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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Acts 18

 

 

Verse 1

1. After Paul’s rejection by the grave council of the Areopagus, leaving Athens, he traveled on southwest eighty miles to the beautiful and magnificent city of Corinth, standing on a rich plain immediately south of the Isthmus of Corinth, separating the Aegean Sea on the east from the Ionian Sea on the west, thus giving the city access through these two seas to the commerce of the world. Consequently, Corinth was the great commercial emporium, not only of Greece but Eastern Europe, becoming immensely wealthy, and at the same time adorned with magnificent temples to the Grecian gods, in splendor and majesty second only to Athens. Corinth was also a grand emporium of Grecian learning. When I was there in 1895, the old site was a great wheat-field, except a small dirty village hugging the base of the Acrocorinthus, New Corinth on the railroad, three miles distant on the Ionian Sea, containing about five thousand, and rapidly growing. Paul was evidently much discouraged over his failure at Athens, rejected by the council of the Areopagus, even though he quoted their own poets, Aratus of Tarsus and Cleanthus of Troas. Paul’s condemnation of the splendid, gorgeous and universal idolatry of Athens, along with his advocacy of the purely spiritual worship of the true God, and especially his doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, utterly disgusted the profound philosophy of the cultured Athenians. Now how much better will it be at Corinth, almost the peer of Athens in the artistic display, intellectual and polytheistic idolatry? Therefore he goes back to his old trade of manufacturing tents out of goat’s hair-a very lucrative employment in the great East, where millions spend all their lives in tents.


Verse 2-3

2, 3. Fortunately Aquila and Priscilla, devout Jews, driven from Rome by the Emperor Claudius, also experts in tent building, fall in with him, becoming his first converts to the Christhood of Jesus and sweeping quickly into full salvation, responding to the call of the Holy Ghost, become efficient preachers of the living Word.


Verse 4

4. Felicitously, there is a large synagogue of Jews at Corinth, and it is too far from Northern Greece for his persecutors to follow him. So he works all the week and preaches every Sabbath in the synagogue.


Verse 5

5. When Silas and Timothy arrive from the North, Paul was straightened in the Word, testifying to Jews and Greeks that “Jesus is the Christ.” The meaning of that statement is simply this: he has preached till he has developed a positive issue, so that something has to break, and the prophetic eye of Paul saw what was coming, as we have described in the next verse.


Verse 6

6. You see the rupture long brewing and sorrowfully anticipated by Paul is bound to come: He divides the church. They drive him out of the synagogue, just like you see going on all around you this day: some receive the gospel of holiness and others reject it. So the church is divided; some go into holiness and others oppose it. Paul is fortunate. Titius Justus, one of his converts, owns a house adjoining the synagogue, into which he invites Paul and all of the holiness people.


Verse 8

8. Even Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, with all his family and quite a crowd, go with him.


Verse 9-10

9, 10. About this time the Lord greatly encourages Paul in a night vision. “Fear not, but speak and be not silent, because I am with thee, and no one shall attack thee to hurt thee, for I have much people in this city.” Those people were yet in sin, but God saw them and knew they would be saved, and hence claimed them. When I was a poor little ignorant sinner, a very bad boy pointed a loaded gun directly at my head and tried to fire it; but it only snapped, though it had fired all right a few moments previously. God’s hand was on the gun, and the devil’s man could not make it shoot. He knew what I was going to be. Paul, thus encouraged by the voice of God, moved out with fresh vigor, preached eighteen months right there at Corinth, building up the largest and most wonderfully gifted church of his ministry. The church contained very many Jews and still more Gentiles, all poor people except Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue; Erastus, the chamberlain of the city, and Gaius, the host of Paul and the whole church.


Verses 12-17

PAUL’S TRIAL BEFORE GALLIO

12-17. This case is really notable. When Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue is converted, Sosthenes succeeds him and is enthusiastic to exterminate the Pauline heresy out of the church. Consequently, he resolves to prosecute Paul before the civil tribunal and drive him out of the country. He has him arrested and arraigned at the tribunal of Gallio, the Roman proconsul, under charge of teaching people to worship God contrary to the authority of the fallen Jewish church. Of course, Gallio, a heathen Roman, cares nothing about the Jewish religion, looking upon it as mere superstition, and allowing them to battle it among themselves. Therefore he simply dismissed the case out of court, like modern mayors frequently do the Salvation Army. The animosity of the Gentile multitude is thus aroused against the Jews, who have thus failed in their efforts to get Paul flogged, so they seize Sosthenes, his disappointed prosecutor, and give him a thrashing. It seems to have done him good, as we find him (1

Corinthians 1:1) associated with Paul in the evangelistic work In Asia, and even honored along with the authorship of the Epistle. It actually looks as if, after the manner of Peter Cartwright, they beat religion into him.


Verse 18

PAUL RETURNS TO ASIA

18. After an absence of two years, it is important that he go round among the churches in the Gentile world. His vow at Cenchrea was Jewish and Nazaritish, signifying its expiration by clipping his hair (Numbers 6:1-14).


Verse 19

19. The Jewish synagogue was outside the city, as frequently.


Verse 20

20. He must expedite and see the churches in different countries again,


Verse 21-22

21, 22. Going down to Caesarea, and up to Jerusalem,


Verse 23

23. Down to Antioch and into Syria, Phrygia and Galatia, where I trow he had established churches, i. e., little holiness bands in private houses, while at home, in Tarsus, A. D. 35-38, “establishing all the disciples.” Here, we see Paul take a great tour over sea and land, through many countries, and never mentions a single conversion. What is he doing? “Establishing the disciples.” Is not sanctification the establishing grace? God help us to walk in the footprints of Paul, going round and round among the churches and getting them sanctified and established. John Wesley said only one in three in his day stood, for the want of establishing grace. He also said: “It is more to retain the grace of God than to receive it.” Oh, how we all need stirring up along this line!

MINISTRY AND SANCTIFICATION OF APOLLOS

Alexandria, Egypt, under the patronage of that celebrated literary and enterprising monarch, Ptolemy Philadelphus, became the greatest literary emporium on the globe during the centuries preceding Grecian pre- eminence, at the same time under the generous philanthropy of this monarch having become the rendezvous of a vast number of Jews, for whose especial benefit, calling a convention of the seventy most learned Jews of the age, he had them translate the Old Testament out of Hebrew into Greek, thus giving a grand impetus both to Greek literature and the Jewish religion in his kingdom. Amid these auspicious environments the gifted Apollo was brought up at Alexandria, Egypt, excelling in learning and preeminent in native eloquence, becoming not only the sensation but the wonder of the age. In the days of John the Baptist, having come from Africa to Palestine, he enjoyed the ministry of that wonderful prophet, becoming one of his brightest converts; responsive to the call of God, became a powerful preacher of the gospel under the Johanic dispensation. Gloriously regenerated and baptized under the preaching of fiery John, the greatest of all the prophets.


Verse 25

25. “He was instructed in the way of the Lord, and, boiling over in spirit, he continued to speak and teach clearly the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John.” God’s salvation has been identical in all ages and under all dispensations, notwithstanding the didactic diversities characteristic of the progressive stages in the school of Christ from the unlettered simplicity of the Antediluvian, then the divine interventions of the Patriarchal, the glowing symbolism of the Mosaic, the burning pathos of the Johanic, the inimitable parabolic teaching of Jesus, followed by the fiery baptisms and universal evangelism of the Pentecostal, all destined to the glorious eclipse under the brilliancy, majesty, splendor and ineffable glory destined to inundate the world amid the transcendent millennial theocracy. While the gracious economy has thus exhibited a progressive panorama as to its didactic phases during the progressive ages, experimental religion, experienced in the heart by the Holy Ghost, is identical in all ages.


Verse 26

26. While Apollos, the most eloquent preacher in the world, having come from Africa by way of the Mediterranean to Ephesus, the metropolis of Western Asia, is holding the multitude spell-bound by his inimitable oratory, Aquila and Priscilla, an humble layman and his wife, having been wonderfully sanctified while associated with Paul in tent-making and evangelistic work in Corinth, perceive by spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10) [reading the preacher like a book] that he is yet alien to the glorious experience of Christian perfection. Therefore taking him home with them they “expounded unto him the way more perfectly,” thus honored by the Holy Ghost to lead this humble brother, so wonderfully enriched with the rare gift of native eloquence, into the glorious experience of entire sanctification, thus leading him forward out of the Johanic into the Pentecostal dispensation of grace, and thus congenializing him to the grand open field of the Pauline churches.


Verse 27

27. Now, doubtless encouraged by Aquila and Priscilla, he proceeds at once to cross the Aegean Sea to Europe, where he is so much needed, at this time to fill the vacancy created by Paul, who has returned to Asia on a vast tour, visiting all the churches in the interest of their sanctification.


Verse 28

28. “For he powerfully argued down the Jews, showing conclusively by the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” Apollos, before his sanctification, eclipsed all by his native eloquence, electrified by his warm heart, filled with regenerating grace. Since he is sanctified, the burning pathos and Pentecostal Niagara of this mighty and abiding fiery baptism, added to his native eloquence, literally transforms the man into a cyclone of fire, bearing down everything in its wake, thus becoming a sun-burst on the gospel churches of Europe and Asia.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Acts 18:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/acts-18.html.

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