In Chapter 18, Paul moves on from Athens and ends in Corinth. He later wrote two letters to the Corinthians that are in the Bible, but now he is describing his first meeting with them. Here, he also meets Aquila and Priscilla and we learn that both Paul and Aquila are tentmakers by trade (v3). That is how they make their money. This is also the same Aquila and Priscilla that are depicted in the recent movie “Paul, the Apostle of Christ.” In this biblical account, Aquila and Priscilla have to move out of Rome, insinuating that they were living in Rome at the time. The movie depicts that they would have moved back into Rome to help the Christians there and to serve God.
Paul chooses to work so as not to be a burden (2 Cor 11:9) and earn his keep as mentioned in verse three. There seems to be great fruitfulness in Corinth and many come to believe, though that does not mean that there aren’t struggles in keeping the right faith. Silas and Timothy arrive so Paul can do even more. He stays there for about a year and a half. This amount of time spent there allows him to establish the faith and set a strong foundation. I suppose that may be why he was so upset when he had to write the letters to them.
Again, Paul’s luck with the Jewish community did not fare well with him; evidently, it was not part of God’s plan. So he shakes off his garments and focuses on the Gentiles. Yet there was still some hope. One of the synagogue officials did convert. In fact, his whole household was baptized and believed. That is how it works sometimes. You do a lot of work and nothing seems to be happening, and then a door opens and God’s grace does His part. But for us, we have to ask God to be with us, and it is always amazing when you experience God’s grace when things do not seem to be going as planned. It reminds me of the adage, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Sometimes we have to step back and allow Jesus to do His work. But this too shall pass. Yet after some fruitfulness, the test comes and suffering must be endured. Sosthenes has to endure a great beating while the proconsul turns a blind eye.
On Paul’s journey to Antioch, there are some details that may get overlooked (v18-23). I never noticed this before, but Paul got a haircut because of a vow he had taken. I looked it up and found some answers on the “Bible Hub.” To explain, that might be two or three more articles, so I will leave it to you to study. Search for “Paul’s Vow.” It relates to an Old Testament vow he had taken, so obviously, the Old Testament is not null and void. This raises many questions. Why still participate in a vow and not circumcision? What is he understanding? Even as a priest, I learn more every day. Isn’t God awesome!
So now Paul is backtracking where he and/or other Christians have gone. There seems to be a familiarity with him. In Ephesus, they want him to stay longer. In Caesarea, he greets the Church, so the Church is well established there and has a governing body to greet him. In verse 23, he goes out and strengthens the disciples and visits them in “orderly sequence.” When Paul first goes out, it is chaotic. He tries to listen to the Holy Spirit and figure out where God wants him to go while his life is threatened as he runs from town to town. He really didn’t know what was going to happen next. But now he goes in “orderly fashion.” In order to have “orderly fashion” there must be some sort of organization established.
In verse 24 we see the name Apollos for the first time. He is a great speaker and has some idea about the faith, but Aquila and Priscilla have to guide him some more. He gets even better and more conversions happen. But later, we will see a problem arises where Apollos is caught in the middle of an argument (1 Cor 3:4).