ACTS CHAPTER EIGHTEEN


PAUL PLANTS A CHURCH AT CORINTH

Suggested Teaching Objectives:

INTRODUCTION: Corinth was 60 miles west of Athens. Athens was cultured, but Corinth was terribly wicked and sinful. It was an important port city on the Aegean Sea. All the trade ships that passed nearby stopped at Corinth, therefore, it was an important commercial and trade center. It has been claimed that it was the largest city in the world at this time. Its acropolis had on it a temple to Venus, the goddess of love. This temple housed 1000 women who walked regularly to the city and their sandals wrote in the sand, "follow me". It was a very evil city. CF. I Corinthians 6:9-11. Such was the city where Paul was led to start a church. Let us look at his experiences here and also the close of his second missionary journey and the beginning of the third.

The Toiler -- Vs. 1-3

Paul here met Priscilla and Aquila. They had been driven from Rome because of persecution. Evidently they were converts to Christianity, possessed with many helpful Christian qualities as they are mentioned a number of times in Scripture. Paul, as a rabbi, had to learn a trade and tentmaking was evidently his trade. Paul worked daily to support himself and preached and labored for the Lord in his off-hours. Later he apologized to this church for not insisting that they take care of his livelihood. II Corinthians 2:13; I Corinthians 9:1-15. Evidently, Paul didn't insist because he didn't want any to say he was preaching for material gain. I Corinthians 9:15. However, it is wrong for a church not to sufficiently support its pastor and other full time workers.

The Testimony -- Vs. 4-11

Vs. 4 -- The Jews had a synagogue in Corinth.

Vs. 5 -- "Pressed" in the spirit possibly means " depressed" -- I Corinthians 2:3. Paul was overwhelmed by conditions in the city, the great seething population, its evident corruption, its thriving commerce, the almost impossible situation confronting the apostle in his work. But the burden for the lost souls of the city kept him going.

Vs. 6-7 -- As usual the Jews opposed him, "and blasphemed". He turns from them. The language he uses makes us think of the warning of the prophet Ezekiel. "Your blood be upon your head; I am clean. From henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles." It is when we have done our duty, witnessing unto Christ faithfully to every man and woman that we can say our hands are clean of their blood. He turns to the Gentiles in the face of violent Jewish opposition and is welcomed into the house of Justus, which joined hard to the synagogue.

Vs. 8 -- There was some fruit from among the Jews.

Vs. 9-11 -- Even though meeting with considerable success, the apostle was ministering amidst perplexities; but the Lord appears to him in the night by vision and encourages him, "Hold not thy peace." He assures him further by the statement, "I have much people in the city." These were people in the city who would be saved if Paul would continue on. So Paul continued for a year and a half. During the 18 months, we are informed that he wrote First & Second Thessalonians. In these epistles he encouraged and instructed the believers at Thessalonica and taught them much about Christ's Second Coming. New converts should be taught these things.

The Trial -- Vs. 12-17

Vs. 12 -- Gallio was called by many Romans as "the sweet Gallio". He as said to be the noblest and gentlest Roman of his day. The Jews thought he might rule in their favor so they brought Paul before him.

Vs. 13-15 -- Gallio would not rule on such matters and dismissed the case.

Vs. 17 -- Then the Greeks, perhaps thinking that Gallio was against the Jews, took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the Jews who had replaced Crispus (Vs. 8) and beat him. But Gallio was not in favor of any of these events. Paul mentions Sosthenes when he wrote his epistle to Corinth. I Corinthians 1:1. This Sosthenes evidently became a Christian. Hebrews 4:12.

The Tarrying -- Vs. 18

Great numbers were saved during Paul's stay at Corinth and a large church was established. Paul may have left Timothy and Silas here while he went on to Ephesus.

In Cenchrea, Paul had his head shorn as a token of a vow he made to God of something we know not of. Why he did this we're not told. Paul's vow was evidently a Nazarite vow. Numbers 6:1-21. John R. Rice comments on this: "The hair was all cut at the close of the period of separation and if he had to start over, it was cut. Then, we suppose, it was customary and proper to cut the hair completely at the beginning of the vow, and then when the period was fulfilled to cut the hair again. So Paul had shorn his head -- for he had a vow. And we suppose that he set himself the extended period until he should come to Jerusalem later."

Was it proper for Paul to do this? Since Paul was a strong believer in salvation by grace, we cannot condemn him for this. The Nazarite vow was a voluntary matter and no one looked to this as a part of the plan of salvation. Remember Paul before his conversion lived by the ceremonial law. If he, before his conversion had been accustomed to make holy vows and to wear his hair long for a season until the vow was completed, it would not be amiss now, if his vow were a holy one, to have some set sign between him and God. However, such actions are not commanded, called for, nor inferred as proper conduct for us today.

The Trip -- Vs. 19-23

Vs. 19-22 -- Paul established a great church while here and later wrote the Ephesians letter to these converts. He said he would come back if God willed. (Do we take God into our plans and seek only to do His will? James 4:13-15) He left Priscilla and Aquila there while he went on back to Jerusalem. This ended his second missionary journey. Notice that he went back to the home church from whence he departed, the church at Antioch in Syria, and there reported again the results of his journey,

Vs. 23 -- Then he embarked on his third journey which took him first back up into Galatia and Phrygia where he had already started churches. He went there to strengthen those churches, to teach them and to help them with any problem.

The Teaching -- Vs. 24-28

Vs. 24 -- Apollos was from Egypt and a Jew.

Vs. 25 -- His information was inadequate. Though he was instructed in the way of the Lord and fervent in the spirit and taught diligently the things of the Lord, he was only a disciple of John the Baptist. He knew John's message of a coming Messiah. He knew nothing of the cross, the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. John preached to Israel to prepare the way of the Lord -- and Apollos was mighty in these Old Testament Scriptures. As far as he knew, he was a most effective preacher; but certainly he could not have known the gospel in any true sense without having had an experience with the Holy Spirit Himself, of which thing the disciples of John the Baptist found in Ephesus were ignorant. Chapter 19.

What he did know set his heart on fire for the Lord. We will never know all we should, but we ought to exalt our Lord with what we do know.

Vs. 27-28 -- Instructed in "the way of God more perfectly" he passes on to Achaia with letters of commendation from the brethren to the disciples in Achaia (Greece), exhorting them to welcome Apollos. There he "helped them much which had believed through grace." Also, he publicly showed by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Paul planted but Apollos watered (I Corinthians 3:6) and mightily did he water in Corinth, and he evidently spent some time there with a very fruitful ministry.

CONCLUSION: There is one thing about Paul, Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla which stands out above all others -- their faithfulness to Christ and to their God-given task. They left all for Him, suffered for Him and gave all they had for Him. They lived for the world to come.