ACTS - CHAPTER 18 - CHURCH IN CORINTH
ACTS – CHAPTER 18 – CHURCH IN CORINTH
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
June 14, 2022, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
18:1: After these things, Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.
Praise God, Paul was not run out of Athens. There were only a few converts, but from those seed, the Christians Church was planted in Athens. Today, Greece is 92% Christian. Paul moves 45 miles southwest to Corinth. Corinth is situated in southern Greece on an Isthmus dividing the Corinthian Gulf and Saronic Gulf. This, too, was a famous Greek city and wide-open. It was famous for commerce wealth and vice. There was the temple of Aphrodite with its thousands of priestesses and prostitutes.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reveals to us the problems, pressures and struggles of a church called out of a pagan society. At the time Paul arrived in Corinth, the city was depraved. Going beyond the licentiousness of other trading cities and ports it lent its own name as the symbol of debauchery and corruption. The monstrosity of sexual perversion in the name of religion overshadowed the life of the city.
Sexual perversion was not, however, the great evil of this city for which the Holy Spirit urged Paul to start a church there. It was rather the strategic position it occupied. Its trading community ensured that anything preached in Corinth would soon reach far beyond the province of Achaia.
Romans 5:20: When sin increased, grace increased all the more, just as sin reigned in death, so also, grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Last week, we read the characteristics of the Bereans who were noble: fair-minded, courteous, honorable, integrity, good manners and of good disposition. “Many of them believed” (Acts 17:12). Their belief was that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Also in Athens, he faced down the Epicureans, Stoics and philosophers of the Greeks.
The Holy scriptures and Paul’s ministry to diverse cultures give us an education of how social, economic, education, and morals affect Kingdom purposes and progress.
Here in Corinth, Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla.
18:2-4: He found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Pricilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. Because Paul was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation, they were tentmakers. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
Paul was comforted by meeting Aquila and Priscilla. He said of them in Romans 16: 3-5: Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epanetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.
Paul, a tentmaker, by trade supported himself for reasons given in 2 Cor. 11: 9-11: 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. In everything, I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
One of the responsibilities of a Pastor is to teach new converts to support the work of the Kingdom through tithes and offerings unto the LORD. Paul was dealing with people who had so much to learn, and he gave so much of himself to reach them, that according to 1 Corinthians, they never passed into the blessing of becoming givers.
1 Co. 9:9: 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 for our sakes? This is written that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.”
Acts 18: 5-6: When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
It is clear that Paul was preaching low-key until the arrival of Silas and Timothy. That is interesting in view of his prior boldness and even fearlessness.
1 Co. 2:3-5: I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
The Holy Spirit pressed him to testify to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
When they rejected the Words and power of the Spirit, once again judgment was pronounced. “He shook his garment.” The Jews would know the meaning of “shaking your garments,” This judgment was pronounced by Nehemiah to the people who would not do according to the promise of the Lord. (Neh. 5:6-13). In Nehemiah’s time, most were in financial predicament because they weren’t giving to God or were giving with the wrong motives. The nobles and rulers were guilty of greedy desires, greedy practices, lack of compassion and lack of the fear of God. Paul was clean from the blood of their souls. This is a fearful place to be that sinners will perish if they persist in their unbelief.
18: 7-8: 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. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. Many of the Corinthians, hearing believed and were baptized.
The invited guests will not come; so, to the highways and byways go the riches of the Kingdom. This is still true today. When Paul was put out of the synagogue, he preached in a house. The house was next door to the synagogue. The man, Justus, was a God-fearing Gentile.
When Silas and Timothy came to Paul from Macedonia, they brought a gift of money from the church at Philippi.
Phil. 4:14-17: You have done well to share in my distress. You Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. Even in Thessalonica, you send aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
The church in Philippi is the church the Lord spoke to me that He wanted Eastgate to become like.
Crispus, the leader of the synagogue became a believer as well as his household. There are ten households saved in the New Testament:
1. Nobleman – John 4:53.
2. Cornelius – Acts 10
3. Lydia – Acts 16
4. Philippian jailers – Acts 16
5. Justus – Acts 18
6. Narcissus – Romans 16:11
7. Stephanas – 1 Corinthians 16:15-16.
8. Onesiphorus – 2 Timothy
Gal. 6:10: …let us do good unto all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
“Many of the Corinthians believed and were baptized.” It was obvious the Satanic attacks increased with many believing and being baptized. As his success mounted, so did the attacks on his life.
18: 9-11: The Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you, for I have many people in this city.” He continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
WOW! Do not be afraid! I am with you! I have many people in this city!
That is all any preacher needs to hear.: “I have them though they do not yet know me. I will lose none.” Even in the wicked city of Corinth, Christ had many people. Paul continued at Corinth 18-months teaching the word of God among them.
During the 18 months Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke were establishing the Corinth church, he wrote the letters to the Thessalonians.
Because of Luke’s mention of Gallio in the next verse, theologians believe this period to be A.D. 50-52. In the next five years, Paul will not move around so much. He will establish two Christian centers, Ephesus and Corinth. It was during his 3-year stay at Ephesus that he wrote to the Corinthians.
18: 12-17: When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, “this fellow persuaded men to worship God contrary to the law.” 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. 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.” He drove them from the judgment seat. 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.
There is much armchair theology discussed over Governor Gallio. Both positive and negative. I have learned my armchair theology is about as good as anyone else’s. So, my opinion is positive. His judgment set a precedent of equal treatment to both Christian and Jews. This precedent even under other Governors upheld for ten years. This enabled Corinth to become a Christian center.
We do not know if this Sosthenes is the same as mentioned by Paul in 1 Co. 1:1:
Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother.
It appears that Sosthenes believed and became a Christian.
18: 18-21: 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. He came to Ephesus, and left them there, but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 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.” He sailed from Ephesus.
Paul’s vow puzzles me. As a Christian, he is no longer under the Jewish rites. However, he chose to make the Nazarite vow.
“There can be no doubt that the "vow" was that of the temporary Nazarite (Numbers 6: 1-21). It implied a separation from the world and common life (this was the meaning of the word "Nazarite"), and while under the vow the man who had taken it was to drink no wine or strong drink, and to let no razor pass over his head or face. When the term was completed, he was to shave his head at the door of the tabernacle and burn the hair in the fire of the altar. It will be noted that the Nazarites in Acts 21:24, who are completing their vow, shave their heads. It was lawful for a man to have his hair cut or cropped during the continuance of the vow and this apparently was what St. Paul now did. But in this case also the hair so cut off was to be taken to the temple, and burnt there and this explains the apostle's eagerness, "by all means" (ver. 21) to keep the coming feast at Jerusalem.” (Wikipedia)
Paul was well received in Ephesus. This great city straddled the trade route from Rome to the coast. Ephesus was also a sex-city. The goddess, Diana, was worshipped with sex rites.
18: 22-23: When he landed at Caesarea, (Israel) and had greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. He spent some time there. Afterwards, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
With few words, Luke tells us of Paul’s visit to Israel. It is 7- miles from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Did he make his vow at a synagogue in Caesarea or did he go onto Jerusalem? It appears his visit was brief.
We are now introduced to Apollos.
18: 24-28: A certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 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. 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. 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; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.
Apollos is a humble student. He, though eloquent and mighty in the scriptures sat at the feet of these humble tent makers. Aquila and Priscilla were not condescending nor critical. They encouraged him. They have been a companion to the man who would write one-half of the New Testament. They were very wise in approaching him.
Apollos wanted to go to Corinth. The Ephesian Christians sponsored him. On reaching the city, Apollos proved himself a powerhouse for God. He was extremely popular and an “Apollos” party was formed around him.
1 Co. 16:12: Paul warmly speaks of Apollos as a fellow-laborer. “Now concerning our brother, Apollos…
1 Co. 3:6: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
In 1 Co. 3, Paul is addressing sectarism as carnal.
1 Co. 3:1-4: And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I led 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; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from N.K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of F.F. Bruce Bible Commentary; Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible and C. S. Lovett’s Lights on Acts. Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.