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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 18



Verses 1-11

Acts 18:1-11. Paul at Corinth.—Corinth (p. 832), the seat of the Roman proconsul, was to the Christian missionary as good a field as Athens was the opposite. A great seaport, it was much addicted to vice and luxury, and had a very mixed population, as the Corinthian epistles show us, of rich people and poor, of tradesmen and would-be philosophers.

Acts 18:4 is an editorial insertion, as Acts 18:5 (read with AV, "Paul was pressed in spirit") tells us that the effective synagogue preaching did not begin till Silas and Timothy joined him. The tenor of the preaching is different from that at Athens, but Paul's preaching was more than this (1 Corinthians 2:2). It is addressed to the Jews in the synagogue, and sets up vehement opposition on their part; Paul then acts according to the principle stated in Acts 13:46, and turns to the Gentiles. From 1 Cor. we see that the Corinthian church contained a Jewish element (Acts 7:18), but was predominantly Gentile (Acts 12:2).

Acts 18:7. The opposition decided Paul to change his lodgings; he left the house of Aquila the Jew and went to that of Titus Justus, a Gentile by birth, who had frequented the synagogue. That this house was close to the synagogue would make the breach more marked; the Christian meeting probably took place there. Crispus is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:14 as an early convert whom Paul himself baptized.

Acts 18:9. This promise explains Paul's long residence at Corinth. The attack (Acts 18:12-17) did not take place at once. The chronological data in Ac. are satisfactory.

Verses 12-17

Acts 18:12-17. Gallio and Paul.—Gallio's proconsulship is fixed by an inscription at Delphi which came to light in 1905; and gives an absolute date in Pauline chronology (p. 655). He had not been proconsul when Paul came to Corinth (Acts 18:12); his arrival in Achaia is found to have been after midsummer (A.D. 51), while Paul came there early in 50. Gallio was the brother of the philosopher Seneca, who describes him as "sweet" (dulcis), and was a man of the highest culture. After his arrival the Jews brought Paul before him on the same charge as that made at Philippi (Acts 16:21) and at Thessalonica (Acts 17:7), that he preached an illegal religion. Gallio at once decides that as no punishable act is alleged, he will not enter on discussion as to a doctrine and a controversy about persons and the Jewish Law, and so dismisses the case. The attack made by the Jews drew down the wrath of the populace (D has "all the Greeks"). Sosthenes (not he of 1 Corinthians 1:1) has to suffer for it; Gallio continues in his attitude of indifference to such squabbles.

From 1818 to 1920 we have a set of anecdotes mostly connected with Ephesus and hanging loosely together.

Verses 18-23

Acts 18:18-23. Journey to Syria.—No special object, is stated; the facts are placed before us abruptly, and some are hard to understand. An apostle is by his office a traveller who does not give himself to any one church, and Paul had been the best part of two years at Corinth when he bade the brethren there farewell and sailed for Syria. It was Aquila, not Paul, who had a vow and terminated it at Cenchreæ. For the hair sacrifice, see *Numbers 6, , ; cf. Numbers 21:24 below; it would refer here to an escape from some danger of which we know nothing

Acts 18:19. At Ephesus Paul addresses, as elsewhere, the Jews in the synagogue, and is well received, but he will not stay there. With a promise to return he sets off on the voyage. He lands at Csarea, and goes up and greets the church. Jerusalem is not mentioned, nor any errand which would take him there, and, so far as the words show, the church may have been that at Csarea. The D text of Acts 19:1 denies that Paul went to Jerusalem at this time. The phrase "went down to Antioch" does not imply that he went there from Jerusalem (cf. Acts 8:5). He would reach Antioch in late autumn and spend the winter there, and go westwards when the roads were open in spring. The route is the same as that of Acts 16:6.

Verses 24-28

Acts 18:24-28. Apollos at Ephesus.—Apollos is well known to us from 1 Cor.; his name was adopted by one of the Corinthian parties as their standard (1 Corinthians 1:12*). Here we learn more about him, that he was at Ephesus in Paul's absence, and that Aquila and Priscilla were of use to him as teachers. He is a cultivated Alexandrian with a good grasp of Scripture, and he has also had instruction (cf. mg.) in the way of the Lord; i.e. probably in the duties and observances of the new religion. He has the gifts of a teacher, enthusiasm for the subject, information, conviction (the word translated "carefully" conveys more probably this meaning); one thing he lacks. There seems to have been at Ephesus a set of followers of John the Baptist with his water baptism without the Spirit (p. 771). Priscilla and Aquila fill up what is wanting to Apollos' equipment as a Christian missionary and he goes to Corinth (in Paul's absence from both places) recommended by the brethren at Ephesus. D explains the matter thus: "There were some Corinthians living at Ephesus, and when they heard him they urged him to go with them to their city, and on his agreeing the Ephesians wrote to the brethren at Corinth to receive the man." There he used his gift ("grace" seems a better reading; cf. mg.) effectually to help the believers. That his doctrine was different from Paul's, if only in style, appears from 1 Cor., but not from Ac.


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 18:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

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