Evening Bible Study
On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit
filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began
By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution.
Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the
persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus
to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light
and he met Jesus. Saul is more well known by his Roman
By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a
Roman Centurion named Cornelius.
In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the
ministry of Paul.
Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey took them from Antioch of
Syria, through the island of Cyprus, up into the area of Galatia, and back
Paul and Barnabas then went to the church council in Jerusalem where the
leaders wrestled with the concern over whether the Gentiles needed to become
Jews to be truly saved.
The verdict was that salvation is through faith alone, and circumcision was
We’ve now seen Paul and Silas off on the second missionary journey.
Play Paul’s Journeys map clip
They started off visiting the churches of Galatia that they had planted,
then made their way northwestward through Mysia to
Troas. Then they hopped across the
Aegean Sea to the area of northern Greece known as Macedonia. From Macedonia they headed south, eventually
to Athens where we last saw Paul.
:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens
and went to Corinth.
:1 went to Corinth
We aren’t told why, but Paul moves on to Corinth.
He is still on his own, Silas and Timothy won’t join up with him until
he’s in Corinth.
Corinth is about 50 miles southwest of Athens.
It was located on a narrow strip of land that connected the northern part
of Greece with the peninsula called the Peloponnesus. All land commerce going north and south had
to pass through Corinth. Because sea travel around the southern end of
the Peloponnesus was dangerous, all sea commerce traveling from the east and
west also passed inland through Corinth.
While Athens was cultured and dignified, Corinth was known for commerce and
low morals. It was something like a
cross between San Francisco
and Las Vegas. There was a tall hill that overlooked the
city, and on top of the hill was a temple for Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Every night 1,000 temple prostitutes would
come down from the hill and raise money for the temple.
The Greeks even had a term Korinthiazomai (lit.,
to act the Corinthian) which came to mean “to practice fornication.” In the
Greek plays, the part of a “Corinthian” was always that of a drunk.
Corinth was the capital of Achaia (all of southern Greece) and a Roman
colony like Philippi.
Play Corinth map clip
: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.
:2 a certain Jew named Aquila
Aquila was born in Pontus, in northeastern Turkey.
He and his wife had recently been in Rome, but were now in Corinth.
They are quite the world travelers like Paul.
:2 Claudius had commanded …
Emperor Claudius had made this edict evicting the Jews somewhere around 49
69?=140), a biographer of Roman emperors, talked about
(Life of Claudius, 25. 4) the constant riots of the Jews at the
instigation of Chrestus.
One suggestion is that the name Chrestus is a
reference to Christ. Perhaps the Jews
were causing trouble with the Christians?
:3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed
with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.
:3 they were tentmakers
Both Paul and Aquila had the same secular job background. They made tents.
Work is good
From time to time Paul had to fall back on his trade to make a living. While Paul was in Thessalonica he apparently
had been working a job at the same time:
(2 Th 3:7–9 NKJV) —7 For you
yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among
you; 8 nor did we
eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and
day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not
because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you
should follow us.
Paul wrote this because there were some people in Thessalonica who thought
the world owed them a living…
(2 Th 3:10–12 NKJV) —10 For even
when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither
shall he eat. 11
For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly
manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command
and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat
their own bread.
During this initial time in Corinth before Silas and Timothy catch up to
him, Paul is working hard to support himself.
:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath,
and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
So Paul is making tents during the week and on Saturday he preaches in the
Paul is following his practice of preaching the gospel first to the Jews,
and then to the Gentiles.
:5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia,
Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is
:5 Paul was compelled by the Spirit
Silas and Timothy arrived, they apparently bring some financial help from
the Macedonian churches, allowing Paul to quit his “day job” and devote more
time preaching about Jesus. (Phil. 4:15).
It might have also helped having his friends with him and encourage him
about how things had been going in Macedonia (1Th. 3:6-8).
(1 Th 3:6–8 NKJV) —6 But now
that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith
and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to
see us, as we also to see you—7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were
comforted concerning you by your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.
These things might have been a part of how the Holy Spirit worked to
What moves you?
There are a lot of things that move us.
Sometimes it’s fear.
It might be the fear of getting caught that moves me to change my ways.
It might be the fear of having a heart attack that causes me to change my
eating and exercise habits.
It might be the fear of a loved one dying without Christ that motivates us
to finally share with them.
Those aren’t totally bad reasons to be motivated.
compelled – sunecho – to hold together; to compress; to constrain, oppress, of ills
laying hold of one and distressing him
Paul used this word in writing to the Corinthians:
Co 5:14–15 NKJV) —14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if
One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for
themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
The love of Christ was demonstrated toward us when He died
For Paul, that love “compelled” him.
: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.”
:6 he shook his garments
This was a symbolic act to show that you didn’t want to have any further
dealings with another person. This was
something Jesus had taught His disciples.
(Mt 10:14 NKJV) And
whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that
house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
: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
:7 who worshiped God
Justus was not a Jew, but was a Gentile “God-fearer”, a Gentile who
worshipped the God of the Jews.
Justus opens his home and it becomes the place where the Christians are
: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.
the ruler of the synagogue
Crispus and his entire family came to believe in
:8 many … hearing, believed … baptized
There was a beautiful revival breaking out on Corinth with many coming to
Paul would write to the Corinthians later …
(1 Co 1:14–17
NKJV) —14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus
and Gaius, 15 lest
anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I
also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I
do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel,
not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Paul didn’t do a lot of the baptizing in Corinth, probably leaving that up
to Silas and Timothy. He did baptize Crispus, and perhaps because of his role as having been the
leader of the synagogue.
: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.”
:9 Do not be afraid
Paul knew what difficulty in ministry was all about.
It always seemed that just as things began to take off in a city, he would
be attacked and be forced to move on. God reassures him that things will be
different in Corinth.
A.T. Robertson writes –
“Paul knew only too well what Jewish hatred could do as he had learned it
at Damascus, Jerusalem, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Thessalonica, Berea. He had clearly moments of doubt
whether he had not better move on or become silent for a while in Corinth. Every pastor
knows what it is to have such moods and moments.”
my wound incurable, refuses to be healed?As
Paul would write back to the Thessalonians during this time:
(2 Th 3:1–2 NKJV) —1 Finally,
brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be
glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for
not all have faith.
:10 for I have many people in this city
God knew that there were people in the city of Corinth who would be turning
Isn’t this amazing, considering how Corinth was known as such a wicked
Later, to the Corinthians themselves, Paul would write,
(1 Co 6:9–11 NKJV)
—9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom
of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves,
nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners
will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were
sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the
Spirit of our God.
Don’t quit too soon
You may have loved ones that seem so far from accepting the Lord. Hang in there. Keep praying.
Keep loving them. Keep sharing with them.
:11 And he continued there a year and six
months, teaching the word of God among them.
:11 he continued there a year and
This will be Paul’s longest stay so far in any place he’s planted a
church. Perhaps this is one reason why
his letters to Corinth
are so long and detailed.
The only place he will stay longer in will be Ephesus.
Bible Students, mark your
Bibles: Write “Paul writes 1&2
Thessalonians, AD 51”
:12 When Gallio was
proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought
him to the judgment seat,
…proconsul of Achaia
Remember that Corinth was the capital of the region known as Achaia, the
southern part of Greece.
Gallio is the secular governor over Achaia.
Gallio was characterized by contemporaries as a
likeable and witty person. He was also
the brother of Seneca, the great Roman philosopher.
His ruling in the case of Paul would set a legal precedent that would
greatly help the work of the gospel.
:12 the Jews with one accord rose up
The unbelieving Jews are trying to cause trouble for Paul.
:13 saying, “This fellow persuades men to
worship God contrary to the law.”
:13 to worship God contrary to the law
This the Jewish accusation against Paul.
The “law” they are referring to is the Jewish Law of Moses, not a Roman
: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
: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.
:16 he drove them from the judgment seat
Judaism was a “licensed” religion in the Roman Empire.
Christianity took advantage of this legal protection because it was for the
most part considered to be a “sect” of Judaism.
The Jews are trying to say that Christianity is not a part of Judaism
because it violates their interpretation of the Law of Moses.
This would be like a Christian taking a Mormon to court and trying to make
a judge declare that the Mormons are not Christians.
We may know that to be true, but a secular judge doesn’t want to have
anything to do with making a decision like that.
Gallio isn’t about to get involved in lawsuits
Earlier, when Paul was afraid…
(Ac 18:9–10 NKJV)
—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.”
And now we see this being fulfilled.
God has protected Paul.
Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place relates an incident where she and her sister,
Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp they had seen
Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea-infested. Their Scripture reading that morning in 1
Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give
thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their
new living quarters. Corrie
at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. She
finally succumbed. During the months
spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold
Bible study and prayer meetings without guard interference. It was several months later when they learned
that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.
: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.
:17 Greeks took Sosthenes
… beat him
Apparently after Crispus became a Christian, Sosthenes became the “ruler” of the synagogue.
He is apparently the one heading up the attack on Paul before Gallio.
The Greeks didn’t like what Sosthenes was doing
and they beat him.
18:18-23 Back to Antioch
: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.
:18 sailed for Syria
Paul’s home church in Antioch is in Syria.
:18 Priscilla and Aquila were
It is possible that Paul leaves Silas and Timothy in Corinth. He takes
Priscilla and Aquila with him.
There may be others traveling with Paul as well. Paul had a habit of taking people along with
him on his journeys. (see Acts 19:29; 20:4)
Play Corinth to Ephesus map clip
Cenchrea is the eastern port city for Corinth on the Aegean Sea.
Paul is going to take a boat from Cenchrea to Ephesus.
:18 hair cut
It seems that Paul had taken the vow of a Nazirite
(Num. 6), dedicating himself to God for a season of time.
The most famous Nazirite was Samson.
The vow of a Nazirite involved not cutting the hair,
but it also involved abstaining from wine or anything made of grapes, as well
as not touching any dead things.
The Nazirite vow didn’t have to be for a
lifetime, but just a period of time.
“Nazir” means “consecrated” or “devoted”, someone
who has been “separated” for God’s use.
This is very similar to the concept of “holiness”, being set apart for
When did Paul take this vow? One
idea is that he took it in Corinth,
perhaps somehow connected to the Lord speaking to him about the work in Corinth (18:9-10).
Paul’s “devotion” was his commitment to Corinth.
Paul is getting his hair cut not because he is done being committed to God,
but because his commitment tied to Corinth is ending.
A committed life
It’s good to commit yourself to what is right.
I wonder if this season of fruitfulness in Corinth hasn’t come out of this time of
We often make the mistake of thinking that Samson’s strength came from his
lack of haircut. It came from his
commitment to God.
One thing about a Nazirite – their commitment was
You could tell by the long hair.
Can people tell you are committed to God?
Can they see it?
There is supposed to be something public about our belief in Jesus.
NKJV) —32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before
men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But
whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny
before My Father who is in heaven.
:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there;
but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
:19 he came to Ephesus
We’ll talk more about Ephesus next week.
Paul is only going to spend a brief time in Ephesus on this trip, but he
will be back.
Eventually, Ephesus will be the city that Paul will spend the most time in
and develop the strongest church in.
As Paul leaves Ephesus, he leaves behind Priscilla and Aquila.
: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.
:21 keep this coming feast
Possibly the Passover feast.
Paul was a good Jewish boy who tried to keep as many of the “feasts” as he
could, getting to Jerusalem whenever he could to
:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone
up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch.
:22 Caesarea … Antioch
Play Ephesus to Antioch map clip.
Paul will set sail from Ephesus to the port city of Caesarea, head up to
Jerusalem to celebrate the “feast”, then head back to
his home church in Antioch.
:22 he went down to Antioch
This ends Paul’s “Second Missionary Journey”.
He’s been gone for a couple of years and has traveled over 2700 miles.
18:23 Third Missionary Journey
: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.
:23 he departed
Paul now begins his “Third Missionary Journey”
Bible Students: Write “AD 53 – 3rd Missionary Journey” here.
:23 Galatia and Phrygia
Play Third Journey starts map clip
Paul’s third journey starts like his last one did, going back through the
churches he had started with Barnabas on his first journey.
We’re now going to take a brief (five verses long) break from Paul and see
what’s been going on in Ephesus.
:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at
Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to
:24 Apollos … Alexandria
Play Apollos map clip
While Paul is somewhere around Antioch of Pisidia, we meet Apollos, who was
born in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.
He’s going to make his way to Ephesus.
Eventually he will make his way to Corinth in Achaia.
Alexandria was one of the great cities of the ancient world. It was known for its great Jewish scholars. This was where the Greek translation of the
Old Testament, the Septuagint, was made several hundred years earlier.
:24 eloquent … mighty in the Scriptures
Apollos was a good speaker (eloquent), good with his words.
He is also well studied in the Old Testament Scriptures.
: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.
:25 taught accurately the things of the
I wish we had a little more detail from Luke as to what he means by this.
What Apollos knows about the Lord, he knows accurately.
But he doesn’t know everything.
:25 he knew only the baptism of John
I’d like to suggest that what Apollos knew only went as far as John the
Baptist doing his public ministry and telling people that the Messiah was
He may not have heard yet that the Messiah had come.
He apparently didn’t know about the baptism of the Holy Spirit (we’ll see
this next week).
: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.
:26 they took him aside
I find it interesting that Aquila and Priscilla were in the synagogue
listening to Apollos speak.
There was no separate “church” meeting in Ephesus yet.
Aquila and Priscilla could have rebuked Apollos publicly for his lack of
Instead, they take him aside and help complete his education.
I would assume this might include more teaching about who Jesus was as well
as the work of the Holy Spirit.
(Mt 18:15–17 NKJV)
—15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his
fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
16 But if he
will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or
three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he
refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to
hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
I’m not sure that Apollos would fall into the category of
someone who has “offended”, but Jesus lays out a good principle.
Go to a person quietly first.
: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.
:27 to cross to Achaia
Apollos was a travelling man. He
wanted to preach in Achaia, and that meant Corinth.
It seems that Aquila and Priscilla wrote a letter of introduction to the
Corinthian church (where they had been with Paul), letting them know that
Apollos was an OK guy.
Apollos is going to have a great ministry in Corinth.
Later when Paul writes back to the church and they had begun to have
their little internal squabbles over who their favorite preachers were.
(1 Co 1:12 NKJV) Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of
Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”
This wasn’t Apollos’ fault. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he
mentioned that Apollos was with him, and he wasn’t that interested in visiting
Corinth any time too soon.
Co 16:12 NKJV) Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to
come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time;
however, he will come when he has a convenient time.
The idea of having “favorites” is a bit on the fleshly, carnal side. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
(1 Co 3:1–7 NKJV)
—1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people
but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were
not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you
are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among
you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when
one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through
whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but
God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but
God who gives the increase.
God is going to use people in our lives. That’s a good thing.
But it’s important that our eyes stay on God, not on the