Lesson 41: Paul's 2nd Missionary Journey (Continued/Back to Antioch/3rd Missionary Journey Begins)
Did you enjoy the book of I Thessalonians? What did you learn? There is an interesting point in v.5 or ch. 1 ( I noticed) when Paul preached at Thessalonica, some kind of miraculous power by the Holy Ghost was exhibited. The gospel was not only in word, it came with stronger assurance. Did you catch that? I think you would have suspected that. Earlier in the book of Acts, Luke put much more emphasis upon the work of the Spirit. Many wonders and signs were done by the hands of the apostles, Acts 5:12. Stephen did great wonders and miracles (Acts 6:8). The lord gave testimony unto the word at Iconium; granted signs and wonders by the hands of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:3). When Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem on the circumcision issue, (remember Acts 15?) it says in v.12 they declared unto the brethren there: "What miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them." So I think we are safe in concluding: there was always enough assurance by miraculous signs to confirm the gospel. "Spiritual gifts" discussed in I Cor. Ch. 12,13 & 14 were given, by the laying on of the apostles hands, to teachers and evangelist, etc., sufficient to carry on the work You see, they didn't have the N.T. They could not turn to I Thess. 4:15 and read: "We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep," i.e., them which have died before Jesus comes back. We have the N.T, they didn't. At Thessalonica there was power of the Holy Ghost in much assurance, our verse says. II Thessalonians was also written from Corinth - it would appear only a few weeks or few months after Paul had heard from the brethren in Thessalonica. I'm sure you'll want to read II Thessalonians also. It's only three chapters.
O.K., back to Acts 18. V.5 in this text says Paul was pressed in the spirit. Preaching or teaching in the synagogue at Corinth, writing letters and making tents, Paul was a busy man. He testified to the Jews: Jesus was Christ. Undoubtedly, Luke intended this to be a miniature summary of what Paul taught at Corinth. And that corresponds to his teaching in every other synagogue, that is, the "rock" as Matt. 16:18 said. Peter said: "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God." Jesus replied: "upon this rock (i.e., upon Peter's statement) I-will-build-my-church." It's the foundation of the Christian religion. Jesus Christ, himself being the chief cornerstone (Ep. 2:20). Paul reasoned and persuaded in that synagogue (v.4 said). Now, what happened? Are you ready?
V.6-7-8 - let's read, "And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." Paul's reasoning and persuasion from the scriptures were rejected. "They opposed themselves," v.6 said; i.e., they were inconsistent in their own statements. And, did you notice they blasphemed. That word means they spoke with abuse at least (or evil) toward God. That's where Paul got off. He shook his clothing or raiment (v.6). That's a figurative way of saying: he left their dirt with them. Paul had tried to reason with them and persuade them to obey God, but there was no use (it didn't work) they rejected the gospel, just like the synagogue at Athens. "Your blood be upon your own heads." is an O.T. quotation from Ezek 33:4 meaning: You must accept the responsibility. That is, Paul is saying: I taught you: I've given you the information (the good news of Christ)! If you choose to ignore and blaspheme God, you can do it! But, you will pay the price. There is a principle here, you must thoroughly understand. To me, it is most clearly said, in Ezek 3:17-18-19. "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word of my mouth, and give them warning for me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shall surely die: and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity: but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou has delivered thy soul." This principle can be stated in other words like this: it is my responsibility and your responsibility to teach, but it is their responsibility to obey. Thus, Paul was clean; he says. He had carried out his responsibility, but the Jews had not carried out theirs.
Therefore, Paul left the synagogue and began to teach the non-Jew, i.e., the Gentiles. Paul began to teach next door to the synagogue in the house of Justus. It says Justus worshipped God, and he provided a meeting place; but nothing else is said about him in the N.T. Paul baptized Crispus, with his own hands, we learn this in I Cor. 1.14. Many other Corinthians, hearing the word, believed and were baptized. Crispus is mentioned here because of his status in the synagogue. He was converted. Paul also baptized a man named Gaius and the family of Stephanas, also mentioned in I Cor. ch. 1. So, you have a picture of the church at Corinth. A few families meeting in a house (possibly a dwelling) next door to the synagogue, probably looked upon as the religious rogues of the community,
O.K., what comes next? Paul hasn't been expelled yet. Out of the synagogue yes! But not out of the city! Doesn't that come next? This fear must have haunted Paul; as he fabricated more tents. And, wouldn't that fear naturally cause one to speak out with less force? But then, a message from heaven - let's read V.9-10-11. "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, "Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." O.K. that must have been welcome news. Speak out Paul, pour it on... "I am with thee" (v.10). There is nothing like assurance to raise morale. And what more assurance could anyone ask? "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Paul later asked that question to the Roman brethren (Rom. 8:31). Paul was assured he would not be hurt, and you can't buy an accident insurance policy like that! Jesus said: "I have much people in this city." What does that mean? Does that mean some were elected to salvation without obedience, i.e., faith, repentance, confession and baptism? I think not. It merely means there were a lot of honest and good hearts in Corinth; many that would obey, if they but had the opportunity. And the Lord was here working out that opportunity. Paul!! Stay in Corinth!! Speak out! Preach the word!
And so it was for one year and six months. This must be the longest that Paul ever stayed (in one place) after his conversion until Corinth, unless it was at Damascus. Gal. 1:18 mentions three years in relation to Damascus, but that stay in Damascus was broken up by a trip to Arabia, you will remember. We know not how long. Eighteen months - that's a right good stay - time enough to baptize a lot of people. So, Paul went at it. Did that promise from Jesus tell Paul he would meet no resistance? No! That was not promised - just that Paul would not be hurt. It was almost an unwritten rule; that the unbelieving Jews in every synagogue where Paul went would stir up trouble for him. Corinth was no exception
Let's read v.12-16. "And when Gallic was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying, this/e//ow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and o/your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drove them from the judgment seat." Notice the charge brought against Paul in v.l 3. Paul persuaded men to worship God contrary to the law. Apparently they were not talking about Roman law; but, Jewish law. And, obviously Roman deputies had no responsibility in enforcing the laws of Judaism. Why would they attempt such thing? That's a good question, unless they thought they could bring enough political pressure to get their way. Maybe it was just a long-shot. But, the deputy wouldn't even permit them to argue the case; i.e., he threw it out of court...drove them from the judgment seat (v.16)
O.K., v.17, let's read. "Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief fuler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things." I confess, this verse is a stumper. I don't get the connection. The New International version reads like this: "Then they all turned on Sosthenes, the synagogue ruler, and beat him in front of the court." thus, the NIV leaves the impression Sosthenes was part of the delegation who brought Paul to the judgment seat. The KJV is more obscure on this point. The Living New Testament (a paraphrased edition, not a translation) says: "Then the mob grabbed Sosthenes, the new leader of the synagogue, and beat him outside the courtroom."
The new leader of the synagogue? This apparently assumes Sosthenes replaced Crispus in v.8 up above. You can see, there's a lot of disagreement on this one.
If I understand correctly, there could be more than one ruler in one synagogue at one time. Somewhat similar to a corporation having several vice presidents. At Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:15), rulers is plural and synagogue is singular. But notice, it is the "chief ruler" in the KJV - thus, more than one ruler at that synagogue. And again, there could have been more than one synagogue in Corinth. So one seems to connect Sosthenes with Paul in Acts 18:17. But, to complicate this, later on when this apostle (Paul) wrote the letter of I Corinthians to the brethren in this same place; he mentions Sosthenes in the first verse of that letter and calls him brother. Could Sosthenes be the same man as Crispus? Why would Luke use two different names and make no connection? Or were two synagogue rulers converted in Corinth? Or, is the Sosthenes in Acts and the Sosthenes in First Corinthians two different men? I move we leave this one to the experts. Anybody second the motion? O.K. the experts have it.
Now, v. 18-21,, lefs read. "And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. and he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not: But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will and he sailed from Ephesus." So, Paul finally left Corinth, after at least a year and a half. His leaving had nothing to do with the incident before Gallio. V.18 says, "Paul...tarried there yet a good while." Notice, Paul's tentmaking friends, Aquila and Mrs. Aquila, went with him to Ephesus. Ephesus is city #33, a seaport in south-western Asia Minor on the Aegean sea. Write it on your map. Paul stayed at Ephesus only a few days; but notice; he promised to come back..."if God will." (v.21). Now, what's this vow business (v. 18) that prompted Paul to make this trip to Jerusalem, some 600-800 miles away? What was a vow? This was not the Nazarite vow like Sampson, Samuel and John the Baptist were involved with. Vows are discussed in the O.T. (Lev.. ch.27 and Num. ch.30). A vow was a promise to God, above and beyond the call of duty, .i.e., a voluntary promise to do something pleasing to (or for) God. But, once the vow was made, it could not be broken. There were a few exceptions for women, where their father or husband did not concur. Jesus condemned abuses that were being made of this in his day (Matt. 15:4-5). There was apparently a ritual that went along with this or could be used hi connection with it. That's why Paul shaved his head or cut his hair at Cenchrea. That's the town 4 or 5 miles from Corinth. And we find a church at Cenchrea at a later period. It may have been started while Paul was at Corinth. One of the members there was a lady, Phoebe, mentioned in Rom. 16:1. Cenchrea is most likely the seaport where they left Achaia. Now, what was Paul's vow? What promise had Paul made to God? This we are not told. We are not told what or why. Luke's reason for mentioning it, escapes me. As much as we would like to know, we don't!
It would seem that Paul had already decided that Ephesus would be his next city of prolonged labor. He started there once before, you will recall; but was forbidden by the Spirit, at that time. Aquila and Priscilla came to Ephesus with Paul most likely to lay some groundwork and get established in their craft while Paul was gone. What about Silas, Timothy and Luke? Nothing is said about them. Possibly they continued with the European work Paul's brief visit to the synagogue in Ephesus was probably for checking out the possibilities there. And, believe it or not, he was invited to stay. That's unusual. Paul declined for the time but promised to return. He sailed from Ephesus. (v.21).
Let's read v.22-23. Ready? "And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples." O.K. that might be two verses, but that's another one of Luke's long strokes. Understand, that covered many months. He could have been on a boat weeks before he landed at Caesarea. (You should have that city written in.) Caesarea, City #5. When Paul got off the ship, he went up and saluted the church.
The question is which church? Bro. McGarvey favors the church at Caesarea. You'll remember that was Cornelius' home away from home. Do you remember the first Gentile convert? Also, it was the hometown of Philip, who preached to the Ethiopian nobleman, in the chariot. Others think it was Jerusalem. I would be inclined to think Jerusalem for at least three reasons:
1) He went up and Jerusalem was more than two thousand
feet up in elevation.
2) When he left he went down to Antioch which is a true
elevation description from Jerusalem but not Caesarea
3) In v.21 the reason Paul gave for not staying longer at
Ephesus was his destination of Jerusalem
Apparently, Paul planned to be in Jerusalem on the feast days, i.e., either the Jewish Passover, Pentecost, or Feast of Tabernacles. It would be interesting to know more about his trip. The last time Paul was in Jerusalem was at the conference on circumcision (Acts 15), when the letter was proposed by James and carried to Antioch by Silas and Judas. That must have been at least two or three years before. And so far as we know Silas had not returned yet. Antioch, i.e., Antioch of Syria - you will remember that was the big Gentile church. That is where Paul and Barnabas left from on the first missionary journey. Also, where Paul and Silas departed from Antioch on the second missionary journey. Paul is here returning at the end of the second missionary journey. V.23 says, "he spent some time there." That's interesting! Possibly a gospel meeting, some strengthening of the brethren. Some more fellowship and a lot of good chicken dinners. A lot of stories to tell about Timothy, Luke, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth and many, many more. When he left Antioch, v.23 says, "He went over Galatia and Phrygia in order," that is, he made that same round again...Derby, Lystra, Antioch, etc., i.e., the churches of Galatia to whom the book of Galatians is addressed. Strengthening the disciples (v.23). And, again, many interesting details are omitted. The third missionary journey is in progress. O.K., Paul is headed for Ephesus (where he left Aquila and Priscilla). But, while Paul is making that trip; about 400 miles, let's take our break Hurry back!