Acts chapter 18

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What does Acts chapter 18 mean?

Paul is in the middle of his second missionary voyage. He and Silas left Syrian Antioch and traveled by foot north and west through central modern-day Turkey. In Lystra, they met Timothy; Paul saw Timothy had the potential to be a leader in the church and brought him along. The Holy Spirit forbade them to spread Jesus' message in the large southwestern province of Asia or the northern province of Bithynia. Instead, the team traveled to the port town of Troas where they picked up Luke and sailed across the Aegean Sea to Macedonia. They had great success in Philippi, though Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned overnight. They met strong resistance in Thessalonica, and honest intellectuals in Berea. When Jews from Thessalonica came to Berea to threaten them, Paul escaped to Athens where he debated Stoic and Epicurean philosophers to modest effect (Acts 16—17).

In Acts 18:1–4, Paul travels, still by himself, to Corinth, the major city west of Athens. He quickly meets Aquila and Priscilla who fled their home in Rome due of the emperor Claudius' persecution of the Jews. Because they are also tent-makers, Paul joins them in their trade during the week and spends Sabbaths trying to convince the Jews and Gentile God-fearers that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 18:5–11 finds the missions team settling in. Silas and Timothy arrive, Luke having left them in Philippi, providing Paul the opportunity to spend more time preaching. Paul is opposed and reviled in the synagogue and finally leaves there to preach to the Gentiles. He moves to the home of a Gentile believer next door to the synagogue. Crispus—the synagogue ruler—and many others believe Paul's message. Jesus appears to Paul and tells him to stay in Corinth; he and his team will remain safe. They stay in Corinth for a year and a half.

Acts 18:12–17 recounts a story that acts as a foil for Jesus' crucifixion. The Jews who do not follow Jesus try to convince Gallio the proconsul that Paul is an enemy of the state. Unlike Pilate, Gallio has no interest in getting in the middle of a fight between Jewish sects. He refuses to judge against Paul and does nothing when the new ruler of the synagogue is beaten.

In Acts 18:18–23, the team's time in Corinth comes to an end. Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila travel to Cenchreae, Corinth's port, then cross the southern Aegean to Ephesus for a very short time. The Jews in the Ephesian synagogue ask Paul to stay and tell them more, but he leaves Priscilla and Aquilla and sails home. Paul lands in Caesarea Maritima on the coast of Judea, drops by the church in Jerusalem, and returns to Syrian Antioch. After a stay in Antioch, Paul begins his third missionary trip by returning to central Turkey to, again, encourage the churches he'd planted with Barnabas (Acts 13:4—14:23).

Meanwhile, in Acts 18:24–28, Priscilla and Aquila meet Apollos, a dynamic Jewish speaker. His knowledge, however, only encompasses the baptism for repentance that John the Baptist taught and some things about Jesus. Priscilla and Aquila explain to him salvation by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and Apollos becomes a great Christian teacher. After receiving the training he needs, he goes to Corinth, building on what Paul established (Acts 19:1) and making such an impression that the church divides into unhealthy sects (1 Corinthians 1:12).

From Galatia, Paul will continue his third missionary voyage by finally reaching Asia, specifically the city of Ephesus, for a significant stay. He'll return to Macedonia and Greece and briefly stop by Ephesus again before returning to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, he will be arrested on trumped-up charges and spend two years under house arrest in Caesarea Maritima. When he appeals to Caesar, he will face a harrowing sea voyage before finally reaching Rome, where he has wanted to go for a long time (Romans 1:9–11). Luke doesn't tell us what happens in Rome, just that Paul is there for two years and then released (Acts 19—28).
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