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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 18



Verses 1-28

Second Missionary Journey (concluded)

1-18. St. Paul at Corinth. Corinth was the capital of the Roman province of Achaia. The ancient town had been entirely destroyed in 146 b.c. by the Roman general Mummius, but it had been refounded as a Roman colony in 46 b.c. by Julius Cæsar. Situated on the Corinthian isthmus, it had two ports, Cenchreæ on the Ægean, and Lechaaum on the Gulf of Lepanto. The traffic between Italy and Asia chiefly passed through Corinth, which rapidly became a populous and wealthy trading centre. The morals of the Corinthians, who were devoted to pleasure and the worship of Venus (Aphrodite), were such as to outrage even pagan sentiment. Allusions to the prevailing sensuality of the city, which was encouraged by its religion, are to be found in the Epistles to the Corinthians. Here Paul stayed a year and six months, but St. Luke (for whatever reason) gives us few particulars of his work. From Corinth St. Paul indited his two Epistles to the Thessalonians.

2. Aquila.. Priscilla] As Aquila and Priscilla (Prisca) are not said to have been converted by Paul, they were probably already Christians. The edict of the emperor Claudius (about 52 a.d.) which expelled the Jews from Rome, was. caused by tumults which arose in the Jewish quarter, when the faith of Christ was preached there. This at least is the probable inference to be drawn from the words of Suetonius, 'He expelled the Jews from Rome, because they were in a state of continual tumult at the instigation of one Chrestus' (Chrestus is probably 'Christus,' or Christ). Aquila and Priscilla were St. Paul's hosts at Corinth. Deporting from Corinth with St. Paul (Acts 18:18), they remained at Ephesus, where they were instrumental in converting Apollos (Acts 18:26). The church at Ephesus met in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19). They then revisited Rome, perhaps to prepare for the Apostle's visit, and there also their house was the Church's meeting-place (Romans 16:3-5). After St. Paul's trial they returned to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:19), which is our last notice of them. Pontus] with Bithynia formed a Roman province occupying the S. coast of the Euxine (Black Sea).

3. Tentmakers] All Jews, however wealthy, were taught a trade.

5. Silas and Timotheus] see Acts 17:15. They brought money with them, so that Paul no longer worked with his hands, but gave himself entirely to preaching (2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:15).

Was pressed in the spirit] RV 'was constrained by the word,' i.e. devoted himself continually to preaching.

6. Blasphemed] They said 'Jesus is anathema' (1 Corinthians 12:3).

7. Justus] RV 'Titus Justus.' Probably a Roman colonist of the Roman colony Corinth.

8. Crispus] St. Paul baptised this important convert with his own hands, as also Gaius, and the household of Stephanas (1 Corinthians 1:15). From 1 Corinthians 16:15, 1 Corinthians 16:17 we learn that Stephanas was the first convert made in Achaia.

12. Gallio] the brother of Nero's tutor Seneca, and uncle of the poet Lucan, was a well-educated, amiable, and accomplished man, who, having filled the office of consul, was sent out as proconsul of Achaia about 52 a.d.

17. The Greeks hated and despised the Jews, and seeing that their contempt was shared by Gallio, they ventured to insult the Jews in his presence by assaulting Sosthenes. Gallio cared, etc.] This may either mean that Gallio pretended not to see the assault on Sosthenes, or else that he cared nothing about the religious questions involved.

18. A vow] After delivery from danger or recovery from sickness, the Jews were accustomed to take upon themselves a modified form of the Nazirite vow (see Numbers 6). As the special consecration of this state forbade intercourse with Gentiles, St. Paul deferred it till his work at Corinth was finished. The essential ceremony was the presentation of the hair grown during the period of separation at the altar at Jerusalem together with certain specified sacrifices; hence the head was shaved both at the beginning and at the end of the period of separation. See further Acts 21:26. It is not necessary to suppose that St. Paul took this vow to conciliate the Jews or the Jewish Christians. He simply adopted the usual Jewish way of thanking God for a great deliverance.

Many additional particulars about the Corinthian ministry of St. Paul can be learnt from 1 and 2 Cor. See the commentary on those Epistles.

19-22. Visit to Jerusalem. Paul probably sailed in a ship specially chartered to convey Jews to Palestine to keep the Passover.

19. Ephesus] The prohibition to preach the word in Asia (Acts 16:6) had now apparently been removed. Aquila and Priscilla were left in Ephesus to prepare the way for the great missionary effort that he desired to make in this important centre.

21. This feast] i.e. Pentecost (or possibly Passover) 52 a.d. Clearly St. Paul had vowed to make his Nazirite offering at this feast. The RV omits the words referring to the feast altogether, but they are strongly attested.

22. And gone up] viz. to Jerusalem. We may suppose that St. Paul spent some time at Jerusalem, before going to Antioch.

Verse 23

Third Missionary Journey, Aug. 52 a.d. to Pentecost 56 a.d. (
Acts 18:23 to Acts 21:16)

23. Visit to Galatia. St. Paul revisits Antioch in Syria and the Churches of Galatia and Phrygia, founded in the First Missionary Journey (i.e. Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe).

24-28. Apollos at Ephesus.

24. Apollos] The name is a contraction of Apollonius. He is mentioned again Acts 19:1; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4.; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 16:12; Titus 3:13. He had been instructed and baptised by the disciples of the Baptist, and therefore regarded Jesus as the Messiah (Mark 1:7, etc.), perhaps even as 'the Son of God,' and 'the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world '(John 1:29, John 1:34). His knowledge was accurate as far as it went, and his faith was sincere. That he received Christian baptism (probably from Aquila) is a certain inference from Acts 18:25 compared with Acts 19:1-17.

Eloquent] RV 'learned.' Both meanings may be included. Probably Apollos was acquainted with the philosophy of the Alexandrian Jew Philo, and his speculations about the Divine Logos ('Reason' or 'Word').

26. The synagogue] We infer that Priscilla and Aquila, though Christians, still attended the synagogue.

27. Wrote.. the disciples] Christians travelling received 'letters of commendation 'to other Christian Churches, which secured them hospitality and admission to communion (cp. 2 Corinthians 3:1). Helped them much] RM 'helped much through grace them which had believed.' Apollos was so popular at Corinth, that his admirers soon formed a faction or party in the Church (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4).

28. Convinced] RV 'confuted,'


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Acts 18:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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