Acts 18:1 “…After these things Paul departed from Athens…”
No mention of how long he stayed at Athens. Last word we’re told is that some of those he contended with said they would hear him again on the matter, which I’m sure they did. The text then jumps to him leaving Athens for Corinth.
2 “…Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome…”
Wonder if this was the beginning of persecution of the Jews and later the Christians by the Romans.
3 “…because he was of the same trade…”
Paul himself wasn’t just a minister. He had a trade, tent making. His situation was a bit different since he was away from home on a missionary journey, but the idea is the same. From the great commission, as you go, as you do the normal things of life, make disciples of all nations. I think we make the mistake when we try to separate the two. Much to think about and consider there.
5 “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia…”
This is confusing. Tried to get a timeline of movements, but can’t find anything concrete. Does this statement mean that Silas and Timothy are just now reaching him from when he left them for Athens? Yet, he mentions in his first letter to the Thessalonians that he thought it good to be left alone in Athens and send Timothy to them. Checked a map and more commentaries. Map shows that Athens was south southeast of Berea and Thessalonica in the land area called Achaia. Corinth was a bit west of Athens. Commentaries differ a bit on the details because the text doesn’t say, but it appears Timothy and perhaps Silas did join Paul in Athens for a time. Paul then sends Timothy or both of them if Silas was there, back to Thessalonica to check on the folks. If Silas didn’t accompany Timothy to Athens, he may have stayed in Berea or moved over to Thessalonica. He would have rejoined Timothy when he arrived, then they both traveled back to Paul at Corinth. This matches what we have in the text both of Acts and 1 Thessalonians. Have to remember the text is what Luke was sharing when everything was happening. It won’t necessarily match up, nor does it have to, with everything else in every single detail. But when you put them all together, they show a complete and consistent picture. Only odd one out is Luke. No idea at this point where he was during all of this. I assume he was with Paul, but no direct confirmation of that. The only things are the fact that the text gives us such a firsthand look at Paul, and Paul mentions in his second letter to Timothy that only Luke was with him. Makes me think that Luke was accustomed to being a constant companion.
5 “…compelled by the Spirit…”
Commentaries have several ideas of this statement. From the text we know he had been reasoning with folks in the synagogue, and many had already believed. Seems now he feels a stronger urging to be very specific about his message, that Jesus is indeed the Christ. Perhaps it was to root out all who wouldn’t believe, but had been dancing around the issue. At any rate, when he does this, some of the Jews opposed him and blasphemed. Their beliefs were made clear. He goes from the synagogue to apparently meeting in a house next door belonging to Justus. This seems to cause Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, to believe along with his family as well as any others. Lends credibility to the idea that the Spirit was shaking up the situation. Ordered thoughts and reasons make good arguments for truth, but sometimes just hitting hard with the truth itself is what is required to reach the bottom line.
11 “…he continued there a year and six months…”
Was there a year and a half. From the mention of the vision and the length of time he remained, appears God wanted him to establish a healthy body there. Considering the problems they had later, doing that was a good idea. Also left Paul close to the other churches of the area if they needed to see and/or speak with him.
12-17 Interesting note in the story. Perhaps to illustrate what was just said about God promising Paul that He would take care of him. Paul didn’t even have to open his mouth to defend himself.
18 “…he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria…”
He has it in his mind to head back to Jerusalem. Not sure why he stopped by Ephesus. May have something to do with Priscilla and Aquila being with him as he leaves them there or maybe he had wanted to get over there, but had not had the chance until now. Commentary suggests he cut his hair as part of a personal vow which also required sacrifices within thirty days. This short time frame may be why he insisted that he had to get to Jerusalem so quickly and thus didn’t spend more time at Ephesus.
22 “…landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch”
End of the second missionary journey. What had started as a journey to strengthen the churches they had started previously turned into an open door to reach more people. Proverbs says to trust in the Lord and He will direct our steps. Hard to direct our steps if we aren’t taking any. We must be about what we know God wants us to do, and He will open new doors to us. But if we’re not being faithful in the small things, why should He trust us with something larger?
23 “After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.”
Just like that, another missionary journey starts. No fanfare or even mention of who is going with him, though I would assume Luke.
25 “…he knew only the baptism of John”
Introduction of Apollos. Had been instructed in the message of John, that a Messiah was coming so men needed to repent and trust God for forgiveness. Aquila and Priscilla were able to let him know that Jesus was that Messiah and that repentance and belief in Him brings salvation. Just the news he had been waiting for. He was able to use that information to be a strong and bold teacher and witness. Commentary remarked on the providence of Aquila and Priscilla staying in Ephesus. They were able to assist in bringing a great teacher to the churches. God weaves all things into His tapestry. We may not see the picture the threads create until later, but we can trust that He is indeed weaving them. I just want to be sure I’m not upbraiding His work.
28 “…vigorously refuted the Jews publicly…”
Not trying to be belligerent, hurtful, or combative, but arguing for the truth. Sometimes we have to take our arguments to the public sphere and confront attacks directly and forcefully. Some argue that doing so only hurts those we’re trying to reach, but I see that it is sometimes necessary. Using the wisdom God gives us and trusting Him to speak through us will make sure we stay in His will. Along with that, if we have conducted ourselves honorably up to that point, others will be able to see the sincerity of our actions and be more receptive of the message, not see our debates as just merely argumentative.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.