Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 18:18-23
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 18:18
v18: Gallio’s decision freed Paul from the threat of legal action, so Luke says he remained in Corinth for a “sufficient” number of days, meaning he was able to stay long enough to bring the church to a level of maturity where he felt they could carry on successfully without him. He’d been forced to leave each of the Macedonian cities prematurely, either because the government ordered him out or a mob drove him out. Those churches had not been ready to stand on their own, so he had been forced to leave behind Luke, Silas and Timothy to pastor them. When the time came for him to leave Corinth, the circumstances were much different. He was able to say farewell properly.

Monday: Acts 18:18
v18 (continued): Luke does not mention whether Timothy or Silas departed with Paul, remained in Corinth, or were sent somewhere else on assignment. Timothy reappears later on in Ephesus (Ac 19:22), but Silas is not mentioned again. About ten years later, Peter names him at the end of his first letter because Silas (Silvanus) was the person who actually wrote down the letter as Peter dictated it (1Pe 5:12). We can only guess at where they went, but it seems likely both men accompanied Paul to Jerusalem and then on to Antioch in Syria (Ac 15:35, 40), however, since Silas was originally from Jerusalem (Ac 15:22), he may have stopped there and let Paul go on without him.

Tuesday: Acts 18:18
v18 (continued): Since Paul would be sailing east, he would have walked about seven miles to Cenchrea, the eastern port for the city of Corinth, and there he would have boarded a ship for Caesarea, but as Luke notes, his final destination was actually Antioch in Syria. Surprisingly, we discover Priscilla and Aquila were traveling with him. It appears they had agreed to leave their tent-making business in Corinth (Ac 18:2-3) and move to Ephesus to help plant the church there (v19). The ship they were on stopped in Ephesus, and the plan was for them to stay in that city while Paul traveled on. When they arrived, they must have located a home and started a tent-making business to support themselves. Paul hoped to return soon and minister there, but while he was gone this couple would begin the work (Ac 18:26; 19:1).

Wednesday: Acts 18:18
v18 (continued): Luke mentions that when Paul arrived at Cenchrea, before boarding the ship he performed a Jewish ritual. It was common at that time for pious Jews to enter into what was, in effect, a temporary form of the Nazirite vow. A person could be a Nazirite for life (Jdg 13:3-5), but someone could also be a Nazirite for a limited period of time. A man or a woman who was afflicted with a disease or facing some other kind of danger could enter into this vow in order to publicly confess their hope that God would deliver them. Jewish men normally kept their hair cut (1Co 11:14), but during the vow they let it grow long (Ac 21:23, 24, 26). Then, 30 days before offering their sacrifices they would shave the hair of their head (Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 2.15.1, in Josephus, The Complete Works, translated by William Whiston, Thomas Nelson, 1998, p. 741). There was actually a special court in the Temple complex in Jerusalem where they could present the hair that had been cut off.

Thursday: Acts 18:18
v18 (continued): Nothing is said as to why Paul took this vow. One possibility is that he was openly confessing the Lord’s promise to physically protect him while he was in Corinth (Ac 18:9-10). If so, after the Lord appeared to him in a vision he made a vow and began letting his hair grow. The Jewish community, at least, would have understood the confession of faith he was making. But when he arrived at the harbor, his time in Corinth had come to an end, and God had, indeed, kept him safe. So, by cutting his hair, Paul was honoring the Lord for His faithfulness. He was declaring that the vow was over. The next step for him was to take that hair to the Temple in Jerusalem and present it as part of a thanksgiving offering. He needed to be in Jerusalem in about 30 days, which was the prescribed time-span between cutting the hair and offering it. This helps explain why he refused to remain in Ephesus even though the synagogue there was very interested in the gospel (Ac 18:19-21).

Friday: Acts 18:19-21
vs19-21: With fair winds it took about eight to ten days to sail from the west to the east side of the Aegean Sea (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Acts, p.134). Ephesus was a very important city. It was the capital of the province of Asia, which included all of what is today the western third of Turkey, and with a harbor and major highways running into it, this city was the commercial center for all of Asia Minor (Turkey). Paul had tried to go there earlier, but the Holy Spirit prevented him (Ac 16:6). Even on this occasion he was only able to stay a short time, because he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem. However, he did manage to go into the synagogue and present Jesus as the crucified and resurrected Messiah (Ac 13:16-41). The initial response by the elders of the synagogue was quite positive. They asked him to stay in Ephesus so they could continue discussing this matter, but he shook his head and said, “I will return to you, God willing.” Then he boarded a ship headed for Caesarea on the coast of Israel.

Saturday: Acts 18:22, 23
v22: Paul’s final destination was Antioch in Syria, not Jerusalem. He was no longer on a mission, he was returning home, so Luke uses very few words to summarize the rest of his journey. He says, “…and after coming down to Caesarea (sailing from Ephesus to Caesarea), and going up (to Jerusalem) and greeting the church, he went down (he probably sailed north) to Antioch.” v23: The weeks or months he spent in Antioch must have been uneventful because Luke simply says, “And having spent some time there, he went forth (on his third missionary journey), first passing through Galatia, and then through Phrygia, strengthening the faith of all the disciples” (paraphrase). Again, he must have taken the road that leads north out of Antioch (Ac 15:41), passing through his home town of Tarsus, crossed the Taurus mountain range at the pass called the Cilician Gates, and then, one by one, he would have visited the churches that he and Barnabas founded on their first journey, including Derbe, Lystra (Timothy’s home town), Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. His ultimate destination was Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla were waiting for him, as were the elders in the synagogue. When he left Pisidian Antioch he would have headed west along the Roman highway, only this time he didn’t have to turn north (Ac 16:6). He continued west until he reached Ephesus on the coast (Ac 19:1).

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