This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 18:1-17. These verses describe Paul’s work in the city of Corinth, tentmaking and preaching, and the fiasco when the Jews brought him to trial before Gallio.
Paul’s experiences in Corinth.
1 Paul Works as a Tentmaker in Corinth
¶ "Later on, Paul left Athens and came to Corinth. There Paul found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus. Aquila and his wife Priscilla had recently moved from Italy to Corinth, because Claudius had deported all Jews from Rome. Paul came to live and work with Aquila and Priscilla because they were tent makers by trade and so was he."(Acts 18:1-3).
Corinth. A city of Greece or Achaia as the southern part was known. Although Athens was the capital, Corinth was the main commercial center and a bigger city. Situated near the isthmus that connected northern and southern Greece, Corinth had access to the sea eastward at Cenchrea, and westward at Lechaeum. Many Jews lived in Corinth especially because in AD49 the Jews who lived in Rome had been expelled. Paul was alone in this big city and apparently needed to find a way to earn some money. Fortunately he had a trade, and making contact with fellow Jews he found two who were also of that trade, Aquila and Priscilla (or Prisca). So he was able to lodge and work with them. He mentions them in Romans 16:3.
2 Paul Speaks in Synagogue —He is Opposed
¶ "Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to convince Jews and Greeks. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was motivated all the more to bear witness to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. When the Jews opposed him and blasphemed, he shook out his clothing and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will preach to the Gentiles!” "(Acts 18:4-6).
The Jews opposed him. Paul was doing his best to do his usual work in the synagogue, but he met with so much opposition, that the work could not succeed. Even with the encouragement of Silas and Timothy’s arrival he still could not overcome the opposition. So he shook the dust from his clothes as a sign that he would have no more to do with them (not even take any of their dust with him) and he left.
Letter to the Thessalonians. Soon after the arrival of Timothy and Silas (Silvanus) Paul wrote the first letter to the Thessalonians whence Timothy and Silas had come (1Thessalonians 1:1, 3:6).
¶ "Paul quit the synagogue, and instead taught next door in the house of a certain man named Titius Justus, one who worshiped God. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized. The Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don't be afraid, but speak and don't be silent. I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you. I have many people in this city.” "(Acts 18:7-10).
The house next door. Paul’s work in the synagogue may have been frustrated, but it hadn't been fruitless. Titius, a Gentile who did not practise paganism but worshiped the true God, allowed Paul to use his house as a teaching place, right next to the synagogue. The ruler of the synagogue, Crispus, had not opposed Paul; he continued to listen to Paul and was converted along with his family. Many others were made disciples of Christ.
Don't be afraid. However the opposition continued from the synagogue. Paul later remembers how he felt: "I was with you in fear and in much trembling"(1Corinthians 2:3). God blessed Paul with direct words of encouragement and a promise that Paul would not be harmed.
3 Paul Speaks at Gallio’s Court —Case Dismissed
¶ "Paul lived in Corinth for a year and six months, teaching the word of God among the people. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before Gallio’s judgment seat. They said, “This man persuades men to worship God in a manner contrary to the law.” "(Acts 18:11-13).
Brought Paul before Gallio. After eighteen months of work in Corinth, Paul becomes again the victim of persecution from the Jews. Gallio was the administrator of Roman law, but the Jews were charging Paul with breaking Jewish law. For some reason they must have thought Gallio would support them. Perhaps they were influential in Corinth and had a strong hold on the economy of the city. But, as we see next, they miscalculated badly.
¶ But before Paul could open his mouth to reply, Gallio said to the Jews, “If indeed it were a matter of wrong, or of harmful crime, it would be reasonable, O Jews, that I should bear with you. However if your case is about questions of words and names and your own law, then look to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these matters.” So Gallio drove them from the judgment seat."(Acts 18:14-16).
Gallio refuses to judge. Gallio did not give Paul any chance to speak. Instead Gallio dismissed the case summarily. He could see that the charge was not of a crime against Roman law, but merely a Jewish matter. So in all fairness he told Paul’s accusers to get out of his court.
¶ "Then all the Greeks laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. Gallio did not concern himself with any of these things."(Acts 18:17).
Sosthenes beaten. Sosthenes was the ruler of the synagogue. He had replaced Crispus whom Paul had converted. Apparently Sosthenes was a little tardy in leaving the court and, no doubt much to his dismay, was given a beating that was most illegal. Gallio didn't put a stop to it. Perhaps he could see the natural justice in it. God had promised to keep Paul from harm, and Gallio served God’s purpose.