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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 18



Verse 1

To Corinth (εις Κοριντονeis Korinthon). Mummius had captured and destroyed Corinth b.c. 146. It was restored by Julius Caesar b.c. 46 as a boom town and made a colony. It was now the capital of the province of Achaia and the chief commercial city of Greece with a cosmopolitan population. It was only fifty miles from Athens. The summit of Acrocorinthus was 1,800 feet high and the ports of Cenchreae and Lechaeum and the Isthmus across which ships were hauled gave it command of the trade routes between Asia and Rome. The temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinthus had a thousand consecrated prostitutes and the very name to Corinthianize meant immorality. Not the Parthenon with Athene faced Paul in Corinth, but a worse situation. Naturally many Jews were in such a mart of trade. Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens, all had brought anxiety to Paul. What could he expect in licentious Corinth?

Verse 2

Aquila (ΑκυλανAkulan). Luke calls him a Jew from Pontus, apparently not yet a disciple, though there were Jews from Pontus at the great Pentecost who were converted (Acts 2:9). Aquila who made the famous a.d. translation of the O.T. was also from Pontus. Paul “found” (ευρωνheurōn second aorist active participle of ευρισκωheuriskō) though we do not know how. Edersheim says that a Jewish guild always kept together whether in street or synagogue so that by this bond they probably met.

Lately come from Italy (προσπατως εληλυτοτα απο της Ιταλιαςprosphatōs elēluthota apo tēs Italias). Second perfect participle of ερχομαιerchomai Koiné{[28928]}š adverb, here only in the N.T., from adjective προσπατοςprosphatos (προ σπαωproσπαζωsphaō or και Πρισκιλλαν γυναικα αυτουsphazō to kill), lately slaughtered and so fresh or recent (Hebrews 10:20).

With his wife Priscilla (Πρισκαkai Priskillan gunaika autou). Diminutive of δια το διατεταχεναι ΚλαυδιονPriska (Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19). Prisca is a name in the Acilian family and the Prisci was the name of another noble clan. Aquila may have been a freedman like many Jews in Rome. Her name comes before his in Acts 17:18, Acts 17:26; Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:9.

Because Claudius had commanded (διατασσωdia to diatetachenai Klaudion). Perfect active articular infinitive of Διαdiatassō old verb to dispose, arrange, here with accusative of general reference. Dia here is causal sense, “because of the having ordered as to Claudius.” This was about a.d. 49, done, Suetonius says (Claudius C. 25), because “the Jews were in a state of constant tumult at the instigation of one Chrestus” (probably among the Jews about Christ so pronounced). At any rate Jews were unpopular in Rome for Tiberius had deported 4,000 to Sardinia. There were 20,000 Jews in Rome. Probably mainly those implicated in the riots actually left.

Verse 3

Because he was of the same trade (δια το ομοτεχνον ειναιdia to homotechnon einai). Same construction with διαdia as above. ομοτεχνονHomotechnon is an old word (ομοσ τεχνηhomosσκηνοιποιοι τηι τεχνηιtechnē), though here alone in N.T. Rabbi Judah says: “He that teacheth not his son a trade, doth the same as if he taught him to be a thief.” So it was easy for Paul to find a home with these “tentmakers by trade” (σκηνηskēnoipoioi tēi technēi). Late word from ποιεωskēnē and εμενενpoieō here only in the N.T. They made portable tents of leather or of cloth of goat‘s hair. So Paul lived in this home with this noble man and his wife, all the more congenial if already Christians which they soon became at any rate. They worked as partners in the common trade. Paul worked for his support elsewhere, already in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8) and later at Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26; Acts 20:34; 1 Corinthians 16:19). They moved again to Rome (Romans 16:3) and were evidently a couple of considerable wealth and generosity. It was a blessing to Paul to find himself with these people. So he “abode” (ηργαζοντοemenen imperfect active) with them and “they wrought” (ērgazonto imperfect middle), happy and busy during week days.

Verse 4

He reasoned (διελεγετοdielegeto). Imperfect middle, same form as in Acts 17:17 about Paul‘s work in Athens, here only on the Sabbaths.

Persuaded (επειτενepeithen). Imperfect active, conative, he tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks (God-fearers who alone would come).

Verse 5

Was constrained by the word (συνειχετο τωι λογωιsuneicheto tōi logōi). This is undoubtedly the correct text and not τωι πνευματιtōi pneumati of the Textus Receptus, but συνειχετοsuneicheto is in my opinion the direct middle imperfect indicative, not the imperfect passive as the translations have it (Robertson, Grammar, p. 808). Paul held himself together or completely to the preaching instead of just on Sabbaths in the synagogue (Acts 18:4). The coming of Silas and Timothy with the gifts from Macedonia (1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 11:9; Philemon 4:15) set Paul free from tent-making for a while so that he began to devote himself (inchoative imperfect) with fresh consecration to preaching. See the active in 2 Corinthians 5:14. He was now also assisted by Silas and Timothy (2 Corinthians 1:19).

Testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (διαμαρτυρομενος τοις Ιουδαιοις ειναι τον Χριστον Ιησουνdiamarturomenos tois Ioudaiois einai ton Christon Iēsoun). Paul‘s witness everywhere (Acts 9:22; Acts 17:3). This verb διαμαρτυρομενοςdiamarturomenos occurs in Acts 2:40 (which see) for Peter‘s earnest witness. Perhaps daily now in the synagogue he spoke to the Jews who came. ΕιναιEinai is the infinitive in indirect discourse (assertion) with the accusative of general reference. By τον Χριστονton Christon Paul means “the Messiah.” His witness is to show to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.

Verse 6

When they opposed themselves (αντιτασσομενων αυτωνantitassomenōn autōn). Genitive absolute with present middle (direct middle again) of αντιτασσωantitassō old verb to range in battle array (τασσωtassō) face to face with or against (αντιanti). In the N.T. only here and Romans 13:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5. Paul‘s fresh activity roused the rabbis as at Antioch in Pisidia and at Thessalonica in concerted opposition and railing (blasphemy).

He shook out his raiment (εκτιναχαμενος τα ιματιαektinaxamenos ta himatia). First aorist middle of εκτινασσωektinassō old verb, in the N.T. only here as in Acts 13:51 (middle) and Mark 6:11; Matthew 10:15 where active voice occurs of shaking out dust also. Vivid and dramatic picture here like that in Nehemiah 5:13, “undoubtedly a very exasperating gesture” (Ramsay), but Paul was deeply stirred.

Your blood be upon your own heads (Το αιμα υμων επι την κεπαλην υμωνTo haima humōn epi tēn kephalēn humōn). As in Ezekiel 3:18., Ezekiel 33:4, Ezekiel 33:8.; 2 Samuel 1:16. Not as a curse, but “a solemn disclaimer of responsibility” by Paul (Page) as in Acts 20:26. The Jews used this very phrase in assuming responsibility for the blood of Jesus (Matthew 27:25). Cf. Matthew 23:35.

I am clean (καταρος εγωkatharos egō). Pure from your blood. Repeats the claim made in previous sentence. Paul had done his duty.

From henceforth (απο του νυνapo tou nun). Turning point reached in Corinth. He will devote himself to the Gentiles, though Jews will be converted there also. Elsewhere as in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-10) and in Rome (Acts 28:23-28) Paul will preach also to Jews.

Verse 7

Titus Justus (Τιτου ΙουστουTitou Ioustou). So Aleph E Vulgate, while B has Τιτιαυ ΙουστουTitiau Ioustou while most MSS. have only ΙουστουIoustou Evidently a Roman citizen and not Titus, brother of Luke, of Galatians 2:1. We had Barsabbas Justus (Acts 1:23) and Paul speaks of Jesus Justus (Corinthians Galatians 4:11). The Titii were a famous family of potters in Corinth. This Roman was a God-fearer whose house “joined hard to the synagogue” (ην συνομορουσα τηι συναγωγηιēn sunomorousa tēi sunagōgēi). Periphrastic imperfect active of συνομορεωsunomoreō a late (Byzantine) word, here only in the N.T., followed by the associative instrumental case, from συνομοροςsunomoros (συνsun ομοροςhomoros from ομοςhomos joint, and οροςhoros boundary) having joint boundaries, right next to. Whether Paul chose this location for his work because it was next to the synagogue, we do not know, but it caught the attendants at the synagogue worship. In Ephesus when Paul had to leave the synagogue he went to the school house of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9.). The lines are being drawn between the Christians and the Jews, drawn by the Jews themselves.

Verse 8

Crispus (ΚρισποςKrispos). Though a Jew and ruler of the synagogue (cf. Acts 13:15), he had a Latin name. Paul baptized him (1 Corinthians 1:14) himself, perhaps because of his prominence, apparently letting Silas and Timothy baptize most of the converts (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). Probably he followed Paul to the house of Titus Justus. It looked like ruin for the synagogue.

With all his house (συν ολωι τωι οικωι αυτουsun holōi tōi oikōi autou). Another household conversion, for Crispus “believed (επιστευσενepisteusen) in the Lord with all his house.”

Hearing believed and were baptized (ακουοντες επιστευον και εβαπτιζοντοakouontes episteuon kai ebaptizonto). Present active participle and imperfect indicatives active and passive, expressing repetition for the “many” others who kept coming to the Lord in Corinth. It was a continual revival after Silas and Timothy came and a great church was gathered here during the nearly two years that Paul laboured in Corinth (possibly a.d. 51 and 52).

Verse 9

Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace (Μη ποβου αλλα λαλει και μη σιωπησηιςMē phobouμηalla lalei kai mē siōpēsēis). Literally, “stop being afraid (ποβεωmē with present middle imperative of λαλεωphobeō), but go on speaking (present active imperative of μηlaleō) and do not become silent (σιωπαωmē and first aorist active of siōpaō ingressive aorist).” Evidently there were signs of a gathering storm before this vision and message from the Lord Jesus came to Paul one night. Paul knew only too well what Jewish hatred could do as he had learned it at Damascus, Jerusalem, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Thessalonica, Beroea. He had clearly moments of doubt whether he had not better move on or become silent for a while in Corinth. Every pastor knows what it is to have such moods and moments. In 2 Thessalonians 3:2 (written at this time) we catch Paul‘s dejection of spirits. He was like Elijah (1 Kings 19:4) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:15.).

Verse 10

Because I am with thee (διοτι εγω ειμι μετα σουdioti egō eimi meta sou). Jesus had given this promise to all believers (Matthew 28:20) and here he renews it to Paul. This promise changes Paul‘s whole outlook. Jesus had spoken to Paul before, on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:4), in Jerusalem (Acts 22:17.), in Troas (Acts 16:9), in great crises of his life. He will hear him again (Acts 23:11; Acts 27:23). Paul knows the voice of Jesus.

No man shall set on thee to harm thee (ουδεις επιτησεται σοι του κακωσαι σεoudeis epithēsetai soi tou kakōsai se). Future direct middle indicative of επιτιτημιepitithēmi old and common verb, here in direct middle to lay or throw oneself upon, to attack. Jesus kept that promise in Corinth for Paul. Του κακωσαιTou kakōsai is genitive articular infinitive of purpose of κακοωkakoō to do harm to. Paul would now face all the rabbis without fear.

I have much people (λαος εστιν μοι πολυςlaos estin moi polus). Dative of personal interest. “There is to me much people,” not yet saved, but who will be if Paul holds on. There is the problem for every preacher and pastor, how to win the elect to Christ.

Verse 11

A year and six months (ενιαυτον και μηνας εχeniauton kai mēnas hex). Accusative of extent of time. How much time before this incident he had been there we do not know. He was in Corinth probably a couple of years in all. His work extended beyond the city (2 Corinthians 11:10) and there was a church in Cenchreae (Romans 16:1).

Verse 12

When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia (Γαλλιωνος δε αντυπατου οντος της ΑχαιαςGalliōnos de anthupatou ontos tēs Achaias). Genitive absolute of present participle οντοςontos Brother of Seneca the Stoic (Nero‘s tutor) and uncle of Lucan the author of the ΠαρσαλιαPharsalia His original name was M. Annaeus Novatus till he was adopted by Gallio the rhetorician. The family was Spanish. Gallio was a man of culture and refinement and may have been chosen proconsul of Achaia for this reason. Statius calls him “dulcis Gallio.” Seneca says of him: Nemo enim mortalium uni tam dulcis quam hic omnibus (No one of mortals is so pleasant to one person as he is to all). Luke alone among writers says that he was proconsul, but Seneca speaks of his being in Achaia where he caught fever, a corroboration of Luke. But now a whitish grey limestone inscription from the Hagios Elias quarries near Delphi (a letter of Claudius to Delphi) has been found which definitely names Gallio as proconsul of Achaia (αυτυπατος της Αχαιαςauthupatos tēs Achaias). The province of Achaia after various shifts (first senatorial, then imperial) back and forth with Macedonia, in a.d. 44 Claudius gave back to the Senate with proconsul as the title of the governor. It is amazing how Luke is confirmed whenever a new discovery is made. The discovery of this inscription has thrown light also on the date of Paul‘s work in Corinth as it says that Gallio came in the 26th acclamation of Claudius as Emperor in a.d. 51, that would definitely fix the time of Paul in Corinth as a.d. 50 and 51 (or 51 and 52). Deissmann has a full and able discussion of the whole matter in Appendix I to his St. Paul.

Rose up (κατεπεστησανkatepestēsan). Second aorist active of κατεπιστημιkaṫepḣistēmi intransitive, to take a stand against, a double compound verb found nowhere else. They took a stand (εστησανestēsan) against (καταkata down on, επιepi upon), they made a dash or rush at Paul as if they would stand it no longer.

Before the judgment seat (επι το βημαepi to bēma). See Acts 12:21. The proconsul was sitting in the basilica in the forum or agora. The Jews had probably heard of his reputation for moderation and sought to make an impression as they had on the praetors of Philippi by their rush (συνεπεστηsunepestē Acts 16:22). The new proconsul was a good chance also (Acts 25:2). So for the second time Paul faces a Roman proconsul (Sergius Paulus, Acts 13:7) though under very different circumstances.

Verse 13

Contrary to the law (παρα τον νομονpara ton nomon). They did not accuse Paul of treason as in Thessalonica, perhaps Paul had been more careful in his language here. They bring the same charge here that the owners of the slave-girl brought in Philippi (Acts 16:21) Perhaps they fear to go too far with Gallio, for they are dealing with a Roman proconsul, not with the politarchs of Thessalonica. The Jewish religion was a religio licita and they were allowed to make proselytes, but not among Roman citizens. To prove that Paul was acting contrary to Roman law (for Jewish law had no standing with Gallio though the phrase has a double meaning) these Jews had to show that Paul was making converts in ways that violated the Roman regulations on that subject. The accusation as made did not show it nor did they produce any evidence to do it. The verb used αναπειτειanapeithei means to stir up by persuasion (old verb here only in the N.T.), a thing that he had a right to do.

Verse 14

When Paul was about to open his mouth (μελλοντος του Παυλου ανοιγειν το στομαmellontos tou Paulou anoigein to stoma). Genitive absolute again. Before Paul could speak, Gallio cut in and ended the whole matter. According to their own statement Paul needed no defence.

Wrong (αδικημαadikēma). Injuria. Old word, a wrong done one. In N.T. only here, Acts 24:20; Revelation 18:5. Here it may mean a legal wrong to the state.

Wicked villainy (ραιδιουργημαrhāidiourgēma). A crime, act of a criminal, from ραιδιουργοςrhāidiourgos (ραιδιοςrhāidios easy, εργονergon work), one who does a thing with ease, adroitly, a “slick citizen.”

Reason would that I should bear with you (κατα λογον αν ανεσχομην υμωνkata logon an aneschomēn humōn). Literally, “according to reason I should have put up with you (or held myself back from you).” This condition is the second class (determined as unfulfilled) and means that the Jews had no case against Paul in a Roman court. The verb in the conclusion (ανεσχομηνaneschomēn) is second aorist middle indicative and means with the ablative υμωνhumōn “I should have held myself back (direct middle) from you (ablative). The use of ανan makes the form of the condition plain.

Verse 15

Questions (ζητηματαzētēmata). Plural, contemptuous, “a parcel of questions” (Knowling).

About words (περι λογουperi logou). Word, singular, talk, not deed or fact (εργον φαχτυμergonκαι ονοματωνfactum).

And names (και νομου του κατ υμαςkai onomatōn). As to whether “Jesus” should also be called “Christ” or “Messiah.” The Jews, Gallio knew, split hairs over words and names.

And your own law (οπσεστε αυτοιkai nomou tou kath' humās) Literally, “And law that according to you.” Gallio had not been caught in the trap set for him. What they had said concerned Jewish law, not Roman law at all.

Look to it yourselves (οραωopsesthe autoi). The volitive future middle indicative of αυτοιhoraō often used (cf. Matthew 27:4) where an imperative could be employed (Robertson, Grammar, p. 874). The use of ου βουλομαιautoi (yourselves) turns it all over to them.

I am not minded (ou boulomai). I am not willing, I do not wish. An absolute refusal to allow a religious question to be brought before a Roman civil court. This decision of Gallio does not establish Christianity in preference to Judaism. It simply means that the case was plainly that Christianity was a form of Judaism and as such was not opposed to Roman law. This decision opened the door for Paul‘s preaching all over the Roman Empire. Later Paul himself argues (Romans 9-11) that in fact Christianity is the true, the spiritual Judaism.

Verse 16

He drave them (απηλασεν αυτουςapēlasen autous). First aorist active indicative of απελαυνωapelaunō old word, but here alone in the N.T. The Jews were stunned by this sudden blow from the mild proconsul and wanted to linger to argue the case further, but they had to go.

Verse 17

They all laid hold on Sosthenes (επιλαβομενοι παντες Σωστενηνepilabomenoi pantes Sōsthenēn). See note on Acts 16:19; and note on Acts 17:19 for the same form. Here is violent hostile reaction against their leader who had failed so miserably.

Beat him (ετυπτονetupton). Inchoative imperfect active, began to beat him, even if they could not beat Paul. Sosthenes succeeded Crispus (Acts 18:8) when he went over to Paul. The beating did Sosthenes good for he too finally is a Christian (1 Corinthians 1:1), a co-worker with Paul whom he had sought to persecute.

And Gallio cared for none of these things (και ουδεν τουτων τωι Γαλλιωνι εμελενkai ouden toutōn tōi Galliōni emelen). Literally, “no one of these things was a care to Gallio.” The usually impersonal verb (μελει εμελενmeleiemelen imperfect active) here has the nominative as in Luke 10:40. These words have been often misunderstood as a description of Gallio‘s lack of interest in Christianity, a religious indifferentist. But that is quite beside the mark. Gallio looked the other way with a blind eye while Sosthenes got the beating which he richly deserved. That was a small detail for the police court, not for the proconsul‘s concern. Gallio shows up well in Luke‘s narrative as a clear headed judge who would not be led astray by Jewish subterfuges and with the courage to dismiss a mob.

Verse 18

Having tarried after this yet many days (ετι προσμεινας ημερας ικαναςeti prosmeinas hēmeras hikanas). First aorist (constative) active participle of προσμενωprosmenō old verb, to remain besides (προςpros as in 1 Timothy 1:3) and that idea is expressed also in ετιeti (yet). The accusative is extent of time. On Luke‘s frequent use of ικανοςhikanos See note on Acts 8:11. It is not certain that this period of “considerable days” which followed the trial before Gallio is included in the year and six months of Acts 18:11 or is in addition to it which is most likely. Vindicated as Paul was, there was no reason for haste in leaving, though he usually left after such a crisis was passed.

Took his leave (αποταχαμενοςapotaxamenos). First aorist middle (direct), old verb, to separate oneself, to bid farewell (Vulgate valefacio), as in Acts 18:21; Mark 6:46.

Sailed thence (εχεπλειexeplei). Imperfect active of εκπλεωekpleō old and common verb, inchoative imperfect, started to sail. Only Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned as his companions though others may have been in the party.

Having shorn his head (κειραμενος την κεπαληνkeiramenos tēn kephalēn). First aorist middle (causative) of κειρωkeirō old verb to shear (sheep) and the hair as also in 1 Corinthians 11:6. The participle is masculine and so cannot refer to Priscilla. Aquila comes next to the participle, but since mention of Priscilla and Aquila is parenthetical and the two other participles (προσμεινασ αποταχαμενοςprosmeinasειχεν γαρ ευχηνapotaxamenos) refer to Paul it seems clear that this one does also.

For he had a vow (χυραωeichen gar euchēn). Imperfect active showing the continuance of the vow up till this time in Cenchreae, the port of Corinth when it expired. It was not a Nazarite vow which could be absolved only in Jerusalem. It is possible that the hair was only polled or trimmed, cut shorter, not “shaved” (κειρασται η χυρασταιxuraō as in Acts 21:24) for there is a distinction as both verbs are contrasted in 1 Corinthians 11:6 (keirāsthai ē xurāsthai). It is not clear what sort of a vow Paul had taken nor why he took it. It may have been a thank offering for the outcome at Corinth (Hackett). Paul as a Jew kept up his observance of the ceremonial law, but refused to impose it on the Gentiles.

Verse 19

Came (κατηντησανkatēntēsan). Came down, as usual in speaking of coming to land (Acts 16:1).

To Ephesus (εις Επεσονeis Epheson). This great city on the Cayster, the capital of the Province of Asia, the home of the worship of Diana (Artemis) with a wonderful temple, Paul at last had reached, though forbidden to come on the way out on this tour (Acts 16:6). Here Paul will spend three years after his return from Jerusalem.

He left them there (κακεινους κατελιπεν αυτουkakeinous katelipen autou). That is, Priscilla and Aquila he left (second aorist active indicative) here (αυτουautou). But Luke mentions the departure by way of anticipation before he actually went away (Acts 18:21).

But he himself (αυτος δεautos de). Paul again the leading person in the narrative. On this occasion he may have gone alone into the synagogue.

He reasoned (διελεχατοdielexato). Luke‘s favourite word for Paul‘s synagogue discourses (Acts 17:2, Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4 which see) as also Acts 19:8, Acts 19:9.

Verse 20

When they asked him (ερωτωντων αυτωνerōtōntōn autōn). Genitive absolute of present participle of ερωταωerōtaō old verb to ask a question, common in Koiné{[28928]}š to make a request as here.

He consented not (ουκ επενευσενouk epeneusen). First aorist active indicative of επινευωepineuō old verb to express approval by a nod, only here in the N.T.

Verse 21

I shall return (ανακαμπσωanakampsō). Future active indicative of ανακαμπτωanakamptō old verb to bend back, turn back (Matthew 2:2).

If God will (του τεου τελοντοςtou theou thelontos). Genitive absolute of present active participle. This expression (εανean with subjunctive) occurs also in 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 16:7; James 4:15. Such phrases were common among Jews, Greeks, and Romans, and are today. It is simply a recognition that we are in God‘s hands. The Textus Receptus has here a sentence not in the best MSS.: “I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem.” This addition by D and other documents may have been due to a desire to give a reason for the language in Acts 18:22 about “going up” to Jerusalem. Whether Paul said it or not, it was in the spring when he made this journey with a company of pilgrims probably going to the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem. We know that later Paul did try to reach Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16) and succeeded. As the ship was leaving, Paul had to go, but with the hope of returning soon to Ephesus as he did.

Verse 22

He went up and saluted the church (αναβας και ασπασαμενος την εκκλησιανanabas kai aspasamenos tēn ekklēsian). The language could refer to the church in Caesarea where Paul had just landed, except for several things. The going up (αναβαςanabas second aorist active participle of αναβαινωanabainō) is the common way of speaking of going to Jerusalem which was up from every direction save from Hebron. It was the capital of Palestine as people in England today speaking of going up to London. Besides “he went down to Antioch” (κατεβη εις Αντιοχειανkatebē eis Antiocheian second aorist active indicative of καταβαινωkatabainō) which language suits better leaving Jerusalem than Caesarea. Moreover, there was no special reason for this trip to Caesarea, but to Jerusalem it was different. Here Paul saluted the church in the fourth of his five visits after his conversion (Acts 9:26; Acts 11:30; Acts 15:4; Acts 18:22; Acts 21:17). The apostles may or may not have been in the city, but Paul had friends in Jerusalem now. Apparently he did not tarry long, but returned to Antioch to make a report of his second mission tour as he had done at the close of the first when he and Barnabas came back (Acts 14:26-28). He had started on this tour with Silas and had picked up Timothy and Luke, but came back alone. He had a great story to tell.

Verse 23

Having spent some time (ποιησας χρονον τιναpoiēsas chronon tina). Literally, having done some time. How long we do not know, probably not long. There are those who place the visit of Peter here to which Paul alludes in Galatians 2:11. and which we have located while Paul was here the last time (Acts 15:35).

He departed (εχηλτενexēlthen). Thus simply and alone Paul began the third mission tour without a Barnabas or a Silas.

Went through (διερχομενοςdierchomenos). Present middle participle, going through.

The region of Galatia and Phrygia (τεν Γαλατικην χωραν και Πρψγιανten Galatikēn chōran kai Phrygian). See note on Acts 16:6 for discussion of this phrase, here in reverse order, passing through the Galatic region and then Phrygia. Does Luke mean Lycaonia (Derbe and Lystra) and Phrygia (Iconium and Pisidian Antioch)? Or does he mean the route west through the old Galatia and the old Phrygia on west into Asia? The same conflict exists here over the South Galatian and the North Galatian theories. Phrygia is apparently distinguished from the Galatic region here. It is apparently a.d. 52 when Paul set out on this tour.

In order (kathexēs). In succession as in Acts 11:4, though the names of the cities are not given.

Stablishing (stērizōn). As he did in the second tour (Acts 15:41, κατεχηςepistērizōn compound of this same verb) which see.

Verse 24

Apollos (ΑπολλωςApollōs). Genitive ω̇ō Attic second declension. Probably a contraction of ΑπολλονιοςApollonios as D has it here.

An Alexandrian (ΑλεχανδρευςAlexandreus). Alexander the Great founded this city b.c. 332 and placed a colony of Jews there which flourished greatly, one-third of the population at this time. There was a great university and library there. The Jewish-Alexandrian philosophy developed here of which Philo was the chief exponent who was still living. Apollos was undoubtedly a man of the schools and a man of parts.

A learned man (ανηρ λογιοςanēr logios). Or eloquent, as the word can mean either a man of words (like one “wordy,” verbose) or a man of ideas, since λογοςlogos was used either for reason or speech. Apollos was doubtless both learned (mighty in the Scriptures) and eloquent, though eloquence varies greatly in people‘s ideas.

Mighty in the Scriptures (δυνατος ων εν ταις γραπαιςdunatos ōn en tais graphais). Being powerful (δυνατοςdunatos verbal of δυναμαιdunamai and same root as δυναμιςdunamis dynamite, dynamo) in the Scriptures (in the knowledge and the use of the Scriptures), as should be true of every preacher. There is no excuse for ignorance of the Scriptures on the part of preachers, the professed interpreters of the word of God. The last lecture made to the New Testament English class in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by John A. Broadus was on this passage with a plea for his students to be mighty in the Scriptures. In Alexandria Clement of Alexandria and Origen taught in the Christian theological school.

Verse 25

Had been instructed in the way of the Lord (ην κατηχημενος την οδον του κυριουēn katēchēmenos tēn hodon tou kuriou). Periphrastic past perfect passive of κατηχεωkatēcheō rare in the old Greek and not in the lxx from καταkata and ηχεωēcheō (ηχωēchō sound) as in Luke 1:4, to re-sound, to re-echo, to teach by repeated dinning into the ears as the Arabs do now, to teach orally by word of mouth (and ear). Here the accusative of the thing (the word) is retained in the passive like with διδασκωdidaskō to teach (Robertson, Grammar, p. 485). Being fervent in spirit (ζεων τωι πνευματιzeōn tōi pneumati). Boiling (from ζεωzeō to boil, old and common verb, in N.T. only here and Romans 12:11) like boiling water or yeast. The Latin verb ferveo means to boil or ferment. Locative case after it.

Taught carefully (εδιδασκεν ακριβωςedidasken akribōs). Imperfect active, was teaching or inchoative, began teaching, accurately. He taught accurately what he knew, a fine gift for any preacher.

Only the baptism of John (μονον το βαπτισμα Ιωανουmonon to baptisma Iōanou). It was a baptism of repentance (marked by repentance) as Paul said (Acts 13:24; Acts 19:4), as Peter said (Acts 2:38) and as the Gospels tell (Mark 1:4, etc.). That is to say, Apollos knew only what the Baptist knew when he died, but John had preached the coming of the Messiah, had baptized him, had identified him as the Son of God, had proclaimed the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but had not seen the Cross, the Resurrection of Jesus, nor the great Day of Pentecost.

Verse 26

They took him unto them (προσελαβοντοproselabonto). Second aorist middle (indirect) indicative of προσλαμβανωproslambanō old verb, to their home and heart as companion (cf. the rabbis and the ruffians in Acts 17:5). Probably for dinner after service.

Expounded (εχετεντοexethento). Second aorist (effective) middle indicative of εκτιτημιektithēmi seen already in Acts 11:4, to set forth.

More carefully (ακριβεστερονakribesteron). Comparative adverb of ακριβωςakribōs More accurately than he already knew. Instead of abusing the young and brilliant preacher for his ignorance they (particularly Priscilla) gave him the fuller story of the life and work of Jesus and of the apostolic period to fill up the gaps in his knowledge. It is a needed and delicate task, this thing of teaching gifted young ministers. They do not learn it all in schools. More of it comes from contact with men and women rich in grace and in the knowledge of God‘s ways. He was not rebaptized, but only received fuller information.

Verse 27

Encouraged him (προτρεπσαμενοιprotrepsamenoi). First aorist middle participle of προτρεπωprotrepō old verb, to urge forward, to push on, only here in the N.T. Since Apollos wanted (βουλομενου αυτουboulomenou autou genitive absolute) to go into Achaia, the brethren (including others besides Priscilla and Aquila) wrote (εγραπσανegrapsan) a letter of introduction to the disciples in Corinth to receive him (αποδεχασται αυτονapodexasthai auton), a nice letter of recommendation and a sincere one also. But Paul will refer to this very letter later (2 Corinthians 3:1) and observe that he himself needed no such letter of commendation. The Codex Bezae adds here that certain Corinthians who had come to Ephesus heard Apollos and begged him to cross over with them to Corinth. This may very well be the way that Apollos was led to go. Preachers often receive calls because visitors from other places hear them. Priscilla and Aquila were well known in Corinth and their approval would carry weight. But they did not urge Apollos to stay longer in Ephesus.

Helped them much (συνεβαλετο πολυsunebaleto polu). Second aorist middle indicative of συνβαλλωsunballō used in Acts 17:18 for “dispute,” old verb to throw together, in the N.T. always in the active save here in the middle (common in Greek writers) to put together, to help.

Through grace (δια της χαριτοςdia tēs charitos). This makes sense if taken with “believed,” as Hackett does (cf. Acts 13:48; Acts 16:14) or with “helped” (1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 1:12). Both are true as the references show.

Verse 28

Powerfully (ευτονωςeutonōs). Adverb from ευτονοςeutonos (ευeu well, τεινωteinō to stretch), well-strung, at full stretch.

Confuted (διακατηλεγχετοdiakatēlegcheto). Imperfect middle of the double compound verb διακατελεγχομαιdiȧkaṫelegchomai to confute with rivalry in a contest, here alone. The old Greek has διελεγχωdielegchō to convict of falsehood, but not this double compound which means to argue down to a finish. It is the imperfect tense and does not mean that Apollos convinced these rabbis, but he had the last word.

Publicly (δημοσιαιdēmosiāi). See note on Acts 5:18; and note on Acts 16:37. In open meeting where all could see the victory of Apollos.

Shewing (επιδεικνυςepideiknus). Present active participle of επιδεικνυμιepideiknumi old verb to set forth so that all see.

By the Scriptures (δια των γραπωνdia tōn graphōn). In which Apollos was so “mighty” (Acts 18:24) and the rabbis so weak for they knew the oral law better than the written (Mark 7:8-12).

That Jesus was the Christ (ειναι τον Χριστον Ιησουνeinai ton Christon Iēsoun). Infinitive and the accusative in indirect assertion. Apollos proclaims the same message that Paul did everywhere (Acts 17:3). He had not yet met Paul, but he had been instructed by Priscilla and Aquila. He is in Corinth building on the foundation laid so well by Paul (1 Corinthians 3:4-17). Luke has here made a brief digression from the story of Paul, but it helps us understand Paul better There are those who think that Apollos wrote Hebrews, a guess that may be correct.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 18:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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