“After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.” And he drove them away from the judgment seat. And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.”
Paul had left Athens after his brilliant sermon to the Greek philosophers regarding the “unknown God” and had now arrived in the city of Corinth. Christ had been clearly presented to these people in Athens but they had generally rejected it. So Paul severed all connection with them and moved on to Corinth. Paul would have an eighteen month ministry there which was very fruitful.
Claudius was fourth Roman emperor and reigned from 41 to 54 A.D. He was nominated to the supreme power mainly through the influence of Herod Agrippa I. After a weak and foolish reign he was poisoned by his fourth wife, Agrippina, the mother of Nero in A.D. 54. Because of an uprising among the Jews, Claudius expelled them all from Rome, including Christian Jews (they later returned to Rome). It was for this reason that Aquila and Priscilla were in Corinth.
When Paul first came to Corinth he worked for a living as a tentmaker and that was where he met Aquila and Priscilla. Working as a tentmaker was a part of the Law of Expediency so that people would not say that Paul was in the business of giving out the Gospel so he could make money from it. Because he was working for a living Paul was very limited as to what he could do in Corinth and it was not until later on when a gift came from Macedonia, by way of Silas and Timothy, that he was able to stop working and devote his full time to teaching and preaching.
It was at this point that Paul wrote the book of I Thessalonians because Timothy and Silas had some things to report from Thessalonica that were disturbing. He also wrote to thank them for the monetary gift which made it possible for him to be financially independent, to refrain from taking an offering from the Corinthians, and to continue his ministry on a full-time basis. The only pressure he placed on himself was the discipline to study and teach God’s Word.
“But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” The Greek word for resisted is “antitasso” meaning to form an organized opposition or to form ranks against him. The Greek word for blasphemed is “blasphemeo,” which means to defame or to malign. This was when Paul began to have a great ministry.
“Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.” Paul then moved next door and started a church. Paul was responsible for winning two of the most prominent Jews in Corinth, Crispus and Sosthenes, to Christ. Both men were Jews and leaders of the synagogue in Corinth. I’m sure this had a huge impact on others believing in Christ.
“And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” Paul was engaged in some kind of fear and according to the original Greek text had stopped communicating the Word of God for fear of what the Jews would do to him. It is the communication of the Word of God that can change a situation as nothing else can. When God gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge of Bible doctrine, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we should not be silent for fear of what someone will think or say about us. Paul’s fear could have silenced him permanently as he observed the indifference to the Word of God, and lack of response to the Gospel among the Jews. But Paul was not silenced, and resumed his ministry after hearing from God.
“And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” The vision gave Paul great hope of success among the Gentiles, which he had. Paul had been dealing with the Jews up to this point in Corinth with only a minimum contact with Gentiles. But in the Gentile segment of the city there were thousands of people who were positive and ready to hear the Gospel. The word teaching in Greek meant he kept on communicating the Word of God. Paul overcame his fear and the result was great success in Corinth.
Everyone is susceptible to fear, even a mature believer like Paul. Fear is a mental attitude sin that shuts down thinking and makes application of Bible doctrine impossible. When fear catches us off guard, it is important to know the correct recovery procedure: the Faith-Rest Technique. This technique involves claiming a Bible promise, applying a doctrinal rationale and reaching a doctrinal conclusion. We cannot claim a promise, apply doctrine or reach a doctrinal conclusion without knowledge of Bible doctrine and the filling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we need to be consistent in our intake of God’s Word for the purpose of growth. Since fear is a sin, the first step to recovery from fear is the utilization of I John 1:9. By naming “fear” as our sin, we are forgiven, cleansed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Now we are in a position to use the Faith-Rest Technique. There is another way to stop fear in its tracks according to I John 4:18. This way is called “perfect love” in the King James Bible). The Greek word for “perfect” is “teleios,” which means mature and used with the Greek word “arête,” which means virtue. Virtue is strength of character and in a believer it is the character of Jesus Christ being formed and produced in him. Therefore, virtue-love is mature unconditional love which exhibits the love of Christ.
This virtue-love brings with it confidence and courage: confidence towards God and courage towards man and circumstances. Courage is being able to think clearly under pressure. Uncontrolled fear is the opposite of courage. Fear causes self-induced misery and often carries with it a punishment of its own. For example, a believer who succumbs to fear has placed himself in a position of weakness. This weakness causes him to make poor decisions, which often bring with them poor results. He has become the product of his own bad decisions to disobey God by failing to name his sin and to resume his spiritual life. So to what conclusion are we drawn? Fear can be controlled! It can be controlled by an advancing believer utilizing the Faith-Rest Technique and exhibiting virtue-love.
“But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, saying, ‘This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.’” Gallio was brilliant in the field of law and very fair-minded, and also a man of great strength of character. The Greek word for rose up is “katepesthmi” [kata = against; i(sthmi = to stand] and means to stand against. Here it means to develop a mob and rush upon someone. The Jews developed a mob against Paul. This was religion using mob violence in order to eliminate the truth. They were talking about Roman law and brought Paul to the Roman judge, the highest representative of Rome outside of Rome itself. The Roman Empire tolerated the Jewish religion, providing it did not proselytize Roman citizens. By attempting to prove that Paul was violating the Roman law, they hoped to do one of two things. They hoped that Gallio would use Roman law to get rid of Paul, or that after proving that he was in violation of Jewish law Gallio would turn him over to the Jews, and the Jews would get rid of him. They thought they had a watertight case. It must be understood that the entire accusation is not given; the entire case is not given; it is merely summarized.
“But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.” And he drove them away from the judgment seat. And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat.” The Jews had brought this case on the basis of Roman law and therefore the judge must judge on the basis of Roman law. Paul, as a Roman had the right to defend himself under Roman law and he was about to speak in his own defence. But he didn’t have to. Gallio actually threw this case out of court because it was not a violation of Roman law. Paul had not violated Roman law. It was not a civil indictment or a criminal act that Paul was being accused of. If it had been then Gallio would have listened to their indictment; he would have the case tried. But this case had nothing to do with Roman law and Gallio refused to enter into a religious controversy.
“But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.” The government had no right to resolve religious controversies, but it was its responsibility to protect the rights of individuals to make their own decisions. In other words, the government is not to have jurisdiction over your personal religious viewpoints according to the laws of divine establishment principles. So Gallio made them leave his courtroom and was unconcerned about what was going to happen next.
Sosthenes was the head of the synagogue and the leader of the mob who brought Paul before Gallio. Interestingly, Sosthenes later became a believer according to I Corinthians 1:1. However, after the appearance before Gallio, Sosthenes was beaten. There is an ongoing debate among scholars as to the identity of the ones who beat Sosthenes. Some say the Greeks and some say the Jews and they both have seemingly valid arguments to support their theories. The real answer is that we are not told. It could have even been the Romans for wasting the courts time with this matter. No one knows for sure. What we do know is that God kept His promise to Paul that he would not be physically harmed.
Verses 18-23, “Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow. They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus. When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and went down to Antioch. And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”
The Jews had a custom that whenever someone was delivered from a very serious crisis he would take a vow. This was not a legalistic vow such as Paul took in Jerusalem. This was not a vow in the absolute sense of the word; it was in recognition of the grace of God. God had delivered Priscilla and Aquila. As a result Aquila agreed to go for a period of time without cutting his hair. He cut his hair because the vow was over. (Romans 16:3-4)
Paul left Ephesus very quickly, though they wanted him to stay longer, but left two very capable believers there to teach the Word of God – Pricilla and Aquila. It was in their home that a church was eventually established according to Romans 16:5. Paul did promise to return however, which he will later do and will have a great ministry in that city. Paul’s itinerary began at Caesarea where he took a short detour up the mountainous terrain to Jerusalem for Passover and back down to his home church in Antioch.
“And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.” This should be translated “the Galatian region even Phrygia.” Galatia was the area of Phrygia which was a stop on the first and second missionary journeys of Paul. This was the area where the churches were generally unstable, as indicated by the epistle to the Galatians. They were either very enthusiastic for the Word of God or very unenthusiastic.
Verses 24-28, “Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”
Apollos was a believer who was a disciple of John the Baptist. However, he had only limited knowledge of Church Age doctrine. His knowledge was from the Old Testament. What he knew he taught well; and he was a great defender of the faith. He went to the synagogue in Ephesus and spoke boldly with confidence. Fortunately for Apollos, Aquila and Pricilla were in Ephesus to lend a hand and teach him some Church Age doctrine that they had learned from Paul.
Now Apollos was ready to proceed with a ministry in the region of Achaia. He went with encouragement from the church at Ephesus, taking along a letter of introduction to the church in Achaia. He was also equipped with more doctrine which he used under the filling of the Holy Spirit to refute the false doctrine of the religious Jews and show them in the Old Testament that Jesus was the Messiah.