What does Acts 18:3 mean?
ESV: and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
NIV: and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
NASB: and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them, and they worked together, for they were tent-makers by trade.
CSB: and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked.
NLT: Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
KJV: And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
NKJV: So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is in Corinth; he'd left Silas and Timothy in Berea. Although he had told his escort from Berea to Athens to send the two to him as quickly as possible (Acts 17:15), he seems to change his mind. He is worried about the harried church in Thessalonica and sends Timothy to check on them (1 Thessalonians 3:6); it's not clear if Silas went with Timothy or stayed in Berea. They don't rejoin Paul until he is well settled into a routine (Acts 18:5).

Fortunately, Paul meets a couple, Aquila and Priscilla, who share his trade of tentmaking. He joins them during the week and spends each Sabbath in the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 18:4).

Paul's choice to work and preach has several different facets. The Jewish school founder Hillel believed a rabbi or scribe should not make money from teaching the Torah. Paul firmly believes otherwise (1 Timothy 5:17–18). But the church in Corinth is somewhat fragile. To keep their attention on his message, he does not ask them to support him (1 Corinthians 9:4, 6–15), even though they do provide support for the church in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1–3). This contrasts with the church in Philippi which provides Paul support even when he isn't with them (Philippians 4:15).

Paul's experience in Corinth has given us the term "tentmaking;" this means to work full-time at a secular job in order to fund one's ministry work. It usually refers to missionaries who take a job in their host country, such as teaching a language. The job allows them to support themselves without burdening those they serve or sponsors back home, and to get to know the people they are trying to reach in a non-threatening environment.
Verse Context:
Acts 18:1–4 sees Paul arriving in Corinth. He has traveled across modern-day Asia Minor and down the eastern coast of Macedonia and Greece. From Athens, he heads west across the isthmus to the large Greek city. There, he will meet Aquila and Priscilla, refugees from Claudius' persecutions in Rome. The couple will be a great support to him, providing him with a means of living until Silas and Timothy reach him. Priscilla and Aquila will also follow Paul to Ephesus and train Apollos, a passionate speaker who only needs to know the story of Jesus to be a great preacher (Acts 18:24–28).
Chapter Summary:
Acts 18 recounts the end of Paul's second missionary journey. He leaves Athens for Corinth, in southern Greece, and works with Priscilla and Aquila as a tentmaker until Silas and Timothy rejoin him. The team stays eighteen months with no significant pressure. Eventually, Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila sail east to Ephesus. Paul leaves a short time later for Judea and Syrian Antioch before returning to Galatia for his third missionary journey. Meanwhile, Priscilla and Aquilla host the church in Ephesus and train a talented speaker named Apollos to be a minister of Christ.
Chapter Context:
Acts 18 covers the last half of Paul's second missionary journey and the first part of the third. He and his team have traveled down the east coast of Macedonia and Greece to Corinth (Acts 17) where they will spend eighteen months. Paul will stop briefly in Ephesus on their way back to Judea before visiting Jerusalem and Syrian Antioch. From there, Paul will return to Galatia in modern-day Asia Minor before returning to Ephesus for an extended stay (Acts 19). He will revisit the churches in Macedonia and Greece before facing arrest in Jerusalem (Acts 21).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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