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28. Christianity Comes to Corinth (Acts 18:1-17)


In my seminary days, I found many people who wanted to imitate Paul’s theology as best they could. The one thing I have found few eager to do is to imitate Paul’s practice—of “tent making.” While Paul provides us with the most complete and convincing biblical basis for a man being “supported” by those to whom he ministers, Paul never practiced this right once in his ministry, as far as I can tell from the New Testament evidence.

In the providence of God, this message is being delivered on a Labor Day weekend. On a holiday that honors the laborers, it is appropriate that we should, in some measure, honor Paul and Aquila, along with Priscilla, who labored in a way that would further the gospel. In our text, Paul will labor in the gospel two different ways, the two ways which are evidenced in his ministry. We will seek to learn from our study why Paul set aside self-support for support from others. I believe we will learn some very important lessons and principles from this passage. May God guide us in our study.

The Structure of the Passage

Our text is Acts 18:1-17, which covers Paul’s first visit to the city of Corinth. In Luke’s brief account of this “Corinthian Campaign” we find three major paragraphs:

(1) Prejudice and Providence: A Divine Appointment with Aquila and Priscillavv. 1-4. This first paragraph describes the early ministry of Paul in Corinth, living and working with Aquila and Priscilla, and ministering on the Sabbath at the synagogue.

(2) Exchanging One “Tents Situation” for a “Tense Situation”—vv. 5-11. These verses are a description of the second and more intensive phase of Paul’s ministry in Corinth. They contain two major transitions: First, Paul’s transition from part-time preacher to full-time; secondly, the transition of Paul’s ministry from a Jewish to a Gentile focus, moving his place of ministry from the Jewish synagogue to a house next door. The paragraph closes with a night vision in which the Lord appeared to Paul with a word of assurance. This vision is Luke’s “literary link” (the introduction to and key) to the final paragraph.

(3) The “Careless” Decision of Gallio—vv. 12-17. The final and closing paragraph is an account of the accusation of Paul and his trial before Gallio, at which a landmark decision was made, one which set an important precedent, providing not only for Paul’s protection, but also paving the way for the promotion of the gospel.

Prejudice and Providence: A Divine Appointment

After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.402 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla,403 because Claudius404 had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.405 He came to them. 3 and because he was of the same trade,406 he stayed with them and they were working;407 for by trade they were tentmakers.408 4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

In spite of the invitation of some Gentiles in Athens to stay longer (Acts 17:32), Paul moved on to Corinth. They had heard enough—all that they needed in order to be saved. Further argumentation would not convince and convert them, since this was the task of the Holy Spirit. We do not know what Paul’s reception was at the synagogue, but it may be that he had done all he could there. Possibly, resistance and opposition may have been growing among the Jews. For whatever reasons, Paul was satisfied that his work in Athens was done, and that it was time to move on. Corinth was his next stop, about forty miles west of Athens.

It seems as though Paul “found” (18:2) Aquila and Priscilla because he was looking. It would seem as though Paul would immediately begin to look for any Jews as he came to a new city, and that he would be especially seeking those who had either come to faith in Jesus as Messiah (as Aquila and Priscilla seem to have done, prior to Paul’s coming), or who were at least looking for Messiah to come. We are told that seating in the synagogues was possibly arranged so that people of like profession sat together. If so, this made it easier for Paul to find this man and his wife. He was, most importantly, a believer, and he was also a man who, like Paul, made tents. And so Paul moved in with them, and worked with Aquila, providing for his needs by working during the week and preaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

We will learn that the relationship between Paul and this godly couple, Aquila and Priscilla (also called Priscus, and often named first), was a long-lasting one, so that they will accompany Paul to Ephesus, on his departure from Corinth. They were to play a vital role in Paul’s life, in the proclamation of the gospel, and in the life of the church which would meet in their home (Romans 16:3-5).

The providential meeting of Paul and this couple was clearly a “divine appointment,” shaping the course of the lives of all three, and many others. And because of this, Luke gives us a very significant insight into the way in which God “arranged” for these three to get together. Luke tells us that Aquila was originally from Pontus, but had then somehow migrated to Italy. They were forced to leave Rome because of a decree of Claudius, who order all Jews to leave Rome (18:2). This seems to have been due to the fact that the Jews were the cause of a great deal of trouble and unrest, the very kinds of things of which Paul was falsely accused. Attempts were made to get these radical Jews under control, but it had not worked, and so Claudius finally ordered them all out of Rome. This was the reason for their being in Corinth, where Paul would meet them and join with them in the labor of tentmaking, and the labor of the ministry of the gospel. How interesting it is that these three were brought together, not by some divine revelation (as Peter had been brought together with Cornelius, or Philip had been led to the Ethiopian eunuch), but by problems caused by some Jews, prejudice, and persecution. More of this later.

Paul’s practice of being self-supporting at Corinth is consistent with his lifestyle in many other places, as can be seen from the following texts:

32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build {you} up and to give {you} the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my {own} needs and to the men who were with me. 35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:32-35).

9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, {how} working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and {so is} God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we {were} exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father {would} his own children, 12 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we {kept} working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right {to this,} but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example. 10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies (2 Thessalonians 3:7-11).

For some period of time, Paul continued to live in this way, living and working with Aquila and Priscilla, and ministering each Sabbath at the synagogue, seeking to convince the Jewish and Gentile seekers of God that Jesus is the promised Messiah, through whom one must be saved. It was when Silas and Timothy arrived that several significant changes took place.

From “Tents” to “Tense” or Four Crucial Changes
(18: 5-11)

5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word,409 solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he departed from there and went to the house of a certain man named Titius Justus,410 a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8 And Crispus,411 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. 9 And the Lord412 said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you,413 and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”414 11 And he settled there a year and six months,415 teaching the word of God among them.

In this paragraph, there are four very crucial changes, which will greatly affect Paul and those in the city of Corinth. We will look at each of these four changes in our study of this paragraph. The first change is a change of focus and emphasis in Paul’s work.

Change One: From Tentmaker to Preacher

It is generally understood that Paul’s ministry changed here from what some would call a “part-time” ministry to that which was a more “full-time” ministry. This change is somehow related to the arrival of Silas and Timothy. But what is the nature of the change which occurred, and why did it happen here? To many, the answer is very simple—money. They think that when the gift of the Philippian saints came, brought by Silas and/or Timothy, Paul gave up his work for a more significant ministry, because he was provided with the money to do so. I don’t think it is all that simple. Note, for example, that Luke does not tell us that these two brought money with them, nor that the money was the reason for the change. Luke only tells us that they arrived, and that when they did Paul changed the focus of his work and his ministry. We conclude that money was brought to Paul from Philippi from these texts in Philippians and 2 Corinthians:

15 And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent {a gift} more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:15-19).

8 I robbed other churches, taking wages {from them} to serve you; 9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia, they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so (2 Corinthians 11:8-9).

I want to take a moment to attempt to determine the nature of the change in Paul’s ministry, as well as the basis for the change, for I think it is a most important matter, and one that is not well-understood today. And because ministry and money are so closely related, it is well worth the effort. Further, money has often had a very detrimental effect on ministry, because it was not handled wisely, or with the best interests of the gospel in mind.

To set the stage, I believe that there are essentially three biblical options as to how a person may be supported in their ministry:

(1) A person may be supported by their own means, which usually means that one earns the money required to live on by working at some kind of employment, a “secular job” if you would (see Acts 20, 1 Thessalonians 2 and 2 Thessalonians 3 above).

(2) A person may be supported by those to whom he ministers (see Luke 9 & 10; 1 Corinthians 9).

(3) A person may be supported by others than those to whom they are presently ministering, as Paul was supported by the Macedonians, as he ministered in Corinth (Philippians 4; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9).

Paul used the first and last means of supporting himself in the ministry of the gospel, but to my knowledge he never used the second, although we find in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 a very strong defense of this means as a biblical right. Paul simply refused to use this right. Why? The reason is to be found in 1 Corinthians chapter 9, and I believe that this reason explains why Paul changed his work focus when Silas and Timothy arrived:

3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? 8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher {to thresh} in hope of sharing {the crops.} 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the {food} of the temple, {and} those who attend regularly to the altar have their share with the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things that it may be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 19 For though I am free from all {men,} I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 23 And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it (1 Corinthians 9:3-23).

Paramount in Paul’s motivation was the advance of the gospel. While there were many means and methods of proclaiming the gospel, Paul set aside those which would hinder the gospel and he used those which would most effectively and efficiently promote it. Thus, Paul refused to exercise his “right” as a minister of the gospel to be supported by those to whom he ministered, not because it was wrong, but because of its associations, which would hinder his ministry. Charlatans and hucksters used the proclamation of religion as an excuse for their own profit, power, and personal gain. They charged for their ministry, and profited much. Paul did not charge for his. He worked, and he supported others by means of his work. No one could ever accuse him of getting rich through his ministry!

It might be correct to suggest that the support of an evangelist and apostle is somewhat of a different matter than is that of a teacher or pastor. Paul’s ministry was generally short-term, and it was most often apologetic and evangelistic. It is one thing for an evangelist to take an offering at a public presentation of the gospel; it is quite another for a pastor-teacher, who labors at ministering the Word of God to Christians to be supported by these saints. And thus Paul can refrain from being supported by those to whom he is preaching, and yet instruct that those who do teach in the church should be well paid (see 1 Timothy 5:17-18).

Having said this, let us seek to see exactly what change occurred when Silas and Timothy arrived at Corinth from Macedonia. Our understanding of this change is related to a fairly significant difference in some of the translations of verse 5. Compare this rendering of the King James Version with that of the New American Standard Bible:

And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ (Acts 18:5, KJV).

5 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 (Acts 18:5, NASB).

The difference centers on which of two terms was included in the original (Greek) text, the term for “spirit” (or Spirit), or the term for “word.” Was Paul compelled by the Spirit or by the Word? Knowing that there is a very close relationship between the Word of God and the Spirit of God, it is easy to understand how either of these terms could have been viewed as correct. In one sense, it would matter little which of these two words were selected, since they both point in the same direction. But the translation of the NASB, unfortunately (and quite untypically, in my opinion), renders the verse in a way that dilutes the force of the words.

The NASB renders them, “began devoting himself completely to the word …” The Revised Standard Version comes right to the point, I feel, when it tells us that Paul was “… constrained by the Word.” The issue is whether the Word is the cause or the result of Paul’s change, resulting in part from the arrival of Silas and Timothy. I believe that his change is the result of his sense of being compelled by the Word. It is not very different from Paul’s sense of compulsion while he was in Athens:

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was beholding the city full of idols (Acts 17:16).

I believe that a survey of the use of this term in the New Testament, and especially in Luke and Acts, strongly urges us to conclude that Paul was compelled by the Word, so that he reallocated his time and energy to enable him to concentrate upon the preaching of the Word.416 What this means is that we need to drop the emphasis on Paul’s devotion to the proclamation of the Word, but that we add Paul’s sense of direction as being dictated by the Word. The Word of God was Paul’s motivation and his message.

While some would think that Paul’s change in occupation, from tentmaker to preacher, was the result of one thing—money, I believe that there were three significant factors in his decision to devote himself to proclaiming the Word of God:

(1) Paul’s change was governed by biblical principle. Paul’s priority was the advance of the gospel. Ceasing his tentmaking and devoting himself to preaching the Word best promoted the gospel. This is the principle which Paul has expounded in 1 Corinthians 9, and it can be seen at work here. Because he was not asking for money from those in Corinth (but was living off of the gift which came from the Macedonians), Paul was not in danger of appearing to be preaching for sordid gain. This matter of principle, I believe, was first and foremost in Paul’s mind, not the availability of funds alone.

(2) Paul’s change was possible because of the provision of others. Put very plainly, Paul changed his course of action because he could afford to do so. I see too many Christians who make choices which they cannot afford, and which force or obligate others to “foot the bill.” Not so with Paul. The money was in hand, and thus he could preach without any imposition on others. How easy it is to make decisions and then hand the bill to others.

(3) Paul’s change was motivated by the “pressure” of divine guidance. I know that this is the most obscure and difficult factor, but it is a real one. We must be very careful about giving God the credit for our desires and decisions, when they are really our own. But on the other hand God does give us some sense of conviction and leading, which we dare not ignore. Paul sensed it in Athens, and thus he preached, and he sensed it here in Corinth as well.

When all three of these elements point in the same direction, there is a good chance that God has indicated His will. It is not a mechanical process, but it is something which gives us guidelines for divine guidance. Surely we will see that this was the will of God for Paul.

Change Two: From Reception to Rebellion

The second major change in our text is not a change made by Paul, but rather a change which occurred among the Jews who attended the synagogue, who had been hearing Paul arguing that Jesus was the Messiah. Their change is typical of the Jews in other synagogues. At first they listened politely, but as the message became clear, a few believed and many rejected and reacted. No doubt Paul’s added intensity and concentration on preaching intensified the reaction to his ministry. It was one thing for him to say a few words in the synagogue each Sabbath. Now, however, he was preaching every day. This was too much, at least for many of the Jews.

Change Three: From the Jews to the Gentiles

The strong opposition of the Jews to Paul’s preaching produced a rather predictable result—Paul turned from ministry to the Jews, to ministry to the Gentiles. The Jews were the first to hear the gospel, but in the wisdom of God, the Gentiles were to hear the same gospel which the Jews rejected. The words which Paul spoke to these Jews were very similar to those spoken to the Jews of Pisidian Antioch:

“It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).

In both cases, at Pisidian Antioch and here, Paul was speaking of a turning to the Gentiles in this city. He was not announcing that he would no longer preach to the Jews, for in every city he went first to the synagogue, if there was one, or to a place (like the place of prayer along the river at Philippi) where he would find Jews, to whom he would proclaim Jesus as the promised Messiah. Once these Jews began blaspheming, Paul knew it was time to stop “casting his pearls to swine.”

Paul’s words here do contain something new, which he is not said to have spoken before when he turned from the Jews to the Gentiles: “Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean.” These words are not really new at all. They are intended to remind these Jews of the words of the Old Testament prophets. Note the clear reference or allusion Paul is making to these words from the prophet Ezekiel:

1 And the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people, and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman; 3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land, and he blows on the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his {own} head. 5 ‘He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. 6 ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ 7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me. 8 “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your life” (Ezekiel 33:1-9).

Paul saw himself as God’s watchman, who was commissioned to “blow the trumpet,” as it were, to warn Israel of the coming wrath on Israel, and to give the nation a final opportunity to turn to Jesus, the Messiah, for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If they rejected his warning, neither their unbelief nor their judgment was his responsibility. Thus, they were unclean, but he was clean. He had done what God had called him to do, but they had not. They must therefore bear the consequences of their sin and rebellion.

Paul’s turning from the Jews was symbolized by his moving his headquarters, his place of ministry, from the synagogue to the house of Titius Justus, right next door. This move is indeed symbolic in two ways. On the one hand, Paul moved out of the synagogue, carrying out his promised turning from a Jewish focus to a Gentile focus. He disassociated himself from the place of Jewish teaching and worship; he severed himself from unbelieving Judaism, almost as Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah. But on the other hand, Paul moved but one door away from the synagogue. There were, of course, very practical reasons for this. It made it easy for genuine God-seekers to find him and to learn more of Jesus. It was a location which might attract some, as yet, uninformed Jews. But I think that the move to a place so close was also an indication that while Judaism did not want Paul or his Jesus, the Jesus whom Paul preached was a Jew, and He was the Messiah of the Jews. You may, as it were, “take the gospel out of Judaism,” but you can never “take the Judaism (the Old Testament roots) out of the gospel.”

Luke does not wish us to be left with the impression that the Jews, as a whole, rejected Paul and his preaching. There were a number of Jews who did believe and were saved. Titius Justus, the man from whose house Paul continued to minister, was a God-fearer who came to faith. And even Crispus, the (former) leader of the synagogue, believed, along with his whole household. Paul’s ministry among the Jews at Corinth was not without its fruit, but there was even more fruit to come, and most of this from among the Gentiles.

Change Four: From Fearful to Fearless

In our text, Paul is going to see his third vision. His conversion on the road to Damascus was a vision (see Acts 26:19), one which occurred in broad daylight. His second vision (as Luke reports them) was the so-called “Macedonian vision” which Paul received, guiding them to Macedonia. This is now the third vision of Paul, and his second “night vision.” The Lord appeared to Paul and spoke these words to him:

“Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”

The vision which Paul received in the night is indeed perplexing, for apart from Luke’s account of this vision, and especially of our Lord’s words, we would never have dreamed that Paul would have been afraid at this point, not unless, we had read some of Paul’s own words on the matter.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling (1 Corinthians 2:1-3).

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

Paul’s fear for his life and safety was no phobia, it was a fear based upon hard facts and upon much previous danger, including numerous attempts on his life. Shortly after his conversion, the Jews in Damascus plotted to kill him (Acts 9:23-24), and so also in Jerusalem (Acts 9;29). The Jews at Pisidian Antioch instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and which resulted in his being driven from the city. At Iconium, the Jews there sought to stone Paul (Acts 14:5), and failing, they later joined forces with the unbelieving Jews from Pisidian Antioch, stoning Paul at Lystra and leaving him for dead (Acts 14:19). The Jews at Thessalonica wanted to harm Paul also, but were only able to drive him from their city (Acts 17:1-9). They then went to Berea, where they were able to create such a disturbance Paul had to leave the truth-loving Berean Jews (Acts 17:13).

Turning to the Gentiles did not in any way reduce Paul’s fear of Jewish opposition, nor did he have much hope of any protection from the Gentiles. After all, in most instances of Jewish persecution (from the time of our Lord until now), the Jews opposed Paul by turning the Roman or civil authorities against them. And in cities like Philippi, the Gentiles opposed Paul and accused him of the very same offenses as did the Jews, but without Jewish instigation. The Gentiles were fully capable and ready to oppose Paul and to do him harm on their own. Up to this point they did not always need Jewish prodding (see Acts 14:5, 8ff.; 16:19ff.; 17:5-9, 13, 16ff.).

Luke’s account of Paul’s ministry in the Book of Acts supplies us with the above reports of the opposition which Paul faced, and of the suffering which both Jews and Gentiles imposed upon him. But there is a great deal of suffering and opposition which is not recorded by Luke in Acts. As I read through Paul’s epistles, especially his two epistles to the Corinthians, I realize how much this man suffered much for the sake of the gospel, far more than Acts would inform us:

10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, {even} until now (1 Corinthians 4:10-13).

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; 8 {we are} afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).

3 giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited, 4 but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; {regarded} as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things (2 Corinthians 6:3-10).

23 Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine {lashes.} 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 {I have been} on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from {my} countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 {I have been} in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from {such} external things, there is the daily pressure upon me {of} concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? (2 Corinthians 11:23-29).

All too often we look at Paul as though he were not really human, not like us. We therefore find it difficult to believe that this hero of the faith could ever suffer from the same kinds of fear which hinders us. We think of Paul as a kind of “Pit Bull” apostle, one who is never taken back by ridicule, opposition, or persecution. But frankly, we are wrong. Our Lord told Paul, in effect, to “stop being afraid,” not to be afraid any longer.417 If Jesus said he was afraid, he was afraid.

I think another reason why we are reluctant to admit to ourselves that Paul was afraid is that Paul, in the height of his time of fear, was far more bold in proclaiming Jesus to a lost and unbelieving world than we are. This man, crippled with the kind of fear that necessitated a personal word from the Lord, was far more active and aggressive in proclaiming his faith than we are. How sad.

From the previous record of Paul’s ministry in Acts, from his own words to the Corinthian saints (not to mention his other epistles), and from the inference of Jesus’ words of encouragement, I believe that we can confidently conclude that Paul was afraid of at least two things: rejection of his message and bodily harm done to himself. Jesus’ words assure Paul of His constant presence with him, the same presence promised the disciples in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). He also promised Paul that no one would attack him and succeed, so that they would do bodily harm to him. And finally, our Lord assured Paul that there were many more in this city yet to believe and be saved.

Paul was afraid, because of the past, and an awareness that the Jews who rejected the gospel all wanted to see him dead, at best, and hurt badly, at least. Jesus promised that this would not happen. It did not happen in Corinth, and, by and large, it did not happen anywhere else, from this point in time onward. The Lord was indicating to Paul that there was a very definite and decisive change about to occur. The kind of bodily injury and pain which Paul had often experience before was to be a matter of history. Oh, there would still be rejection, opposition, and persecution. And the Jews and others would still want to see Paul dead, or badly hurt, but it would not happen, not until God’s time. And until then, the gospel would be preached and believed in many more cities around the world of that time. Just how this promise was fulfilled is to be seen in the next paragraph, which gives us and account of the charges leveled against Paul, his trial before Gallio, and the precedent-setting decision which he pronounced.

The “Care Less” Gallio

12 But while Gallio418 was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, 13 saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 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; 15 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.” 16 And he drove them away from the judgment seat. 17 And they all took hold of Sosthenes,419 the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. And Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.420

Paul feared for his life, and rightly so. When he devoted himself to the preaching of the Word to the Jews, he got an intense reaction. Now, turning to the Gentiles would only make the Jews more jealous and hostile. He had every reason to think that the Jews would seek to do him bodily harm. But the Lord had promised Paul that He would be with Paul and that no one would harm him. The instrument through which the promise of the Lord would be fulfilled was none other than a pagan Roman ruler, Gallio.

Up to this point in time, Rome had been no friend to Christianity. Rome had succumbed to Jewish pressure, putting Jesus to death for crimes which Pilate and Herod knew Jesus had not committed. Roman officials had willingly, perhaps even gladly, punished Paul, as was the case at Philippi. But now a great change was about to occur, thanks to the decision rendered by Gallio. Rome was to cease giving in to Jewish pressure, and was to refuse, any longer, to be used by the Jews to hinder the proclamation of the gospel. The very power that had once persecuted Christianity would now become a means of protecting it. Luke, in this paragraph, tells us how this came to be.

The King James Version interestingly gives this paragraph the heading, “The Careless Gallio.” I think it might better be titled, “The ‘Care Less’ Gallio.” This Roman ruler was not at all careless. His insight into the case brought before him is brilliant and crystal clear. His assessment of the situation was right on. And his verdict (or rather his refusal to hear the case) was one which would cause any judge to wish he had done as well. Gallio was in no way careless about the decision he reached, but he could “care less” about these Jews who pressed charges against Paul. I think it is also clear that he could care less about Paul, Christianity, and Christians as well. But it is his disinterest, strangely enough, which enables him to come at this matter with a measure of objectivity.

The Jews at Corinth did nothing new. The Corinthian Jews merely used the time-proven method which their brethren from other cities visited by Paul had used so often before—they accused Paul of anti-Roman activity, which was being carried out under the guise of being Judaism. There really seem to be two charges here. The first is that Paul’s teaching is revolutionary, inciting people to do that which was contrary to Roman rule, and in fact which was intended to overthrow Roman rule. The second was that Paul was claiming to preach a Jewish faith, when in reality it was not Jewish at all. If the Jews could succeed in convincing Gallio that Paul was a revolutionary, and that his religion was distinct from Judaism, even opposed to it, they would have been able to silence him.

Up till this point in time, this ploy had always worked, but it would not work on Gallio. I think that there were three reasons for this. First, God had ordained to protect Paul and the proclamation of the gospel through the decision rendered by Gallio. Second, Gallio was too well aware of what the Jews were like, and that they were the real trouble-makers, not Paul. And third, Gallio did not the Jews, and not only did he care less about their welfare, he may have found some satisfaction in refusing to give in to their demands.

I love the way this trial is reported by Luke. The charges were made against Paul by his Jewish adversaries. In the normal flow of trial procedure, the time has come for Paul to speak in his own defense. Paul was ready and willing to do so. But God wants Paul to see that this is His work. God works this case out so that Paul can not be credited with “a fine job of defending himself.” Paul may have wished to be a kind of ancient Perry Mason, but God would not allow it. Before Paul could open his mouth and utter his first word of defense, Gallio interrupted. He would not dignify this “legal farce” by letting the trial go further. He threw the entire case out of court.

He knew the real issue here, and it was not anti-Roman revolutionary teaching. It was really in-fighting between two factions of Judaism. Paul was preaching Jesus as the Messiah, the One who perfectly fulfilled God’s promises to the patriarchs, and His promises through the prophets. The unbelieving Jews refused to accept this. But it was a dispute within Judaism, among Jews. This was not struggle against Rome, nor did it pose a threat to Roman rule. What was a threat was their attempt to use the Roman rulers to do their fighting for them. And so Gallio threw not only this case out of court, but the Jews who pressed the charges as well. Gallio’s total lack of concern over the beating of Sosthenes is telling. He really cares very little for the well-being of Judaism or the Jews. He, like Claudius, and other Romans as well, has had just about all of the trouble-making Jews he can tolerate. No longer will the Romans let the Jews use them against fellow-Jews.

Gallio intended no favor to Judaism, nor did he decide as he did as some kind of favor to Paul or to Christianity. But in spite of his anti-Jewish motives (perhaps it would be better to say, “because of his anti-Jewish motives”) he ruled in such a way as to set a very important precedent. His ruling rejected the charge of the Jews that the gospel was un-Jewish or anti-Jewish. He ruled that Christianity was Jewish. Thus, Christianity had every right to exist, so long as it did not oppose Rome. This meant that Paul, from this point on, would not be used to persecute Paul, but was there to protect him. Opposition against Paul by the Jews would in no way diminish from this point on, but now instead of standing with the Jews, inflicting punishment of Paul and others, the Roman government would now stand between the Jews and Paul. Paul’s incarceration by Rome was, in fact, a kind of “protective custody,” so that Paul could continue to preach and to write, but protected from Jewish plots of murder (see, for example, Acts 21:27ff.; note especially 22:12-35). Those, like Paul, who proclaimed the gospel would still be persecuted by the Jews, but they would now be protected by Rome. The Lord fulfilled His promise to Paul, without Paul’s help, but by means of a pagan Roman ruler, who acted (in his mind) contrary to the best interests of the Jews, and enjoyed every moment of it.


There are a number of very important lessons to be learned from our text. As I conclude this message I will point out some of the lessons which I believe are vital to Christians today, and in every age.

Man’s Weakness and God’s Strength

It took a while to realize this, but it is noteworthy that Paul’s first significant success evangelizing among the Gentiles came at this point in time, a time when Paul was at his lowest. He was fearful, both of his safety, and of the results of his ministry if he were to stay on. This is exactly what Paul says in his epistles to the Corinthians. The praise and glory must therefore go to God, and not to men. The pronouncement of Gallio, which was of such importance to the propagation of the gospel, was not the result of Paul’s persuasive speech, for he never got so much as a single word out of his mouth. And the evangelization of the Gentiles was not the result of Paul’s abilities, for he came to them in weakness, fear, and much trembling. God does not need our human strength in order to achieve His purposes; God works through human weakness so that He receives the honor and the praise. In Paul’s stronger days, when his confidence ran higher, the results were less than spectacular. In the days of his greatness weakness, when our Lord appeared to him to comfort and encourage him, God’s greatness blessings were poured out.

Man’s Waywardness and God’s Sovereignty

In the case of Paul’s ministry, I have just pointed to the fact that God used Paul most effectively at a time when Paul felt the least confident and able to accomplish anything of eternal consequence. But I must press on to say that not only is God’s sovereignty (control) so great that he can use Christians in their weakness; His sovereignty is such that He may also use unbelievers in their rebellion (see Psalm 76:10). Aquila and Priscilla were “guided” to Corinth, where they would meet Paul and begin a long-term relationship in ministry, not by the words of a prophet, but by the decree of a heathen ruler, Claudius (18:2). Christianity was for some time, from this point on, protected by Rome rather than persecuted by her, because of the decision of a ruler who did not like Jews, believe in Christ, or care about Paul. God’s means of protecting Paul from the harm that would have been done to him by cruel, unbelieving men (often unbelieving Jews) was by means of those who were often cruel, unbelieving men (Roman soldiers).

God’s Ways are Beyond our Imagination

Once again we see that God is not only sovereign, in complete control of this universe, so that His will is always accomplished, but we see as well that the ways in which He accomplishes His will and fulfills His promises are beyond our imagination (see Romans 11:33-36). We must, therefore be careful not to expect, demand, or even pray that God accomplishes His work in a way that fits our expectations. Much of what I pray for is what I want, not what God has promised to do. And much of what I pray for is instructing God as to how He should accomplish what I have set out for Him to do. A recognition of the sovereignty of God should serve to curb our demands, and make then requests, subject to His revision or rejection. A recognition of the sovereignty of God should serve to limit the ways in which I ask or expect Him to bring about that which He has purposed and promised. If Luke had not told us how God had fulfilled His promise of protection to Paul, we would never have predicted it, or believed it.

The Clock is Running Out For Israel

I cannot say that the Jews were often or ever held in high esteem by the Romans, but we do know from the Gospels and Acts that a number of Roman rulers respected the power of the Jewish religious leaders, and were most reluctant to alienate them. Much of the Jewish persecution of the saints (including our Lord) was possible only because of the tolerance or participation of the Roman rulers. The crucifixion of our Lord and the harm done to Paul are but two examples of this.

Things are clearly changing for the Jews, in a way that spells the future destruction of Jerusalem and the end of an era of opportunity for Israel. Jesus came to His people, claiming to be their Messiah. By His death and resurrection, atonement was made, once for all, for all who would believe in Him. By and large, Israel rejected Jesus, even after His resurrection. They have rejected the preaching of His apostles as well. And now, the Jews of the dispersion have heard the gospel and have refused and rejected it, to the point of trying to kill Paul.

The time when the Jews could intimidate the Roman rulers into tolerating or promoting their rejection of the gospel and persecuting those who proclaimed it has come to an end in our chapter. Claudius was fed up with the trouble-making of the Jews in Rome and ordered them out. Gallio was fed up with the efforts of the Jews in Corinth to use Rome to silence the gospel as un-Jewish and anti-Roman. The Jews are losing their “clout.” Rome will now restrain the Jews and protect Paul. It will not be that long (70 A.D.) before Rome is so fed up with the revolutionary Jews in Jerusalem that Titus will be sent to deal with them once and for all, by the sacking of that city and the execution of thousands (or more) of Jews. The times of the Gentiles is near. The days of Israel (until their restoration at the end of the times of the Gentiles) are numbered. This chapter is pointing in that direction.

The Noble Occupation of Tent Making

The usual practice of Paul—tentmaking—is not the ordinary practice today. I find many who wish to be supported in full-time ministry, but few who wish to support themselves, like Paul. The ministry of men and women like Aquila and Priscilla is looked down upon by some as though it were a second class ministry. I would like to suggest that tentmaking is a very noble calling, and one that has great potential for ministry. When I speak of tentmaking, I am speaking of that form of service which ministers at one’s own expense, as one works in the work force, carrying out some “secular” occupation, as a means of support and as a context for credibility and for promoting and practicing the gospel.

Around the world, missionaries are being looked upon, in many instances, as a liability to the country and culture to which they are sent. They are viewed as parasites, not as productive members of the culture. Full-time, supported missionaries will always be needed in some places, and in certain ministries, but they will be fewer and fewer, I am convinced. And this will be especially true of American or Western missionaries. I think it is high time to begin thinking seriously as to how we can reduce the number of people who need to be supported and to increase the number of saints who are supporting ministry. Paul’s example should not be set aside as something entirely novel or unique. His lifestyle should be seriously considered before being set aside.

For those who would seriously contemplate the possibility of a tentmaking ministry, I recommend that you read a book devoted to this approach, entitled, Today’s Tentmakers by J. Christy Wilson, Jr., subtitled, “Self-support: An Alternative Model for Worldwide Witness.” It is published by Tyndale House. I would also make these general suggestions for your consideration of that trade or skill which would best suit you for a tentmaking ministry. These are not inspired, but are intended to serve as fuel for thought.

(1) Have a skill which is of great value, and in great demand. So much in demand that they will tolerate you and your missionary activity.

(2) Have a skill which will support you, and perhaps others. Seek a skill which takes you off the list of those needing and using the resources of others, and puts you on the list of those who are able to support.

(3) Have a skill which gives you some measure of freedom, if possible—that is, freedom in schedule, freedom in terms of geographic location.

(4) Have a skill which is transportable, which allows you to be and serve in many places, not just one. Don’t be an igloo contractor. You may seek a job which gives you the opportunity to travel, and thus to minister to other Christians, and to facilitate the ministries of other saints. You may, for example, be able to take medical supplies to needy countries, because of your business-related travel.

(5) Consider a job which will allow you to work with, facilitate, or encourage the ministries of other Christians. This is the kind of ministry which Aquila and Priscilla had in conjunction with Paul and his ministry.

(6) Strive for a skill which facilitates and promotes opportunities for presenting the gospel, such as an English teacher.

(7) Strive for a skill or job which contributes positively to the people, not just one that is in demand or which is highly profitable. You might be good at training men to use hand grenades or in laying land mines, but this may cause suffering. A skill in nursing or in controlling disease is of benefit to many. Think of a skill which will overcome any anti-American hostility.

(8) You may wish to seek that employment and skill level which raises the least suspicion, and which most readily gains you entrance into a given place. Some jobs are merely flag-raisers, which create suspicion.

(9) Seek a skill or facility in something at which you are really good, and by the doing of which you may reflect the God-given skills you have. Be a craftsman, whose work honors the Lord, and whose skills put you in great demand. Seek something you are really good at, not just something which has social status. For example, Proverbs tells us that a man who is skilled will stand before kings. A skilled plummer may work with toilets, but he may work on the king’s toilet, because he knows his business (see Proverbs 22:9).

The Antidote to Fear, Which Paralyses the Proclamation of the Gospel

If Paul was fearful, so that the Lord needed to address his fears, surely fear is one of the great hindrances to our proclamation of the gospel as well. We in America seldom fear physical reprisals, but mere social shunning, at worst. But this fear often causes us to draw back and to be silent. We may also fear that boldly proclaiming the gospel, which is foolishness to unbelievers, is useless and hopeless. The promise of our Lord to Paul is surely applicable to us. We can be assured of His presence with us as we go forth with the gospel, for this was a promise given in conjunction with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20). We can also be assured that God’s Word, applied by and through the Holy Spirit, will not fail to achieve that which God has purposed. Those whom God has appointed to eternal life will come to faith. And even when men reject the gospel which we proclaim, we have the comfort of knowing that we have been a faithful watchman, not guilty of the blood of those who have heard the word of warning and have rejected it.

May God use us to proclaim His Word, to His glory and praise, and to the accomplishment of divinely ordained purposes. And may we see God’s hand at work in this world, not only through obedient saints, but through the actions of those who are heathen and opposed to the gospel.

402 . “Following his Mars’ Hill address at Athens, Paul traversed the forty miles westward to Corinth, the political capital of Achaia, which was situated on the isthmus between Hellas and Peloponnesus. Corinth was in Paul’s day both the political and commercial metropolis of Greece and was the residence of the Roman Proconsul.” Charles W. Carter and Ralph Earle, The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), p. 265.

“The worship of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, identified by the Romans with Venus, the worship of whom was cleverly designed to excite lust, was the distinctive cult of Corinth from ages past. The temple of Aphrodite was situated on the summit of Acro Corinth, a mountain 1,500 feet in elevation above the city and 1,886 feet above the sea. North of the market place on a low hill stood the temple of Apollo.” Carter and Earle, p. 266.

“Her presiding deity, from the pagan pantheon, was Poseidon, god of the seas, under whose protection, in the days when Greek fought Greek before the Romans came, Corinth’s fleets had sailed against the ships of Athens, and Corinth’s merchantmen had sallied forth to compete with the Phoenicians for the trade of the inland seas. The great Isthmian games were held in Poseidon’s honour, and have left a mark of metaphor on the ninth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. Above the ruins of the older city towered the 2,000-foot bulk of the Acrocorinthus, and here Aphrodite had her shrine, served by a host of priestess courtesans, who helped to give Corinth her rank flavour of immorality. . . So notorious was the city for its debauchery that the phrase ‘to play the Corinthian’ found its place in Greek to express the lowest of loose living, . . . .” E. M. Blaiklock, The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company photolithoprinted}, 1966), p. 147.

403 . “We hear more of this Jewish-Christian couple, who accompanied Paul to Ephesus (vs. 18), and later returned to Rome where they likely prepared for the coming of Paul and also established a Christian church in their house, as at Ephesus (cf. I Cor. 16:19 and Rom. 16:3-5). They are last seen in the Biblical record at Ephesus where they returned following Paul’s trial at Rome. Only eternity will reveal the credit due such faithful, sacrificing, occupational missionaries who have contributed so much to the spread of the Gospel and the establishment of Christianity, both in Paul’s day and throughout subsequent centuries. Often have evangelist reapers been credited with the fruit of their labors. The self-support of Paul and his companions in the Gospel at Corinth, as well as with Paul at Thessalonica and elsewhere, enabled them to introduce the Gospel among a new people without laying themselves liable to the charge that they were preaching for material gain, as was the custom with the wandering philosopher-teachers of that day and formerly.” Carter and Earle, p. 267.

“Aquila and Priscilla, we are told, had come to Corinth because the Emperor Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. This was not the only occasion on which the authorities at Rome saw fit to clean up the city by expelling undesirable groups of oriental incomers. Claudius’s edict is usually connected with a statement by Suetonius, that he banished the Jews from Rome because they were “indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus.” This Chrestus may have been an otherwise unknown trouble-maker who was active in Jewish circles in Rome about the middle of the first century, but in that case Suetonius would probably have called him “a certain Chrestus.” Most probably he had the Founder of Christianity in mind but, writing some seventy years after these events, he mistakenly supposed that “Chrestus,” who was mentioned in one of his sources of information as the leader of one of the parties involved, was actually in Rome at the time, taking a prominent part in the contention. Suetonius’s statement, in fact, points to dissension and disorder within the Jewish community of Rome resulting from the introduction of Christianity into one or more of the synagogues of the city.” F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), p. 347.

404 . “Claudius was an odd person, a sort of Roman James the First, who would have been much happier with his books than on the seat of imperial authority. Ancient historians persist in calling him mad, but the more Claudius’ actual achievements are studied, the clearer becomes the impression that he was a man of learning, and of no mean ability.” Blaiklock, p. 149.

405 .Life of Claudius 25.4. The question arises of the relation between this action and that recorded by Dio Cassius (History 60.6): “As the Jews had again increased in numbers, but could with difficulty be banished from the capital without a tumult because of their number, he {Claudius} did not actually expel them, but forbade them to meet in accordance with their ancestral customs.” The action recorded by Dio is dated at the beginning of Claudius’s principate. E.M. Smallwood rightly distinguishes two actions--the earlier one, when Claudius imposed limited restrictions on the Jews of Rome, and the later one, when (the limited restrictions having proved ineffective) he expelled them (The Jews under Roman Rule {Leiden, 1976}, pp. 210-16). The expulsion order is most probably to be dated in A.D. 49--a date which has the doubtful authority of Orosius (History 7.6.15-16), but fits in well with other chronological data.” Bruce, p. 347, fn. 9.

406 . “If it is true that the seating in the synagogue was arranged according to trades and callings, Paul may have found his friends Aquila and Priscilla (2) because he had been trained in a craft indigenous to Cilicia, the manufacture of goat-hair cloth and tents.” Blaiklock, p. 150.

“Rabbi Judah says: ‘He that teacheth not his son a trade, doth the same as if he taught him to be a thief.’ So it was easy for Paul to find a home with these ‘tentmakers by trade’. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930), III, p. 295.

407 . “Hillel is credited with the observation: “He who makes a profit from the crown of the Torah shall waste away” (Pirqe Abot 4.7)--i.e., one should not give religious instruction for money. At a later date, Gamaliel III commended the study of the Torah in combination with some “secular” occupation: “All study of the Torah which is not combined with work will ultimately be futile and lead to sin” (Pirqe Abot 2.2). Greek culture, on the other hand, tended to despise manual labor; an exception is provided by scientific writers, who speak respectfully of craftsmen. In their attitude L. C. A. Alexander finds a possible background for Luke’s totally matter-of-fact reference to Paul’s practice here” (“Luke’s Preface in the Context of Greek Preface-Writing,” NovT 28 {1986}, p. 70). Bruce, p. 346, fn. 7.

408 . This trade was closely connected with the principal product of Paul’s native province, a cloth of goats’ hair called cilicium, used for cloaks, curtains, and other fabrics designed to give protection against wet. In Judaism it was not considered proper for a scribe or rabbi to receive payment for his teaching, so many of them practiced a trade in addition to their study and teaching of the law. Paul, as a matter of policy, earned his living in this way during his missionary career (cf. 20:34; 1 Cor. 9:3-18; 2 Cor. 11:7; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8). Bruce, p. 346.

“Paul’s occupation was as a tentmaker. Tents were made out of the goat’s hair cloth, known as cilicium and manufactured in Paul’s native province, or else out of leather; hence the word ‘tentmaker’ could refer more generally to a ‘leather-worker’, and this seems to be the meaning here.” Marshall, p. 293.

409 . The King James Version renders this, “Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.” Of this discrepancy in texts and translations Carter and Earle comment:

Syneicheto, was constrained, is literally ‘was held together.’ By the word is the reading of the oldest manuscripts, instead of ‘in spirit’ (KJV). Ramsay takes the passage as meaning, ‘wholly possessed by and engrossed in the word,’ and translates it, ‘wholly absorbed in preaching.’ Diamartyromenos, testifying, is a strong compound, meaning ‘solemnly protesting.’ Moulton and Milligan say it suggests ‘solemn and emphatic utterance.’ Jesus was the Christ is ‘the Messiah was Jesus.’” Carter and Earle, p. 268.

410 . “This man now placed his house at Paul’s disposal, and people who had been accustomed to attend the synagogue did not have to leave their habitual route if they wished to go on hearing Paul; they made their way toward the synagogue, as usual, but turned in next door.” Bruce, p. 350.

“The most probable form of this God-fearer’s name, as given by Luke, is Titius Justus--a Roman nomen and cognomen suggesting that he was a Roman citizen, perhaps a member of one of the families settled in Corinth by Julius Caesar when he made it a Roman colony. But what was his praenomen? There is much to be said for the view, favored by W. M. Ramsay and E. J. Goodspeed, that it was Gaius--that this man is the Gaius named by Paul in 1 Cor. 1:14 as one of the few converts in Corinth whom he baptized with his own hands. If so, he is almost certainly to be identified also with “Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church,” as Paul puts it in Rom. 16:23. A man whose house was large enough to accommodate Paul’s voluntary congregation and (later) the whole church of Corinth (if the identification is well founded) would have been a fairly well-to-do citizen.” Bruce, p. 350.

411 . “In 1 Cor. 1:14 Paul mentions another Corinthian convert who was baptized by him personally, Crispus by name. Luke shows us who this Crispus was--no less than the ruler of the synagogue. He and his family evidently followed Paul on his departure from the synagogue, and joined the new Christian community in Corinth.” Bruce, p. 350.

412 . “Paul’s vision came from the Lord, i.e. from Jesus. It is significant that the message is couched in the language used by God himself in the Old Testament when addressing his servants (Stahlin, p. 245, compares 7:9; Ex. 3:12; Dt. 31:6; Jos. 1:5,9; Is. 41:10; 43:5; Je. 1:8). The New testament assigns to Jesus a function and status equal to those of God the Father himself. The formula Do not be afraid is regularly used in Old Testament theophanies in order to calm the fears of the recipient of the vision at being addressed by God. Here, however, the words are directed rather at Paul’s fears concerning his own position over against his opponents in Corinth. Instead of fearing what they may do to him, Paul is to proclaim the Word fearlessly. The Greek tenses used may suggest that Paul is to go on preaching as he has already been doing.” Marshall, p. 296.

413 . “The command is backed up by the promise that the Lord will be with Paul (Is. 43:5). This type of promise was a form of assurance to those called by God to serve him that they would be able to fulfill his command (Jdg. 6:12; Ru. 2:14; Lk. 1:28). As a result of God’s protection of Paul nobody would be able to lay hands on him and harm him. Furthermore, God has many people in the city. The connection of thought would appear to be that since God has many people to be won for the gospel in Corinth Paul will not be prevented by hostile action from continuing his missionary work until God’s purpose is complete.” Marshall, p. 296.

414 . A few of the converts, some indeed ‘wise men after the flesh’ and ‘noble’ (I Cor. i. 26), are known to us by name--Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, Erastus, the city treasurer (Rom. xvi. 23; and perhaps Acts xix. 22 and 2 Tim. iv. 20), Stephanas and Gaius, who seem to have been in a position to exercise generous hospitality, and the lady Chloe, who had a large household. Also mentioned are Fortunatus, Achaicus, Quartus, and Tertius who acted as amanuensis for the Epistle to the Romans. Blaiklock, p. 148.

415 . “The time spent in Corinth probably stretched from the fall of A.D. 50 to the spring of A.D. 52; we are able to date this period of Paul’s career with considerable accuracy from the following mention of Gallio as proconsul of Achaia.” Bruce, p. 351.

416 This word is found in the following texts: Matthew 4:24; Luke 4:38; 8:37, 45; 12:50; 19:43; 22:63; Acts 7:57; 18:5; 28:8; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Philippians 1:23.

417 The Greek tense of this expression indicates this, and so the editors of the NASB supply “any longer” in italics, indicating to us that this in inferred or implied, if not clearly stated.

418 . “Gallio was a son of the elder Seneca, the rhetorician (c. 50 B.C.-c. A.D. 40), and brother of the younger Seneca, the Stoic philosopher (c. 3 B.C.-A.D. 65). His name was originally Marcus Annaeus Novatus; but after his father brought him to Rome from his native Cordova in the principate of Tiberius, he was adopted by the rhetorician Lucius Junius Gallio, and thereafter bore the same name as his adoptive father. His contemporaries speak of him as a man of great personal charm--”no mortal,” said his brother Seneca, “is so pleasant to any one person as Gallio is to everybody.” After holding the praetorship in Rome, he was appointed proconsul of Achaia. From an inscription at Delphi in Central Greece, recording a directive from the Emperor Claudius, it can be inferred rather precisely that he entered on his proconsulship in the summer of A.D. 51. He left Achaia because of a fever (perhaps before his year of office had expired) and went on a cruise for his health. At a later date, after his consulship (A.D. 55), he took a cruise from Rome to Egypt because of threatened phthisis. In A.D. 65, like other members of his family, he fell victim to Nero’s suspicions.” Bruce, pp. 352-353.

“Marcus Annaeus Novatus was a brother of the famous Stoic philosopher Seneca; he was the son of a Spanish orator, and on coming to Rome he was adopted into the family of Lucius Junius Gallio and took the name of his adoptive father. Since Achaia was a second-rank province, it was governed by someone who had not yet attained the rank of consul (the senior Roman magistracy). Gallio accordingly came to Achaia after being praetor and before being consul. He had a pleasant character, but suffered from ill-health. He died as a result of Nero’s suspicions against the family. The date of his proconsulship can be fixed fairly accurately from an inscription found at Delphi, and it probably commenced in July, AD 51.” Marshall, p. 297.

419 . “Sosthenes succeeded Crispus (verse 8) when he went over to Paul. The beating did Sosthenes good for he too finally is a Christian (I Cor. I:I), a co-worker with Paul whom he had sought to persecute.” A. T. Robertson, III, p. 302.

420 . “Gallio’s ruling meant in effect that Paul and his associates, so long as they committed no breach of public order, continued to share the protection which Roman law granted to the practice of Judaism. It probably served as a precedent for other Roman judges, especially as it proceeded from a man whose brother (Seneca) occupied a position of influence at the imperial court. It meant that for the next ten or twelve years, until imperial policy toward Christians underwent a complete reversal, the gospel could be proclaimed in the provinces of the empire without fear of coming into conflict with Roman law. The next charges brought against Paul before a Roman judge were personal to himself.” Bruce, p. 354.

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