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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Acts 18



Verses 1-28

Paul had been preaching the gospel at Athens to the most famous men of that city gathered at Areopagus.

Acts 18:1. After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth:

Another most important city of Greece, where he struck at the very center of the country by preaching the gospel, since these were the centers of commerce, and also of literature.

Acts 18:2. 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.

Lodged with them.

Acts 18:3-4. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tent makers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

He stepped into the synagogue, and when the time came for strangers to address the audience he began to argue that Jesus was the true Messiah. Nor did he argue in vain, for there were some who were persuaded. He endeavored to persuade them all, both the Jews and the Gentiles, who came together to listen to him.

Acts 18:5. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

He may not have brought out the whole truth at first, but argued little by little to bring them, as it were, up the steps till they should be prepared to receive the grand doctrine that Jesus is the anointed one. HIS spirit was pressed at last to come to that point more fully

Acts 18:6. 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.

Oh! what a blessed “from henceforth” that was for you and for me! He no longer confines his ministry to Jews, but goes out seeking the Gentiles —takes up his true commission — becomes the apostle of the Gentiles. But let all of us take heed of opposing the gospel, because it is not to be trifled with impunity. A time comes at last when God’s gospel seems to have done with us. Its ministers say, “We are clean.” They shake off the dust of their feet, and they go elsewhere to proclaim the gospel to others who may be less opposed to it. What a thing to be able to say, “I am clean.” I wonder how many in this house of prayer could say that of everybody round about them, “I am clean. The blood be on your own heads. I am clean. I have spoken to you about Christ. I have warned you. I have invited you.” “Night and day with tears,” as he says elsewhere. “I have pleaded with you, and now I am clean. I am clean.” You know there is many a man that is clean in the blood of Christ in that sense who has not yet discharged his obligations to his fellow men, and cannot say, “I am clean.” I thought it a grand thing of George Fox, the Quaker, when he was dying, when he said, “I am clean; I am clean of the blood of all men.” To the best of his knowledge he had fearlessly proclaimed all the truth that he knew, where-over he had opportunity. O ministers of Christ, teachers of the young, and all you that know Christ, the Holy Spirit be upon you, so that you may speak the gospel till you can say, “I am clean.”

Acts 18:7. 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.

“The nearer the church, the farther from God.” they say; but it was not so in this case. He was one that worshipped God and his house joined hard to the synagogue.

Acts 18:8. 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.

That is the old-fashioned way, you know — “hearing, believed, and were baptized.” The new fashioned way is baptized, perhaps hear, and very likely do not believe at all. That is not according to the line of Scripture.

Acts 18:9-11. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them.

Farmers like to plough good soil, where they expect large harvests. So Paul, who was accustomed to make riving visits to places, on this occasion settled down for a long time — even for a year and a half. It would pay to do it, for God had much people in that city.

Acts 18:12-13. And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat. Saying, This fellow

“This fellow,” says our Bible, but they did not say that. They had not any word bad enough, so really said “this” —

Acts 18:13-15. Persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. 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 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.

I dare say you have heard Gallio condemned. They used to say in prayer, “Such and such a person went on, Gallio like, caring for none of these things”; but in truth Gallio does not deserve to be so condemned. It is no business of the civil magistrate to inquire into the religions of the people brought before him. It is out of his province. He was quite right when he said, “If it be a question of words, and names, and of your law, look ye to it. I will be no judge of such matters.” If the kings and queens of this world had been half as sensible as Gallio, there had been no stakes in Smithfield; there had been no prisons to lock up the Puritans. Religion would be let alone, which is the one thing it wants — free church and free state. We want neither the governor’s help, nor the governor’s hindrance. If he will kindly let us alone, it is all we ask from him; and so far Gallio is to be commended. But I do not think he acted thus out of any intelligent scruples on that point. He is to be condemned because of the motive. No doubt he was indifferent, and here may none of us imitate him. That he was indifferent and careless is certain, for he did not do his duty. It was his duty to let this good man alone, but it was not his duty to allow the Gentiles, on the other hand, to begin beating the Jews. If there is six of one, there should be half a dozen of the other, and so we do not admire him when we read,

Acts 18:16-17. And he drave them from the judgment seat. 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.

Perhaps liked it. “You came here,” he said, “to accuse Paul, to get him beaten: now the mob is beating you, and serve you right. I shall not interfere. Why did you come here at all to plague me with your questions? Why did you interfere with Paul?” But I should think that this ruler of the synagogue must have opened his eyes when he found himself being beaten, instead of the persons whom he desired to have beaten. It is singular that this name Sosthenes should be used, when further up we find another ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, who wins a believer in Christ. “This was no doubt, one they had set up, instead of Crispus, having rejected Crispus for accepting Christ. And yet this man, Sosthenes, bears the same name as one that is spoken of as a brother in Christ afterwards. I wonder whether that beating did him good — whether, in the providence of God, he was led to ace the hand of providence in this beating falling upon him, instead of Paul; and whether this ruler of the synagogue, who ousted a better man, did himself become a Christian. Let us hope it was so.

Acts 18:18. 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.

Most probably not Paul, but Aquila had shorn his head, because usually Luke puts the man first. “Aquila, and his wife Priscilla”; but here, in order to state that Aquila had made a vow, he put it, “Priscilla and Aquila.” I think it very questionable that Paul ever shaved his head in that way. I think it was Aquila. If Paul did it, I think he must have been under a sort of mental aberration, as he once or twice besides may have been thought to have been. Even he who, above all men, had cast out Jewish rites and ceremonies, yet, you remember, took Timothy and circumcised him — a most extraordinary action to do, as in this case, if indeed it was he who had shorn his head.

Acts 18:19. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.

Though he had turned away from them, yet still his heart is after his own country.

Acts 18:20-21. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not: 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.

Oh! how wise it is to say that, when we are making plans and promises, “If God will.” The short way is to put a little “D.V,” which means that you are ashamed to say, “If God will.”

Acts 18:21-23. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. 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.

For you not only want planting, but strengthening. Young saints, like young plants, want much watering, and Paul took care of them. Evangelists have not half done their duty when they stir up a community unless they go and seek after those who are converted, to strengthen them. Hence the essential need of a permanent pastorate over churches.

Acts 18:24-25. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 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.

He had not got farther than that; but it is always well to tell out what you do know. It is the way to learn more; and we doubt not that many a half-instructed Christian is doing good in his way, and it is not for us to stop him, or to find fault with him, but rather quietly to endeavor to tell him more of the truth. Paul did not say, “Now, Apollos, you must stop this, you know. You had better study. You do not know enough yet,” but he let him tell out what he did know.

Acts 18:26-28. 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. 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: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Now let us sing ourselves an encouraging hymn that as Christ, the Lord, said to Paul, “Fear not,” so his Spirit may say to us tonight: “Give to the winds thy fears.”


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Acts 18:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

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