Paul left Athens, and went to Corinth, which was 46 miles away. He met with Aquila and Priscilla there, who had come from Italy after the Roman emperor Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Roman (we know this to have been issued in 49 AD). At that time, they made no distinction between Jews and Christians. Aquila and Priscilla were tent makers by trade, like Paul, and he stayed with them. They became faithful friends, and he mentions them again a few times in Scripture (Romans 16:3-5, for example). As always, he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, preaching Jesus as the Christ. But when they opposed him, he went to the home of Titius Justis, about whom we know nothing. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, was one of the Corinthians that we know Paul baptized himself (1 Corinthians 1:14).
The restored facade of the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, telling him to keep teaching, and that no harm would come to him there. So he remained for a year and a half (verse 11). The proconsul was the chief judicial officer. In this case, it was Gallio (verses 12-14) that held that position when the Jewish leaders there, in a united assault, had Paul brought before the tribunal. We know from fragments of a letter from Claudius (the Delphi Inscription, found in 1905 by a French expedition) that he began this office in 51 AD. He was a brother of the philosopher, Seneca, who was an advisor to Nero. Born as “Marcus Annaeus Novatus”, he took the full name “Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeus,” after the rich man who adopted him.But before Paul could defend himself, Gallio ruled that this was a religious matter between the Jews and ran them out of the tribunal.
He then set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. Stopping to establish the church at Ephesus, he left Priscilla and Aquila there, promising to return “if God wills.” He then set sail to Caesarea, traveled to report to the church in Jerusalem and up to Antioch of Syria, ending his second missionary journey in verse 22. Verse 23 then begins Paul’s third missionary journey, going up though Galatia and Phyrgia, “strengthening all the disciples” at the churches he had begun.
Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos came to Ephesus from Alexandria. He was a learned and eloquent man, well-versed in the Old Testament. Luke says that “he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John,” meaning that he taught accurately what he knew, but Aquila and Priscilla filled in for him, teaching him “the way of God more accurately.” It is likely that Aquila baptized him into Christ. Wishing to go into Achaia, he was encouraged by the brothers, and became a powerful speaker of the gospel.
Priscilla and Aquilla’s encounter with Apollos in Acts 18:24-28 would certainly appear to be providential, as the man knew the scriptures concerning the Christ well, taught many, and spoke eloquently. But it would seem that all of the good news of Jesus had not yet reached him, so the two set him on the right course. Now becoming a powerful worker for the Lord, Apollos had gone to Corinth. Paul came to Ephesus and found some disciples that had likely been taught by Apollos previously. They, like Apollos, only knew of the baptism of John. After being baptized, Paul layed his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Paul taught in the synagogue there for three months (verse 8), but some were not persuaded and some unbelievers began “speaking evil of the Way before the congregation.” “The Way” was a name used for Christianity during those times, as by Luke several times in Acts (Acts 19:9,23;22:4;24:14,22) and in secular history as well (such as written by Josephus, for example).
So Paul removed himself and took the disciples with him, teaching “in the hall of Tyrannus” daily (verse 9). This continued for two years (verse 10), and the following Scriptures speak of the great miracles God worked there through Paul in verses 11-17, including an account in 13-16 of the sons of the Jewish high priest, Sceva, being overpowered by an evil spirit they tried to cast out themselves. Note the key in verse 13 where they said “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” This was not only a lack of authority, but of faith – and it ends badly for them. But the miracles the Lord had worked had a mighty effect on the people listening to the word that Paul and the disciples were preaching.
Paul stayed for a while but sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia, resolving to go there as well as Achaia, where Apollos had gone (Acts 18:27), as well as Rome (verse 21). But then things turned ugly in Ephesus. A silversmith named Demetrius made silver shrines to the Greek “goddess” Artemis (her Roman counterpart in mythology was “Diana”). Paul’s preaching against idols was costing Demetrius money. He gathered similar tradesmen and merchants, and provoked a riot.
Mob violence and confusion ruled, as the disturbance grew large enough that most involved didn’t even know what it was about. They dragged Paul’s companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, into the theater. Paul wanted to go in, but the disciples (and some Asiarchs – high-ranking officials of the Roman province) prevented him. It was the Ephesian town clerk that finally was able to disperse the crowds, pointing out that they were in danger of being charged with rioting by Roman authorities.
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke
Acts 18, Acts 19, Acts 20, Acts 21, Acts 22
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