In Acts 18, we follow Paul as he visits two very prominent and important cities. The first is Corinth in Greece. It was a major trade hub and a short boat ride from Athens. Paul will spend a year and a half there. Then he goes to Ephesus (ruins pictured above) another important city in Asia (today’s Turkey). We’ll touch on their importance after the reading. And, of course, no visit from Paul is without opposition… Let’s dig in…
Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. 3 Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
4 Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. 5 And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”
7 Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” 11 So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.
12 But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. 13 They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.”
14 But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. 15 But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” 16 And he threw them out of the courtroom.
17 The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.
Paul Returns to Antioch of Syria
18 Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.
19 They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. 20 They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. 21 As he left, however, he said, “I will come back later, God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there he went up and visited the church at Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch.
23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers.
Apollos Instructed at Ephesus
24 Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. 25 He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. 26 When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.
27 Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. 28 He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.Acts 18 NLT
Points to Ponder
- Here we learn Paul’s occupation: tentmaker. He supported himself while on his missionary journeys. Paul meets Priscilla and her husband Aquila, fellow tentmakers. They are strong disciples of Jesus and help coach a new disciple, Apollos. That’s how it works! Disciples making disciples! And the Good News keeps spreading!
- Paul spent 18 months in Corinth. He built strong relationships there. Subsequently, when reports of the church members going back to their old ways, falling into temptation, and arguing among themselves, Paul wrote two strong letters. I’ve done studies on both of them: 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians.
- It seems that Paul may have had trouble sleeping because he was worried about opposition, but Jesus speaks to him assuring him not to be afraid and to speak out. No harm would come to him. Jesus promised that He would be with Paul. That’s similar to what Jesus told the disciples before His ascension in Matthew 28:19-20… “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Paul wasn’t around to hear that promise, so Jesus gave him a personal version. We can claim that promise, too, if we obey and go make disciples!
- Paul’s next stop was Ephesus, a port city in what is now Turkey. Ephesus warrants 4 letters, one from Paul to the church (the Book of Ephesians), 2 from Paul to its pastor, Timothy, and one from Jesus himself in (Revelation 2). I urge you to check out the studies on both those letters. They apply to us today!
- The people in Ephesus begged Paul to stay longer, but Paul told them he’d be back, “God willing”. That’s “Deo Volente” in Latin and the name of my novel. If it’s God’s will. Do you seek God’s will for your life?
- Why do you think Paul wanted to go back to visit the churches he started? Well, stuff happens to everyone, including Christians. The local culture starts to creep in, giving the devil a foothold. There are temptations, disagreements, you name it. All Christians need constant encouragement and strengthening. No matter how deep our faith is, life always seems to try to knock us down.
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…