Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 18:1-5
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 18:1
v1: While waiting for Silas and Timothy, Paul decided to move to Corinth about 50 miles away, and less than a day’s journey by ship. Though Athens was the cultural center of Greece, Corinth was its commercial and political center. At that point in time, it was possibly the fourth largest city in the Roman empire (W.R. Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Eerdmans, 1983, Vol 2, p. 730). Luke doesn’t tell why Paul made the move, but Paul later stated that this was a very difficult season for him personally. In his first letter to the Corinthians he reminded them that he had arrived “…in weakness and fear and in much trembling” (1Co 2:3).

Monday: Acts 18:1
v1 (continued): It’s possible Paul’s financial resources had run out in Athens and he moved to Corinth to find work (1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 11:9, 27; 2Th 3:7-9). Luke shows him looking for work as soon as he arrives (Ac 18:2, 3). Also, he had not yet received any communication from Silas and Timothy, and was worried that the churches in Macedonia might not survive the fierce persecution to which they were immediately subjected (1Th 3:1-8; 2Co 11:28, 29). He did not yet know that his mission there had been amazingly successful (1Th 1:6-10). And the response to his preaching in Athens was surely less than he had hoped for. Though some remarkable people had come to faith, there was probably only a small group of believers meeting in a home when he left. Undoubtedly, he would have kept in touch with them by means of the traffic that flowed between the two neighboring cities.

Tuesday: Acts 18:1
v1 (continued): It must have been lonely for him without Silas and Timothy (Ac 17:5), and, if we take seriously his statement about being physically weak and fearful (1Co 2:3), we have to wonder if he was ill or during that time suffering from some sort of physical impairment (2Co 12:7-10). Being stoned in Lystra (Ac 14:19) or beaten mercilessly in Philippi (Ac 16:23) may have left him with some type of residual damage in his body. Judging from remarks he made to the Galatians, his eyesight may have been impaired (Gal 4:13-15; 6:11, 17) which, if true, would have made his move to Corinth all the more difficult. Whatever the cause, when he arrived he felt and appeared weak and frightened, so much so that even years later the Corinthian church tended to show him a lack of respect (2Co 10:10; 12:11, 12) (W.R. Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Eerdmans, 1983, Vol 2, p. 729).

Wednesday: Acts 18:2
v2: It was customary for Jewish young men, including rabbis, to learn a trade, and Paul had grown up in Cilicia, a province famous for making goat’s-hair tents (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, p. 367), so it’s no surprise that Paul had been taught that skill (v3). Jewish guilds had formed around each particular trade, and those who worked in that trade bonded together with a strong sense of brotherhood, even to the point of sitting together in synagogue (Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Hendrickson, 1994, pp 170-174). So it would not have been difficult for Paul to locate the Jewish tent makers in Corinth, and in such a busy city there must have been plenty of work.

Thursday: Acts 18:2
v2 (continued): Paul soon met a Jewish tent-maker named Aquila. The man was originally from Pontus, a region along the southern shore of the Black Sea, but until recently had been living in Rome. Apparently, while he was there, he had met and married Priscilla, a woman whose name implies that she was a member of a distinguished Roman family. About a year prior to this, the emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) had ordered all Jews to leave the city, probably because he had grown frustrated by the rioting which was erupting in the Jewish community as a reaction to the growing influence of Christianity (see comments on Ac 17:7). Following the great outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Ac 2:10), baptized and Spirit-filled Jews and proselytes must have carried the gospel back to Rome, and as the number of believers grew, that city experienced the same type of violent rioting Paul faced nearly everywhere he went.

Friday: Acts 18:2
v2 (continued): Luke doesn’t tell us if Aquila and Priscilla were Christians before meeting Paul, but it seems likely they were. Aquila might have heard the gospel in Pontus and believed in Christ even before going to Rome (Ac 2:9), and where better for a Jewish tent-maker and an aristocratic Roman lady to meet and marry than in a church in Rome, where there was “no longer any Jew or Gentile” (Gal 3:28). Paul never refers to them as his converts, and they both exhibit a level of maturity and partnership with Paul in ministry which seems to go far beyond what we might expect from new converts (Ac 18:18, 19, 26; Ro 16:3-5; 1Co 16:19; 2 Ti 4:19). However, if they were Christians before coming to Corinth, it does not appear that they had begun proclaiming Christ, because Paul would later on remind the Corinthian church that it was he who had planted the church in their city (1Co 3:6), and that he was their spiritual father (1Co 4:15).

Saturday: Acts 18:3-5
vs3-5: When he arrived in Corinth Paul needed a job and a place to stay, and this couple provided him with both. They rented him a spare room and put him to work in their business. Initially, Paul worked all week and then “dialogued in the synagogue every Sabbath… trying to persuade both Jews and (God-fearing) Greeks.” But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia they brought with them a financial gift from the church in Philippi (2Co 11:7-9; Php 4:15), which released Paul from having to work so that he could devote all his time to preaching.

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