Acts 18 Bible Study

Bible Study of Acts Chapter 18

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Acts 18 Bible Study


ACTS 18:1  1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.

After what "things" (Acts 18:1) did Paul depart?
After preaching and witnessing in Athens (see Acts 17)

Where is "Corinth" (Acts 18:1)?
Corinth is located 60 miles southwest of Athens on the narrow stretch of land that connects the Peloponnese peninsula to mainland Greece. Today, Corinth is a town of 50,000.

What was Corinth like 2000 years ago?
It was a city of 750,000, massive for the era. With two ports - one on its west and the other on its east cost - as well as the north-south land traffic, Corinth was a strategic commercial hub brimming with tradesmen, sailors and the women who catered to them. Situated atop a 2000 foot cliff behind Corinth was the temple of Aphrodite/Venus, the Greek/Roman goddess of love, where 1000 women served as temple prostitutes by day and prowled the streets of Corinth by night. There was so much sexual immorality in Corinth that the city literally became synonymous with sexual immorality: the Greek verb korinthiazomai - literally translated "to act the Corinthian" - meant to commit sexual immorality. After having Paul take the Gospel to Athens, a city particularly enslaved by pagan philosophies and idol worship, the Lord was having Paul take the Gospel to a city where Satan manifested himself particularly through lust.

In what particular ways does Satan try to hold people hostage in your town?
...

ACTS 18:2-4  2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

Where is "Pontus" (Acts 18:2)?
Pontus is on the southern coast of the Black Sea in modern Turkey. So Aquila was a Turkish-born "Jew" (Acts 18:2) and a former resident of Italy who was now living in Greece.

Why had Claudius "commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome" (Acts 18:2)?  
After repeated riots by Jewish Zealots, Emperor Claudius had expelled all Jews from Rome in 49 AD, among them Aquila and Priscilla, his wife.

What did Paul begin to do in Corinth?
He went to "the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 18:4). And during the week, he made tents with Aquila and Priscilla, fellow "tentmakers" (Acts 18:3), either out of leather, which was the typical material for tents back then, and/or the cilicium, the thick goats' hair for which Cilicia, Paul's home province in today's southern Turkey was famous.

Should preachers like Paul work a "trade" (Acts 18:3) or be materially supported by Christians?
With false preachers already running around to make money, Paul stated his Biblical right to receive material support from other Christians, which he chose to forego at times during his ministry so that nobody could accuse him of having preached to make money off people and in effect claim that his preaching was "void": "Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void." (1 Corinthians 9:7-15) The Bible instructs Christians to provide for their Bible teachers - "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches." (Galatians 6:6) - and specifies, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1 Timothy 5:17-18), as well as, "As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:9) Taken together, these verses indicate that preachers who "rule well ... especially those who labor in the word and doctrine" - i.e., according to the Bible - should receive "double honor", while those who preach unbiblically - "preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received" - not only forego "honor" but in fact are to be "accursed". In this meritocracy, Biblical preaching receives more support and therefore rises, while unbiblical preaching receives none and therefore fades.

Is this the case among today's preachers?
Typically in the West today, the size of the church, which directly affects the amount of "honor" received by its preacher, depends on his ability to entertain and preach what the audience desires to hear rather than his adherence to the Bible. Those whom the Bible declared should be "accursed" (Galatians 1:9) are the ones who tend to be receiving the "double honor" (1 Timothy 5:17) in the West today.

ACTS 18:5-6  5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."

Weren't "Silas and Timothy" (Acts 18:5) supposed to rendezvous with Paul in Athens?
Yes - "So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed." (Acts 17:15) - and they did rendezvous with Paul in Athens. From Athens, Timothy was dispatched back to Thessalonica to minister to the young church there - "Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this." (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3) - and Silas apparently to another region of "Macedonia" (Acts 18:5). And from Macedonia, Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth, bringing financial support from the Macedonian Christians as Paul later indicated to the Corinthian church: "And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied..." (2 Corinthians 11:9).

Was their return the first time Paul "testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 18:5)?
Paul could not have preached the Gospel, let alone "persuaded" (Acts 18:4) anyone about the Gospel without testifying that Jesus is the Christ.

Then why is the fact that he testified about Jesus restated here?
It was his final call to the Jews of Corinth. Paul had been witnessing to and sharing the Gospel with the Jews of Corinth until Silas and Timothy arrived. The Holy Spirit used their arrival to turn Paul's ministry toward the "Gentiles" (Acts 18:6) of Corinth, and had "compelled" (Acts 18:5) Paul to make a final declaration to the Jews so that those who had been converted could leave with him.

Why did Paul shake "his garments" (Acts 18:6) at the Jews who opposed him and blasphemed?
He was shaking the dust off his garments as a testimony against their rejection of the Gospel, as Jesus had commanded: "And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them..." (Mark 6:11)

Why did Paul tell them, "Your blood be upon your own heads" (Acts 18:6)?
He was referring to the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel's warning: "1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. 7 “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul." (Ezekiel 33:1-9) This is a liberating as well as a frightening passage for all who have a responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is liberating because it limits our responsibility to sharing the Gospel, not to converting anyone. It is frightening because God is declaring that if we do not share the Gospel - if "you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 33:8).

What is meant by requiring "blood ... at your hand" (Ezekiel 33:8)?
You will not "have delivered your soul" (Acts 33:9) - i.e., it will prove that you are not saved.

ACTS 18:7-8  7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

After "he departed from" (Acts 18:7) the synagogue, how far did Paul have to go?
Just to the house "next door to the synagogue" (Acts 18:7).

Who among others followed Paul out of the synagogue?
"Crispus, the rule of the synagogue" (Acts 18:8). Christians should never underestimate whom the Lord intends to touch through our witnessing.

ACTS 18:9-11  9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

"Why did the Lord speak to Paul in the night by a vision" (Acts 18:9)?
Apparently, he was "afraid" (Acts 18:9), either keeping or considering keeping "silent" (Acts 18:9) and concerned about his safety. It is possible that he had received or heard of threats and begun to wonder if the Lord wanted him to move elsewhere.

Who are the "many people in this city" (Acts 18:10) God mentioned to Paul?
Had they been Christians already known to Paul, the Lord would not have mentioned them to Paul. Neither could they be Christians unknown to Paul since Paul was the instrument the Lord was using to convert people to Christianity. They were most likely those whom the Lord intended to convert using Paul.

How long did Paul remain in Corinth to teach "the word of God among them" (Acts 18:11)?
"A year and six months". (Acts 18:11)

ACTS 18:12-17  12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, 13 saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. 15 But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” 16 And he drove them from the judgment seat. 17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

Who was "Gallio" (Acts 18:12)?
Gallio was the older brother of Seneca, the prominent Roman stoic philosopher who first tutored, then later counseled Nero, the future Roman Emperor. In 52 AD, the Roman Senate appointed Gallio the governor or "proconsul" of the province of "Achaia" (Acts 18:12), whose capital was Corinth.

Why did the Jews bring Paul "to the judgment seat" (Acts 18:12)?
If the newly appointed proconsul, who in theory should have been amenable to a request from those he needed to govern, had ruled against Paul from the judgment seat and ordered him punished, the Jews would have had the legal basis to bring in the other Christians.

Who defended Paul?
The Lord, who was "with" (Acts 18:10) Paul, as He had promised, through Gallio. Paul didn't even have to "open his mouth" (Acts 18:14).

Who was "Sosthenes" (Acts 18:16)?
The "ruler of the synagogue" (Acts 18:17) who had succeeded "Crispus" (Acts 18:8) and the probable ringleader of the Jews who "with one accord rose up against Paul" (Acts 18:12).

What was the impact of "all the Greeks" (Acts 18:17) beating Sosthenes before the judgment seat?
Instead of Paul and Christianity being punished, the persecution of Paul and Christianity was punished. Even when Paul and Silas were beaten and jailed unjustly, as happened in Philippi, the Lord used the persecution to grant them a successful prison ministry and to invalidate persecuting them (see Acts 16). As hard as he may try, Satan's plots keep backfiring. God always wins in the end, as He did in Corinth, in Philippi, and on the cross.

ACTS 18:18-23  18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus. 22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

After remaining in Corinth "a good while" (Acts 18:18), where did Paul go and with whom?
He left Corinth with "Priscilla and Aquila" (Acts 18:18) by ship from "Cenchrea" (Acts 18:18), the eastern port of this Greek city. They first stopped in "Ephesus" (Acts 18:19) in Southwestern Turkey and he "left them there" (Acts 18:19). Paul himself "sailed from Ephesus" (Acts 18:21) to "Caesarea" (Acts 18:22), the main port in Israel. From Caesarea, he went south by land to Jerusalem "and greeted the church" (Acts 18:22), and then went north ("down" (Acts 18:22) elevation-wise) to "Antioch" (Acts 18:22) of "Syria" (Acts 18:18) where his missionary journey began. After spending "some time there" (Acts 18:23), Paul started out again through "Galatia and Phyrigia" (Acts 18:23) in the modern day Turkey.

ACTS 18:24-  24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

What 6 observations can be made about "Apollos ... who came to Ephesus" (Acts 18:24)?
He was a "Jew" (Acts 18:24).
He was a North African who had been "born at Alexandria" (Acts 18:24), a city in Egypt.
He was "eloquent" (Acts 18:24).
He was "fervent in spirit" (Acts 18:25).
He "had been instructed in the way of the Lord" (Acts 18:25).
He was "mighty in the [Old Testament] Scriptures" (Acts 18:24).

What is meant by, "he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25)?
He knew up to the baptism of John, who had prophesied, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Acts 3:11)

So what did Apollos began to preach "boldly in the synagogue" (Acts 18:26)?
Repent, for the Messiah is coming.

How did his message change after Aquila and Priscilla "explained to him the way of God more accurately." (Acts 18:26)?
Repent, for the Messiah already came: "Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 18:28)

Where was Apollos converted to Christianity?
In Ephesus.

Why did Apollos want go to "Achaia" (Acts 18:27)?
Having just come from Corinth of Achaia, Aquila and Priscilla probably told him about the persecution of the "brethren" (Acts 18:27) by the "Jews" (Acts 18:28) in Achaia. Apollos was a "fervent" (Acts 18:25), "bold..." (Acts 18:26) and "eloquent" (Acts 18:24) firebrand for God whose gifting was particularly suited to "vigorously refute... the Jews publicly" (Acts 18:28) and strengthen the young church in Achaia, while Aquila and Priscilla watered the brand new church Paul planted in Ephesus and to which he "will return again" (Acts 18:21) after his whirlwind tour to report to the church in Jerusalem, revisit his home church in Antioch of Syria, as well as "strengthening" (Acts 18:23) the churches previously planted in "Galatia and Phrygia". (Acts 18:23)

Who is coordinating everyone's movements?
God, by whose "grace" (Acts 18:27) we are saved and who is deploying Paul, Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla in His invasion of Satan's territory, as a general deploys his troops in battle array, and who deserves all of the glory for the victory. As Paul later wrote to the Corinthians, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase." (1 Corinthians 3:5-7)

How have you been deployed?

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