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Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:1-8)

Submitted by on Thursday, 21 May 2009No Comment


The short selection from Acts 18 can be divided into three parts:

  • Acts 8:1-3 Paul meeting Priscilla and Aquila
  • Acts 8:4-5 Paul preaching in the synagogues (Silas and Timothy rejoin him)
  • Acts 8:6-7 Paul rejected and his response; at Titus Justus’ house
  • Acts 8:8 Crispus and his household and the Corinthians who believe in Paul

The division highlights the names of those who became Paul’s companions in the work of evangelization. Silas and Timothy were left behind in Beroea when Paul was whisked to Athens. They rejoin him in Corinth where Paul was already engaged with the Jews and God-fearers in the synagogue of Corinth. Before that, however, Paul meets Priscilla and Aquila, the husband and wife team who became collaborators of the Apostle to the Gentiles. They are mentioned quite a number of times not only in Acts but also in the letters of Paul:

  • Acts 18:2-3
  • Acts 18:18-19
  • Acts 18:24-28
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19
  • Romans 16:3-4
  • 2 Timothy 4:19


The couple were originally from Rome but, Luke tells us, that because of Claudius banishing the Jews from the place, they went to Corinth. The case of Claudius banishing the Jews from Rome is mentioned by Suetonius, but there are historians who doubt whether it was an act that banished all Jews or just a section of them. In any case, Priscilla and Aquila will be accompanying Paul when he goes to Syria and finally parts ways with him in Ephesus (Acts 18:18). In Ephesus, the couple meet another charismatic preacher and one learned in the Scriptures named Apollos whom they correct. Apollos believed Jesus to be the Messiah but his baptism was the one from John the Baptist. So with the help of the couple he got introduced into The Way (18:24-28).

One of the remarkable things in the narrative is that Paul who had once before shaken the dust off his sandals in view of the rejection of the Jews continues to preach the gospel among them. In this occassion, he even stays in a place close to the synagogue. This is the Paul who wrote Romans 9-11:

I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh. (Romans 9:2-3)

All the violence that he suffered from them cannot quench the love he had for the gospel and his conviction that in the gospel of Christ, his fellow Jews find their fulfillment.

Everyone knows that Paul wrote two letters to the Corinthians1. That should be a monument to the attention Paul paid to the communities in this Greek port city. The first century letter of Clement to the Corinthians is a testimony to how happenings in the church there has become relevant to the other churches beyond the Aegean.

Acts 8:1-3
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1And at that time there was raised a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all dispersed through the countries of Judea, and Samaria, except the apostles.
2And devout men took order for Stephen's funeral, and made great mourning over him.
3But Saul made havock of the church, entering in from house to house, and dragging away men and women, committed them to prison.
Acts 8:4-5
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4They therefore that were dispersed, went about preaching the word of God.
5And Philip going down to the city of Samaria, preached Christ unto them.
Acts 8:6-7
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6And the people with one accord were attentive to those things which were said by Philip, hearing, and seeing the miracles which he did.
7For many of them who had unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, went out.
Acts 8:8
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8And many, taken with the palsy, and that were lame, were healed.
Acts 18:2-3
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2And finding a certain Jew, named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with Priscilla his wife, (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome,) he came to them.
3And because he was of the same trade, he remained with them, and wrought; (now they were tentmakers by trade.)
Acts 18:18-19
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18But Paul, when he had stayed yet many days, taking his leave of the brethren, sailed thence into Syria (and with him Priscilla and Aquila), having shorn his head in Cenchrae: for he had a vow.
19And he came to Ephesus, and left them there. But he himself entering into the synagogue, disputed with the Jews.
Acts 18:24-28
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24Now a certain Jew, named Apollo, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus, one mighty in the scriptures.
25This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, spoke, and taught diligently the things that are of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John.
26This man therefore began to speak boldly in the synagogue. Whom when Priscilla and Aquila had heard, they took him to them, and expounded to him the way of the Lord more diligently.
27And whereas he was desirous to go to Achaia, the brethren exhorting, wrote to the disciples to receive him. Who, when he was come, helped them much who had believed.
28For with much vigour he convinced the Jews openly, shewing by the scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ.
1 Corinthians 16:19
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19The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house, with whom I also lodge.
Romans 16:3-4
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3Salute Prisca and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus,
4(Who have for my life laid down their own necks: to whom not I only give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles,)
2 Timothy 4:19
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19Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
Acts 18:18
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18But Paul, when he had stayed yet many days, taking his leave of the brethren, sailed thence into Syria (and with him Priscilla and Aquila), having shorn his head in Cenchrae: for he had a vow.
Romans 9:2-3
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2That I have great sadness, and continual sorrow in my heart.
3For I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh,

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  1. more if we take 2 Corinthians to be a compilation of two or more letters. []

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