Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 28 January 2020; Revised 11 July 2020
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Acts. For a suggested timeline of Acts see the dating chart of George Edmundson. All dates given for the narrative of Acts are estimates.
In Chapter Eighteen Luke continues his narrative of the second journey of Paul into the Diaspora. Having departed Athens Paul traveled to Corinth where he proclaimed the good news in the local synagogue. Aquila and Priscilla, who had recently moved there from Rome, were his hosts. Sometime later Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia to assist in the work. Soon thereafter opposition was instigated by synagogue leaders, who even laid charges before the Roman governor of Achaia, but the charges were dismissed. Paul transferred his ministry to the house of Titius Justus where he taught about the Messiah for eighteen months.
After concluding his ministry in Corinth Paul set sail for Syria accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla. Paul stopped briefly in Ephesus, but continued on to Caesarea leaving Aquila and Priscilla behind in Ephesus. He finally arrived back in Antioch. After spending time at Antioch Paul left for his third Diaspora journey traveling through Galatia and Phrygia. Luke also mentions Apollos, a learned disciple of Yeshua who went to Ephesus and while there received instruction regarding Yeshua from Aquila and Priscilla. Luke concludes the chapter with Apollos in Achaia proclaiming the good news.
Paul in Corinth, 18:1-5
From Synagogue to House, 18:6-11
Paul Before Gallio, 18:12-17
Return to Antioch, 18:18-22
The Third Journey of Paul, 18:23
Apollos in Ephesus and Achaia, 18:24-28
Second Diaspora Journey (cont.)
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
Procurator of Judaea: Ventidius Cumanus (AD 48-52)
Jewish High Priest: Ananias, son of Nebedaius (AD 46-58)
Paul in Corinth, 18:1-5
1 After these things having departed from Athens he came to Corinth.
After: Grk. meta, prep., may be used (1) as a marker of association or accompaniment; with, among; or (2) as a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. having departed: Grk. chōrizō, aor. pass. part., may mean (1) to cause to be apart by space between or (2) sever connection by departure. The second meaning applies here with the sense of physical movement. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote exit or separation from something with which there has been a close association, lit. 'out of, from within.'
Athens: Grk. ho Athēnai, the capital of ancient Attica, a prominent city in the Roman province of Achaia, and considered the intellectual capital of the Hellenistic world. The city was located about two miles from the sea. The city was named for Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Athens is one of the oldest cities of antiquity and home of many notable dramatists and philosophers. In the Roman era Athens was given the status of a free city because of its widely admired schools (Polhill 208).
he came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. The subject of the verb is Paul. to: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb to indicate completion of movement; in, into, to, toward. Corinth: Grk. Korinthos, a cosmopolitan metropolis of the Roman province of Achaia, situated on the isthmus of the Peloponnesus between the Aegean and Ionian Seas, and having two harbors, one for ships from Asia and the other for ships from Italy. A canal to connect the two ports was not dug until modern times. Clashes with the Roman Empire brought about the destruction of the city in 146 BC, but Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 BC.
Corinth was eminent in commerce and wealth, in literature and the arts, especially the study of rhetoric and philosophy; but it was notorious also for luxury and moral corruption, particularly the idolatrous worship of Aphrodite (Venus). Gilbert notes that in this wicked city was a sizable Jewish population (234; Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius 281). Scholars are divided over the time of Paul's arrival and eventual departure from Corinth. Polhill suggests Paul arrived in Corinth in the Spring of 51 (80), whereas Edmundson puts the arrival in the Summer of 51 (179) and Ramsay has September of 51 (St. Paul 223).
2 And having found a certain traditional Jew named Aquila, of Pontus by birth, recently having come from Italy, and Priscilla his wife, because of Claudius having ordered all the Jews to leave Rome, he approached them,
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea. The first use applies here. having found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. part., may mean (1) to come upon a person or thing by seeking; (2) to discover by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, or hearing; or (3) to find for oneself, to acquire, get, obtain, or procure. The first meaning applies here. Paul's first task upon entering a new city was to find a Jewish host (cf. Matt 10:11). a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish someone in a class or in contrast to others. Many versions do not translate the pronoun.
traditional Jew: Grk. Ioudaios, Jew, Jewish, Jewess or Judean (BAG). The term may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term was used to distinguish "devout" (Torah/tradition-observant) Jews from non-observant Jews (Acts 2:5). Indeed the noun Ioudaismos, "Judaism," first appears in the Maccabean writings for a way of life opposed to Hellenism and devoted to observance of Torah laws (2Macc 2:21; 8:1; 14:38; 4Macc 4:26), and then used by Paul to describe his religion before his encounter with Yeshua (Gal 1:13-14).
Moreover, the tenets of their religion were governed by the Great Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, whose traditions they followed (cf. Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). The Essenes and Samaritans, who were of Israelite descent, did not identify themselves as Ioudaios, because they rejected the legalism of the Pharisees and the tyranny of the Sadducees that ran the Temple. Traditional Jews revered Moses (John 9:28-29; Acts 6:11) and recognized the authority of the written Torah (John 7:23; Acts 21:20) and the traditions of the Sages (Matt 15:2; Gal 1:14; Col 2:8).
named: Grk. onoma, name, used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. Aquila: Grk. Akulas, the Greek way of writing the Latin Aquila, a male proper name. The name occurs six times in the Besekh, three in this chapter (also Rom 16:3; 1Cor 16:19; 2Tim 4:19). Gill suggests that his Jewish name was "Nesher," which signifies an eagle, as the Roman "Aquila" does. The description of Aquila as a traditional Jew does not mean that he was not Messianic. There is no narrative of his accepting Yeshua, but his introduction here suggests a common bond with Paul.
of Pontus: Grk. Pontikos, adj., belonging to or born in Pontus (Grk. Pontos), a Roman province just south of the Black Sea in Asia Minor. For a history of Pontus see the article at BibleAtlas.org. Jewish pilgrims from Pontus were present in Jerusalem for Shavuot (Pentecost) and heard Peter proclaim the good news of Yeshua (Acts 2:9), among whom could have been Aquila. by birth: Grk. genos may refer to (1) a line of descent from an original ancestor; (2) the role of birth into a geographically identified people group; (3) a people group; or (4) a group with a distinguishing characteristic. The second meaning applies here.
recently: Grk. prosphatōs, adv., recently, lately, newly. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. Although a rare term prosphatōs is used in the LXX to translate Heb. chadash (SH-2319), "new," in Deuteronomy 24:5 where it refers to being newly married. The adverb then occurs in Ezekiel 11:3 without Hebrew equivalent to identify houses recently built. The adverb also occurs in the Jewish Apocrypha books Judith 4:3, 5, of people recently returned from captivity and a recent harvest, and 2Macc. 14:36, of the recent cleansing of the temple. The use of the adverb illustrates Luke's knowledge of Jewish sources and his facility with the Greek language. The adverb also suggests that Aquila had been in Corinth no more than a year. having come: Grk. erchomai, perf. part. See the previous verse.
from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting place of origin; from. Italy: Grk. Italia, the boot-shaped peninsula between Greece and Spain which extends from the Alps on the north to the Mediterranean Sea on the south. Italy was noted for its ethnic diversity, with so many Greeks occupying the southern part that it was called "Great Greece" by the citizens of Rome (HBD). A Greek historian, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first c. BC), said that the country was named for Italus, a legendary king who lived there (Roman Antiquities, Book I). The place name appears four times in the Besekh (also Acts 27:1, 6; Heb 13:24). It is noteworthy that the country and not a city is mentioned as the place from which Aquila had recently come.
and: Grk. kai. Priscilla: Grk. Priskilla, diminutive of Priska, the formal name. Priscilla occurs three times in the Besekh, all in this chapter. Paul will later use the formal Prisca three times in his letters (Rom 16:3; 1Cor 16:19; 2Tim 4:19). Being traditional Jews Aquila and Priscilla would have had Hebrew names, but as the Talmud notes it was customary for Jews in the Diaspora to also have Gentile names (TB Gittin 11b; Stern 267). his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish, contrast or give emphatic prominence to a person or thing. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. wife: Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders Heb. ishshah (SH-802), woman, wife (Gen 2:22). Noteworthy is that Priscilla is always mentioned along with her husband, which stresses their marriage bond and their partnership.
because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. The preposition introduces a parenthetical comment. Claudius: Grk. Klaudios, the fourth of the Roman Emperors, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, born in AD 10. He succeeded Caligula on 24 January 795 A.U.C. (AD 41) in his fiftieth year. A record of his life and reign may be found in the Roman histories of Cassius Dio and Suetonius. Josephus also provided a history of Claudius and his acts that affected Jews (Antiquities XIX; XX). Claudius ruled thirteen years, eight months and twenty days and died in AD 54 after being poisoned by his fourth wife Agrippina (Ant. XX, 8:1). A factual summary of his life may be found at Livius.org.
Claudius initially extended favorable treatment toward Jews. Shortly after being installed as emperor a disturbance in Alexandria took place with Jews reacting against harsh treatment by local authorities. Claudius sent a letter to the Alexandrians and another letter to the rest of the Roman Empire, which Josephus says reaffirmed the rights and freedoms of all the Jews to keep their ancient customs without interference as long as they respected civil authority (Ant. XIX, 5:2-3). Disturbances among Jews also occurred in Rome, creating tensions in the city. The Roman historian Dio Cassius (AD 155–235) recorded the response of Claudius:
"As for the Jews, who had again increased so greatly that by reason of their multitude it would have been hard without raising a tumult to bar them from the city, he did not drive them out, but ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings." (Roman History, LX, 6:6-7)
having ordered: Grk. diatassō, perf. inf., to make appropriate arrangement for securing an objective; give orders to, prescribe, arrange, take care of. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. The noun refers to those who identified themselves as Jews and lived in the Jewish quarter of the city. to leave: Grk. chorizō, pl. pres. mid. inf. See the previous verse. Rome: Grk. Rhōmē, the famous city located on the Tiber River, 15 miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea, capital of Italy and the Roman Empire. Rome dates from 753 BC and is named for its legendary founder Romulus. Initially the city was built on the Palatine hill on the west bank of the Tiber River, but the city expanded over six neighboring hills and became known as "the city of seven hills" (NIBD 927). Over the centuries Rome transitioned in its form of government from a monarchy, to a republic, to a dictatorial empire.
There was a significant Jewish population in Rome, dating from the end of the second century BC. During the reigns of Julies Caesar and Augustus the Jews in Rome prospered and were afforded freedom to live by their religious traditions. The reign of Tiberius (14-37 A.D.), until the removal of his minister Sejanus, was a time of misfortune for the Jews there. Jews were expelled, synagogues were closed, vessels were burned, and Jewish youths were pressed into military service (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 3:4-5; Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Tiberius, Book III, 36:1). After the death of Sejanus in AD 31 Caesar Tiberius allowed the Jews to return. The reign of Caesar Caligula (AD 37-41) brought no adversity to the Jews in Rome and in the early years of Caesar Claudius he extended favorable treatment toward Jews.
Shortly after being installed as emperor a disturbance in Alexandria took place with Jews reacting against harsh treatment by local authorities. Claudius sent a letter to the Alexandrians and another letter to the rest of the Roman Empire, which Josephus says reaffirmed the rights and freedoms of all the Jews to keep their ancient customs without interference as long as they respected civil authority (Ant. XIX, 5:2-3). Disturbances among Jews also occurred in Rome, creating tensions in the city. The Roman historian Dio Cassius (AD 155–235) recorded the response of Claudius:
"As for the Jews, who had again increased so greatly that by reason of their multitude it would have been hard without raising a tumult to bar them from the city, he did not drive them out, but ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings." (Roman History, LX, 6:6-7)
Several years into the reign of Claudius a severe disturbance occurred to which he responded harshly and ordered Jews to leave Rome. The cause of the expulsion is explained by the Roman historian Suetonius (c. 75-160 AD) who said, "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [sic], he expelled them from Rome" (Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Claudius, Book V, 25:4). The Latin transliteration of Chrestus could have resulted from mistaking the Greek Christos for chrēstos (χρηστός), which means kind, gentle, or good. In the early fourth century Lactantius complained that ignorant non-believers were accustomed to refer to "Christ" as "Chrestus" (Divine Institutes, IV, 7:5).
The early church apologist and historian Paulus Orosius (c. 375 – c. 418 AD) wrote that Claudius issued his expulsion order "in the ninth year" of his reign (History Against the Pagans, Book VII, 6.6). However, none of the Roman historians report the year in which Claudius issued his expulsion order as would be expected if there had been a large exodus of the Jewish community. Noteworthy is that Josephus does not even mention the expulsion of Jews from Rome under Claudius, which suggests that it was not nearly as severe as generally thought. None of the historians says that Claudius required all the Jews in Rome to leave as Tiberius did. Suetonius implies the order only affected those involved in the disturbance.
Edmundson suggests that the Jews who were actually exiled by Claudius were the leaders of the contending factions (17). Aquila and Priscilla may well have been leaders in the Messianic congregation in Rome. Bible scholars are divided over the year Claudius issued his edict and suggest AD 49 (Polhill 79) and 50 (Edmundson 15f; OCB 121). Having been expelled in AD 49/50 from Rome does not mean that Aquila and Priscilla traveled immediately to Corinth. Luke also does not explain why they came to Corinth. The couple could have spent time with friends or relatives in southern Italy before undertaking the journey to Achaia. The duration of the ban of Claudius is unclear, but historians generally mark its end with the accession of Nero in 54. When Paul wrote his letter to the congregation in Rome in 57 Aquila and Priscilla had returned there (Rom 16:3).
he approached: Grk. proserchomai, aor., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. The subject of the verb is Paul. them: pl. of Grk. autos; i.e., Aquila and Priscilla. Paul customarily sought out Jewish residents in cities for hospitality and lodging and in this situation found a couple of like faith.
3 and because of being of the same trade, he was staying with them and they were working, for they were tent-makers by trade.
and: Grk. kai, conj. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See the previous verse. being: Grk. eimi, pres. inf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). of the same trade: Grk. homotechnos, adj., of practicing the same trade or craft. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. he was staying: Grk. menō, impf., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. The verb stresses constancy. with: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, and used here to denote a close association or proximity, with, beside, in the presence of. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See the previous verse. The plural pronoun refers to Aquila and Priscilla who provided lodging for Paul.
and: Grk. kai. they were working: Grk. ergazomai, impf., to work, be at work, do, carry out, either with (1) the focus on effort itself in the course of activity, or (2) the result of effort. The first meaning is intended here in reference to the labor of employment. Luke does not state whether Aquila owned the business or Paul gained employment at the same business where Aquila worked, probably the latter since Aquila had only recently moved to Corinth from Italy. for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has an explanatory function here. they were: Grk. eimi, 3p-pl. impf.
tent-makers: pl. of Grk. skēnopoios, one that made small portable tents, of leather or cloth of goats' hair or linen, for the use of travelers (Thayer). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. by trade: Grk. technē, skillful activity engaged in as a profession; art, craft, skill, or trade. Ellicott comments that Paul probably learned his trade in Tarsus, which was known for its production of goat's hair fabrics. Paul's mentor Gamaliel had taught, "Excellent is the study of the Torah together with a worldly occupation" (Avot 2:2). On his Diaspora journeys Paul earned his living as a tentmaker and leather worker (cf. Acts 20:34; 1Cor 9:1-18; 2Cor 11:7-12; 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:7-10).
4 Now he was reasoning in the synagogue on every Sabbath, persuading both traditional Jews and Hellenistic Jews.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast – but; (2) a transition – now, then; or (3) continuation – and, also, sometimes with emphasis, indeed, moreover (Thayer). he was reasoning: Grk. dialegomai, impf. mid., presenting a reasoned position in public, getting a conclusion across; address, discuss, make a speech, speak. The subject of the verb is Paul. in: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position within, but it also governs other categories, such as means, agency, cause and associated aspects. In context the preposition may be translated "among, at, by, in, on, near, with." Here the preposition marks the interior of some space (Thayer).
the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē, a gathering-place or place of assembly. In the Besekh the term refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning. The term does not necessarily mean a manufactured structure as the word "church" can mean (cf. Acts 16:13). In the LXX sunagōgē occurs 225 times and is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (SH-5712), congregation (Ex 12:3) and qahal (SH-6951), assembly, convocation, or congregation (Ex 16:3) (DNTT 1:292ff). The origin of the Jewish synagogue is not known for certain, but scholars generally date its beginning during the Babylonian exile (NIBD 1019). Pious Jews gathered on the Sabbath to listen to the Torah and to pray (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1). Eventually meetings came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the Jerusalem temple.
According to Philo, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.−A.D. 50), synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39). As Jews emigrated west synagogues followed. In any community where at least ten Jewish men lived, the Jews would meet together for study and prayer and eventually build a sanctuary (Heb. shul) for their meetings. Synagogues were typically positioned so that when the congregation stood for prayer they would be facing Jerusalem. By the first century, synagogues, especially in the Diaspora, emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, exhortation, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings take place (OCB 722). The existence of a synagogue in Corinth is pointed to by an inscribed lintel block with enough of the words remaining to make out the reading "Synagogue of the Hebrews" (Mare 14).
on: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," generally expresses measure and the idea of something associated with or conforming with something else; according to, among, by way of. The preposition is used here to introduce a temporal reference. every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton, a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (SH-7676), day of rest, Sabbath (BDB 992), which is derived from the verb shabath (SH-7673), cease, desist, rest (BDB 991). In the commandments given to Israel (Ex 20:8; Deut 5:12) the instruction to rest is set in contrast to the work that provides one's livelihood. In the Besekh sabbaton usually refers to the seventh day of the week. As a faithful traditional Jew Paul observed the Sabbath. For the biblical background of Sabbath observance see my article Remember the Sabbath. The phrase "every Sabbath" suggests at least three consecutive Sabbaths (cf. Acts 17:2).
persuading: Grk. peithō, impf. mid., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; convince, persuade, be persuaded. Many versions translate the verb prefaced with "trying to" or "tried to" (e.g., CJB, CSB, ESV, GNB, TLB, NASB, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TLV), probably influenced by the narrative of verse 6 below and implying that Paul was not very successful. The faulty translation inadvertently serves to justify the mythology of Christianity that Paul rejected the Jews and turned to solely minister to Gentiles. However, verses 7-10 indicate that Paul was successful in persuading Jews of the good news. Other versions do translate the verb here as an action accomplished (ASV, BBE, BRG, DARBY, DLNT, DRA, HNV, KJV, LITV, MEV, MW, NKJV, NTE, RSV, RV, WEB, YLT).
both: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, and likewise, both. The conjunction emphasizes that both of the following groups were present in the synagogue. Indeed, all persons were welcome to attend synagogue services. traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Hellenistic Jews: pl. of Grk. Hellēn, may mean (1) a person who speaks the Greek language; or (2) in the broader sense, all persons who came under the influence of Greek culture (BAG). Almost all Bible versions translate the plural noun as 'Greeks' (CEV and NMB have 'Gentiles'). Some commentators regard the 'Hellēnas' as God-fearers or proselytes because of their presence in the synagogue (e.g., Bruce, Nicoll, Gill).
My translation of 'Hellenistic Jews' is based on history. After Alexander the Great (356−323 BC) conquered the world he and his successors sought to educate and assimilate people in the Greek way of life. All who spoke and understood the Greek language and adopted or accommodated Greek culture in varying degrees were counted as Hellenist (DNTT 2:124). All the lexicons recognize that Hellēn is a cultural term as well as an ethnic term. Jewish culture was not exempt from the Hellenistic influence resulting from Alexander's conquest and the imposition of Hellenism on the world. One only needs to read First and Second Maccabees to understand the seriousness of the culture war among Jews. By the first century thousands of Jews in the Diaspora were Hellenistic.
In spite of the fact that Hellēn is not a term restricted to Greece, ethnic Greeks or Gentiles in general, all the lexicons inexplicably exclude Jews from this definition. This omission reflects a major blind spot in Christian scholarship. Hellēn literally means "Hellenist," and a Hellenist might be a Gentile or he might be a Jew. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (1884) states that the term Hellenist refers to "a Jew by birth or religion who spoke Greek and used chiefly of foreign Jews and proselytes in contrast with the Hebrews speaking the vernacular Hebrew or Aramaic." The church father Justin Martyr (110-165) in his Dialogue with Trypho (Chap. LXXX) lists seven Jewish groups, among whom he identifies Hellenists.
Hellenistic Jews could be completely secular and assimilated into Gentile culture, or they could be ascetic like the Essenes, or they could be devout worshippers as the Greek-speaking Jews that John describes in John 12:20 and Luke describes in Acts 6:1. Indeed every occurrence of the plural form of Hellēn in Acts is found in the contexts of Jewish worship (14:1; 17:4; 18:4; 19:9-10, 17; 20:20-21; 21:28). Later when Paul writes to the congregation in Corinth he uses the term Hellēn in conjunction with Ioudaios (1Cor 1:22, 24; 10:32; 12:13). So the Hellenistic Jews present in the synagogue were pious and faithful in Sabbath observance. For devout Hellenistic Jews piety did not necessarily mean keeping all the strict customs of the Pharisees. For the rationale to interpret Hellēn as "Hellenistic Jew" see my article Hellenism and the Jews.
5 But when both Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, earnestly testifying to the Jews, Yeshua to be the Messiah.
But: Grk. de, conj., used here to introduce a contrast. when: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components, used here in a temporal sense. Luke is silent on how long Paul had been in Corinth at this point. both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 4 above. Silas: Grk. Ho Silas, a contracted from the Latin name Silvanus. The CJB and OJB have 'Sila.' The website BehindtheName.com says it is possible that Silas was in fact a Greek form of the Hebrew name 'Saul' (via Aramaic). NASBEC also says the name is of Aramaic origin (1565). The name "Silas" appears 13 times in the Besekh, all in Acts. Luke identifies Silas as a leader in the congregation of Syrian Antioch (Acts 15:22) and a prophet (15:32). Paul chose Silas as a companion to replace Barnabas (15:40).
While Luke uses the informal name Paul uses the formal name of Silvanus three times in his letters (2Cor 1:19; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1). According to Hippolytus, Silas was one of the seventy disciples Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1 (On the Seventy Apostles). This is the last mention of Silas in Acts and little information exists of his ministry after this time. Assuming that Silas is the same as Silvanus in Peter's first letter (1Pet 5:12), then at some point he became an assistant and scribe to Peter. Silvanus penned Peter's letter to the congregations in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1Pet 1:1) and conveyed the letter to those locations.
Luke identifies Silas as a leader in the congregation of Syrian Antioch (Acts 15:22) and a prophet (15:32). Paul chose Silas as a companion to replace Barnabas (15:40). and: Grk. kai, conj. Timothy: Grk. Timotheos (from timaō, honor, and theos, God), 'one who honors God.' The name occurs 24 times in the Besekh, first in Acts 16:1. Timothy was from Lystra and the son of a traditional Jewish mother and a Hellenistic Jewish father. Timothy and his mother Eunice had embraced the Messiah during Paul's first journey. After being circumcised Timothy was ordained to ministry by the laying on of hands by Paul and the elders of the congregation (1Tim 4:14; 2Tim 1:6) and from that point became a member of Paul's ministry team (Acts 16:3). came down: Grk. katerchomai, aor., to go down or to come down, generally of moving in a geographical context from a higher to lower elevation.
from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 2 above. Macedonia: Grk. Makedonia, a Roman province north of Achaia. Prior to Roman occupation Macedonia was the strongest military power in the region and under Alexander the Great the Macedonians conquered the Persians and spread Hellenistic culture throughout the world. The Roman province of Macedonia was established in 146 BC with Thessalonica as the capital and Berea as the seat of the provincial assembly. See the map here. Paul had proclaimed the good news in the province and planted congregations in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
Paul: Grk. Ho Paulos from the Latin Paulus, meaning small or humble. Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:11; 21:39) of the tribe of Benjamin (Php 3:5). He was "set apart from his mother's womb" (Gal 1:15) for a sacred life. Paul received advanced education under Gamaliel the Elder (Acts 5:34; 22:3), and was a devout Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5). Paul was called personally by Yeshua while traveling to Damascus to persecute disciples. From that point on he was an apostle to Israel and the nations. For a biography of Paul see my article The Apostle from Tarsus.
Of special interest among Bible versions is that the Complete Jewish Bible and Orthodox Jewish Bible consistently translate Paulos with the Hebrew Sha'ul. Stern explains his persistence in using "Sha'ul" for the apostle "to highlight the Jewishness of the New Testament and its major figures" (267). In contrast Paul apparently did not feel any loss of Jewish identity by using his Roman name, which is the only name by which the apostle refers to himself in his letters, and the only name Luke uses from Acts 13:13 to the end of the book. In addition, the OJB adds the title "Rav" in direct violation of Yeshua's instruction (Matt 23:8). Paul never used the honorific of himself and no one addressed Paul as "Rabbi."
was occupied: Grk. sunechō, impf. mid., essentially means to hold fast or together, and is used here with the sense of being occupied or absorbed with something (BAG). with the word: Grk. ho logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning, including 'speech, word, report, thing, matter' (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). "The word" is shorthand for "the word of God" (verse 11 below), itself a reference to the good news of God's grace and salvation through Yeshua.
The coming of Silas and Timothy materially altered the situation for Paul. Silas and Timothy had been left in Berea when Paul was forced to flee from there (Acts 17:13-14). Before sailing for Athens Paul gave instructions for the two men to join him in Athens (17:15), but after arriving in Athens he sent word to Timothy for him to go to Thessalonica to strengthen and encourage the congregation there (1Th 3:1-2). Silas apparently accompanied Timothy in his assigned task and they also decided to return to Philippi with the same mission. The two men brought good news about the disciples in Thessalonica (1Th 3:6) and a gift of money from the congregation in Philippi (cf. 2Cor 11:9; Php 4:14-15).
The news from Thessalonica greatly comforted and encouraged Paul (cf. 1Th 3:7-10). The money from Philippi provided him freedom from earning a living so that he could devote himself exclusively to the mission of proclaiming the message of the Messiah. Paul also learned of a slanderous campaign in Thessalonica against him outside the congregation (1Th 2:3-6) and of some confusion within it concerning the Second Coming of Yeshua (1Th 4:13–5:11). Paul decided to respond to the negative report and so wrote his first letter to that congregation. See my summary of the letter called First Thessalonians. Shortly thereafter Paul wrote his second letter to the congregation to expand on his instruction in the first letter. See my summary of the letter called Second Thessalonians.
earnestly testifying: Grk. diamarturomai, pres. mid. part., an emphatic declaration establishing the importance of what is stated, giving full, clear testimony. The middle voice emphasizes witnessing done with a high level of strong personal interest motivating it (HELPS). The syntax of the verse suggests that Paul did not limit himself to the Sabbath for his proclaiming the good news. Paul later said that Silas and Timothy shared in the proclamation of the good news in Corinth (2Cor 1:9). to the Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. While ordinarily Ioudaios is used of traditional Jews, it is not impossible that Luke means both Jewish groups in the synagogue.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 3 above. the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos (from chriō, "anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the promises given to Israel for a deliverer and Davidic King, the Messiah. The English "Christ" found in the majority of Christian versions transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "Anointed One," and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century. Jews expected that the Messiah would reign over the kingdom of God in fulfillment of the promise made to David (2Sam 7:12-13).
The fact that the apostles testified about Yeshua as "the Messiah" reinforces Luke's assertion that Paul's audience was principally Jewish, whether traditional or non-traditional. That title only had relevance to Jews, not to Gentiles. To Gentiles the apostles proclaimed Yeshua as the One whom God appointed as Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 17:31). Of interest is that a number of Christian versions translate the title here as "the Messiah" instead of the usual "Christ" (CEV, CSB, ERV, GNB, GW, ISV, TLB, MSG, NOG, NABRE, NEB, NIV, NLT, NRSV, NTE, TPT). For a discussion of Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
From Synagogue to House, 18:6-11
6 But some of them were opposing and blaspheming. Having shaken out his garments, he said to them, "Your blood be on your heads! I am clean. From now I will go to the Gentiles."
But: Grk. de, conj. some of them: 3p-pl. of autos, personal pronoun. See verse 2 above. The masculine plural pronoun is genitive case, the case of description, but almost all versions treat it as the nominative case subject "they" of the following verbs, perhaps to imply all or the majority of Jews in the synagogue, which the narrative of verses 5 and 7-10 rebut. The genitive case of the plural pronoun "of them" simply points to some portion of the Jewish constituency. were opposing: Grk. antitassō, pl. pres. mid. part., a military word that means to set opposite to, range in battle against, to line up against and thus, "oppose, resist."
and: Grk. kai, conj. blaspheming: Grk. blasphēmeō, pl. pres. part., to cause damage to reputation by arrogant speech or action; slander, revile, malign, vilify, defame. The verb implies defamation of Paul's character, even though he was a Pharisee. As in previous communities where Paul proclaimed Yeshua an aggressive negative reaction occurred. Those opposing and blaspheming would likely have been among the synagogue leaders or perhaps prominent men in the Jewish community. The opposition may well have erupted in a synagogue service after a sermon of Paul, probably modeled on the outline he used in Pisidian Antioch.
having shaken out: Grk. ektinassō, aor. part., to shake off so that something adhering should fall. Paul took a similar action when he left Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:51), but there he shook off the dust of his feet. his garments: pl. of Grk. ho himation, a covering for the body, generally used of clothing or apparel without reference to its quality. In the LXX himation translates Heb. simlah (SH-8071), a wrapper or mantle (Gen 9:23) and Heb. beged, (SH-899), a garment, clothing, raiment, robe of any kind (Gen 27:27) (DNTT 1:316). The clothing for an average Jewish man was a rectangular cloak, typically made of wool, with openings for the head and arms, and worn loosely over the under-tunic. Paul responded in typical biblical fashion to repudiate the blasphemy (cf. Neh 5:13).
he said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, command or think. The subject of the verb is Paul. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" and conveys motion toward (DM 110); to, toward, with. them: pl. of Grk. autos; i.e., his opponents. Paul was not shy about getting in the face of his opponents to rebuke conduct. Your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. blood: Grk. ho haima, the precious fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and vertebrate animals, blood. In the LXX haima translates Heb. dam (SH-1818), blood of humans or animals with various figurative meanings. be on: Grk. epi, prep. expressing the idea of hovering, used primarily as a marker of position or location, upon.
your: Grk. humeis. The plural pronoun is used of those opposing Paul, not all the Jews in the city. heads: pl. of Grk. kephalē, generally the head as an anatomical term, but there are figurative uses as here. In the LXX kephalē translates Heb. rôsh (SH-7218), head, chief (Gen 3:15). Paul uses a shocking word picture of "blood-guilt," normally associated with guilt from an unlawful killing of an animal or person (Ex 22:1; Lev 17:4; Deut 19:10). I am: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. clean: Grk. katharos, adj., may mean (1) free from contamination, clean, cleansed; or (2) free from guilt or blame or moral impurity. The second meaning applies here. Stern notes that Paul perhaps alludes to Ezekiel 18:16–19 in which God tells the prophet that he will be blameworthy if he fails to warn the wicked person to leave his wicked ways, but if he does warn him he will be guiltless.
From: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 2 above. now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. I will go: Grk. poreuomai, fut. mid., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX poreuomai renders mainly Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, walk, (Gen 3:14) (DNTT 3:946). The verb often has the literal sense of physical movement. In this case his going took him to a house close to the synagogue.
to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. the Gentiles: Grk. ethnē, pl. of ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture; nation, people. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), 'community, nation, people,' first in Genesis 10:5 (BDB 156; DNTT 2:790). While ethnos is used in Scripture to include Israelite or Jewish people (e.g., Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5), the plural form ethnē, like goyim in the Tanakh, is generally used to mean non-Israelite peoples or Gentiles (e.g., Matt 6:32; Luke 12:30; Acts 4:25; 13:48).
Some Christian interpreters take Paul's declaration literalistically, "From now on I'm only going to preach to Gentiles. I'm done trying to convince you Jews in Corinth about Yeshua." Rather Paul engages in a kind of bombastic taunt. He certainly did not mean that he would give up proclaiming the good news to Jews. He simply meant that he would not speak of Yeshua again in the synagogue, but go to a venue over which the Jewish leaders had no control. Those of the two Jewish groups who were persuaded needed to be discipled and with them Paul would form a congregation.
7 And having departed from there he came to a house of a certain one named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was adjoining the synagogue.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having departed: Grk. metabainō, aor. part., make a transfer from one place to another; go, depart. from there: Grk. ekeithen, adv. referring to a point of origin, lit. "from that place." The adverb refers to the synagogue where Paul had been teaching. A few commentators (Alford, Clarke, Coke, and Gill) imagine that Luke describes Paul changing his residence from the house of Aquila, lest he should he be thought not to abide by his words that he would henceforth go to the Gentiles. But, Luke says no such thing. Rather Paul needed a new venue for his ministry and the house of Aquila was inadequate. he came: Grk. eiserchomai, aor., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. Paul no doubt received an invitation according to the sovereign will of God.
to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. a house: Grk. oikia may mean either (1) a habitable structure, house; or (2) fig. a group within a house, household or family. The first meaning applies here. of a certain one: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 2 above. The pronoun marks the individual as significant. Most versions do not translate the pronoun. named: Grk. onoma. See verse 2 above. Since the man is identified with two names some commentators suggest he was a Roman citizen, the origin of his citizenship unknown (cf. Acts 22:28). Roman citizens typically had three names. The praenomen (first name) was little more than a formality. The nomen (second name) denoted the Roman tribe to which one belonged, and the third name was the cognomen, the family name.
Titius: Grk. Titios (from Titos), a proper name of unknown meaning. The majority of versions present the name as "Titius," but some have "Titus." See the Textual Note below. Justus: Grk. Ioustos, a transliteration of the Latin cognomen Iustus. Some modern commentators (e.g., Bruce, Longenecker, Marshall), accept the suggestion of Ramsay (Pictures 205) that Titius was his nomen and that his praenomen was Gaius, the name of a disciple in the Corinthian congregation later mentioned by Paul (Rom 16:23; 1Cor 1:14). His full name would then be Gaius Titius Justus. However Luke offers no corroboration of this interpretation and this is not the same as when Luke and Paul differ over the spelling of a single name (Prisca/Priscilla or Silas/Silvanus). Titius was not a lodging host for Paul as Gaius was on his third journey.
a worshiper of: Grk. sebō, pres. mid. part., genitive case, have a worshipful reverence for, worship. In the LXX sebō occurs four times and translates Heb. yare (SH-3372), to fear, stand in awe of, or to reverence, used in relation to worship of the God of Israel (Josh 4:24; 22:25; Isa 29:13; Jon 1:10). A few versions translate the participle as "fearer" (CJB, NTE, TLV). The participle for "fearer" is pheboumenos (Acts 10:2), but the terms are functional synonyms. A few versions arbitrarily add the descriptor "Gentile" (CEB, GNB, TLB, NET, NLT). A participle describes both the action and the nature of the subject.
God: Grk. ho theos, God or god, as determined from the context. The presence of the definite article perhaps emphasizes "the only God in existence." In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. Being a worshiper of the God of Israel meant that the man was devout in devotion to God and faithful in observing the Sabbath.
The description "a worshiper of God" identifies Titius as a Gentile "proselyte of the gate" (cf. Acts 13:43). He was attracted to the synagogue and the Jewish religion, but chose not to become a full proselyte by circumcision. The God-worshiper loved the Jewish people, believed in and prayed to the God of Israel, attended synagogue worship, kept at least the moral code and other Jewish traditions in varying degrees, and gave aid in various forms to the Jews. Ramsay suggests he was one of the coloni of the colony Corinth and His citizenship would afford Paul an opening to the more educated class of the Corinthian population (St. Paul 148).
whose: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. house: Grk. ho oikia. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. adjoining: Grk. sunomoreō, pres. part., contiguous with, having the same border with, next door to. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē. See verse 4 above. Luke's description does not mean that the house and synagogue shared a common wall, but that their properties were next to each other. Marshall notes that the proximity of the two buildings could "hardly have made for good relations but was no doubt an effective location for influencing attenders at the synagogue." Stern comments that the wisdom of Paul's choice is shown in the following verse.
Older Bible versions as the KJV omit the name "Titius" because it is absent from 29 MSS and the Textus Receptus. The minority of MSS are divided between the reading of Titios (9 MSS) and Titos (12 MSS). Translators are divided over whether the name was original. Metzger says that "Titius" seems to be a secondary correction, as the more familiar name (410). The earliest MSS with the first name in some form include Sinaiticus, the Vulgate, the Bohairic-Coptic, and the Armenian (GNT 488). Several Bible interpreters accept "Titus" as the preferred form (Alford, Clarke, Ellicott, Gill, Meyer, Nicoll, and Poole), but others "Titius" (Bruce, Gilbert, Marshall, and Stern). Almost all modern Bible versions have "Titius."
8 Now Crispus, the synagogue ruler, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians hearing were believing and immersing.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Crispus: Grk. Krispos, a personal name of Latin origin meaning "curly" (HBD). The name occurs twice in the Besekh (also 1Cor 1:14). the synagogue ruler: Grk. ho archisunagōgos (from archi, "first" and sunagōgē, "synagogue"), an elder presiding over the synagogue. The number of elders in a synagogue could vary, but seven was common, including the nasi (President) with two assistants, chazan (pulpit minister), and three parnasin (receivers of alms) (Moseley 9). Crispus, as the nasi, is clearly presented as a traditional Jew, so Paul changing his ministry venue did not mean that he stopped proclaiming the Messiah to Jews.
believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor., to have confidence in the trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), to confirm or support, and in application may mean, believe, trust, be true, reliable or faithful (BDB 52; DNTT 1:595). The verb does not denote an intellectual confirmation of a creedal doctrine, but a heart response of believing-trust. The fact that an important Jew as Crispus believed likely influenced other Jewish members of the synagogue to begin attending meetings at the house of Titius Justus.
in the Lord: Grk. ho kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (DNTT 2:511). Luke probably intends the title as a reference to Yeshua. Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.
with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or close identification. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. household: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home and by extension the household of that dwelling. In the LXX oikos translates Heb. bayit (SH-1004) with the same range of meaning. Since the phrase follows the verb "believed" then oikos refers to those that made up the household of Crispus, whether Jewish family members and/or Jewish servants. There is no implication the members of the household were compelled to believe.
and: Grk. kai, conj. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here denoting quantity. of the Corinthians: pl. of Grk. ho korinthios, adj., an inhabitant of Corinth. The adjective does not necessarily denote ethnicity and could easily include traditional Jews, Hellenistic Jews and Gentiles (cf. 1Cor 1:2, 22; 10:1, 32; 12:2). The diversity of the congregation may also be seen in the later factions that developed (1Cor 1:12). While commentators generally assume the congregation was primarily or even exclusively Gentile, Luke's narrative and Paul's letters demonstrate that the congregation was primarily Jewish. Indeed Paul's letters to Corinth were written to people familiar with Scripture, Jewish theology and Jewish culture. See my article Paul's Letters to Corinth.
hearing: Grk. akouō, pl. pres. part., to hear aurally, often with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). The use of the verb serves as a reminder that faith comes about by hearing (Rom 10:17). The description is probably a summary statement of the results of Paul's extended ministry in Corinth so that the congregation became substantial in numbers.
were believing: Grk. pisteuō, impf. act., 3p-pl. and: Grk. kai. immersing: Grk. baptizō, impf. mid. 3p-pl. (ebaptizonto), means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. The imperfect tense denotes continuous action in past time. Baptizō occurs only three times in the LXX in relation to water: 2Kings 5:14 (re: Naaman); Sirach 34:25; and Judith 12:7. These three passages report incidents of self-immersion in water (DNTT 1:144). Paul's representation of baptizō as burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) is a graphic illustration of the procedure. Yeshua expected that those choosing to be identified with him would be immersed (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 4:1-2).
The great majority of versions translate the verb here as aorist passive, "were baptized," but the verb ending is clearly middle voice (Elliott), lit. "immersing themselves." The middle voice, which depicts the subject performing the action so as to participate in its results (DM 157), accurately reflects Jewish custom. Paul's later statement that he immersed Crispus (1Cor 1:14) simply refers to the role of superintending the immersion and ensuring Crispus went completely under the water. See the following Additional Note.
Additional Note: Immersion in the Apostolic Era
My translation of "immersed" and "immersion" is intended to reflect the singular practice of Jews and disciples of Yeshua in the first century. The deficiency of "baptized" and "baptism" in Christian Bible versions is that the Christian reader automatically interprets the terms according to the doctrine and practice of his/her church. In Christianity baptism is regarded as a sacrament, which historically has been defined as a sacred rite to confer grace, although in modern times many Evangelicals view the rite as signifying grace previously received. Neither Yeshua nor the apostles ever described the immersion of penitents as a "sacrament," even though it has a righteous goal (cf. Matt 3:15; Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16; Rom 6:3-5; 1Pet 3:21).
The Christian practice of baptism since the church fathers may be by sprinkling, pouring or immersion. A member of the clergy must conduct the baptismal ceremony and either pours or sprinkles water on the candidate or physically assists the candidate under the water. Also, since the second century the Christian practice of baptism pronounces the words "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" in the baptismal ritual (Didache, Chapter 7). We should note that the supposed ritual words found in Matthew 28:19 never appear thereafter in the apostolic writings. Given the global scope of the Great Commission the literal translation "into (Grk. eis) the name of" would represent entering a relationship with the triune God of Israel, submitting to His authority, and renouncing the idolatry of this world.
In Acts new believers are immersed simply "in/into the name of Yeshua," which signifies both the basis for immersion (obedience to the Great Commission), and the entry into a new life as a disciple of Yeshua (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48; 19:4; cf. Rom 6:3). The apostles, being Jews, followed Jewish practice, which itself was based on Torah instruction. Four important elements characterized Jewish immersion.
● Immersion was conducted in a constructed pool or natural body of water deep enough that by squatting one was fully submerged. (The later allowance of the Didache for three pourings recognized that a pool or "living water" might not always be available.)
● Immersion was self-immersion, as in the story of Naaman. No one touched the one immersing and no one needed to assist the penitent under the water for it to be valid. Typically an apostle and/or other servants of Yeshua were present as witnesses to the immersion.
● Immersion was gender-specific. That is, men were not present when women immersed and vice versa for the sake of modesty. Moreover, no Jewish man would put his hands on a woman who was not his wife.
● Immersion was not performed by individuals under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah. In the apostolic narratives only those who repented, i.e. adults, immersed themselves.
These four elements are still followed in Judaism. For more information on the practice of immersion in the apostolic era see Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism.
9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Fear not, but continue speaking and do not be silent;
Now: Grk. de, conj. the Lord: Grk. ho kurios. See the previous verse. The title refers to Yeshua. spoke: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 6 above. to Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 5 above. in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 4 above. the night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. by: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 2 above. The preposition denotes the means of communication. a vision: Grk. horama, something that is seen by virtue of a transcendent or revelatory experience; vision. The term refers to a pictographic image seen with the eyes, not a mental insight. In the LXX horama translates six different Hebrew words that mean "vision," generally in regard to divine revelatory experiences of the patriarchs and the prophets. Previously in Acts visions were experienced by Moses (7:31), Ananias (9:10), , Cornelius (10:3), and Peter (10:17). This is Paul's third visionary experience recorded in Acts (9:12; 16:9).
Fear: Grk. phobeō, pres. mid. imp., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, with emotions ranging from anxiety to terror; and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. The first meaning applies here. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). Rienecker notes that the present imperative of the verb with the negative indicates the discontinuing of an action in progress. As confirmed in the next verse the opposition in the synagogue had caused Paul to fear potential physical violence such as he experienced in Lystra (14:19).
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. continue speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. imp., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. and: Grk. kai, conj. do not: Grk. mē. be silent: Grk. siōpaō, aor. subj., to observe silence by refraining for making an utterance.; ceasing to speak, be silent. The subjunctive mood depicts an action that should happen, or in this case should not happen. So, Yeshua commands Paul to continue proclaiming the good news and then switches to a negative exhortation "you should not stop speaking."
10 because I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, because there are many people for me in this city."
because: Grk. dioti, conj., on the very account that, because, inasmuch as. Yeshua then affirms three promises to Paul. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. The expression egō eimi occurs 47 times in the Besekh, 34 times on the lips of Yeshua, often as a way of identifying himself to his disciples and others (Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15). In the LXX egō eimi is used to translate the Heb. personal pronoun ani (SH-589) or anoki (SH-595), meaning "I" and occurring in occasional self-references by men. Predominately the pronoun-verb combination is spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself, first without qualification, such as "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). Yeshua revealed himself as the great I AM, the covenant-keeping God of Abraham and Israel (John 8:58).
with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 1 above. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. Yeshua repeated the same promise he gave his disciples before his ascension, "I am with you always" (Matt 28:20). Yeshua refers to a very real presence by means of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:16-18). and: Grk. kai, conj. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing. will lay a hand on: Grk. epitithēmi, fut. mid., may mean (1) to put, place, lay upon or transfer to some object or place; or (2) engage in violent treatment against someone; assault, attack. In the LXX the verb occurs with these two meanings: for the first, Genesis 9:23, and for the second, Exodus 18:11; 21:14. Many modern versions have "attack."
you: Grk. su. to harm: Grk. kakoō, aor. inf., to abuse or mistreat. The verb occurs six times in the Besekh, all in the context of mistreating God's people (Acts 7:6, 19; 12:1; 14:2; 1Pet 3:13). In the LXX kakoō translates Heb. anah (SH-6031), to afflict or mishandle, first used in the prophecy that Abraham's descendants would be afflicted four hundred years (Gen 15:13). you: Grk. su. The second promise is assurance that Paul will not suffer physical violence. because: Grk. dioti. there are: Grk. eimi, pres. many: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 8 above. people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and in Scripture often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. In the LXX laos stands for Heb. am (SH-5971), people associated with a city, tribe, nation or a geographical territory (Gen 14:16; 19:4).
for me: Grk. egō. The dative case of the personal pronoun may indicate possession, thus many versions translate the pronoun with "I have many people." However, the Greek text of the verse does not include the verb "have" (Grk. echō). To say "I have" would imply Jews since the descendants of Abraham through Jacob are the chosen people (Ex 3:7; Acts 7:34). Over two hundred times in Scripture God refers to Israel as "my people." The only Gentiles that God considers to be "my people" are those grafted into the root of Israel (Rom 9:25-26). There was a large Jewish population in the city. This interpretation is very appealing, but the dative case more likely denotes reference of coming to Yeshua.
in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 4 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. city: Grk. ho polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. That is, Yeshua promised by divine foreknowledge, "there are many people, both Jews and Gentiles, who will respond to the good news." Thus, Paul's ministry in Corinth would bear fruit for the kingdom.
11 And he remained a year and six months, teaching among them the word of God.
And: Grk. de, conj. he remained: Grk. kathizō may mean (1) to sit down or take a seated position; or (2) stay in a place for a relatively long time. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX kathizō translates Heb. nuach (SH-5117), to rest (Gen 8:4) and Heb. yashab (SH-3427), to sit down (Gen 21:16), or to dwell or remain in a place (Jdg 19:4). a year: Grk. eniautos, a cycle of time, a year. The noun is a word picture of the transition of seasons. and: Grk. kai, conj. six: Grk. hex, the cardinal number six. months: pl. of Grk. mēn, a lunar month. The dating reference, rare in Acts, places Paul in Corinth from the Summer of 51 to the Spring of 53 (Edmundson 179). Based on the promise Yeshua made this was a time of unrestricted ministry.
teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part., to teach or instruct. In the LXX didaskō is used primarily to translate Heb. lamad (SH-3925), exercise in, learn, teach (Deut 4:1; Ps 119:99). In its LXX usage the verb does not primarily denote communication of knowledge and skills (e.g., 2Sam 22:35), but means chiefly instruction in how to live (e.g., Deut 11:19; 20:18) (DNTT 3:760). Paul fulfilled the requirement of the Great Commission to make disciples, that is, teach them to obey all that Yeshua commanded (Matt 28:19-20). among: Grk. en, prep. See verse 4 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 2 above. the word: Grk. ho logos. See verse 5 above. of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 7 above. Paul would later write that he viewed himself as the spiritual father of the congregation in Corinth (1Cor 4:15).
Opposition to Paul, 18:12-17
12 Now Gallio being proconsul of Achaia, the Jewish leaders with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat,
Now: Grk. de, conj. Gallio: Grk. Galliōn, elder brother of Seneca the philosopher. His original name was Marcus Annaeus Novatus, but after his adoption into the family of Junius Gallio the rhetorician, he was called Gallio. He was born at Cordova, but came to Rome in the reign of Tiberius. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 3 above. The present tense points to Gallio being in Corinth concurrent with Paul, although the following event took place near the end of Paul's time in Corinth. proconsul: Grk. anthupatos (for the Latin pro consulé), one who acts in the place of a consul; proconsul. The title appears in Roman records as early as the 3rd century BC. A proconsul supervised the administration of civil and military matters in a province, and answered to the senate in Rome.
of Achaia: Grk. Achaia, an important Roman province south of Macedonia. The region was originally known as Peloponnese, which included the famous cities of Athens, Corinth, Sparta, Delphi, Thebes and Olympia where the first Olympic Games were held (776 BC). Peloponnese was annexed by the Roman Republic in 146 BC after the sack of Corinth and renamed Achaia. Achaia was combined with Macedonia in AD 15 to form one imperial province, but in AD 44 Caesar Claudius separated the two territories back into senatorial provinces (Bruce). Corinth was its capital. See the map of Achaia here.
The accession of Gallio to office in Achaia has been variously placed at 51-53 AD (ISBE). The discovery of a letter from Claudius in AD 52 to the city of Delphi, in which he mentions Gallio as proconsul, fixes the date of Gallio's presence in Achaia, which helps to date Paul's visit there (Edmundson 64). Since the letter mentions Gallio as already in office, then he likely began his duties in the summer of AD 51. Longenecker notes that Roman proconsuls normally took office on July 1.
the Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. The pejorative use of Ioudaioi points to the leaders of the Jewish synagogue, and is so translated in a few versions (CEV, ISV, TLV). The CJB has "unbelieving Jews," and the OJB has "disobedient Jews," which borrows from Acts 14:2 where Paul's Jewish opponents are described as "unbelieving" (Grk apeitheō). The simple translation of "the Jews" in the great majority of versions gives the false impression that all the Jews in the city opposed Paul. A few versions limit the number involved with "some of the Jews" (ERV, ICB, MW, NLT) or "some people" (EXB, NCV). with one accord: Grk. homothumadon, adv., a spontaneous meeting of minds; of one mind, of one accord, unanimity. The adverb suggests a hastily made decision by the synagogue rulers.
rose up against: Grk. katephistamai, aor., to stand over against. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 5 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. brought: Grk. agō, aor., 3p-pl., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. before: Grk. epi, prep. the judgment seat: Grk. ho bēma, space covered by a movement of one foot ahead of the other, a step; also a raised platform that requires steps for ascent, such as a speaker's platform; fig. of a judicial tribunal. In the LXX bēma translates Heb. migdal (SH-4026; BDB 154), elevated stage, or pulpit (Neh 8:4). The term is used previously of the judgment seat of Pilate (Matt 27:19; John 19:13).
13 saying that, "This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the Torah."
saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See verse 6 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. is used to (1) define a demonstrative pronoun; (2) introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introduce a direct quotation; and (4) indicate causality with an inferential aspect. The third usage applies here. This man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. persuades: Grk. anapeithō, pres., to encourage or stir up by persuasion. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Use of the verb by the plaintiffs gives the verb a negative meaning. men: pl. of Grk. ho anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words (adam, ish, and enosh), generally of an adult male, husband or mankind (DNTT 2:564).
to worship: Grk. sebō, pres. mid. inf. See verse 7 above. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 7 above. contrary to: Grk. para, prep. the Torah: Grk. ho nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. Most Christian versions translate the noun as "the law" whereas the CJB, OJB and TLV have "the Torah." In the LXX nomos translates Heb. torah (SH-8451), direction, instruction or teaching. Torah sets forth the way a person is meant to live in an ethical and moral way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God (Lev 18:5; Neh 9:29). Some Bible commentators note that in the presence of Gallio the noun ho nomos is non-specific and might mean Roman law or Jewish law (Gill, Poole). Roman law forbade introduction of strange deities as well as Jewish opinions among Romans themselves. Such a charge was made against Paul and Silas in Philippi by pagan Gentiles (Acts 16:20-21).
In this situation the complainants are Jews. Other commentators suggest that with Roman law in view the essence of the complaint was that Judaism was a sanctioned religion but Paul was proclaiming that Jews should adopt a new religion (Bruce, Ellicott, Longenecker, Marshall). Barnes suggests that both Roman law and Jewish law are intended. However, it is obvious from the response of Gallio in the next two verses that the plaintiffs were asking Gallio to make a ruling, not unlike the Sanhedrin, based on Jewish law. Indeed, some versions translate ho nomos as "our law" (CEV, ERV, EXB, ICB, NCV, NLT, TPT, WE). For the unbelieving traditional Jews ho nomos included both the code of commandments God gave to Israel through Moses and the customs and traditions advocated by the Pharisees.
The charge against Paul is presented as a violation of Torah requirements for worship. In Paul's previous sermons he made no statement concerning worship. Worship in the Torah was centered in sacrificial offerings by the priests at the central sanctuary and observance of God's appointed times. A Sabbath service at a synagogue did not really meet the definition of worship. It is possible that Paul's teaching of disciples included exhortations similar to what he would later write in which he granted freedom from the legalism of calendar observance and ascetic practices, and derided the worship of angels (Col 2:16-23). Paul could also have taught that the atonement provided through Yeshua's death eliminated the need for priestly sin offerings at the Jerusalem temple (cf. Acts 13:38-39; Rom 6:10; 1Cor 5:7; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 7:24-27; 9:26-28; 10:4, 11-12).
14 But Paul being about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If indeed it was a matter of wrongdoing or a wicked crime, O Jews, I would have listened to you according to reason;
But: Grk. de, conj. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 5 above. being about to: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. open: Grk. anoigō, pres. inf., to open, usually of a physical structure with hinges. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. mouth: Grk. stoma, the bodily organ used for speaking, tasting, eating and drinking; mouth. The phrase "open his mouth" is a Jewish idiomatic expression for preparing to speak. Paul was fully ready to defend himself and waited for the moment when he could rebut the charge. Gallio: Grk. Galliōn. See verse 12 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 6 above. to the Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, adj. See verse 2 above and the previous verse. Gallio meant the Jewish plaintiffs. ISV has "Jewish leaders."
If: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, generally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. a matter of: Gallio mentions two categories of criminal law. wrongdoing: Grk. adikēma (from adikia, unrighteousness), a violation of a standard of uprightness; wrongdoing, crime. The word was used in classical Greek of a breach of law (Nicoll). In modern law this term would refer to a misdemeanor, a minor crime against person or property. or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote (1) an alternative, 'or,' or (2) a comparative function, 'than.' The first usage applies here.
a wicked: Grk. ponēros, adj., may mean (1) marked by lowness in social worth or deviation from an acceptable moral or social standard, particularly as prescribed by God in his Word, (2) low in quality, bad, poor, or (3) in deteriorated or undesirable state or condition, of physical circumstances. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX ponēros renders Heb. ra, which can mean evil, bad or of little value (DNTT 1:565). In the Tanakh ra is used to describe both that which is ethically evil (Deut 1:35; 4:25) and something that is unpleasant, disagreeable or injurious (e.g. Deut 22:14; 28:35; Isa 3:11).
crime: Grk. rhadiourgēma, behave craftily, a careless or reckless act that causes significant harm to another person or his property. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In classical Greek the term was used for an act of villainy (LSJ) and in modern law a felony. O: Grk. Ō, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, but used here as an interjection. When the address is intended to carry special force the inflectional particle omega ("ō") is used (DM 71). The special usage of the omega letter in direct address is found in both classical Greek writings and Jewish literature (BAG). Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, voc.
I would: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. The particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions (HELPS). The particle is often not translated. have listened to: Grk. anechomai, aor. mid., to put up with when faced with something disagreeable, annoying, or difficult; tolerate, endure, bear with or listen to. The verb was used of listening patiently while others are allowed to speak (Bruce). you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 4 above. reason: Grk. logos. See verse 5 above. The phrase kata logon is equivalent to being reasonable in hearing the matter presented.
15 but if it is a question concerning an idea and names and of the Law among you, see to it yourselves; I am not willing to be a judge of these things.
but: Grk. de, conj. The following rhetorical statement indicates that Gallio had some knowledge of Judaism. if: Grk. ei, conj. See the previous verse. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. a question: Grk. zētēma, matter of a dispute; controversial matter or subject. Gallio then identifies three subjects of controversy. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. an idea: Grk. logos. See verse 5 above. Gallio may have used logos in the sense of an embodiment of an idea or belief (e.g., "doctrine," AMP), or in reference to a message or discourse of Paul (CEB). The noun is singular, but almost all versions translate it as plural "words."
and: Grk. kai, conj. names: pl. of Grk. onoma. See verse 2 above. A dispute about "names" could have resulted from Paul referring to Yeshua as "Messiah," "Lord" and "Savior," and possibly "King of Israel." and: Grk. kai. of the Law: Grk. ho nomos. See verse 13 above. The OJB has "Torah," but it is unlikely that Gallio knew of the Hebrew term and its full meaning. among: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "according to." you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Gallio would have been aware that Jews had their own customs and traditions and that is what he means. see to it: Grk. horaō, fut. mid., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. Since the verb is used in a directive sense, then its practical meaning is "see to it" or "take care of it."
yourselves: pl. of Grk. autos. I am not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle of strong negation. willing: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid., may mean (1) have in one's mind; wish, want, desire; or (2) reach a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, plan, will. The first meaning applies here. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. a judge: Grk. kritēs, judge or magistrate, generally in reference to an official office of one presiding over a court. of these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. Gallio could tell by the nature of the complaint that there had been no breach of Roman law, so he meant "I will not be a judge of your sectarian religious controversies."
16 And he drove them from the judgment seat.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he drove: Grk. apelaunō, aor., cause to leave a position; drive away, send away. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. from: Grk. apo, prep. the judgment seat: Grk. ho bēma. See verse 12 above. There is no implication that Gallio physically removed the Jewish complainants. He dismissed the case with prejudice and ordered them from his presence. Ellicott suggests that the order was given to the lictors to clear the court, and any Jews who did not immediately retreat were exposed to the humiliation of blows from their rods.
17 Then all, having seized Sosthenes, the synagogue ruler, began beating him before the judgment seat. And none of these things concerned Gallio.
Then: Grk. de, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See the Textual Note below. A number of versions offer a literal translation with "all of them" (ISV, NRSV) or "they all" (ASV, CSB, CJB, ERV, ESV, GNB, ICB, LEB, NABRE, NASB, NCV, NET, RSV, TLV). having seized: Grk. epilambanomai, pl. aor. mid. part., lay hold of, take hold of, seize, sometimes with beneficent, sometimes with hostile, intent, here the latter. Sosthenes: Grk. Sōsthenēs, a proper name meaning "of safe strength." the synagogue ruler: Grk. ho archisunagōgos. See verse 8 above. This man may be the same as the one Paul later mentioned as a brother (1Cor 1:1), but commentators note that Sosthenes was a common name. Even so, the coincidence of the same name in the circumstances is striking. Stern suggests that Sosthenes may have succeeded Crispus as nasi (President) after he left the synagogue.
began beating: Grk. tuptō, impf., can range in meaning from multiple blows as in 'pummel' to a single strike; beat up. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. before: Grk. emprosthen, prep. expresses position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of. the judgment seat: Grk. ho bēma. See verse 12 above. And: Grk. kai, conj. none: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing. of these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. concerned: Grk. melei, impf., be of interest to, be of concern to. Gallio: See verse 12 above.
In order to identify the "all" who seized and beat Sosthenes the Western and later ecclesiastical texts add the identifying words "hoi Hellēnes," which the KJV and several modern versions based on the Majority Text translate as "the Greeks" (Metzger 411). Several late MSS read "all the Jews," but the early and authoritative MSS of Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and the Vulgate leave "all" unidentified (GNT 489). Some commentators (Bruce, Longenecker, Marshall, Morris, Wright) adopt the interpretation that a Greek mob proceeded to indulge their anti-Jewish feelings. Some versions accept this interpretation and insert "crowd" (CEV, NIV, NLT, NTE, TPT) or "mob" (TLB).
If Greek nationals had been involved Gallio more than likely would have intervened, since Caesar Claudius had decreed that Jewish rights be respected (Josephus, Ant. XIX, 5:3). However, Romans did not care if Jews mistreated other Jews, as long as it didn't affect public order (cf. John 8:1-5, 59; 10:31; Acts 7:54-60; 9:23, 29). Schurer comments that the Roman authorities in Greece allowed synagogue rulers to exercise authority over members of their community for both civil and criminal matters as may be evidenced by Gallio permitting Sosthenes to be mistreated by Jewish leaders (II:263).
Taking hoi Hellēnes could fit the circumstance if translated as "Hellenistic Jews." Just consider Paul's experience with pious Hellenistic Jews in Jerusalem, who tried to kill him for proclaiming Yeshua as Messiah (Acts 9:29). The anti-Messiah faction in the synagogue had witnessed the success of Paul's ministry for over a year and were clearly incensed. The radicals could have turned against Sosthenes for three reasons: (1) he did not attempt to assert Paul violated Roman law as occurred elsewhere (Acts 16:20-21; 17:6-7); (2) he appealed to Gallio to interfere in Jewish law; and (3) his weak case presentation likely betrayed sympathies with Paul.
Paul returns to Antioch, 18:18-22
18 Now Paul, having remained many days longer, having taken leave of the brothers sailed away to Syria; and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having cut the hair of his head in Cenchrea, for he was keeping a vow.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 5 above. having remained: Grk. prosmenō, aor. part., continue steadily in a state, circumstance or with someone; abide, continue, remain, stay. many: pl. of Grk. hikanos, adj., of a quality or extent that is quite enough. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period (BAG). The second meaning applies here. longer: Grk. eti, adv. expressing addition, still, yet. Luke again provides an indefinite time reference and "many days" could imply weeks. Paul apparently determined that having gained tacit support from Gallio he could continue his ministry for a longer time.
having taken leave: Grk. apotassō, aor. mid. part., to separate oneself, withdraw oneself from anyone, to take leave of, bid farewell to. of the brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the Jewish context the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos renders Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a male relative of the same tribe (Gen 13:8; Num 16:10) or the people of Israel (Ex 2:11; 4:18). Here the noun likely denotes Messianic Jews in the congregation, but could also include Messianic Gentiles. After having ministered for such a lengthy time in Corinth the parting was no doubt emotional.
sailed away: Grk. ekpleō, aor., to depart by ship, sail away. The distance between Corinth and Jerusalem by sea is over 800 miles, but Paul did not make a direct trip. Departure would have taken place at a time with favorable winds for sailing such as the summer. Ancient merchant ships could be propelled by both oars and sails. There were no passenger vessels, only freighters. So Paul had to scout out a willing captain, strike a deal for passage, and bring enough food for the trip, as well as bedding for resting on the deck. See the article Roman Empire Sailing for more information. Merchant ships traveled in open sea at a speed of about 4–6 knots (Casson).
to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. Syria: Grk. Suria, the Roman imperial province with its capital at Antioch. Syria is mentioned as Paul's ultimate destination. and: Grk. kai, conj. with: Grk. sun, prep. See verse 8 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Priscilla: Grk. Priskilla. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. kai. Aquila: Grk. Akulas. See verse 2 above. No reason is given for the couple leaving Corinth with Paul, but likely it was the call of the Spirit to continue to serve the Messianic mission. having cut the hair: Grk. keirō, aor. part., to cut off the hair, to shear. While the grammar would suggest Aquila as the one receiving the haircut, the context favors Paul being the subject of the action. of his head: Grk. ho kephalē. See verse 6 above.
in: Grk. en, prep. Cenchrea: Grk. Kegchreai. The misspelling of "Cenchrea" originated with the Tyndale New Testament (1525). Cenchrea was the eastern harbor for Corinth about five miles outside of the city. The place name occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other in Romans 16:1, in which Paul mentions a congregation in the harbor city. Indeed, the "many days" could have been spent in Cenchrea planting the congregation in which Phoebe became a principal leader. for: Grk. gar, conj. he was keeping: Grk. echō, impf., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. a vow: Grk. euchē may mean (1) a vow or (2) a prayer in the sense of a petition to God. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX euchē mostly renders Heb. neder (SH-5088), a vow or oath made to God (Gen 28:20; 31:13; Lev 7:13; Deut 23:21).
Making a vow to God was not a Torah requirement, but if taken God required it to be fulfilled to avoid a severe penalty (Deut 23:21-23). The only vow in the Torah that involved hair-cutting was a Nazirite vow (Num 6:2-8). The Nazirite vow was a special kind of fasting, and included abstaining from all liquid and edible products of the grape vine, avoidance of a dead body, even if a relative, and letting the hair grow. The vow generally lasted eight days. The cutting of the hair marked the completion of the vow. The Torah specified that to conclude the vow meant not only cutting the hair, but also presenting a sin offering, a burnt offering, a peace offering, a bread offering and a drink offering at the sanctuary and placing the cut hair on the fire with the sacrificial animal (Num 6:13-18; cf. Acts 21:23-26).
A least two Bible characters undertook the separation of the Nazirite vow, first Samuel (1Sam 1:11) and then Samson (Jdg 13:5), both for life. In both cases the men were Nazirites from the womb. In the apostolic narratives Yochanan the Immerser was similarly dedicated from birth (Luke 1:15). Josephus noted that it was common for the Jews to make vows to God, patterned after the Nazirite vow, lasting thirty days and ending with hair-cutting, as an expression of gratitude when they had been raised up from sickness or delivered from danger (Wars, Book II, 15:1).
Paul's vow could have pertained to sickness, but perhaps protection in danger since he related in his Roman letter that while in Cenchrea Phoebe served as a patron and protector (Grk. prostatis) (Rom 16:2). Pharisee tradition required that a Nazirite vow undertaken in the Diaspora had to be repeated within the land of Israel (Nazir 19b), and Paul's actions once he returned to Jerusalem seems to reflect compliance with this tradition (Acts 21:23-26). Stern rightly notes that regardless of the details of Paul's vow, he did not abandon Torah obligations (cf. 1Cor 9:20).
19 And they came to Ephesus, and them he left there. Then having entered into the synagogue he reasoned with the traditional Jews.
And: Grk. de, conj. they came: Grk. katantaō, aor., 3p-pl., used of coming or arriving at a destination in the course of travel; come to, arrive at, reach. to: Grk. eis, prep. Ephesus: Grk. Ephesos, the seat of administration for the Roman province of Asia, which was bordered on the west by the Aegean Sea and on the east by the province of Galatia. The coastal city had a population of about 300,000. Ephesus was 250 miles due west of Cenchrea. Ephesus was a free city with its own senate (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 10:13). The city had the most favorable seaport in the province, serving as a center of commerce. The business prosperity of the city was rivaled by its cultural attractions, including a 25,000-seat stadium, baths, gymnasiums and impressive buildings. The principal attraction of Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis (or Diana, the Roman name), which was ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. See the map here.
and them: pl. of Grk. kakeinos (from kai, "and," and ekeinos, "he, she, it"), demonstrative pronoun. The pronoun refers to Aquila and Priscilla. he left: Grk. kataleipō, aor., to leave behind or abandon, here the former. The verb anticipates Paul's later departure from Ephesus. there: Grk. autou, adv., here, there. Then: Grk. de. having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part. See verse 7 above. into: Grk. eis. the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē. See verse 4 above. The presence of a synagogue demonstrates a sizable Jewish population. Previous Roman administrations had granted citizenship rights to the Jewish residents of Ephesus and made allowances for their religious scruples, including exemption from serving in the Roman army (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 10:13, 16, 19; XVI, 6:7).
he reasoned: Grk. dialegomai, aor. See verse 4 above. with the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. As in previous cities Paul repeated his model of evangelism since the good news was for the Jews first. The content of his teaching likely imitated his sermon in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16-41). For the specific arguments used to convince traditional Jews to trust in the good news of Yeshua see the comment on Acts 5:42.
20 And they were asking him to stay for a longer time; he did not consent,
And: Grk. de, conj. they were asking: Grk. erōtaō, pres. part., can mean (1) to ask with the focus on querying for information; or (2) to ask in the sense of making a request, frequently with the effort to soften the tone for what might sound peremptory. The second meaning applies here. him to stay: Grk. menō, aor. inf. See verse 3 above. for: Grk. epi, prep. a longer: Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus (verse 8 above), greater in quantity. time: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times and primarily translates Heb. yom, 'day, days' (DNTT 3:841).
he did not: Grk. ou, adv. consent: Grk. epineuō, aor., nod to, assent to, consent. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. While there is no mention of disciples being made, Luke implies that Paul had gained a sympathetic hearing and the resident Jews welcomed the Messianic message so much that they desired his teaching ministry to continue. While the request would have been tempting, Paul had other plans that were more urgent. It may also be that a delay in departure might mean missing the optimum time for sailing in good weather.
21 but having bid farewell and having said, "I will return again to you, God willing," he set sail from Ephesus.
but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 9 above. having bid farewell: Grk. apotassō, aor. part. See verse 18 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 6 above. I will return: Grk. anakamptō, fut., to turn back or return to a point of departure. again: Grk. palin, adv. with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 6 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 7 above. willing: Grk. thelō, pres. part., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. Paul always submitted his personal plans to the sovereign will of God (e.g., Rom 1:10; 15:32; 1Cor 4:19). he set sail: Grk. anagō, aor. pass., to conduct from a lower place to a higher, to lead or bring up. The verb is used here as a technical nautical term; put to sea, set sail. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 2 above. Ephesus: Grk. ho Ephesos. See verse 19 above.
The Western reviser added at the beginning of Paul's farewell, "It behooves me by all means to keep the coming feast in Jerusalem" (Metzger 412). The sentence loosely parallels a similar statement in Acts 20:16 where Paul expresses his desire to be in Jerusalem for Shavuot (Pentecost). These words passed into later MSS and are reproduced in the KJV and several modern versions based on the Majority Text. The words are not found in the earliest and best MSS (GNT 490). Ramsay (St. Paul 152) and Edmundson (179) accept the Western text as original and interpret the festival to be Passover in AD 53. Some commentators concur with this view (Barnes, Gill, Poole). Others argue, however, that both time and weather would have been against a trip to attend Passover, so the festival must be Shavuot (Alford, Ellicott).
In my view the reading of the earliest MSS should be accepted, meaning that Paul likely made the return sea voyage in safety in the summer of 53. If Paul felt an urgency to attend a particular festival in Jerusalem, surely Luke would have mentioned it in the next verse. His silence on the subject is persuasive.
22 And having landed at Caesarea, having gone up and having greeted the congregation, he went down to Antioch.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having landed: Grk. katerchomai, aor. part., lit. "come down." See verse 5 above. at: Grk. eis, prep. Caesarea: Grk. Kaisareia, a prominent coastal city located 23 miles south of Mt. Carmel. Originally called Strato's Tower the Hasmonean ruler Alexander Jannaeus brought it under Jewish control in 96 BC, but Pompey brought Roman rule in 63 BC. The city was home to a thriving Jewish community. Because of the lack of natural harbor Herod the Great undertook in 22 BC to build a fine port facility and support it by a new city. Great statues of Augustus and Roma were erected at the entrance. An inner harbor appears to have been dug into the land where mooring berths and vaulted warehouses were constructed.
Herod the Great changed the name of the city to Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 4:4; XV, 8:5). Josephus described the construction of the harbor and accompanying city in grandiose detail (Ant. XIV, 4:4; XV, 9:6). Caesarea was Hellenistic in design and style and in addition to the many buildings a platform was raised near the harbor upon which a temple was built for Caesar with a Colossus of Caesar. The city was the capital of the province of Judaea and served as the official home of the procurators. The city is mentioned in the book of Acts 15 times, first as the place where Philip had settled (Acts 8:40; 21:8), and Peter proclaimed the good news to Cornelius (Acts 10:34).
having gone up: Grk. anabainō, aor. part., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. The verb graphically illustrates the change in elevation from the starting point at the coast. Paul traveled into the hill country of Judaea. and: Grk. kai. having greeted: Grk. aspazomai, aor. part., to address with some form of special recognition or expression of affection; to welcome or greet. The verb likely includes Paul giving a report on his Diaspora ministry. the congregation: Grk. ho ekklēsia (for Heb. qahal, SH-6951), assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation, used here to denote a grouping of Yeshua's disciples under the oversight of elders. Congregational organization in the apostolic era imitated the synagogue.
Christian Bibles almost unanimously translate ekklēsia in this verse as "church." The word "church" is clearly an ecclesiastical term of Christianity. (See my background note on this subject here.) Two versions have "congregation" (JUB, NMB). The CJB has "Messianic community," the TLV has "Messiah's community," and the MW has simply "community." Paul visited the congregation in Jerusalem, no doubt out of respect for Jacob and the elders who had participated in the previous general conference (Acts 15). Luke is silent on the length of Paul's stay in the city and his activities while there.
he went down: Grk. katabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is down; go down, come down, descend. The verb vividly depicts the change of elevation due to the terrain. Bruce notes that one would not "go down" from Caesarea to Antioch. to: Grk. eis. Antioch: Grk. Antiocheia, the name of two cities: (a) the capital of the Roman province of Syria; (b) a city in the Roman province of Galatia. Syrian Antioch is intended. See the map here. Antioch was founded around 300 BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the three successors to Alexander the Great. He named it for his father Antiochus the Great (OCB 32). Antioch became the capital of the Seleucid Empire (Josephus, Against Apion, 2:4). From the beginning it was a bustling maritime city with its own seaport. The city proper lay about 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean and 300 miles north of Jerusalem.
Josephus calls Antioch the metropolis of Syria (Wars III, 2:4). Indeed, at this time Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria having a population of more than 500,000. The cosmopolitan city had a large number of Jewish inhabitants. By the first century their numbers have been estimated at between forty-five thousand and sixty thousand (Polhill 71). The Jewish population, being generally loyal to the Gentile governors, engaged in commerce and enjoyed the rights of citizenship in a free city (Ant. XII, 3:1; Wars VII, 3:3). The congregation in Antioch had originally been planted by Messianic Jews that fled persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 11:19) and had become Paul's home base of ministry.
Third Diaspora Journey
For his third trip in the Diaspora Paul departed from Syrian Antioch and traveled by land through the regions of Galatia and Phrygia, then to the city of Ephesus where he spent two years (Acts 19:9), next to the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia, including the cities where congregations had been planted, and then back to Troas, Assos, Mitylene, Samos, Miletus, Tyre, Ptolemais, Caesarea, and finally Jerusalem. See the map of his route here. For the distances traveled see the chart here. Paul was apparently accompanied by Silas and Timothy as the previous journey (cf. Rom 16:21; 1Cor 4:17; 2Cor 1:1).
Highlights of the trip include the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Ephesus and conducting ministry there for about three years (cf. Acts 19:8-10; 20:31), and in Troas restoring Eutychus to life (20:9-12). Paul was also warned by the Spirit multiple times that arrest awaited him in Jerusalem (20:23; 21:4, 11). During this period Paul likely wrote the two letters to the congregation in Corinth, the letter to the congregation in Rome and possibly the general treatise to Messianic Jews called "Hebrews."
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
Procurator of Judaea: Marcus Antonius Felix (AD 52-60)
Jewish High Priest: Ananias, son of Nebedaius (AD 47-55)
The Third Journey of Paul, 18:23
23 And having spent some time there, he departed, passing through successively the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having spent: Grk. poieō, aor. part., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition. The second meaning applies here. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 2 above. time: Grk. chronos. See verse 20 above. The indefinite time reference probably indicates at least several weeks. he departed: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. Paul's third journey began and progressed as did his second (Acts 15:41). passing through: Grk. dierchomai, pres. part., to go through, go about. successively: Grk. kathexēs, adv., in sequence.
the Galatian: Grk. Galatikos, adj., belonging to the Roman province of Galatia in central Asia Minor, which included the districts of Paphlagonia, Galatian Pontus, Galatian Phrygia, Lycaonia, and Pisidia (Atlas 91). The name "Galatians" came from the Greeks. region: Grk. chōra may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. The first meaning applies here. The mention of the "Galatian region" probably intends the territory of Lycaonia in which were the congregations of Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium.
and: Grk. kai. Phrygia: Grk. Phrugia, an ethnic district in central Asia Minor, the north-western part of which was in the Roman province of Asia and the south-eastern part in the Roman province of Galatia. Phrygia was famous for marble stone, of which pillars and statues were made. Its principal cities were Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea. Jews from Phrygia are mentioned as being present for Peter's Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:10). Phrygia and Galatia are mentioned in the sense of historic geographical areas rather than Roman provinces. (See the map of Phrygia and Galatia.) The mention of "Phrygia" might intend Galatian Phrygia in which Pisidian Antioch was located.
strengthening: Grk. epistērizō, pres. part., add support to; firm up, make stronger, support, uphold. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in Acts. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 2 above. the disciples: pl. of Grk. ho mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a student of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term is used for members of the Pharisee party (Matt 22:15-16; John 9:28) and disciples of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; John 3:25), but especially of followers of Yeshua, those who not only believed in Yeshua but sought to obey his instructions (Matt 28:20). See my article Disciples of Yeshua.
Apollos in Ephesus and Achaia, 18:24-28
24 Now a certain traditional Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; being mighty in the Scriptures.
Now: Grk. de, conj. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 2 above. traditional Jew: Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. named: Grk. onoma. See verse 2 above. Apollos: Grk. Apollōs, meaning "destroyer" (HBD), a contraction of Apollonius. an Alexandrian: Grk. Alexandreus, a native (or resident) of Alexandria in Egypt. Next to Jerusalem and Rome, there was, perhaps, no city in which the Jewish population was so numerous and influential as Alexandria. The city was founded by Alexander the Great, 332 BC, and was populated by colonies of Greeks and Jews. The city was known for its cultural and academic pursuits. The finest library in the ancient world with over 500,000 volumes attracted many scholars.
The Jews had their own quarter and were permitted to govern themselves (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 7:2). They were recognized as citizens by their Roman rulers (Ant. XIV, 10:1). From Alexandria had come the Greek version of the Tanakh or Septuagint (LXX) about 200 BC, which was then in use among Greek-speaking Jews throughout the Diaspora, and read even in Israel itself. Alexandria was also the chief center of Hellenistic Judaism in the Diaspora. There, the great Jewish philosopher and teacher Philo Judaeus (20 BC – AD 50) had lived in fame and honor. Alexandria was destined to play a conspicuous part in patristic Christianity and the scene of the labors of Clement, Origen, Athanasius and Cyril.
by birth: Grk. genos. See verse 2 above. Even though born and reared in a Hellenistic city, Apollos was rooted in traditional Judaism. an eloquent: Grk. logios, adj., may mean (1) learned, skilled in history, literature and the arts; or (2) skilled in speech, eloquent (Thayer). The second meaning is likely intended, but the first meaning may also have applied to Apollos. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. man: Grk. anēr, an adult man with attendant responsibilities. The term is used of men who may be single, betrothed or married. In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words, primarily Heb. ish (SH-376), man (Gen 2:23) (DNTT 2:562). came: Grk. katantaō, aor. See verse 19 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. Ephesus: Grk. Ephesos. See verse 19 above. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 3 above.
mighty: Grk. dunatos, adj., may mean (1) having power, competence or ability, able, powerful; or (2) capable of being realized, possible, realizable. The first meaning applies here. in: Grk. en, prep. See verse 4 above. the Scriptures: pl. of Grk. ho graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context and apostolic usage meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to by the acronym "Tanakh," and corresponding to the Christian Old Testament (39 books). The term "Scripture" summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired and infallible words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi. This is the only Bible Yeshua and the apostles knew and as Scripture they upheld its authority over the philosophies and traditions of men.
Apollos was probably a young man when first introduced, but he became an important leader in the Body of Messiah in the first century. His name is mentioned ten times in the Besekh, seven of which are in Paul's first letter to the congregation in Corinth. Ever since Martin Luther the name of Apollos has been proposed by some scholars to be the author of the epistle called Hebrews. This proposal came about because of the false assumption that Paul had rejected Judaism being the supposed apostle to the Gentiles and thus would not have authored a letter to Jews. Clement of Alexandria (AD 200) positively affirmed Paul as the author of Hebrews. See my article Hebrews: An Introduction.
25 This one had been instructed in the way of ADONAI; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and was teaching accurately the things concerning Yeshua, knowing only the immersion of Yochanan;
This one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. The pronoun refers to Apollos. had been: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. instructed: Grk. katēcheō, impf., to teach by word of mouth. The verb emphasizes learning by nuanced repetition, such as would occur in childhood education in the home or from a teacher, probably the former. in: Grk. en, prep. the way: Grk. ho hodos may refer to (1) a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway; (2) the act of traveling; journey, way, trip; or (3) fig. of conduct or a manner of life, the procedure for accomplishing something or a body of teaching by someone. The third usage is intended here.
of ADONAI: Grk. ho kurios, lit. "the Lord." See verse 8 above. The "way of the Lord" could be an allusion to Yeshua as Luke will go on to mention, but more likely it is intended as an idiomatic expression first introduced in Genesis 18:19, and which meant "doing righteousness and justice" (cf. Jdg 2:22; Prov 10:29; Ezek 18:24-32; 33:17-20). Yochanan the immerser had exhorted Israelites to prepare the "way of ADONAI" quoting Isaiah 40:3. In Yochanan's teaching the "way of ADONAI" was to repent and produce works of righteousness (Luke 3:7-14).
and: Grk. kai, conj. being fervent: Grk. zeō, pres. part., bubble or boil, used of one lively or sparkling in spirit. The verb occurs only two times in the Besekh, the other in Romans 12:11 where it is used in the same idiomatic expression. in: Grk. en. spirit: Grk. ho pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). The spirit of man is that which man has in common with God who is Spirit (Gen 1:2; John 4:24). Pneuma is used frequently for transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Holy Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). A few versions capitalize "the Spirit" to denote the Holy Spirit (BRG, KJ21, YLT). However, considering the limitation with which the description of Apollos concludes, it is not likely that he had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the phrase zeō en ho pneuma refers idiomatically to the passion and zeal of Apollos.
he was speaking: Grk. laleō, impf. See verse 9 above. The verb refers to public speaking, probably in a synagogue setting. and: Grk. kai. was teaching: Grk. didaskō, impf. See verse 11 above. accurately: Grk. akribōs, comparative adverb, diligently or carefully, i.e., be really thorough. HELPS says "This root (akrib-) refers to gaining exact information with the highest level of accuracy and is acquired by probing investigation to provide a comprehensive circumspect (precise) view in strict adherence to the facts." the things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 15 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 5 above. The "accurate teaching" of Apollos simply repeated what he had learned about Yeshua from his parents. knowing: Grk. epistamai, impf., may mean (1) grasp mentally, understand; or (2) acquire information about something, know. The second meaning applies here.
only: Grk. monon, adv. marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. the immersion: Grk. baptisma (from baptizō, to submerge or immerse), ceremonial washing; plunging, dipping, or immersing. Unlike the verb baptizō the noun baptisma does not occur in the LXX or other Jewish sources before the apostolic writings. The corresponding Hebrew noun, coined by the Sages, is tevilah (derived from taval), "complete immersion for purification" (cf. Num 31:23-24). In my view the translation of "immersion" rather than "baptism" is to be preferred as best representing Jewish and apostolic practice. See the Additional Note on immersion in verse 8 above.
of Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan ("John" in Christian Bibles) and means "the Lord is gracious," an apt description of the one who would prepare the way of the Messiah (Stern 15). Early English Bible versions shortened Iōannēs to four letters and the Mace New Testament (1729) was the first to use the spelling of "John." Yochanan was a cousin (degree unknown) of Yeshua, born in Hebron just six months before Yeshua in 3 BC (cf. Luke 1:26, 36, 56-57). The beginning of Yochanan's ministry coincided with the reign of Caesar Tiberius, and commenced in the Autumn of A.D. 26. (Edersheim 183). Yochanan conducted his immersion ministry in the Jordan River, although at different locations (John 1:28; 3:23). See my comment on Paul's description of Yochanan's ministry in Acts 13:24.
Gill suggests that the parents of Apollos may have been disciples of Yochanan and Apollos was given Yochanan's teaching at home. It is very possible that after the death of Yochanan some of his disciples had moved their sect from Judea to Alexandria. Thus, Apollos had no personal experience with Yeshua as Paul had and no direct knowledge of his ministry and miracles. Nevertheless, he had been equipped by his parents who probably ensured their son was raised knowing the Messianic prophecies of Scripture.
Luke intends "the immersion of Yochanan" to represent the entirety of the practice and prophetic teaching of Messiah's forerunner. The conduct of Yochanan's ministry was contrary to what the son of a priest would normally practice. In the Torah ritual washing was done to remove "uncleanness" that resulted from contact with bodily discharges (Lev 15:5), menstrual blood (Lev 15:21), skin diseases (Lev 14:8-9), a dead animal (Lev 17:15) or a dead body (Num 19:14-19; 31:19). Priests washed before performing sacrificial offerings, because God required physical cleanliness to enter His presence (Ex 30:20). None of the ritual washings signified repentance of sin as Yochanan attached to immersion.
Yochanan called for repentance and the immersion followed confession of sins (Mark 1:5), and marked the beginning of a life to produce fruits of repentance (cf. Luke 3:8-14). Yochanan also made eight important declarations about the Messiah, whom he identified as Yeshua.
● The Messiah is of higher rank and more powerful than the forerunner who announces him (Matt 3:11; John 1:15, 30).
● The Messiah is the "Son of God," the title of the heir to the Davidic throne and King of Israel (John 1:34; cf. John 1:49).
● The Messiah is the "Lamb of God" who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 35), a fulfillment of Isaiah 53.
● The Messiah is the Bridegroom (John 3:29; cf. Isa 61:10; 62:5, 11).
● The Messiah will send the Holy Spirit in power to purify his people (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16-17; John 1:33; cf. Mal 3:3).
● The Messiah will separate the worthy from the unworthy (Matt 3:12; Luke 3:17).
● The Messiah will gather the worthy into his kingdom (Matt 3:12; Luke 3:17).
● The Messiah will punish the wicked (Matt 3:12; Luke 3:17; cf. Mal 3:5).
26 also he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But Priscilla and Aquila having heard him, they took him and explained to him more accurately the way of God.
also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 4 above. he: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." See verse 1 above. began: Grk. archō, aor. mid., can mean either to rule or to begin something. The second usage applies here. to speak boldly: Grk. parrēsiazomai, pres. mid. inf., speak without sense of constraint; speak openly/boldly/freely. in: Grk. en, prep. the synagogue: Grk. ho sunagōgē. See verse 4 above. This is the same synagogue where Paul taught. That Apollos should be able to declare a Messianic message in the synagogue implies that positive change had occurred in the months since Paul departed. It may also be that Apollos was a more charismatic speaker than Paul (cf. 1Cor 2:4; 2Cor 10:10), and unbelieving Jews did not take offense at him as they had Paul.
But: Grk. de, conj. Priscilla and Aquila: See verse 2 above. The couple had been left in Ephesus when Paul departed for Syrian Antioch. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 8 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. This event probably occurred in a Sabbath service. they took: Grk. proslambanō, aor. mid., 3p-pl., may mean (1) take to oneself; or (2) take in addition with strong personal interest. The first meaning applies here. him: Grk. autos. The verbal construction implies taking aside for a private conversation. This action fulfilled the spirit of Yeshua's instruction of correcting someone in private (Matt 18:15).
and: Grk. kai, conj. explained: Grk. ektithēmi, aor. mid., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to set outside, with focus on a public aspect; or (2) to set forth, declare, expound. The second meaning applies here. to him: Grk. autos. more accurately: Grk. akribesteron (derived from akribōs; see the previous verse), comparative adverb, more accurately (Rienecker). The Greek suffix -teron is comparative indicator that increases the emphasis of the adverb, thus "more accurately" or "more perfectly." Luke describes the qualitative difference between the knowledge of Apollos and the couple. the way: Grk. hodos. See the previous verse. of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 7 above. The couple explained how God had fulfilled the prophetic teaching of Yochanan through Yeshua, perhaps repeating the content of Peter's Pentecost sermon and Paul's teaching about Yeshua.
Luke does not explain just what information Aquila and Priscilla provided that added to what Apollos already knew. The couple could have repeated the content of Peter's sermons in Jerusalem and Paul's teaching about Yeshua. While Yochanan the Immerser had made a number of important declarations about the Messiah (see the Additional Note on the previous verse), there was other truth about the Messiah that Yochanan did not know. Yochanan wasn't alive to know that Yeshua was crucified, resurrected, then exalted to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:23, 32-33). While Yochanan identified Yeshua as the "Lamb of God who takes away sin," it was left to Paul to explain that Yeshua's death provided atonement for all sins, including capital crimes (Acts 13:38-39). Yochanan also did not know about the Second Coming (Acts 1:11; 3:19-21).
Christian commentators make a faux pas by observing that Apollos knew nothing of a "Christian baptism." We could say that Apollos did not know "Christian baptism," because it was not developed with its sacramental definition and specific ritual ceremony until the time of the church fathers. Apollos knew the immersion of Yochanan. In other words, Apollos had confessed and repented of his sins and was physically immersed in water, understanding that the immersion signified readiness to receive the Messiah and anticipated the fulfillment of being empowered by the Holy Spirit sent by the Messiah (cf. Matt 3:11).
There is no mention of Apollos being immersed "into the name of Yeshua" or being filled with the Holy Spirit, as disciples of Yochanan in Ephesus (Acts 19:5). Silence on the subject does not mean he did not immerse in water to confess identification with Yeshua nor received the Holy Spirit, which could have been the outcome of the more accurate instruction from Aquila and Priscilla. It is also possible that Apollos did not undergo a second immersion, because he did not see the need (Eph 4:5). He had embraced Yeshua as the Messiah, so a second immersion might seem redundant. (We should also consider that there is no mention of a "Christian baptism" of the apostles who had been disciples of Yochanan.) Also, his boldness and skill in using Scripture to proclaim Yeshua as Messiah likely reflected empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
27 Then he was desiring to go into Achaia, the brothers, having encouraged him, wrote to the disciples to welcome him; who having arrived, he greatly helped those having believed through grace,
Then: Grk. de, conj. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. was desiring: Grk. boulomai, pres. part. See verse 15 above. to go: Grk. dierchomai, aor. inf. See verse 23 above. Some versions have "cross over" to denote passage across the Aegean Sea. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. Achaia: Grk. Achaia. See verse 12 above. Three congregations had been planted in Achaia: Athens, Corinth and Cenchrea. the brothers: pl. of Grk. ho adelphos. See verse 18 above. The noun denotes Messianic Jews, likely congregational elders and including Aquila. having encouraged him: Grk. protrepō, aor. part., to turn forward, urge forward, encourage, exhort. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The brothers recognized that Apollos had a spiritual desire and encouraged him to employ his gifts in kingdom ministry.
wrote: Grk. graphō, aor., 3p-pl., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. to the disciples: pl. of Grk. ho mathētēs. See verse 23 above. to welcome: Grk. apodechomai, aor. mid. inf., to receive heartily, welcome. The verb is used to mean accept something offered, receive hospitality, or receive into the mind with assent (Thayer). him: Grk. autos. The letter appealed to the congregations of Achaia to accept Apollos as a worthy servant of Yeshua and provide hospitality and whatever assistance he might need. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 7 above. having arrived: Grk. paraginomai, aor. mid. part., to make one's way so as to be present; come, arrive, be present. The verb implies that Apollos arrived safely in Achaia and found the hosts to whom he had been sent. The next chapter indicates that he ministered in Corinth.
he greatly: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 8 above. helped: Grk. sumballō (from sun, "with," and ballō, "to bring together"), aor. mid., with the basic idea of 'cast in with' or 'cast together' the verb in this context means to render personal assistance. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. part. See verse 8 above. The participle could also mean "having become faithful." The verb refers to those who had accepted Yeshua and immersed themselves (verse 8 above). through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 2 above. grace: Grk. ho charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis translates Heb. hên (SH-2580), favor, first in Gen 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God (DNTT 2:116).
In this context charis with the definite article denotes the enabling power of God. The grammatical construction could intend the reference "through grace" to modify "helped" or "believed." If the focus is on Apollos, it means that he was enabled by gifts of grace (cf. Rom 12:6) to strengthen the Messianic brethren in their discipleship. If the focus is on the congregation members, it means that they had been led to believing-trust by comprehending the great favor of God in providing forgiveness and mercy.
28 for he was refuting powerfully the traditional Jews publicly, demonstrating by the Scriptures Yeshua to be the Messiah.
for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 3 above. he was refuting: Grk. diakatelegchomai, impf. mid., to effectively or utterly refute' demolish in argument. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. powerfully: Grk. eutonōs, adv. in a well-strung manner; powerfully, vehemently, vigorously. the traditional Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. publicly: Grk. dēmosios, adj., belonging to the people or state; used adverbially here to mean in view of all or publicly. The location was likely the synagogue and "publicly" refers to a Sabbath service. demonstrating: Grk. epideiknumi, pres. part., may mean (1) exhibit through visual demonstration, show; or (2) provide proof for a conclusion, prove. The second meaning applies here.
by: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 2 above. the Scriptures: pl. of Grk. ho graphē. See verse 24 above. The plural noun indicates multiple passages in the Torah, Prophets and Writings, most likely the LXX. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 5 above. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 3 above. the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos. See verse 5 above. The Tanakh contains many predictions of the Messiah, which may be categorized as those describing his arrival, his character, his ministry, his sufferings and his victory. For a list of the biblical predictions of the Messiah see my article Prophecies of the Messiah.
Apollos had a singular message that made a powerful impact. The implication is that by refuting the standard objections of unbelieving Jews he was able to persuade more Jews to accept their Messiah. Apparently Apollos had a greater spiritual impact than Paul, who later wrote that while he "planted," Apollos "watered" (1Cor 3:6).
Alford: Henry Alford (1810-1871), Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary (1878). 6 vols. Guardian Press, 1976. Online.
Atlas: Oxford Bible Atlas, Second Edition. ed. Herbert G. May. Oxford University Press, 1974.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles. Rev. ed. The Westminster Press, 1976. Daily Bible Study Series.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Casson: Lionel Casson, "Speed under Sail of Ancient Ships," Transactions of the American Philological Association, Vol. 82, New York University, 1951. Online.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Coke: Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
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Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
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ISBE: James Orr, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Longenecker: Richard D. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
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Marshall: I. Howard Marshall, Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. InterVarsity Press, 1980.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Morris: Henry M. Morris (1918-2006), Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [KJV with explanatory notes by Dr. Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, CA.]
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.
NIBD: Herbert Lockyer, ed., Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
OCB: The Oxford Companion to the Bible. ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. Oxford University Press, 1993.
Polhill: John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters. B & H Academic, 1999.
Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.
Ramsay-Pictures: Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939), Pictures of the Apostolic Church, its Life and Thought. Hodder & Stoughton, 1910. Online.
Ramsay-St. Paul: Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939), St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, 10th ed., Hodder & Stoughton, 1907. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Schurer: Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ. 4 vols. trans. Peter Christie. T&T Clark, 1885. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
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