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Acts 18

May 9th, 2010 by Vic

May 9, 2010

“Taught to Work”

Today is Mother’s Day.  We give thanks for our moms.  They have a sacred responsibility.  Our culture is trying to make moms and dads equal in everything.  But God created equality in diversity.  Moms are more than female.  Moms are more than shoppers.  Godly moms are priceless.  Godly moms do noble things.  “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Prov 31:30)  Let her works praise her.  The child will then be blessed by the prayers of a godly mom and dad.  (Last Thursday was the National Day of Prayer)

For the Jews, if you did not teach your child how to work you were teaching him to be a thief.  Fathers taught their sons a trade and mothers taught their daughters how to work around the home.  I wonder what we teach our kids today by letting them watch TV and communicate with phone texting.  I wonder what we teach our kids by giving them everything they want for Christmas.  Every Jewish boy knew how to work with his hands.  I’m glad my parents showed me the joy of working.  When it became common to give kids an allowance, Lynn and I had to work for it.  We earned different amounts by doing different chores inside and outside the house.  The government allowed us to pick berries for less than minimum wage.

In Acts 18 we see that Paul learned how to work with his hands.  He is a bi-vocational pastor.  He is very grateful when he can give more time to teaching and explaining the Scripture.

18:1-4

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.  That’s like going from the real city of Las Vegas to the casino city of Las Vegas.  It is a huge contrast.  He goes 45 miles from the intellectual city living on memories of the past with less than a 20,000 population to a new growing city with an expanding economy and a population of over 200,000.  Its geographical location gave Corinth some commercial advantages.  It was situated on a neck of land between two seas.  There was a 5 mile long paved road connecting the 2 seas.  Over this road they could pull smaller ships and transfer freight.  It was a shortcut for shippers.  With wealth and luxury, there was immorality of every kind.

Just south of the city was a 1900’ high hill that had an ancient fortress with a large fresh water spring.  Also on the summit stood the temple of Aphrodite with 1,000 sacred prostitutes.  They walked the streets of Corinth at night.  At the foot of the ‘Acrocorinthus’ stood the temple of Melicertes, the patron god of seafarers. The word Corinth was synonymous with immorality.

When Paul came to the city he asked where he could find the tentmaker and leather worker guilds.  Paul was born in Tarsus.  Tarsus was known for the goat’s hair that made the best tent coverings.  It was natural for Paul to be a good tent maker.

Paul met Aquilla and Priscilla who had been forced to leave Rome because of the Edict of Claudius between January 24, 049 and January 24, 050.  Suetonus, a Roman historian, wrote about this edict 70 years later.  He says the Jews were constantly rioting because of the agitator “Chrestus” and so Claudius banished all Jews from Rome.  Most assume that the Jews were fighting about Jesus Christ and Suetonus did not understand the Jewish Christ/Messiah belief.

It is not clear whether Aquila and Priscilla were Christians before they left Rome.  Nothing is said of Paul’s preaching to them.  They are not listed with Paul’s converts in any of his letters.  They were probably Christians in Rome and thus we know nothing about the origin of the Roman church.  They are always mentioned together.  They worked together.  They witnessed together.  Sometimes one was mentioned before the other.

While working with Aquila and Priscilla, Paul attended the local synagogue every Sabbath and reasoned (dialoged) with them trying to persuade both Jews and Gentiles.  The Jewish Torah says that “whosoever derives a profit for himself from the words of the Torah will be cursed.  The study of the Torah is a blessing if combined with a secular occupation.”  Greek culture, by contrast, tended to despise manual labor.

Acts 18:5-6

After Silas and Timothy came to Corinth Paul preached full time to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  Remember, Paul had not mentioned Jesus to the Greeks in Athens.  There he preached about the God who had a plan for man.  Now to the Jews he identifies Jesus as the Christ.  He puts a name on God’s plan.  Salvation came through the Jews.  They were supposed to know.

Paul seems to be encouraged with the coming of his friends.  Apparently they brought some gifts from Thessalonica and Philippi.  Maybe he had been doubting himself and his method of ministry.  Whatever the reason, Paul now spoke to the Jews boldly and opposition raised its head.  Have you noticed that satan does not kick a dead horse?  When God begins changing lives not everything goes smoothly.  Satan acts through people with bad attitudes.

The Jews opposed Paul and became abusive.  Paul leaves the synagogue and goes to a private home to continue teaching.  He leaves the Jews with one of their own object lessons.  To shake your garments was like Pilate washing his hands of any guilt.  “Your blood be on your own head” means you are to blame for your own judgment.  You had the opportunity to be saved from your sins but you turned it down.  Another phrase “blood on your hands” comes from the watchman over the city walls (Ez 3) whose job it was to stay alert and warn of coming danger.  If he fails to warn the city he is responsible for the deaths that occur.  If he warns the city and they reject his warning, their blood is on their own heads.

18:7-11

Many people were believing and getting saved.  There was a revival going on in Corinth.  The attendance at the synagogue was declining.  Paul must have begun thinking about what happened in other cities when things started going good.  Paul knew only too well what Jewish hatred could do.  Between verse 8 and 9 Paul must have been thinking about leaving Corinth.  He may have been anticipating another Jewish terrorist plot.

Our Lord knows when we need Him the most.  When the storms get rough and the way is unclear His tender “fear not” can calm the storm in our hearts regardless of the circumstances around us.  The Greek literally reads, “Stop being afraid, but go on speaking and do not become silent.”  The promise of Jesus changes Paul’s outlook.  Jesus is still saying fear not.  Read Joshua 1:1-10

Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half just teaching the word, probably from the late summer of 50 to the spring of 52.  He did not start any programs.  He wrote 2 letters to the Thessalonians.  He planted a church at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, and some others in Achaia.  What do we do in our spare time?

18:12-17

I wonder if it was at this time that Paul made his vow (18).  He was surprised that he did not have to defend himself.  The Jews were saying that Christianity was a new and different cult, distinct from Judaism.  Gallio viewed Christians as a sect of the Jews and this Jewish accusation as false and frivolous.  Paul had committed no offense against Roman law.

Who beat up Sosthenes?  Maybe the Greek bystanders expressing their anti-Jewish feelings.  Or maybe the Jews expressing their anger at their new leader for losing the court case.  Their previous leader, Crispus, had become a Christian (8).  And if this is the same Sosthenes mentioned in Corinthians 1:1, then he becomes a Christian too.

18:18-22

Paul was still a Pharisee and he kept ceremonial vows.  He allowed Gentiles and Greeks unlimited liberty to keep or not to keep Jewish rituals.

There is some debate whether this was a Nazarite vow.  Samson was to be a Nazarite for life, which meant no grapes, raisins, wine, walking in a vineyard, or cutting ones hair (Num 6:1-27).  Intermittent Nazarite vows could be made any time, but had to be completed in Jerusalem.  Some say the hair had to be cut and offered as an offering in Jerusalem.  Others said the hair had to be offered as an offering in Jerusalem within 30 days of it being cut or after a 30 day purification period in Jerusalem.

We are not told why Paul took this vow.  It was not a matter of salvation but a personal promise to the Lord.  He had allowed his hair to grow for a period of time to demonstrate a promise he made to God.  Now that time was over and he cut his hair.  Paul kept up his observance of the ceremonial law, but refused to impose it on the Gentiles.

As a Christian you can be yourself and be all things to all men so that you may win some (1 Cor 9:22).

Ephesus had a population of 300,000.  The temple of Diana was one of the 7 wonders of the world.  It measured 418’ by 239’ with 100 columns over 50’ high.  The sacred image of Diana was probably a meteorite.

Paul found a receptive audience in Ephesus.  They wanted him to stay and he promised to return “if it is God’s will.”  This should be our criteria for future plans.  Some churches say that is not living by faith.  We should ‘name it and claim it.”  James 4:13-16 says that positive thinking is boasting and evil.  It is Biblical to pray, “If it is God’s will.”  Our interruptions may be God’s divine appointments.

18:22 quickly concludes Paul’s 2nd missionary journey.  His ship went 1500 miles and landed at Caesarea.  He walked up 65 miles up to Jerusalem to fulfill his vows and visit the church then walked down 300 miles north to Antioch.  He stayed there a while, maybe from the summer of 052 through the spring of 053.  This is the church that had sent him.  He had a great report to give.  He soon left to strengthen all his disciples in Galatia and Phrygia and return to Ephesus.

18:23-28

It may have been that Aquila and Pricilla had paid for Paul’s trip to Jerusalem.  They had a home in Ephesus and had stayed there to encourage the church.  While Paul was gone, Apollos came to Ephesus.  He was very learned, eloquent, and knew the facts of the life of Jesus.  He knew about the preaching of John the Baptist regarding Jesus.  He believed John’s testimony and preached it with enthusiasm.  He did not know about the resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, or ministry among the Gentiles.

Apollos was an exceptional man in many ways.  He came from Alexandria, the 2nd most important city in the Roman Empire.  It was the center for education and philosophy.  It had a library with over 700,000 volumes.  The population of Alexandria, about 600,000, was made up of Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Jews.  The Jewish community was 25-40% of the population and very influential.  This is where the OT was translated into Greek just one generation before this time.

Sometimes Priscilla is mentioned first.  Some say she was from the Roman aristocracy.  Maybe here she had better counseling skills.  Rather than correct Apollos in public they listened politely and then invited him to their home.  In private they explained to him the way of God more adequately.  He was a powerful preacher willing to listen and learn.  When instructed further by Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos accepted all that God had done in the death and resurrection of Jesus and in sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  He may have read a copy of the Gospel of Mark by this time.  Apollos reminds us that it is possible to have eloquence, zeal, and sincerity, and still be lacking!  We can be educated in the world’s best schools and still learn more.

He was excited and ready to go to Achaia, probably Corinth, and teach the gospel.  The brothers at Ephesus encouraged him and sent a letter of commendation, probably written by Priscilla and Aquila.  They also had a home in Corinth.

In Achaia he vigorously refuted the Jews demonstrating from the Scriptures, which he knew well, that Jesus is the Messiah.  He was a champion of the word.

Are we competent in the Scripture?  No one is really interested in your opinions.  Just be a student of the Bible.  Know the Word.  Tell it with excitement.

1 Cor 1:10-12  Paul acknowledges Apollos’ ministry at Corinth and expresses appreciation of him as a colleague.  Good men are not threatened by another’s successful ministry.  We rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those who weep.

When you are going through some rough times what should you remember about God in this chapter?

How should you admonish your kids or a friend?  Will they listen to your opinion?

Meditate on the Word!

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