corinth upwards of

a year and six months (v. 11), that the shortness of his stay at Athens was because

the Lord had not much people there. For the encouraging promise of protection in

the midst of danger given to Paul by Christ in this vision, compare Jeremiah 1:17-19.

 

 

God’s Grace in Times of Depression (vs. 9-10)

 

The point of this gracious and comforting manifestation of God to His

servant is that it came at a time of much perplexity, anxiety, and

depression. It told of the Divine care of the earnest and faithful apostle, and

gave him the restful assurance that, however men might oppose and

trouble him, God accepted his service, and would surely guard him from all

evil until his work in that city was complete. We may compare the

proverbial assurance which has often brought comfort to our hearts, “Man

is immortal till his work is done.” It was one of the marked peculiarities of

the Divine dealing with Paul, that at the great crises of his life special

visions were granted to him. At the time of his conversion, he had seen and

heard the Lord (ch. 9:4-6). When in a trance at Jerusalem, he heard

the same voice and saw the same form (22:17). When on the ship,

during the great storm, an angel form appeared to him with a gracious and

assuring message (ch. 27:23-24). When called to appear before his

judge, he seems to have had an unusual sense of Christ’s nearness, for he

says, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me”

(II Timothy 4:17). And he gives a full account of his remarkable

uplifting to see unspeakable things in II Corinthians 12:1-7. But all who

are so sensitively toned as to have such seasons of spiritual elevation are

singularly liable to answering moods of depression. They who can thus rise

high can also sink low; and Paul did but tell of actual and painful

experiences when he said, “Without were fightings and within were fears.”

(II Corinthians 7:5)  At Corinth circumstances greatly troubled him. Some measure

of success attended his preaching, but he seemed to make more and worse enemies

than ever; he separated the Christian disciples from the synagogue in the

hope of getting some quietness and peace, but the prejudiced Jews of the

synagogue continued their persecutions, until Paul’s spirit was well-nigh

broken, and he had almost made up his mind to leave Corinth, and

seek for other and more hopeful spheres. And yet he felt that this would be

running away from his work, and forcing God’s providence, seeing that no

directions for his removal from Corinth had been given to him. It was just

at this period of anxiety and depression that the comforting message came

to him. Illustration of similar moods of feeling, in other servants of God,

may be found in Elijah (I Kings 19:4-14); in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6-8; 15:15-21);

and in John the Baptist’s sending from his prison to Jesus, asking, “Art thou He

that should come, or do we look for another?”  (Matthew 11:3)

 

Having this incident and its surrounding circumstances well before us, we

may consider two things:

 

(1) what the incident tells us of Paul; and

(2) what the incident tells us of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  • WHAT THE INCIDENT TELLS US OF PAUL.

It intimates:

 

Ø      That he suffered from bodily frailty. A burden of physical weakness

constantly oppressed him and affected his spirits. Compare Richard Baxter

or Robert Hall, men whose holy labors were a continual triumph of will

and of heart over pain and weakness. Show the subtle connections between

bodily conditions and apprehensions of Divine truth. It is most comforting

to be assured that God knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are

dust,”  (Psalm 103:14)

 

Ø      That he was naturally of a most sensitive and nervous constitution, so

that he felt everything most keenly. Such natures yearn for love with an

intense passion, and they feel slights and unkindness, and seeming failure

and unfaithfulness, in those they trust, with a passion equally intense. They

have altogether higher joys than most men can know, but they have

answering sorrows deeper than most men can sound. To such natures

alone can spiritual visions come: they gain the truth by power of insight;

and, often at the cost of extreme personal suffering and distress, they

become the great thought-leaders and teachers of the age. Such men are

amongst us still, and they need the tenderest consideration and sympathy.

They will reward us by thoughts and views of Christ and of truth such as

never can be won by mere study. Their love and faith alone can sound the

deep things of God.  (I think of one Marion Duncan – CY – 2018)

 

  • WHAT THE INCIDENT TELLS US OF THE LORD JESUS

CHRIST.

 

Ø      The first thing is the assurance it gives of Christ’s actual presence with

His servants. He may not always be felt, BUT HE IS ALWAYS PRESENT!

 

Ø      He is never failing in His gracious and tender interest in their doings, and

in them.

 

Ø      He is ready to make manifestations of Himself, and of His will, to His

servants, in exact adaptation to their needs.

 

Ø      He may show His nearness, and assure His servants of His sympathy and

help in unique ways. The point of all our Lord’s manifestations to His

people is the need for keeping up in their souls the conviction that HE IS

REALLY WITH THEM!   All comfort, strength, and security for Christian

workers come with this conviction. So Paul elsewhere declares, “I can do all

things through Christ that strengtheneth me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

We may learn:

 

o        That times of depression are no unusual experience for God’s people.

o        That they may even come in the very midst of our work.

o        That they are under the gracious watching of the Master whom we

serve.

o        And that they are only the sides of weakness that belong to natures

endowed with special capacities for special work.

 

11 “And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God

among them.”  Dwelt for continued, Authorized Version. Dwelt; literally, sat down,

as ch. 13:14, etc., and hence to "remain quietly" (Luke 24:49). A year and six

 months. It is not clear whether these eighteen months are to be measured to the end

of Paul's stay at Corinth, or only to the rising up of the Jews related in vs. 12-17.

The force of ἐκάθισενekathisenhe is seated -  as indicating a quiet, undisturbed

abode, and calls special attention to the ἔτιetistill - of v. 18, as showing that the

"many days" there mentioned were additional to the year and a half of v. 11. The

only longer residence we know of was that of three years at Ephesus (ch. 20:31).

 

 

 

Truth Before the Citadel (vs. 1-11)

 

When the apostle of Jesus Christ confronted the heathenism of Corinth, we

may say that, in his person, Divine truth was opening its attack on the very

citadel of sin; such was its “abysmal profligacy,” its intemperance, its

dishonesty, its superstition. In the brief account we have of Paul’s work in

this city we are reminded:

 

  • THAT CHRISTIAN BLAMELESSNESS SHOULD ANSWER TO

THE DEPRAVITY IT ENCOUNTERS. (v. 3.) At such a city as

Corinth it was eminently desirable that the apostle of truth and

righteousness should be, in all respects, above reproach. There must not be

the shadow of suspicion of self-seeking upon him; he must show himself,

and be seen to be, the disinterested, missionary he was. Therefore he

worked away with his own hands, laboriously maintaining himself all the

while that he was laboring in spiritual fields (see I Corinthians 9:15-18).

This is the spirit in which it becomes all earnest men to act. We should

give ourselves trouble, we should deny ourselves pleasure, according to the

necessities of the case before us. Though “free from all,” we should

become “the servants of all, that we may gain the more” (ibid. v. 19).

 There are circumstances in which we are perfectly justified in using

our liberty; there are others in which we are constrained to forgo our

freedom, and impose hardships on ourselves, that we may gain those

whom, otherwise, we should not win.

 

  • THAT WHEN MEN PERSISTENTLY REJECT THE BEST WE

CAN BRING THEM, WE MUST PASS ON TO OTHERS. (vs. 5-6.)

When Silas and Timotheus rejoined Paul at Corinth, they found him

“earnestly occupied in discoursing;” “he was being constrained by the

Word;” he was striving with his whole strength to convince the Jews that

Jesus was the Christ. But his most zealous efforts were all unavailing, His

opponents resisted his arguments; they opposed him and blasphemed his

Lord. Then he turned, sorrowfully and indignantly, away from them, and

gave himself to the work of God among the Gentiles (v. 6). This was not

more sensible and obligatory then than it is now. If we have been laboring

devotedly, prayerfully, patiently, among certain men, and they

determinately reject our message, it is both foolish and wrong of us to

waste our resources there; we must pass on to others who may welcome

our word as the truth of God.

 

  • THAT CHRIST WILL NOT LEAVE HIS FAITHFUL SERVANTS

WITHOUT DIVINE ENCOURAGEMENT. He granted Paul:

 

Ø      the joy of spiritual success (v. 8); also

Ø      the assurance of His protecting care (vs. 9-10).

 

The exact measure of his success we do not know, but it was probably

considerable; the Church at Corinth became of such importance that Paul

paid it great attention, and spent on it much strength in after years. The

vision which the Savior granted was supernatural, and of a kind which we

do not expect him to repeat continually. But we may confidently reckon

that, if we are found faithful by our Master, we shall have:

 

Ø      A good measure of success in our work. Earnest Christian effort rarely,

if ever, fails. We may, indeed, be ill adapted to the special work we have

undertaken, and then we must pass on to other fields; but if we are in our

right place, we shall assuredly have some increase for our toil: “In due

season we shall reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

 

Ø      The inspiration which comes direct from God. Christ will come to us,

not in such vision as that He granted Paul, but He will visit us; be will

vouchsafe to us those renewing influences of His Holy Spirit, which will

make us:

 

o       wilting to endure what we may have to suffer;

o       willing to wait His time for sending the harvest;

o       strong to speak His truth in His Name and in His Spirit.

 

 

 

The Complement to Human Uncertainty Found in Divine Fidelity

(vs. 9-11)

 

It must be supposed either that the omniscient eye saw some signs of

failing in Paul, or else that the greatness of the work and the severity of the

trials before him were judged by Divine compassion to ask some special

help. Notice, therefore, how true it is that:

 

  • THE BEST AND STRONGEST OF HUMAN DEVOTION IS

LIABLE TO SOME UNCERTAINTY. No reference is here made to the

fickleness that owns to no real devotion, nor ever sprang from depth of

root. We are to note that the longest human perseverance may yet break,

the stoutest human heart may have its weaker moments, during which

irretrievable damage may be done to its cause and discredit to itself, and

the warmest devotion may under certain circumstances cool.

 

Ø      Exceeding weariness of the flesh may overcome, some unexpected hour,

the truest human devotion, if it get left as it were just a moment to itself.

 

Ø      An exceedingly baffled state of the mind and of faith may throw that

determined human devotion. The vicissitude of the world, the Divine

conduct of its history, and, not the least, the Divine conduct of the grand

forces of Christianity, when they seem awhile to halt or to be mocked by

their own professed friends into discredit, — these often offer to baffle

each deepest thinker, each most observant reflector.

 

Ø      The exceeding keenness of the soul’s own peculiar disappointment,

when the beauty and the persuasiveness and the unchallengeable merit of

Christ do nevertheless count, to all present appearance, for nothing before

the brute force of the powers of evil, — this threatens the patience of

human devotion.

 

  • THE UNFAILING SUCCOR OF DIVINE INTERPOSITION. That

interposition rests on three very thoughts of mercy. They are:

 

Ø      The Divine attention to “all and each,” and of the most secret heart

and need of each.

 

Ø      The Divine sympathy. This is one of the great ultimate facts of a risen,

ascended, glorified Savior, who had been once with us, and who still

shares, high aloft as He, is our nature.

 

Ø      The Divine practical methods of rescue in the hour of danger a provision

against its over-storming rage. Among such methods may be ranked:

 

o        Divine suggestions. These are angels of angels oftentimes to the

depressed, the doubting, the darkened, yet the loving and true of heart

— they are like nothing, more than those rays of light, which are the

brighter arid more exactly defined for the darkness of the clouds past

which they travel.

 

o        The triumph of a quickened faith. Surely this is “the gift of God.” If

faith itself be so, the brightest flashings forth of the very pride of faith,

if it be possible to say so, might be yet more inscribed the gifts of God

— so opportune, so enlightening, so banishing to doubting darkness

and to darkest doubting. There is a moment when perfection is to the

fragrance of blossom, the color of flower, the ripeness of fruit, the

light on the landscape, and there are moments when Faith knows and

does her very best. And it is at such moments that God “restores the

soul” of His servant.  The miracle of vision and dream is nothing more

pronounced, more certain, more conclusive, to conviction than these

triumphal moments, when faith is in its pride and glory, and achieves

its best.

 

o        The direct promise (Psalm 91:1, 3-6, 11-12, 14-15; 23:4; 73:23).

The promise made to Paul in this vision gathers round the center that

had drawn already, then, ages and generations round it; and how

many more by this time! “I am with thee.” And that central promise

is good for all bearings of it, “Greater is He that is in you, than he

that is in the world” (I John 4:4). It holds from such a statement of

fact as this, to the immortal Christian charter-promise, “Lo, I am with

you always, even to the end of the world!”  (Matthew 28:20)  The

direct promise, in the midst of our human uncertainty and unsteadiness

of performance, is:

 

ü      clear,

ü      exact,

ü      steady, and

ü      certain.

 

Resting our faith, it feeds hope, and draws closer and closer the

bands of love.

 

o        The conviction of there being, in spite of all appearances, a large

harvest to be gathered. The true servant, after all, loves work, and

loves his Master’s work, and must remember that he is neither the

Master nor gifted with Master’s sight and knowledge. And with

what fresh readiness has he not infrequently resumed toil, when

amid all things that look against himself and his toil, he hears, or

seems to hear, the authoritative assurance of the Master, “For I have

much people in this city,” though at present they “wander as sheep

having no shepherd”!

 

12 “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection

with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,”

But for and, Authorized Version; proconsul for the deputy, Authorized Version;

with one accord rose up for made insurrection with one accord, Authorized Version;

before for to, Authorized Version. Gallio. Marcus Annaeus Novatus took the name

of Lucius Junius Annaeus Gallio, on account of his adoption by L. Junius Gallio.

He was the elder brother of Seneca, and a man of ability, and of a most amiable

temper and disposition. His brother Seneca said that he had not a fault, and that

everybody loved him. He was called "Dulcis Gallio" by Statius. It is unfortunately

not known exactly in what year Gallio became either Consul or Proconsul of Achaia.

Had it been known, it would have been invaluable for fixing the chronology of Paul's

life. Lewin puts it (his proconsulate) in the year A.D. 53, and so does Renan; Howson,

between A.D. 52 and A.D. 54. The circumstantial evidence from secular writers

corroborating Luke's account is exceedingly curious. There is no account extant

either of his consulate or of his proconsulate of Achaia. But Pithy, speaking of the

medicinal effect of a sea-voyage on persons in consumption, gives as an example,

"as I remember was the case with Annaeus Gallio after his consulate," and seems

to imply that he went to Egypt for the sake of the long sea-voyage; which would

suit very well his going there from his government in Achaia (Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,'

31. cap. 6:33). And that his proconsulate was in Achaia is corroborated by a

chance quotation in Seneca's Epistle 104, of a saying of "my lord Gallio, when

he had a fever in Achaia and immediately went on board ship," where the phrase

"domini met," applied to his own brother, seems also to indicate his high rank.

Profane history also shuts up the probable date of Gallio's proconsulate between

the year A.D. 49 and the year A.D. 65 or 66, in which he died. There is a diversity

of accounts as to his death. Ernesti, in his note on Tacitus, 'Auual.,' 15. 73, where

Tacitus speaks of him as frightened at the death of his brother Seneca, and a

suppliant for his own life, says, "quem Nero post interfecit," and refers to Dion

Cassius, 58,18, and Eusebius. But Dion is there speaking of Junius Gallio in the

reign of Tiberius, not of our Gallio at all; though afterwards, speaking of the death

of Seneca, he says, "and his brothers also were killed after him "(62, 25). As for

Eusebius, the passage quoted is not found in the Greek or Armenian copies of the

'Chronicon,' but only in the Latin of Jerome. But, as Scaliger points out, there is

a manifest blunder here, because the 'Chronicon ' places the death of Gallio

two years before that of Seneca, whereas we know from Tacitus that Gallio was

alive after his brother's death. Moreover, the description "egregius declamator"

clearly applies to Junius Gallio the rhetorician, and not to Gallio his adopted son.

Though, therefore, Renan says, "Comme son frere il eut l'honneur sous Neron

d'expier par, la mort sa distinction et son honnetete" ('St. Paul,' p. 222), if we

give due weight to the silence of Tacitus, it is very doubtful whether he

died a violent death at all. Luke, as usual, is most accurate in calling him proconsul.

Achaia had been recently made a senatorial province by Claudius. For ἀνθύπατος

anthupatosbeing procounsul -  see ch.13:7-8, 12; 19:38. The verb occurs only

here in the New Testament. The term deputy was adopted in the Authorized

Version doubtless from that being the title of the Viceroy of Ireland, and other

officers who exercise a deputed authority, just as the proconsul was in the place

of the consul. Rose up against; κατεπέστησανkatepestaesanassaulted - one

of Luke's peculiar words, found neither in the New Testament nor in the Septuagint,

nor in classical writers (Steph., 'Thesaur.'). The judgment seat (see note to v. 12).

 

13 “Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.”

Man for fellow, Authorized Version. The Authorized Version was intended to

express the contemptuous feeling often implied in οϋτος houtosthis man –

 (Luke 23:2; Matthew 12:24; ch. 5:28, etc.). Contrary to the Law; meaning, as it

naturally would in the mouth of a Jew, the Law of Moses. Hence Gallio's answer

in v. 15, "If it be a question... of your Law, look ye to it." The very phrase, to

"worship God," had a technical sense (see above, v. 7). Paul, they said, professed

to make proselytes, and encouraged them to break the Law.

 

14 “And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the

Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason

would that I should bear with you:”  But for and, Authorized Version;

about for now about, Authorized Version; if indeed for if, Authorized Version;

of wicked villainy for wicked lewdness, Authorized Version. The Greek

ῤᾳδιούργημα radiourgaemaknavery; unprincipled; untrustworthy; dishonest –

occurs only here in the New Testament or elsewhere; ῤᾳδιουργία, which is not

uncommon in Greek writers, occurs in ch.13:10.

 

15 “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.”  They are questions about for it be a

question of, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; your own for of your,

Authorized Version, an unnecessary change; look to it yourselves for look ye to it,

Authorized Version; I am not minded to be a for for I will be no, Authorized

Version and Textus Receptus; these for such, Authorized Version.

 

16 “And he drave them from the judgment seat.”  And he drave them; ἀπήλασεν

apaelasenhe drives away, found only here in the New Testament or Septuagint.

But it is used by Demosthenes and Plutarch in exactly the same connection: ἀπὸ

τοῦ συνεδρίου ἀπὸ τοῦ βήματος (Demosthenes, 1373,12; Plutarch, ' Marcell.,'

p. 410, in Schleusner). It implies the ignominious dismissal of the case, without

its being even tried. The judgment seat (βῆματος baematosthe platform;

 the proconsular place of judgment. The βῆμα (here and ver. 12) was properly

the "raised space," or "tribune," on which, in the case of a consul, proconsul,

or praetor, the sella curulis was placed on which he sat and gave judgment.

It was usually a kind of apse to the basilica. In Matthew 27:19; John 19:13,

and, indeed, here and elsewhere, it seems to be used, generally, for the

judgment-seat itself (see ch. 25:10).

 

17 “Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and

beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.”

And they all laid hold on for then all the Greeks took, Authorized Version and

Textus Receptus; ruler for chief ruler, Authorized Version, as v. 8. The Received

Text has far more manuscript support than either the Textus Receptus

or another reading, which has "Jews" instead of "Greeks." All means all the crowd

of bystanders and lookers-on, mostly, no doubt, Greeks. The Jews, always unpopular,

would be sure to have the Corinthian rabble against them as soon as the proconsul

drove them from the judgment seat. Sosthenes. There is no probability whatever

that he is the same person as the Sosthenes of I Corinthians 1:1. The name was

very common. He appears to have succeeded Crispus as ruler of the synagogue,

and would be likely, therefore, to be especially hostile to Paul.

 

 

 

Paul at Corinth  (vs. 1-17)

 

  • HIS WORK AT CORINTH.

 

Ø      Its humble and self-denying beginning. (vs. 1-4.).

 

o        He came to Corinth a city notorious for its pleasures and its vices.

Often is the gospel more gladly received in such places than in the

haunts of learning and the strongholds of philosophy. The rejected

of Athens finds a welcome at Corinth. To the Corinthians the apostle

will write by-and-by, “Ye were thieves, robbers,” etc.; “but ye are

washed, ye are sanctified,”etc.  (I Corinthians 6:11)  Yet to conquer

these hearts, danger and self-denial must be undergone.

 

o        Paul works to earn his bread while he is teaching. It was a wholesome

custom practiced and taught by eminent rabbis; probably enough by

Gamaliel, at whose feet Paul had sat. Christ was the carpenter’s Son,”

and the apostles fishers. Happy he who can afford to prove his entire

disinterestedness as a teacher of the truth, and so silence that gainsaying

of the ungrateful and the miserly, who object to the gospel and its

preaching solely on account of its cost, If his example cannot be exactly

followed in the present day, at least it may be taken as a rebuke to the

pride of office in the teacher; and to unspiritual luxury and idleness

 in general. Also as an encouragement to the honest, craftsman; every

honorable calling is well-pleasing to God. Act well your part; there

all the honor lies.” Again, willingness to work is one of the best

passports everywhere. “Waiters on Providence” do not see most of

the ways of Providence. Had not Paul been a worker at his craft,

good Aquila had not fallen in his way. Driven out of Rome, those

pious Jews came to Corinth, to afford shelter and food to the

apostle. God “seldom smites with both hands.” He is a good Worker,

but he loves to be helped;” so old proverbs say.

 

o        His sabbath employment. “Every sabbath.” Unwearied zeal

characterizes him. Faithful in that which is least, he is faithful in

that which is much. The week-day work and the sabbath consecration

help one another. Work makes the sacred rest sweet; and the sacred

rest gives new energy for work.

 

Ø      Courageous progress. (vs. 5-8.) When Timothy and Silas came, Paul,

instead of throwing the work upon their shoulders, only redoubles his

activity. How useful and how happy “the tie that binds” men’s hearts in

Christian love and work (Philippians 2:22)! He continues to witness to

the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. The previous work in the synagogue

had probably been preparatory. But the love of Christ constrains him, and

he cannot keep back the main matter of his message, certain as it is to

awaken violent opposition. Opposition and blasphemy break out; but the

constancy of the servant of Christ is the more illustrated. There is no

paltering, no drawing back, no compromise. “Your blood be on your

heads!” Thus he clears himself from complicity in the guilt of their spiritual

suicide. But before any can venture to imitate Paul’s example in this, let

them see whether they have done all in their power to raise and save, like

the apostle. Driven from the public place of meeting, he goes into the

private house of Justus; rejected by Jews, he turns to the heathen. The

conversion of Crispus rewards his efforts. Not “many” wise are called

(I Corinthians 1:26). At the same time, there are exceptions. Paul goes

out by the front door of the synagogue, so to speak, to find his way in

again by the back.

 

Ø      The blessed result. (vs. 9-11.) The Divine voice came, saying, “Fear

not! speak, and be not silent!” Times of weakness and discouragement and

self-conflict are for all. The mightiest spirits know the deepest dejection,

Recall Abraham before Abimelech, Moses in the desert, psalmists of the

Captivity, and prophets, Elijah under the juniper, John in prison, Jesus in

Gethsemane, Luther and his violent crises. The latter said, “Many think

because I am so cheerful in my outward walk that I tread on roses, but

God knows how it stands with me.” But saith the voice: “I am with thee;

none shall set upon thee to hurt thee; much people have I in this city.” “I

am with thee:” a word of might, that each and all in every humble or

important path of duty may lay to heart, and go forward with his work,

clear in speech and strong in action. “I have much people in this city:” the

seed and the leaven of the Word works with secret might when we observe

it not; sleeping echoes waiting to be roused; seven thousand hidden ones

who have not bowed the knee to Baal.  (I Kings 19:18)

 

  • OPPOSITION TO THE WORK. A year and six months passed in

prayer, patience, confidence in God, diligent toil. These are the means by

which the work of God is furthered. But the incidents that followed teach

that men must suffer for their work, and that all true work involves its

cross. The world is the world still; and offences must come.

 

Ø      The charge against Paul. “He persuades the people to worship God

contrary to the Law.” How easily do men persuade themselves that what is

against their own pleasures is contrary to God’s Law! It is nothing new

that those who are most given to error in religion are most ready to accuse

others of heresy.

 

Ø      The conduct of Gallio. He referred disputes about the Jewish Law to the

Jews themselves. It is wise that magistrates should not pass judgment in

matters of religion which they do not understand. But it is not well if

magistrates are indifferent to religion, its genuine reality, and fail to protect

sincere believers in the enjoyment of their religious belief. Gallio is a fine

example of moderation, putting to shame the bloodthirsty spirit which has

so often prevailed in the Christian Church. But it is an abuse if the example

be used as a plea for indifference. Gallio, who was cold to religious

sympathy, would consent to see a man’s civil rights injured. Gallio, on the

whole, is a mixed example. Let us say that the duty of a Christian judge is:

 

o        to have a conscience and a religion of his own;

o        not to intermeddle in the affairs of conscience of others;

o        to protect men against violence, of whatever faith they may be.

 

 

 

The Testimony (vs. 4-17)

 

The kernel of the gospel is the truth that Jesus was the Christ. He was the

Person spoken of by all the prophets as to come. Jesus of Nazareth, the son

of Mary, born in the reign of Augustus Caesar, and crucified in that of

Tiberius; known to His contemporaries in Judaea and Galilee as a Teacher

and a Prophet, known to later ages by the Gospels which record His life

and death and resurrection from the dead; is God’s Christ. He came into

the world, in accordance with the eternal purpose of God, to be the

Teacher, the Savior, the Judge, the Lord, the King of the whole earth, the

Head of the human race. He fulfilled in his own person all the predictions

of the prophets; He accomplished by His work all that God had in store for

the redemption of the sons of men. Whatever the Holy Ghost spoke of the

Godhead, of the priesthood, of the sacrifice, of the reign, of the glorious

kingdom of Messiah, HAS ITS FULFILLMENT IN JESUS CHRIST! 

The truth, therefore, that Jesus was the Christ is the kernel of the whole gospel.

But further, this is either a fact or it is not a fact. There is no cloudland of

uncertain existence, no matter of doubtful disputation or of fluctuating

opinion. Those who have told us these things are witnesses of what they

knew, not disputers about what they thought. What they have delivered to

us is their testimony. We must either accept it as true or reject it as false. It

has met with both treatments in the world, and, whether believed or

disbelieved, has been a potent factor in men’s behavior. When believed, it

has made the kind of man that Paul was, the kind of men and women that

Aquila and Priscilla were. It has made men pure, holy, upright, patient,

meek, kind, unselfish, self-denying, laboring for the good of others rather

than for their own gain; with affections set on heavenly more than on

earthly things; conscientious, true, faithful to their word; to be trusted and

relied upon; great benefactors to their race, full of love to mankind. When

disbelieved, it has not simply been set aside as a thing unworthy of credit,

but it has set in action the most malignant passions in the human breast.

Envy and jealousy, hatred and malice, have blazed up in all their fury

against the authors and abettors of this testimony. You would think,

judging by the fierce rage of the opponents, that there could not be a

greater crime against humanity than to teach men to love God, to abstain

from all evil, and to live in peace and good will towards one another.

Judging by the rage of the opponents, you would think that a greater

wrong could not be done to men than to tell them of life and rest and

happiness in the eternal reach beyond the grave, as encouragements to

patient well doing on this side the grave. Jews and heathens, so unlike one

another in everything else, were exactly alike in their reception of this

testimony. The Jews blasphemed and cursed and persecuted, and brought

for punishment before the Roman tribunals those who gave testimony for

Christ; the heathen, tolerant of every form of idolatry, (today, Progressive

thinkers claim the same until the subject of CHRISTIANITY comes up

and then hell’s door of wrath is opened up on the cursed figures CY –

2018), let loose fire and sword and wild beast against the harmless disciples

of the Lord Jesus. The accomplished philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, gave

Justin Martyr to the executioner and Polycarp to the flames, with as little scruple

as Nero tortured his Christian subjects at Rome. The scornful hatred of Tacitus

for the pestilential superstition of the Christian was as bitter as the scurrilous

wit of Lucian. In our own day many tongues are let loose against the

testimony. New philosophers, new exponents of the physical laws by which

the world consists, new pretenders to superior wisdom and wider

intelligence in the various departments of human knowledge, however

differing among themselves in the fundamental principles of their several

schemes, agree in the scornful rejection of “the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

The Church meanwhile pursues her unwavering course. She holds in her

hand THE LAMP OF THAT TRUTH which she did not invent, but which she

received from God. That lamp sheds forth its HEAVENLY LIGHT whether

men receive it or whether they shut it out from their hearts AND WALK ON

IN DARKNESS!   For that truth the Church is ready now, as she ever was, to

endure the scorn and hatred of mankind or to suffer imprisonment and

death. Her office is TO TESTIFY THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST!   By the

grace of God she will continue that testimony until the Lord comes, and her

witness to the absent is swallowed up in her adoration of the present, in visible

power and glory.

 

 

 

   Fanaticism, Pride, Calmness, Short-Sightedness (vs. 12-17)

 

  • JEWISH FANATICISM. (vs. 12-13.) The Jews could not or would

not understand that Paul was not against the Law, but only against their

interpretation of it; that Christianity was not so much the abrogation as the

fulfillment of the Law, its reinstitution in another and a better form, the one

and only thing which could perpetuate and immortalize it. They regarded

the apostle as a renegade, as an iconoclast, as a traitor; their opposition

became hatred; their hatred grew into murderous passion; their passion

seized on the earliest opportunity to compass his imprisonment or death.

We see in every act the attitude, we hear in every word the tone, of bitter

and even furious fanaticism, as they hale Paul before the proconsul and

exclaim, “This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the

Law.” This fierceness on their part was characteristic of them; it was of a

piece with the rest of their national behavior before and after that time. It

was not unlike the fanaticism of other nations, though it was more violent

than that which is commonly displayed. All companies of men are liable to

be carried away with passion which they are unable to control at the

moment, but which they afterwards regret. Far better than this is:

 

  • CHRISTIAN CALMNESS. “Paul was... about to open his mouth”

(v. 14). We are not told by the historian what was his demeanor. There

was no need to tell us. It may be assumed, without the smallest shade of

uncertainty, that the “prisoner at the bar” was unmoved by the violence of

the mob, and untroubled by the power of the magistrate. His quietness of

soul did not proceed from his consciousness of strength, his assurance that

he could make out his case against his accusers; it arose entirely from a

sense that he stood at that bar as “the prisoner of the Lord,” there for

conscience’ sake; and also from the sense that One stood by him who

would not fail him, who would certainly redeem His word (v. 10),

beneath the shelter of whose care he was safe from Jewish spite and

Roman power. “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous

runneth into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). What time we have

reason to be afraid, we will trust in Him (Psalm 56:3 – one of the favorite

verses of my mother-in-law. Ruth Cathcart - CY - 2018).

 

  • ROMAN SUPERCILIOUSNESS. (vs. 14-17.) We can feel an

intense Roman pride breathing in every line of this passage. Gallio

considered any contention respecting Jewish laws or customs a matter of

utter unimportance. Anything outside the circle of Roman citizenship was

beneath the regard of such men as he was. And what if certain Greeks

vented their wrath on a despicable Jew! Was that to trouble him? We see a

haughty disdain on that Roman brow; we hear a contemptuous scorn in

those magisterial tones; we perceive a lofty derision in that swift dismissal,

in that absolute unconcern. This was the pride that was born of power and

of authority. But, however it may have resulted, here, in impartiality and

justice, it is not a lovely nor a worthy feature of human character. We are

all of us too near one another in proneness to error and liability to

overthrow and disaster, to make it right or wise to take such a tone.

Human pride is:

 

Ø      always based, in part, on error; it is

Ø      always on the way to ruin.

 

  • HUMAN SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS. How little did the actors in this

scene imagine that they were playing a part on which posterity would

always look with interest! How little did Gallio suppose that he would be

known to the end of time by reason of his association with that Jewish

prisoner whom he contemptuously dismissed from his presence (see

Farrar’s ‘Life of St. Paul,’ vol. 1. pp. 572, 573)! How imperfectly we

measure the importance of the scenes through which we pass, of the

actions we perform, of the men with whom we have to do! Let us act

rightly, kindly, graciously at all times and toward all people. Who can tell

whether we may not be rendering a service to some chosen ambassador of

Christ, or lending a helpful hand in some incident on which the gravest

issues may hang, or supplying the one link that is wanted in a chain which

connects earth with heaven? (Having the opportunity to teach school for

thirty-four years, I have often thought, had I been farsighted, I could have

treated everyone with whom I came in contact, with love and kindness.

One never knows who he is dealing with and that someday they may be

your boss.  CY – 2018)  They who are conscientious and kind in

humblest matters will be surprised one day to find:

 

Ø      what excellent things they have done;

Ø      what valuable commendation they have earned;

Ø      what large rewards await them (Matthew 25:21, 37-40).

 

 

 

A Novel Instance of Retribution (vs. 12-17)

 

The common sense of the unlearned has much more mercy than the

refinement of the theologian, and the straightforwardness of a heathen will

show to more advantage than the crookedness and narrowness of a man

better known for professing than for practicing religion. We have here a

noteworthy instance of some who, would-be punishers of another, succeed

in letting themselves only in for punishment. And this just consummation in

this case was due exclusively to the ready perception and blunt,

uncompromising action of one who evidently had no inclination to lend

himself as the tool of iniquitous bigotry and persecution. When it is said,

indeed (v. 17), that Gallio cared for none of these things,” it is possible

that, in strict justice, he ought to have cared for so much of them as

concerned the lynch law, which, in the very presence of the judgment seat,

the multitude of the Greeks inflicted upon Sosthenes, the ruler of the

synagogue. Obviously, however, the Greeks were not exceeding the

unwritten law or custom of Corinth in their act, and the inaction of Gallio

may be sufficiently accounted for by this consideration. Notice:

 

  • A LARGE NUMBER OF MEN MAKING COMMON CAUSE

AGAINST ONE UNBEFRIENDED MAN, IN A RELIGIOUS MATTER

AND BEFORE A FOREIGN COURT. If their perverted animosity of

mind did not see the anomaly, the unperverted, unwarped mind of Gallio

saw it promptly, and felt it decisively.

 

  • A VERY HOLLOW AND INSINCERE STATEMENT

THEREUPON OF THE CASE.

 

Ø      The facts of the accusers are not true — scarcely to the letter, not at

all to the spirit.

 

Ø      If they had been so, it is not this which was likely to give the Jew

cause of complaint. The Greek of Corinth might possibly have had

some pretence for bringing the matter into prominence, but not the

Jew. And Gallio saw through it at once.

 

  • THE MAN OF TRUE RELIGION, COVERED BY THE ROMAN

JUDGES, EXEMPTED FROM THE NECESSITY OF DEFENDING

HIMSELF, THOUGH QUITE PREPARED TO DO SO, AND

REMITTED TO HIS WORK, FREER AND SAFER TO DO IT THAN

EVER.

 

  • THE ACCUSERS CONTEMPTUOUSLY DISMISSED, AND THE

UNJUSTIFIABLENESS OF THEIR CONTENTION, BEING

BROUGHT TO THAT COURT, PROVED OUT OF THEIR OWN

MOUTH.

 

  • THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNJUST ACCUSERS

SUMMARILY PUNISHED HIMSELF, HIS INIQUITY RETURNING

UPON HIS OWN PATE, AND THAT BY THE DEED, NOT OF HIM

WHOM HE HAD DONE HIS BEST TO INJURE, BUT BY THE

SPONTANEOUS CONCERT OF OTHERS. And every stage of these

events spoke to the retributive observation of One who “is angry with the

wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11), let them be who they may, and their

pretences what they may. And every step also spoke the observing and

sympathizing care of Christ for one to whom He had just made the promise,

“No man shall set on thee to hurt thee; I am with thee.” How happy are

all they who serve Him with all their might, in that they may trust Him with

all their heart!

 

 

Gallio’s Indifference (vs. 12-17)

 

It is a singular thing that altogether unworthy ideas should have been

associated in Christian minds with this man Gallio. He is known to have

been the brother of Seneca, and a man of singular amiability of character.

“Seneca dedicated to him two treatises on Anger and the Blessed Life; and

the kindliness of his nature made him a general favorite. He was

everybody’s ‘Dulcis Gallio,’ was praised by his brother for his

disinterestedness and calmness of temper, as one who was loved much

even by those who had but little capacity for loving.’ “F.W. Robertson

remarks on the expression, Gallio cared for none of those things;” “that is,

he took no notice of them, he would not interfere. He was, perhaps, even

glad that a kind of wild, irregular justice was administered to one

Sosthenes, who had been foremost in bringing an unjust charge. So that

instead of Gallio being, as commentators make him, a sort of type of

religious lukewarmness, he is really a specimen of an upright Roman

magistrate.” But a careful judgment of the incidents which bring Gallio

before us leaves the impression that the general idea of his character is in

great measure the correct one; his easy-going gentleness was only too

likely to lead him to connive at wrong-doings, and fail adequately to punish

wrong-doers. From the narrative we may learn such things as these:

 

  • SOME THINGS ARE BEST TREATED WITH CONTEMPT. In life

we often meet with difficulties which are made by treating trifling matters

seriously.

 

Ø      Certain forms of opposition to Christian truth are best “left alone.” They

grow into importance by being treated as if they were serious.

 

Ø      Officious and intermeddling persons are best treated with a quiet scorn;

by making much of them utterly incompetent persona are lifted into

positions for which they are wholly unfitted. In the practical relations of

society and of the Church there is a mission for burnout, satire, and even

scorn; and in the use of such weapons we have the example of Paul.

But it is manifest that such weapons are dangerous, and may only be used

with due caution and reserve.

 

  • RELIGIOUS QUARRELS MAY OFTEN WISELY BE TREATED

WITH CONTEMPT. The disputes and contentions which arise in religious

communities seldom bear relation to principle; they usually come from

petty misunderstandings, or aroused personal feeling. Mischief comes by

fostering them, giving them importance, and letting them develop their evil

influence. There is often needed, in religious associations, the strong firm

ruler who, like Gallio, will refuse to hear miserable contentions about

words and names, or to heed the reports of slanderers and backbiters. It is

seldom found possible to heal religious quarrels, and it is practically wiser

to treat them as we treat spreading diseases — stamp them out, by the

refusal to recognize them. Let them die out; and this they will surely do if

we take care not to fan the flame.

 

  • THE CLAIMS OF RELIGIOUS TRUTH AND DUTY MAY

NEVER BE SET ASIDE WITH CONTEMPT. Whoever may present

them, under whatever circumstances they may be presented, they demand

our attention, our calm, careful consideration. Nothing of truth may we

leave alone, whether it be old truth set before us with a new vividness and

force, or new truth which is apparently opposed to all our prejudices. All

truth comes to us with a Thus saith the Lord;” and, as God’s voice to us,

we dare not be indifferent, much less may we be contemptuous. Show

what truths and duties may come before us; apply especially to the gospel

offer; press the demand for immediate attention on this ground, It is not a

vain thing for you; IT IS FOR YOUR LIFE!

 

18 “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.”  Having tarried after this

yet many days for after this tarried there yet a good while, and then,. Authorized

Version; for for into, Authorized Version; Cenchreae for Cenchrea, Authorized

Version. Took his leave; ἀποταξάμενοςapotaxamenostaking leave, here and again

in v. 21. This is a somewhat peculiar use of the word, which occurs also in Luke 9:61

and II Corinthians 2:13 (see too Mark 6:46). It is used in the same sense in Josephus

('Ant. Jud.,' 11. 8:6). In a metaphorical sense it means "to renounce," "to bid adieu to"

(Luke 14:23). Of the six times it occurs in the New Testament, four are in Luke's

writings and one in Paul's. With him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head

in Cenchreae, etc. There is great diversity of opinion as to whether it was Paul or

Aquila who had the vow. Meyer thinks that the mention of Priscilla before Aquila,

contrary to the order in v. 2 and in v. 26 (where, however, the Received Text reads

"Priscilla and Aquila), is a clear indication that Luke meant the words κειράμενος

κ.τ.λ. keiramenos k.t.l. – being shorn etc., to refer to Aquila, not to Paul, and

Howson takes the same view. But this is a very weak argument, refuted at once

by Romans 16:3 and II Timothy 4:19, as well as by the whole run of the passage,

in which Paul is throughout the person spoken of; or, as Alford puts it, in the

consecutive narrative from v. 18 to v. 25, there are nine aorist participles, of

which eight apply to Paul, as the subject of the section, making it scarcely

doubtful that the ninth applies to him likewise. Moreover, there is no conceivable

reason why the vow should be mentioned if it was taken by Aquila, and, what is

still more conclusive, the person who went to Jerusalem, i.e. Paul, must be the

one who had the vow, not the person who stayed behind, i.e. Aquila. In fact,

nobody would ever have thought of making Aquila the subject if it were not

for the thought that there is an incongruity with Paul's character in his making a

vow of that kind. But we must take what we find in Scripture, and not force it to

speak our own thoughts. As regards the nature of the vow, it is not quite clear what

it was. It was not the simple Nazaritic vow described in Numbers 6:18-21; nor is the

word here used by Luke (κειράμενος) the one which is there and elsewhere employed

by the Septuagint, and by Luke himself in ch. 21:24, of that final shaving of the hair

of the Nazarite for the purpose of offering it at the door of the tabernacle (ξυράω

xurao - shave). It seems rather to have been of the nature of that vow which

Josephus speaks of as customary for persons in any affliction, viz. to make a vow

that, for thirty days previous to that on which they intend to offer sacrifice, they

will abstain from wine and will shave off (ξυρήσασθαι xuraesasthai) their hair,

adding that Bernice was now at Jerusalem in order to perform such a vow ('Bell.

Jud.,' it. 15:1). But it further appears, from certain passages in the Mishna, that,

if any one had a Nazarite vow upon him outside the limits of the Holy Land, he

could not fulfill such vow till he was come to the Holy Land, to Jerusalem; but it

was allowable in such case to cut his hair short (κείρεσθαι τὴν κεφαλήν keiresthai

taen kephalaen – having shorn his head), and as some say to take it with him to

Jerusalem, and there offer it at the same time that he offered his sacrifice and

shaved his head (ξυρήσασθαι). It would seem, therefore, that either in a severe

illness or under some great danger (ἀνάγκη anagkae - necessity) Paul had made

such a vow; that he had been unwilling to cut his hair short at Corinth, where he

was thrown so much into the society of Greeks, and therefore did so at Cenchreae

just before he embarked for Syria; and that he made all haste to reach Jerusalem in

time for the Passover, that he might there accomplish his vow (see Bishop

Wordsworth's note on this verse; and Farrar's ' Life of St. Paul,' 2. p. 2). His

motives for the vow may have been partly those described on another occasion

(ch.21:24), and partly his own Jewish feelings of piety showing themselves in the

accustomed way. Cenchreae. The eastern port of Corinth; a considerable place.

There was a Church there, doubtless founded by Paul during his stay at Corinth

(Romans 16:1).

 

 

Paul’s Personal Relations with Judaism (v. 18)

 

“Having shorn his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow.” For the various

explanations of this allusion which have been offered, reference must be

made to the Exegetical portion of this Commentary. For some reason,

which Paul regarded as sufficient, he had allowed his hair to grow for a

time, and now, the time of the vow being nearly expired, he had his hair cut

(not shaved) before starting on his journey into Syria. The point to which

we bend attention, as suggesting suitable lessons for us, is that, being a

born Jew, Paul found himself bound by rules and ceremonials which he

did not feel justified in pressing upon his Gentile converts. This may give a

seeming inconsistency to Paul’s conduct, but it really reveals the

nobility of his spirit, and the self-mastery and self-rule which he had won.

We should carefully distinguish between the limitations under which a

good man and wise teacher may please to confine his own personal

conduct, and the freedom from such personal limitations which he may

enjoin in his public teachings. As an illustration, reference may be made to

such matters as card-playing and going to theatres. The Christian teacher

who feels that no rule on such matters can be laid down, is quite consistent

with such teaching if he pleases to put himself under rule, and will neither

play cards nor attend theatres. And this was the position of  Paul. He

felt that personally he did not wish to break off the familiar Jewish bonds of

his lifetime; but while he personally met all Jewish claims, he resolutely

championed the freedom of the Gentile Christians from all such restrictions

and limitations. Impress that the details of a man’s conduct are fully within

his own management, and that in our public relations we can only deal with

principles, leaving all direct applications to the judgment and conscience of

the individual. Still, it should be noticed that the apparent diversity between

Paul’s personal conduct and public teachings gave his enemies a

seemingly fair ground of accusation. We remark that:

 

  • A MAN’S PERSONAL LIFE MUST BE CONSISTENT WITH HIS

PUBLIC TEACHINGS. Two things we demand of a public teacher:

 

Ø      the “accent of conviction;” and

Ø      the “note of sincerity.”

 

The force behind a man must be the force of the man himself. We mast

know him, and have adequate assurance that the things he speaks have a

living power upon himself. We properly require something more than

consistency; we ask for a harmony between words and works which will

show that each are set to the same keynote.  If Paul’s enemies were

right, and his Judaical practices were out of harmony with his public

teachings, then they pluck the life and power from his teaching. Impress

that still all public teaching is ineffective which is beyond the personal

attainment of the speaker. He can only utter it as intellectual knowledge

or as current sentiment. A man only speaks with power when he tells what he

has himself “tasted and handled and felt of the Word of life.”  (I John 1:1)

 

  • A MAN’S PRIVATE LIFE MAY BE RULED BY

CONSIDERATIONS WHICH HE DOES NOT FEEL BOUND TO

PRESS ON OTHERS. This is the point suggested by our text, and a

simple illustration will show us Paul’s position. A Christian teacher

nowadays may be personally impressed with the examples of David and

Daniel, and may feel that to adopt a rule of praying three times a day will

be of direct service to his spiritual life. But he may feel that he has no right

to press his rule upon his congregation as a binding one for all. He

commends the duty of prayer, but he puts himself under limitations which

are for himself alone. Many Christian people make intellectual and spiritual

advances, which we might think would give them a large freedom in

conduct, and yet the fact is that, to the end of their days, they voluntarily

keep up their old habits and practices, preferring to set themselves within

what they find to be well-ordered limitations. In such cases it is rather an

over-severe consistency than anything like inconsistency which we find.

Modern evil rather goes in the direction of over-demand of personal liberty

as new aspects of Divine truth gain prominence. There is too little of

Pauline self-regulation on the Christian principles.

 

  • A MAN’S PERSONAL LIMITATIONS NEED NOT CONFUTE

HIS PUBLIC TEACHINGS. They may be matters of dispute, on which

the Church is divided. He need not make his decisions, for the ordering of

his own private life, keep him from the public utterance of the great

principles and duties. The readiest illustration of this point may be taken

from the use of fermented drinks. A Christian teacher may decide that it is

necessary for his well-being that he should use such drinks regularly and

moderately. Now, such a man is not debarred by his own personal habit

from publicly dealing with the great social evil of drunkenness. He can in

no way be charged with inconsistency, since the matter is one of personal

limitation, and not one of scriptural principle. Paul claimed the right to

preach as a Gentile, and to limit himself by Jewish rules, if it pleased him to

do so.

 

19 “And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into

the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.”  They came for he came, Authorized

Version and Textus Receptus; he left for left, Authorized Version.  They came to

Ephesus. "No voyage across the AEgean was more frequently made than that

between Corinth and Ephesus. They were the capitals of the two flourishing

and peaceful provinces of Achaia and Asia, and the two great mercantile

towns on opposite sides of the sea" (Howson, vol. 1:454). The voyage would

take from ten to fifteen days. Reasoned; διελέχθηdielechthae - , as in ch.17:2, 17;

v. 4 - here, 19:8-9; 20:7, 9; 24:25. As regards the expression, left them there, it

probably arises from some actual detail which made it the natural one to use. If,

for example, the synagogue was just outside the city, and Paul, parting with

Aquila and Priscilla in the city, had gone off immediately to the synagogue,

the phrase used would be the natural one; or the words, "he left them there,"

may be spoken with reference to the main narrative, which is momentarily

interrupted by the mention of Paul's visit to the synagogue. Note the extreme

importance of this brief visit to Ephesus, where the foundation of a vigorous

and flourishing Church seems to have been laid. He who knows "the times and

the seasons" (ch. 1:7) sent Paul there now, though two years before He had

forbidden him to go to Asia.

 

20 “When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;”

And when they asked for when they desired, Authorized Version; abide for tarry,

Authorized Version; time for time with them, Authorized Version. He consented not;

οὐκ ἐπένευσεν ouk epeneusenhe consented not, only here in the New Testament,

but found in Proverbs 26:20; II Maccabees 4:10, etc., and frequently in medical

writers; literally, to bend the head forward by the proper muscles (Hobart).

 

21 “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.”  Taking his leave of them, and saying for bade them farewell,

 saying, Authorized Version; I will return for I must by all means keep this feast that

cometh in Jerusalem; but I will return, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;

he set sail for and he sailed, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Taking his

leave; as in v. 18, note. I must by all means, etc. This clause is not found in

א, A, B, E, and several versions, and is omitted in the Received Text. But Alford,

Meyer, Wordsworth, and others consider it to be genuine. It is certainly difficult

to account for such words being inserted in the text if they were not genuine;

whereas it is easy to account for their omission, either by accident or from the

fact that the brevity of the allusion to his visit to Jerusalem in v. 22 might easily

mislead a copyist into thinking that Paul did not go to Jerusalem at this time, and

therefore that the words were misplaced. Observe how Paul's fixed purpose to

reach Jerusalem as soon as possible tallies with the account of his vow. This feast

(Authorized Version). It is not clear what feast is meant. Alford, Wordsworth, '

Speaker's Commentary,' and others, following Wieseler, think it was the Feast

of Pentecost, being influenced by the consideration that sailing was dangerous

and very unusual so early as before the Passover. But Meyer thinks it uncertain.

But the expression, "I must by all means," would cover the risk of a voyage in

the stormy season. I will return again. The fulfillment of this promise is related

in ch. 19:1, etc. If God will (see James 4:13-15).

 

22 “And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church,

he went down to Antioch.”  He went up for and gone up, Authorized Version;

and went for he went, Authorized Version.  When he had landed at Caesarea;

i.e. Caesarea Stratonis, or Sebaste, or Παραλιός Paralios -  as it was variously

called, to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi (see ch. 8:40; 9:30; 10:1, etc., and

frequently elsewhere in the Acts). "Caesarea, whither probably the vessel was

bound, was the military capital of the Roman province of Judea, of which Felix

was at this time procurator. It was also the harbor by which all travelers from the

West approached it, and from whence roads led to Egypt on the south, to Tyre

and Sidon and Antioch on the north, and eastward to Nablous and Jerusalem

and the Jordan" (Howson, 1:455). He went up and saluted the Church; meaning,

without any doubt, he went up to Jerusalem, as both the word ἀναβὰςanabas –

going up - and the object of his going up, "to salute the Church," conclusively show.

For ἀναβαίνωanbaino -  go up; ascend; whether coupled with εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα

eis Ierosolumato Jerusalem -  as in Matthew 20:17-18, or standing alone as in

John 7:8, 10, and 12:20, is the regular word for going up to Jerusalem (see ch.11:2;

15:2; 21:12, 15;  24:11;  25:1, 9); and ἐκκλησίαhae ekklaesia - the Church,

which Paul went to salute, can mean nothing but the mother Church of Jerusalem.

No doubt he was received officially by the apostles, represented by James and

the elders and the Church, as in ch.15:4; and gave a formal account of the result

of his second missionary journey, and of the great event of the introduction of

the gospel into Macedonia and Achaia. It is a remarkable example of Luke's great

brevity at times that this is the only notice of his arrival at Jerusalem, where his vow

was to be fulfilled. Went down to Antioch; from whence he had started with Silas,

 after his separation from Barnabas, some three years before, "being recommended

 by the brethren to the grace of God" (ch.16:40; compare ch. 14:26-27; 15:30).

 

 

 

Return of Paul to Antioch (vs. 18-22)

 

We do not know the exact nature of the vow he was under. But the

following lessons may be drawn from his conduct:

 

  • WORK WHILE IT IS DAY. Where God opens the door, let the ready

servant enter. The voice of the Almighty saith, “Upward and onward

evermore,” Work, not for glory and gain, but for the kingdom of God and

the salvation of men.

 

  • TARRY NOT TO CONFER WITH FLESH AND BLOOD. Foes

might have deterred him in the front; loving friends might have held him

back; difficulties might have made him quail; but he hears but one voice,

sees but one hand, and goes forward. He who proceeds in this spirit,

unhasting, unresting,” is always setting out, always arriving; and, passing

unhurt through perils which, if dwelt upon in the imagination, would

appear insurmountable, can with thankfulness exclaim, at the end of every

step of the life-journey, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us!”  (I Samuel 7:12)

 

23 “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.”

Having for after he had, Authorized Version; through the region for over all the

country, Authorized Version; stablishing for strengthening, Authorized Version.

Having spent some time there (ch. 15:33, note). How long we have no means of

knowing; probably under six months; "quelques mois" (Renan, pp. 329,330 );

"four months" (Lewin, 1:370, note; compare ch. 19:22; I Corinthians 16:6-7).

According to Renan, Lewin, 'Speaker's Commentary,' and many others, it was at this

time that the meeting with Peter occurred to which Paul refers in Galatians 2:11, etc.

And Renan ingeniously connects that perversion of the faith of the Galatians which

led to Paul's Epistle being addressed to them, with the visit to Antioch of James's

emissaries, Lewin also identifies the journey of Paul to Jerusalem mentioned in

Galatians 2:1 with that recorded in our v. 22. But neither of these theories is borne

out by any known facts, nor is in itself probable. There is no appearance of

Barnabas or Titus being with Paul at this time, and it is very unlikely that any

should have come from James to Antioch so immediately after Paul's salutation

of the Church at Jerusalem and the fulfillment of his vow there. The time preceding

the visit of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, as related in ch. 15, is far the most

likely for the encounter of the two apostles (see ch. 14:28; 15:1, and note).

Went through; διερχόμενοςdierchomenospassing through - as in ch. 8:4, 40;

10:38; 13:6; 16:6; 17:23, etc. The region of Galatia and Phrygia. In ch. 16:6 the

order is inverted, "the region of Phrygia and Galatia," Revised Version, or "Phrygia

and the region of Galatia," Authorized Version. The natural inference from this is, as

Lewin says, with whom Farrar agrees, that on this occasion Paul went straight from

Antioch to Galatia, passing through the Cilician Gates and by Mazaca, or Caesarea,

as it was called by Tiberius Caesar, in Cappadocia, and not visiting the Churches of

Lycaonia. He proceeded from Galatia through Phrygia to Ephesus. The distance

from Antioch to Tarsus was one hundred and forty-one miles, from whence to

Tavium in Galatia was two hundred and seventy-one miles, making the whole

distance from Antioch to Tavium in Galatia four hundred and twelve miles,

or about a three weeks' journey including rest on the sabbath days. From Galatia to

Ephesus would be between six hundred and seven hundred miles. The entire journey

would thus be considerably more than a thousand miles, a journey of forty days

exclusive of all stoppages. Six months probably must have elapsed between his

departure from Antioch and his arrival at Ephesus; Lewin says "several months"

(p. 330, note). In order; in the same order, though inverted, in which he had

first visited them, leaving out none. Stablishing, etc. (ἐπιστηρίζωνepistaerizon

establishing); see above, ch.14:22; Acts 15:32, 41.

 

 

 

The Concise Narrative (vs. 18-23)

 

The grain of mustard seed becomes a great tree, and the fowls of the air

lodge in its branches. Could we unfold all that is covered under these few

words, whole volumes of surpassing interest might be evolved. The

occasion and motives of Paul’s vow; the first visit to the capital of

Proconsular Asia, to be afterwards the scene of such great events;

Pentecost at Jerusalem; the interview with James and the elders of

Jerusalem; his thoughts in the metropolis of Christianity, in the stronghold

of Judaism, about the aspects of the Church, and the relations of his

Corinthians converts to the believing priests and Pharisees at Jerusalem; the

execution of his vow, and the state of his feeling towards the temple and its

services: his return to Antioch, the metropolis of Gentile Christianity, the

new Rome, as it were, of the Christian world; his meeting with old

disciples; his narratives of God’s work in the new world of Europe, just

conquered for the God of Israel; his possible meeting again with Barnabas

there, and their tearful reconciliation, and the binding up of the old wound

so painful to two good and loving hearts; and then the long and wearisome

journey, full of labor and peril, through Phrygia and Galatia; the aspect of

old friends and old enemies; the new conquests for Christ, the new

triumphs of the gospel, perhaps fresh disappointments from the fickleness

of the Gaulish character; were all this told, and the skeleton verses before

us filled in with all this life and action, what volumes we should have! But

it has pleased God to seal up all these books, and hide them from our eyes.

It is our part to be thankful for what we have, and to draw the lesson that

the silence of Scripture is as surely ordered as its revelations are, and that

we must read, not to satisfy our curiosity, but to edify our souls.

 

 

The Strength Which is of Man (vs. 18-23)

 

The most suggestive sentence in these verses is that with which they

conclude; but we may gather lessons from others also. We may learn:

 

  • THAT THE DIVINE SPIRIT LEAVES US TO LEARN SOME

TRUTHS BY THE TEACHING OF EVENTS. (v. 18.) We are a little

surprised that Paul should think it necessary to trouble himself with

ceremonies which, in Christ Jesus, have become obsolete. But this is one of

those things which, among many others in our New Testament, show that

God does not directly lead His people into the whole truth; He wishes us to

learn His mind by the teaching of events, as the early Christians came

gradually, and through the lessons of Providence, to understand that they

were emancipated from the injunctions and prohibitions of that which was

“positive” in the Mosaic Law.

 

  • THAT OPPORTUNITIES OF USEFULNESS SHOULD BE

EAGERLY EMBRACED. There was time for a hasty visit to Ephesus,

and Paul did not fail to avail himself of it (v. 19).

 

  • THAT EVERY MAN MUST BE ALLOWED TO JUDGE

HIMSELF IN MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE. (vs. 20-21.) Those

Ephesian Jews may have thought — and we may be disposed to agree with

them — that it was of greater consequence that they should have the truth

preached to them than that Paul should go on to visit an unsympathizing

Church. But it was a matter of conscience to him that he should go, and he

therefore resisted their entreaties. We must form our judgments respecting

the decision of others; we may offer our opinion and even urge our

request; but we are bound to remember that it is every man’s duty to

decide for himself, in the last resort, what he should do and whither he

should go. Our urgency should never be pushed so far as to disregard this

individual obligation.

 

  • THAT THE CHRISTIAN COURTESIES SHOULD BE

STUDIOUSLY OBSERVED. (v. 22.) It became Paul to salute the

Church at Jerusalem. It was the mother Church, with which the other

apostles were so intimately connected; it would have been ungraceful on

his part not to have maintained friendly, or, at any rate, courteous, relations

with it from time to time. It is very probable that there was no cordiality

existing between its leaders and himself. Nevertheless, it was better to pay

it an amicable visit, as he now did. Cordiality is vastly better than courtesy;

but courtesy is decidedly better than disrespect or impropriety, and the

irritation which proceeds therefrom. If possible, let unaffected, warmhearted

love prevail and abound; if that be hopeless, then let there be a

studious observance of that which is courteous and becoming.

 

  • THAT THE BUSIEST LIFE SHOULD INCLUDE SOME SEASONS

OF REFRESHING REST AND COMMUNION. Even the energetic and

anxious apostle, with all his cares and projects, found it well to “go down

to Antioch and spend some time there” (vs. 22-23).

 

  • THAT THE WISE TEACHER WILL CARE TO STRENGTHEN

HIS DISCIPLES as well as to make converts (v. 23). Paul was always

solicitous to “strengthen his disciples.” He was the last man in the world to

forget that God was the ultimate Source of all spiritual strength. But he

knew that there was much that he, as a Christian teacher, had to do to

make his disciples strong. He had:

 

Ø      to impart a fuller knowledge of the truth;

Ø      to warn against those doctrines and those habits which would bring

spiritual weakness;

Ø      to incite to holy earnestness by his own spirit of devotion;

Ø      to counsel his converts to maintain close communion with Jesus Christ;

Ø      to see that they were at their post in the Church and in the field of holy

usefulness.

 

 

 

     Strengthening Disciples (v. 23)

 

Paul’s method of itinerating involved something like a systematic

revisitation of the Churches he founded, and the keeping up of a

connection with them by letter, when he could not give his bodily presence.

He seems only to have remained long enough in any one place to gain a

number of disciples, and to start them fairly, with something like Church

order, self-government, and adequate teaching force, from among

themselves. This plan tended to develop the self-dependence of the early

Christians; and it made very real Paul’s doctrine of the actual presence

and Divine leading of the Holy Ghost. But we can also see that it placed

the young Churches in grave peril, and there can be no reason for surprise

if we find that in doctrine they yielded to the influence of bold but

imperfect or false teachers; and in practical life felt the contaminating

influence of surrounding immoralities. It is plain that occasional visits or

letters from the older teachers were imperatively necessary, and the work

done by such visits or letters is variously styled confirming, or

strengthening, the disciples (ch. 14:22; 15:32-41). The word

“strengthening” seems, however, to suggest that Paul found some

weakening of faith, and failure of character and conduct, which he knew

would only too readily develop into doctrinal and practical heresies. We

may take this term “strengthening” and apply it to some of the forms of

pastoral and ministerial service in our own times. Something is done in the

way of visiting and confirming the Churches by our older and honored

chief pastors, but it may be urged that here is a sphere of hopeful service

which may be much more fully occupied.

 

  • “STRENGTHENING” AS APPLIED TO THE RENEWALS OF

MORAL FORCE IN TIMES OF PERSECUTION. Our Lord fairly

forewarned His disciples that they must look for persecution. It came

heavily upon the young Churches, not only in those open forms of which

history has preserved the records, but also in those thousand-fold more

searching forms which belonged to family and social life. Power of

resistance and steadfast endurance came indeed from the grace of God

and the leadings of the Holy Ghost, but these ever fit in with, and work

through, a due and careful culture of moral character. There are principles,

considerations, and sentiments which strengthen and steady men to endure

persecution. And these still form one great theme of pastoral treatment,

since, in subtler ways, it is found true to-day that “they who wilt live godly

must suffer persecution.”  (II Timothy 3:12)

 

  • “STRENGTHENING” AS APPLIED TO ESTABLISHMENT IN

CHRISTIAN TRUTHS. Three processes are ever going on which need

careful watching and wise correction.

 

Ø      Men who at one time grasp truth strongly, and make it a power on heart

and life, gradually get to loosen the grasp, and lose the practical influence

of the truth on the conduct.

 

Ø      Men who do not at first get a really clear hold of truth soon come,

unwittingly, to misrepresent it and injure it; not from an intention of

introducing freshness, or from any desire to encourage heresy, but simply

from feebleness of mental grip and inability to apprehend truth clearly. The

evils which Christian doctrine has suffered from this cause have never been

duly estimated.

 

Ø      Men who are of inquisitive and restless dispositions are too easily

attracted by heretical notions. Paul had to deal with all these forms of

evil, and he strove to correct them by establishing more firmly than before,

in mind and heart, the great Christian foundations; going over, again and

again, the “first principles of the doctrine of Christ.”  (Hebrews 6:1)

 

  • “STRENGTHENING” AS APPLIED TO PRACTICAL HELP IN

CHRISTIAN LIVING. Many practical questions arose in those times out

of the relations of Christian principles to pagan customs, such as the eating

of meat which had been offered in sacrifice to idols. And though Christians,

under the apostolic guidance, would at first take a decided stand in relation

even to the details of private and social life, we can well understand that

daily association would gradually wear down their resistance, and they

would fail to keep the strictness of moral purity, and the full power of

Christian charity, under the influence of daily surroundings. It is too

seldom duly considered how the worship and ministry of each returning

sabbath day helps to keep up the moral standard of life and conduct

among Christian people.

 

  • “STRENGTHENING” AS APPLIED TO THE QUICKENING OF

ZEAL IN CHRISTIAN ENTERPRISE. The Christian Church is essentially

an aggressive Church. It has its mission, and that mission is to the world. It

has no right of existence save as it seeks to extend and enlarge itself. A

selfish regard for its own interests is simply ruinous to its own best

interests. And yet we find that individuals and Churches are ever liable to

flag in energy and enterprise, and weakly to fall back upon mere self-culture,

or upon the excuse that they must attend to their self-culture.

Apostles, and earnest men in all ages, have to arouse the Church to a sense

of its duties and responsibilities, and to strengthen it for duly meeting and

fulfilling them. And so we find, in Paul’s letters to the Churches,

indications of the various spheres and departments in which he found it

necessary to “strengthen the disciples.” There is a tender scene in the

life of David, when his friend Jonathan found him out, in his time of

depression and seemingly hopeless failure, and “strengthened his hand in

God.”  (I Samuel 23:16)

 

24 “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man,

and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.”  Now for and, Authorized Version;

an Alexandrian by race for born at Alexandria, Authorized Version; learned for

eloquent, Authorized Version. (λόγιοςlogios - scholarly); came to Ephesus; and

he was mighty, etc., for and mighty in the Scriptures, came, etc., Authorized Version.

From vs. 24-28 is a distinct episode, and an important one, as containing the first

mention of a very remarkable man, Apollos (a short form of Apollonius, like

Epaphras for Epaphroditus) of Alexandria, a city destined to play a conspicuous

part in Church history, as the traditional Church and see of St. Mark, the school

of the Neoplatonists, the scene of the labors of Origen, Clement, and many other

men of note, and the birthplace of the Gnostic leaders Cerinthus, Basilides, and

Valentinus. The notices of Apollos in the New Testament are ch. 19:1;

1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-6, 22; 4:6; Titus 3:13; and all show Paul's high esteem

for him. It was no more his fault than Peter's and Paul's that the factious Corinthians

elevated him, or rather degraded him, into the leader of a party, Eloquent seems to

be a better translation of λόγιος here than learned. The Greek word, which only

occurs here in the New Testament, has both meanings.

 

25 “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.  26 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.”  Had been for was,

Authorized Version; spirit for the spirit, Authorized Version; carefully for diligently,

Authorized Version; things concerning Jesus for things of the Lord, Authorized

Version and Textus Receptus; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him for

whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, Authorized Version and Textus

Receptus; carefully for perfectly, Authorized Version. Knowing only the baptism

of John. It is difficult at first sight to conceive how at this time any one could

know the baptism of John without knowing further that of Christ. But a possible

account of it is that Apollos living at Alexandria, where as yet there was no

Christian Church, had met some Jews who had been in Judaea at the time of

John's ministry, and had heard from them of John's baptism and preaching,

and of his testimony to Jesus as the Messiah, but had had no further opportunity

of careful instruction in the faith of Jesus Christ till he happened to come to

Ephesus and make the acquaintance of his compatriots, Aquila and Priscilla.

They hearing him speak with fervor and eloquence, but perceiving that his

knowledge was imperfect, immediately invited him to their house, and instructed

him in the fullness of the truth of the gospel. This necessarily included the

doctrine of Christian baptism, which we cannot doubt was administered to him

(John 1:33; ch. 1:5; 2:38).

 

27 “And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote,

exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped

them much which had believed through grace:”  Minded for disposed,

Authorized Version; pass over for pass, Authorized Version; encouraged him,

and wrote to for wrote exhorting, Authorized Version; and... he helped for

 who... helped, Authorized Version. To pass over into Achaia. Nothing can

be more natural than the course of events here described. In his intimate

visit with Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos had necessarily heard much of the

great work at Corinth, and the flourishing Church there; and so he longed to

see for himself and to exercise his powers in watering what Paul had so well

planted (I Corinthians 3:6). Priscilla and Aquila having heard his eloquent

sermons at Ephesus, and being interested in the Corinthian Church, seem to

have encouraged him, and to have joined with the other disciples at Ephesus

in giving him commendatory letters to the Church of Corinth. Encouraged him;

προτρεψάμενοιprotrepsamenoi -  promoting - a word found nowhere else in

the New Testament, but used in classical Greek and in the Apocrypha, in the

sense of "exhorting," "urging." Προτρεπτικοὶ λόγοιprotreptikoi logoi

are hortatory words. In medical writers a "stimulant" is προτρεπτικόν

 protreptikon. There is a difference of opinion among commentators whether

the exhortation was addressed to Apollos, as the Revised Version takes it, or

to the brethren at Corinth, as the Authorized Version understands it. It seems

rather more consonant to the structure of the sentence and to the probability

of the case that the exhortation was addressed to the Corinthian Church, and not

to Apollos, who needed no such encouragement, Προτρεψάμενοι ἔγραψαν

Protrepsamenoi egrapsan - is equivalent to "wrote and exhorted."

 

28 “For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by

the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”  Powerfully confuted for mightily

convinced, Authorized Version; the Christ for Christ, Authorized Version.

Powerfully confuted; διακατηλέγχετοdiakataelegchetohe confuted

thoroughly -  one of Luke's peculiar compounds, found nowhere else;

εὐτόνωςeutonosstrenuously - here and Luke 23:10 (vehemently),

but nowhere else in the New Testament. The adjective εὔτονος, meaning

"nervous," "vehement," and the adverb εὐτόνως, meaning "vigorously,"

"with force," are very frequent in medical writers; εὐτόνως is also found in

the Septuagint of Joshua 6:7, Σημαινέτωσαν εὐτόνως Saemainetosan eutonos

"Let them blow a loud blast." Showing by the Scriptures, etc. The same line of

preaching as  Peter and Paul always adopted when addressing Jews (see

chps. 2 and 13; 17:3; 18:5, etc.). It is remarkable that the success of Apollos

at Corinth seems to have been chiefly among the Jews, who had opposed

themselves so vehemently to  Paul (v. 6). It is one of the many proofs of the

singleness of eye and simplicity of purpose of the great apostle, that the success

of this novice where he himself had failed did not excite the least jealousy

(1 Corinthians 16:12). Luke, too, Paul's friend and biographer, here speaks

of the powers and work of Apollos with no stinted measure of praise.

 

 

The Episode (vs. 24-28)

 

The five verses which make up this section are unique in this respect, that

the historian, leaving his hero engaged in unknown labors in Phrygia and

Galatia, gives us in them a view of what was going on meanwhile at

Ephesus. And a most curious narrative it is. It introduces to us one of the

most remarkable men of his age, the Alexandrian Apollos, a Jew of great

learning, great ability, and great eloquence; and relates his accession to the

Church and to the ranks of the Christian ministry, under most singular

circumstances. It further gives us a very striking instance of the devotion of

Aquila and Priscilla to the work of Christ, and of their eminent services in

the infant Church. Of the after career of Apollos we know next to nothing.

We see him for a moment, like a blazing comet in the ecclesiastical

heavens, striking down opposition and unbelief with the onslaught of his

fervid and logical eloquence; we see the reflex of his great influence at

Corinth, in the repeated mention of him in St. Paul’s Epistle to the

Corinthians (I Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-6; 4:5), written from Ephesus; but

the only evidence we have of his continuance in the work which he so

brilliantly began, is to be found in Paul’s brief order to Titus, Bring

Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be

wanting unto them” (Titus 3:13). Yet how manifold, in all probability,

were the evangelic labors of Apollos in that interval! How many must have

been convinced by him that Jesus is the Christ, and found eternal life in His

Name! And if the conjecture of Luther, followed by many since, and

recently supported at length by Dr. Farrar (‘Early Days of Christianity,’

vol. 1. Acts 17., 18.), that he was the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews,

be true, what a wide extension is given, in time and space, to the Christian

influence of this man mighty in the Scriptures;” and yet for nearly twenty

centuries has all this labor of love, this precious knit of devoted zeal and

spiritual power, been unknown to the Church of God. Surely the reward of

the successful evangelist and pastor is not to be looked for in fame and

worldly reputation, or the applause of men. And as surely every word

spoken for Christ, and every labor endured for the Master’s sake, will not

be forgotten, but will be found unto praise and honor and glory at the

appearing of Jesus Christ. Then perhaps the last will be first, and the first

last.  (Matthew 19:30)

 

 

 

The Eloquent Apollos (vs. 24-28)

 

  • PAUL AND APOLLOS: A CONTRAST. “I planted, Apollos watered.”

Different Divine instruments, shaped out of different material, prepared in

different ways, destined for different objects. The unity in variety in

Christian character is one of the chief beauties in the garden of God.

 

  • APOLLO AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE USE OF CONSECRATED

LEARNING IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST. Here learning is kindled by

sacred enthusiasm; it is rooted in faith; it is united with docility; it is applied

in the right place and way.

 

  • AS AN EXAMPLE OF GROWTH IN GRACE. It is the need of all.

It is attainable by all who seek it in the right way. It becomes blessed and

fruitful in new activity in the kingdom of God.

 

  • AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE, VARIED SCHOOLS OF LIFE

EXPERIENCE.  In the great school of Alexandria Apollos is among the

aristocracy of intellect; at Ephesus he is in the company of tent-makers. It

is good to know life on all sides; good to find virtue and grace in the most

diverse society; and, above all, to detect in each scene the leading hand and

educating wisdom of God.

 

 

 

 

Variety in Christian Service (vs. 24-28)

 

We learn:

 

  • THAT GOD ENDOWS HIS SERVANTS WITH VARIOUS GIFTS.

We have been following the course and rejoicing in the good work of Paul;

now we come to another Christian workman of different make, — Apollos.

God furnished him with opportunities and faculties that fitted him for

service other than that which the great apostle of the Gentiles rendered.

Apollos:

 

Ø      Had an acquaintance with Greek thought, gained at Alexandria, superior

to that which Paul would obtain at Tarsus.

 

Ø      Had the great advantage of readiness and force of language; he was “an

eloquent man” (v. 24). He shared with his more illustrious co-worker:

 

o        a large knowledge of Scripture, and

o        great fervor of spirit (v. 25).

 

It is certain that Paul could do what Apollos would never have

accomplished; it is equally certain that Apollos could effect some things

which were not within the compass of the apostle. Like faithful Christian

men, they rejoiced in one another. Instead of underestimating, and

disparaging one another because they differed in gifts and methods, they

valued one another’s special work and heartily co-operated in the mission

field. Few things are more unworthy and discreditable than petty jealousies

and disputations between Christian workmen of different types of

excellence; few things are more admirable than the hearty appreciation by

one man of the work rendered by another which is beyond his own powers

of accomplishment.

 

  • THAT HUMBLER DISCIPLES CAN RENDER VALUABLE

SERVICE TO THOSE WHO ARE DISTINGUISHED. (vs. 26-27.)

 

Ø      The service of enlightenment. This was rendered to Apollos by Aquila

and Priscilla (v. 26). They had learned “the way of God” from Paul, and

they could and did teach it to Apollos, so that he understood it more

perfectly. The little child in a Christian home could teach the profoundest

philosopher who was ignorant of revealed truth things which, in spiritual

worth, would weigh down all the speculations of his life. Two simple

Christian disciples at Ephesus could and did inform the mind of the

cultured and eloquent Apollos so that, instructed by them, he would

become a great power for truth and Christ in the whole neighborhood.

It is within the power of the simplest and humblest to breathe those words of

truth and grace which may make a man a fountain of blessing to his kind.

 

Ø      The service of introduction (v. 27). Unknown brethren wrote a letter,

and this, reaching the right hands, introduced a valuable exponent of

Christian truth to a large and important sphere. If the act of introduction be

regarded as it surely should be, not merely as means of obliging a friend, but

as something in which the Master Himself and His Church may be

importantly served, then, by the conscientious writing of “a letter of

commendation,” one who is of humble rank may do excellent work for his

kind — he touches a spring whence healing and refreshing waters flow.

 

  • THAT ONE CHRISTIAN TEACHER MAY FOLLOW ANOTHER

WITH THE GREATEST ADVANTAGE. (v. 28.) Apollos mightily

convinced the Jews;” perhaps more successfully than Paul would have

done. When one Christian workman goes and another comes, the latter

supplements the former in two ways.

 

Ø      He deepens the impression which the former has made. By bearing the

same testimony he constrains the people to feel more convinced of the

truth and value of that which they have heard.

 

Ø      He brings additional light. He puts the same truth in other forms and

phases; he presents it as it has shaped itself to his own mind and has

been colored by his own experience. Thus he meets the need of some

whose necessity had not been met, and wins some that would have

remained unwon.

 

  • THAT THE COMING OF A STRONG SERVANT OF CHRIST

SHOULD BE BUT A REINFORCEMENT TO THOSE ALREADY IN

ACTIVE SERVICE. The Church at Corinth was not in a state of inactivity

and uuaggressiveness when Apollos arrived. What he did there was, not to

originate a mission, but to help those already in the field (vs. 27-28). He

helped them by ably sustaining their endeavors to advance the cause of

Christ. The Churches of the Savior should always and everywhere be in a

state of EVANGELISTIC ACTIVITY; then they will be prepared to welcome

as a timely reinforcement the coming of a specially powerful advocate who

will master and secure those whom he encounters.

 

 

 

The opportunities Vouchsafed to Fitness (vs. 24-28)

 

The doctrine of man’s opportunity is the correlative of that of God’s

providence. A world of opportunity there ever is, ever is even for every

man. How much of it mournfully perishes for lack of fitness in those who

should be fit! A wonderful quantity and variety of fitness there is which

waits upon opportunity, hangs precarious on it, but which often pines away

because the opportunity given is not seen, or seen is not rightly appraised

and humbly accepted. Pride often stands in the way of fitness accepting

opportunity. So the whole Jewish nation sinned, and “knew not their King,

God’s everlasting Son.” Whim often stands in the way; one kind of

opportunity had been preferred and counted upon, and that which actually

comes, though no doubt much better in reality, looks so strange that it is

disdained. Impatience often stands in the way; for how much of

opportunity depends on ripeness, ripeness of time fitted to the exact

ripeness of character, and many will not wait, nor believe, nor trust!  In all

such cases, the waste, the sacrifice, the absolute unqualified loss are what

only the omniscient eye can see, and are such that the eye of Jesus would

weep over them. A much happier view of fitness, which courted

opportunity, and of opportunity which was divinely vouchsafed to fitness,

is here before us. Let us observe:

 

  • THE FITNESS. It is illustrated in two instances.

 

Ø      The instance of Apollos.

 

o        He was eloquent. It was very possibly a native gift with him. If it were

such, it was used — used in a good cause, improved by use. Many a

natural advantage is not used; or is so sluggishly used that it wins no

improvement and earns no talent beside itself; or used, it is used to

inferior ends or to really bad purpose. So far from its being able to be

described as “improved,” it both desecrates and is desecrated.

 

o        He had the fitness of one who had acquired knowledge of the

Scriptures, and very hearty, thorough knowledge of them. He

understood their parts and their harmony. He could, no doubt, quote

them, compare them, vindicate them against misinterpretation or very

weak interpretation.  And thoroughness of acquaintance with them

raised their meaning and value and admirableness incomparably for

him. A very scanty, meager acquaintance with Scripture is dishonor

offered to it and its high worthiness; but, furthermore, it has no

value for the subject of it. He is stricken with famine in the presence

of rich abundance, and the strickenness is all his own doing. The

average modern Christian loses, perhaps, beyond all that is supposed,

from this one source.

 

o        He had been instructed and had taken the graft of such instruction

respecting the Messiahship of Jesus. “This word,” upon which all

turned for the Jew of that day, he had “received with meekness.” And

this word, though at present he had not got beyond the “baptism of

John,” and knew little of the “baptism of the Holy Ghost,” was

bearing already “much fruit.”  (John 15:5).

 

o        He owned to the great qualification of “fervor in the Spirit.” It was a

fervor assuredly not all his own, not altogether native in gift. The

Spirit had condescended to descend and light upon him.

 

o        He had a certain fitness of practical aptitude at speaking. And he did

not bury it. He began by “speaking” as if in conversation with one or

more. He went on to “teaching,” and neither his teaching nor any who

heard it rebuked his advance, it would appear, till he found himself

“preaching boldly” in public in the synagogues. It is just as though

impulse had been faithfully obeyed, and felt its way, felt it rightly

from step to step.

 

o        He had also a certain missionary fitness. No large language boasts it to

us, but the significant language of his deeds speaks it. He was

“disposed” to pass onward. This is the disposition of the gospel. It

refuses to stagnate.  It refuses to be partial. It refuses to forget

“the ends of the earth.” It refuses to stay its course till it shall

“cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea.”  (Isaiah 11:9)

 

Ø      The instance of Aquila and Priscilla. Behind the all-brief allusion to

them, what a background, we may be well assured, lies! What loss of

worldly business, what vexation, what fatigue, what wounded hearts and

painful aspects of human life, and strange estimates of the great Invisible,

must have been the oft visitants of those banished Jews of Rome! Yet

 

o        they had fallen in with Paul, and not been afraid of him, nor of his truth,

which was one with him, and they had “learned of him.” Ay, it was the

foundation of all fitness for them. But:

 

(2) they had admitted Paul to be “partners” with them, or workman for

them at wages, and had received him as an indoor servant. So they had

not only learned the first outline and elements of Christian truth, but they

had enjoyed the priceless advantage of learning ever so much more by

question and answer, at many an odd moment, when the light burst in

on them like a flash of lightning, only with healing instead of alarming

effect. They had learned in many a nicely disposed frame of mind,

when a quarter of an hour gave more than a week would have otherwise

given. They had also been relieved and cheered through long stretches

of wearisome toil, yet the time sped all too quickly. And many a time

they said, in thinking of it all, “Did not our heart burn within us?”

(Luke 24:32)  They were qualifying for nothing different

from this — to “expound the way of God more perfectly” to others.

 

o        They had come to feel themselves, if it might at all be so, “inseparable”

from Paul They must go with Paul (v. 18) into Syria and to Ephesus

(v. 19). There, it is significantly said, “he left them” (v. 19), for it

was time their own separate usefulness and ministry should begin.

 

  • THE OPPORTUNITY.

 

Ø      For Apollos. He seemed made for usefulness.

 

o       He had begun work right heartily before Aquila and Priscilla

had told him the latest and the best. So he had already found

his work out of the various fitnesses which lay in him, which

 he had not neglected, not resisted, not despised.

 

The opportunity of large accessions of knowledge are thrown

in his way, and he embraces them and owns them. Possibly

the tent-making couple, man and wife, did not ordinarily stand

very high in repute with the learned and polished of Alexandria

(v. 24). But as surely as they recognize the right ring about him,

so does he about them. And he is glad of the providential

opportunity held out to him, to have “the way of God

expounded” to him more completely and fully.

 

o       The opportunity is opened to him of passing on to other ground,

accredited by “the brethren,” till he finds himself the true living

center of a people to God’s glory. He is the “much helper” of

them, who had already “believed through grace,” and he is the

effective, trenchant, and successful convincer of many others,

of “the truth as it is in Jesus.” What a lesson for young men!

And how many persons of great gifts not used, misused, or

sluggishly used, are sternly rebuked by the example of Apollos!

While he is an example of how God will find the work and the

opportunity and the glorious usefulness for those who have and

improve and dedicate to Him their fitness, of whatever kind,

for his work.

 

Ø      For Aquila and Priscilla. These had been blessed themselves. Very

likely, indeed, they had been a real help and comfort in private and in

traveling to Paul. We can see them, wherever the modest opportunity

offered, modestly stepping in and using it for the glory of Christ and the

good of the brethren and others. But they had never thought of anything

beyond such silent, unknown, unrecorded usefulness. But no, it shall not

be so. A new opening occurs; they see it, and use it. They teach the

teacher.  They furnish the armory of the capable, skilful, valiant warrior.

Not a victory that Apollos won afterwards, but their share was registered

up above; and not a tender plant he watered (I Corinthians 3:6), but the

refreshingness came partly of their work, while “God gave the

increase.”  For love, and care, and study, and zeal for Him, Christ will

never long withhold that best present reward, the reward of sufficient

opportunity.

 

 

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