Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
TIMOTHY, AND, UNDER
RETURNS FOR THE
1-4. came to Corinth--rebuilt by Julius Cæsar on the
isthmus between the Ægean and Ionian Seas; the capital of the
Roman province of Achaia, and the residence of the proconsul; a large
and populous mercantile city, and the center of commerce alike for East
and West; having a considerable Jewish population, larger, probably, at
this time than usual, owing to the banishment of the Jews from Rome by
Such a city was a noble field for the Gospel, which, once established
there, would naturally diffuse itself far and wide.
2. a Jew . . . Aquila . . . with his wife
Latin names one would conclude that they had resided so long in Rome
as to lose their Jewish family names.
born in Pontus--the most easterly province of Asia Minor,
stretching along the southern shore of the Black Sea. From this
province there were Jews at Jerusalem on the great Pentecost
and the Christians of it are included among "the strangers of the
dispersion," to whom Peter addressed his first Epistle
Whether this couple were converted before Paul made their acquaintance,
commentators are much divided. They may have brought their Christianity
with them from Rome [OLSHAUSEN], or Paul may have
been drawn to them merely by like occupation, and, lodging with them,
have been the instrument of their conversion [MEYER]. They appear to have been in good circumstances,
and after travelling much, to have eventually settled at Ephesus. The
Christian friendship now first formed continued warm and unbroken, and
the highest testimony is once and again borne to them by the apostle.
Claudius, &c.--This edict is almost certainly that mentioned by
SUETONIUS, in his life of this emperor
[Lives of the Cæsars, "Claudius," 25].
3. tentmakers--manufacturers, probably, of those hair-cloth
tents supplied by the goats of the apostle's native province, and
hence, as sold in the markets of the Levant, called cilicium.
Every Jewish youth, whatever the pecuniary circumstances of his
parents, was taught some trade (see on
and Paul made it a point of conscience to work at that which he had
probably been bred to, partly that he might not be burdensome to the
churches, and partly that his motives as a minister of Christ might not
be liable to misconstruction. To both these he makes frequent
reference in his Epistles.
4. the Greeks--that is, Gentile proselytes; for to the heathen, as
usual, he only turned when rejected by the Jews
5, 6. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from
Macedonia--that is, from Thessalonica, whither Silas had probably
accompanied Timothy when sent back from Athens (see on
Paul was pressed in the spirit--rather (according to what is certainly
the true reading) "was pressed with the word"; expressing not only his
zeal and assiduity in preaching it, but some inward pressure which
at this time he experienced in the work (to convey which more clearly
was probably the origin of the common reading). What that pressure was
we happen to know, with singular minuteness and vividness of
description, from the apostle himself, in his first Epistles to the
Corinthians and Thessalonians
He had come away from Athens, as he remained there, in a depressed and
anxious state of mind, having there met, for the first time, with
unwilling Gentile ears. He continued, apparently for some time,
laboring alone in the synagogue of Corinth, full of deep and anxious
solicitude for his Thessalonian converts. His early ministry at Corinth
was colored by these feelings. Himself deeply humbled, his power as a
preacher was more than ever felt to lie in demonstration of the Spirit.
At length Silas and Timotheus arrived with exhilarating tidings of the
faith and love of his Thessalonian children, and of their earnest
longing again to see their father in Christ; bringing with them also,
in token of their love and duty, a pecuniary contribution for the
supply of his wants. This seems to have so lifted him as to put new
life and vigor into his ministry. He now wrote his FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS, in which the "pressure" which resulted
from all this strikingly appears. (See
to First Thessalonians). Such emotions are known only to the ministers
of Christ, and, even of them, only to such as "travail in birth until
Christ be formed in" their hearers.
6. Your blood be upon your own heads, &c.--See
Eze 33:4, 9.
from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles--Compare
7, 8. he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named
Justus--not changing his lodging, as if Aquila and Priscilla up to this
time were with the opponents of the apostle
[ALFORD], but merely ceasing
any more to testify in the synagogue, and henceforth carrying on his
labors in this house of Justus, which "joining hard to the synagogue,"
would be easily accessible to such of its worshippers as were still open
to light. Justus, too, being probably a proselyte, would more easily
draw a mixed audience than the synagogue. From this time forth
conversions rapidly increased.
8. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with
all his house--an event felt to be so important that the apostle
deviated from his usual practice
and baptized him, as well as Caius (Gaius) and the household of
Stephanas, with his own hand
many of the Corinthians . . . believed and were baptized--The beginning
of the church gathered there.
9-11. Then spake the Lord to Paul . . . by a vision, Be not afraid
. . . no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, &c.--From this it would
seem that these signal successes were stirring up the wrath of the
unbelieving Jews, and probably the apostle feared being driven by
violence, as before, from this scene of such promising labor. He is
reassured, however, from above.
10. I have much people in this city--"whom in virtue of their election
to eternal life He already designates as His" (compare
11. continued there a year and six months--the whole period of
this stay at Corinth, and not merely up to what is next recorded.
During some part of this period he wrote his
EPISTLE TO THE
to Second Thessalonians.)
12-17. when Gallio was the deputy--"the proconsul." See on
He was brother to the celebrated philosopher
the tutor of Nero, who passed sentence of death on both.
13. contrary to the--Jewish
law--probably in not requiring the Gentiles to be circumcised.
14. If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness--any offense
punishable by the magistrate.
15. if it be a question of words and names, and of your law . . . I
will be no judge, &c.--in this only laying down the proper limits of
16. drave them, &c.--annoyed at such a case.
17. all the Greeks--the Gentile spectators.
took Sosthenes--perhaps the successor of Crispus, and certainly the
head of the accusing party. It is very improbable that this was the same
Sosthenes as the apostle afterwards calls "his brother"
and beat him before the judgment-seat--under the very eye of the
And Gallio cared for none of those things--nothing loath, perhaps,
to see these turbulent Jews, for whom probably he felt contempt,
themselves getting what they hoped to inflict on another, and
indifferent to whatever was beyond the range of his office and case. His
brother eulogizes his loving and lovable manners. Religious
indifference, under the influence of an easy and amiable temper,
reappears from age to age.
18. Paul . . . tarried . . . yet a good
while--During his long residence at Corinth, Paul planted other
churches in Achaia
then took . . . leave of the brethren, and sailed . . . into--rather,
Syria--to Antioch, the starting-point of all the missions to the
Gentiles, which he feels to be for the present concluded.
with him Priscilla and Aquila--In this order the names also occur in
(according to the true reading); compare
which seem to imply that the wife was the more prominent and helpful to
the Church. Silas and Timotheus doubtless accompanied the apostle, as
also Erastus, Gaius, and Aristarchus
(Ac 19:22, 29).
Of Silas, as Paul's associate, we read no more. His name occurs last in
connection with Peter and the churches of Asia Minor
having shorn his head in Cenchrea--the eastern harbor of
Corinth, about ten miles distant, where a church had been formed
had a vow--That it was the Nazarite vow
is not likely. It was probably one made in one of his seasons of
difficulty or danger, in prosecution of which he cuts off his hair and
hastens to Jerusalem to offer the requisite sacrifice within the
prescribed thirty days [JOSEPHUS, Wars of the
Jews, 2.15.1]. This explains the haste with which he leaves Ephesus
and the subsequent observance, on the recommendation of the brethren,
of a similar vow
This one at Corinth was voluntary, and shows that even in heathen
countries he systematically studied the prejudices of his Jewish
19. he came to Ephesus--the capital of the Roman province of Asia.
It was a sail, right across from the west to the east side of the
Ægean Sea, of some eight or ten days, with a fair wind.
left them there--Aquila and Priscilla.
but he himself entered into the synagogue--merely taking advantage
of the vessel putting in there.
and reasoned with the Jews--the tense here not being the
usual one denoting continuous action (as in
Ac 17:2; 18:4),
but that expressing a transient act. He had been forbidden to
preach the word in Asia
but he would not consider that as precluding this passing exercise of
his ministry when Providence brought him to its capital; nor did it
follow that the prohibition was still in force.
20. when they desired him to tarry--The Jews seldom rose against the
Gospel till the successful preaching of it stirred them up, and there
was no time for that here.
21. I must . . . keep this feast--probably Pentecost, presenting a
noble opportunity of preaching the Gospel.
but I will return--the fulfilment of which promise is recorded in
22. And when he had landed at Cæsarea--where he left the vessel.
and gone up--that is, to Jerusalem.
and saluted the church--In these few words does the historian
despatch the apostle's
FOURTH VISIT TO
after his conversion. The expression "going up" is invariably
used of a journey to the metropolis; and thence he naturally "went
down to Antioch." Perhaps the vessel reached too late for the
feast, as he seems to have done nothing in Jerusalem beyond "saluting
the Church," and privately offering the sacrifice with which his vow
would conclude. It is left to be understood, as on his arrival from his
first missionary tour, that "when he was come, and had gathered the
church together, he rehearsed all that God had done with him"
on this his second missionary journey.
23. And after he had spent some time there--but probably not long.
he departed--little thinking, probably, he was never more to return to
went over all . . . Galatia and Phrygia in
order--visiting the several churches in succession. See on
Galatia is mentioned first here, as he would come to it first from
Antioch. It was on this visitation that he ordained the weekly
(1Co 16:1, 2),
which has been since adopted generally, and converted into a public
usage throughout Christendom. Timotheus and Erastus, Gaius and
Aristarchus, appear to have accompanied him on this journey
(Ac 19:22, 29;
and from Second Corinthians we may presume, Titus also. The details of
this visit, as of the former
are not given.
EPHESUS AND IN
This is one of the most interesting and suggestive incidental narratives
in this precious history.
24, 25. a . . . Jew named Apollos--a contraction from Apollonius.
born at Alexandria--the celebrated city of Egypt on the southeastern
shore of the Mediterranean, called after its founder, Alexander the
Great. Nowhere was there such a fusion of Greek, Jewish, and Oriental
peculiarities, and an intelligent Jew educated in that city could
hardly fail to manifest all these elements in his mental character.
eloquent--turning his Alexandrian culture to high account.
and mighty in the scriptures--his eloquence enabling him to express
clearly and enforce skilfully what, as a Jew, he had gathered from a
diligent study of the Old Testament Scriptures.
came to Ephesus--on what errand is not known.
25. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord . . .
knowing only the baptism of John--He was instructed, probably, by
some disciple of the Baptist, in the whole circle of John's teaching
concerning Jesus, but no more: he had yet to learn the new light which
the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost had thrown upon the
Redeemer's death and resurrection; as appears from
Ac 19:2, 3.
being fervent in the spirit--His heart warm, and conscious, probably,
of his gifts and attainments, he burned to impart to others the truth he
had himself received.
he spake and taught diligently--rather, "accurately" (it is the same
word as is rendered "perfectly" in
26. speak boldly in the synagogue, whom when Aquila and Priscilla
heard--joying to observe the extent of Scripture knowledge and
evangelical truth which he displayed, and the fervency, courage, and
eloquence with which he preached the truth.
they took him unto them--privately.
and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly--opening up
those truths, to him as yet unknown, on which the Spirit had shed such
glorious light. (In what appears to be the true reading of this verse,
Priscilla is put before Aquila, as in
she being probably the more intelligent and devoted of the two). One
cannot but observe how providential it was that this couple should have
been left at Ephesus when Paul sailed thence for Syria; and no doubt it
was chiefly to pave the way for the better understanding of this
episode that the fact is expressly mentioned by the historian in
We see here also an example of not only lay agency (as it is
called), but female agency of the highest kind and with the most
admirable fruit. Nor can one help admiring the humility and
teachableness of so gifted a teacher in sitting at the feet of a
Christian woman and her husband.
27, 28. And when he was disposed--"minded," "resolved."
to pass into Achaia--of which Corinth, on the opposite coast
was the capital; there to proclaim that Gospel which he now more fully
the brethren--We had not before heard of such gathered at
Ephesus. But the desire of the Jews to whom Paul preached to retain him
among them for some time
and his promise to return to them
seem to indicate some drawing towards the Gospel, which, no doubt, the
zealous private labors of Priscilla and Aquila would ripen into
wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him--a beautiful specimen
of "letters of recommendation" (as
Ac 15:23, 25-27,
by which, as well as by interchange of deputations, &c., the early
churches maintained active Christian fellowship with each other.
when he was come, helped them much--was a great acquisition to the
which believed through grace--one of those incidental expressions which
show that faith's being a production of God's grace in the heart was
so current and recognized a truth that it was taken for granted, as a
necessary consequence of the general system of grace, rather than
expressly insisted on. (It is against the natural order of the words to
read them, as BENGEL,
MEYER, and others, do, "helped through grace those
28. For he mightily convinced the Jews--The word is very strong:
"stoutly bore them down in argument," "vigorously argued them down," and
the tense in that he continued to do it, or that this was the
characteristic of his ministry.
showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ--Rather, "that the
Christ (or Messiah) was Jesus." This expression, when compared with
seems to imply a richer testimony than with his partial knowledge he
was at first able to bear; and the power with which he bore down all
opposition in argument is that which made him such an acquisition to
the brethren. Thus his ministry would be as good as another visitation
to the Achaian churches by the apostle himself (see
and the more as, in so far as he was indebted for it to Priscilla and
Aquila, it would have a decidedly Pauline cast.