Script for the July 13th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the July 13th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is Psalm 7-9 and Acts 18, but we will focus only on the New Testament in this podcast.

If you have questions about anything in the Old Testament or New Testament reading assignment, please email me at mattellis1997@gmail.com. I may answer it on the next podcast.

Acts 18

This chapter begins with Paul taking a trip to a city he had never been to before. We are told in verse 1 that he traveled about 50 miles west of Athens to the large, worldly port city of Corinth.

In verse 2, we’re told that Paul met a man named Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, in Corinth. This very special couple played an important role in the story of the early church. They helped Paul and would soon help an eloquent Christian speaker named Apollos.

We are also told in verse 2 that Aquila and Priscilla had recently left Rome “because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.” When we look outside of Scripture to a writer named Suetonius (A.D, 69?–140), we see that there was a reason why Claudius chased all of the Jews out of Rome.

From “Life of Claudius” (25.4):

“He banished from Rome all the Jews, who were continually making disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus.”

The name “Chrestus” is remarkably similar to “Christos,” which is translated “Christ.” It’s the title for Jesus that Paul and others used. It appears that the Gospel was spreading in Rome. As a result, Jews continued to riot in order to stop the Gospel’s proclamation. We have read many instances of his previously in the book of Acts.

This just reminds us that not all people who want Heaven also want Jesus. The Jews were convinced that their good works would get them into Heaven. They just didn’t want to serve Jesus. So, in rejecting Him, they forfeited Heaven.

In verse 3, we realize that Aquila and Priscilla were in the same line of work as Paul. They were all tentmakers. It would seem that by coming to the major port city of Corinth, Aquila and his wife could peddle their wares to the world.

In verse 4, we read that Paul continued to reason with the Jews. He used their Scriptures to point to Jesus. But many of them refused to see Jesus in their Bibles.

Even today, Israel is one of the most secular nations in the world. They will not let you in if you want to go to Israel as a Christian missionary. If you go as a missionary, but under the guise of doing some other business, you might be found out and deported. When Kim and I visited Israel quite a few years back, it seemed that Christians are only allowed into Israel if they are tourists on short-term trips.

When we look at the numbers, we realize that only 2% of Israel’s population are Christians. In other words, the Jews are still unwilling to embrace their Messiah. At least not yet. But we are told in Scripture that they one day will. But that’s the topic for another biblical book. Let’s get back to Acts 18.

In verse 5, we’re told that Paul devoted himself to preaching the word when Silas and Timothy showed up. We take this to mean that before they came, he was spending much time making tents to take care of his financial needs. But Silas and Timothy probably showed up with a financial offering from the churches in Macedonia. So Paul gave up making tents and spent all of his time preaching, teaching, and persuading.

Now we come to a very important verse in the book of Acts.

Acts 18:6 (CSB): “When they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

A few chapters earlier, in Acts 13:46, Paul said that he was going to the Gentiles. Yet he had continued to plead with the Jews in each city he visited to turn to Jesus. But there came a time when enough was enough. In this verse, Paul wiped his hands clean. He shook the dust off of his sandals. He wasn’t going to waste any more time with the Jews. He was no longer going to “cast his pearls before swine.”

But as we will notice, this doesn’t mean that he completely abandoned the Jews. He would still visit synagogues and try to persuade the Jews to trust in Jesus. It would seem that his words in verse 6 came from his exasperation. But he would continue to speak with Jews and try to win them to the Lord.

In verses 7-8, we read that Paul left the synagogue and went to a Gentile’s house next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, trusted in Jesus along with all his family. Many people in Corinth also trusted in Jesus and were baptized.

In verses 9-10, the Lord gave assurances to Paul that he would not be abused in Corinth. He needed to simply keep speaking the truth. The fact that the Lord told him, “Don’t be afraid,” lets us know that Paul was like us and was fearful of what could happen.

So, with a heart for the people, and a love for the Gospel and the Lord, verse 11 tells us that Paul stayed in Corinth for 18 months teaching the word of God among them. There’s a life principle to be found here. There will be times when God will give us assurances. We will sense that He has given us some precious promises. But then life will begin to unravel, and it will seem that God’s Word isn’t going to hold fast. That’s when faith comes in. We choose to trust the Lord regardless of what we see around us.

So, the Lord had promised Paul that he would be safe in Corinth. And then, we read verses 12-13.

Acts 18:12-13 (CSB): “While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the tribunal. ‘This man,’ they said, ‘is persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.’”

Even with God’s assurances, the Jews led in a united attack against Paul and brought him before the tribunal, accusing him of leading people to worship God in unscriptural ways. God’s promises would hold true, but Paul would have had reason to ask the Holy Spirit to give him the ability to continue to believe the Lord’s words as the storm clouds were gathering around him.

So, what’s going on in these verses? The Romans weren’t tolerant of new religions cropping up within their empire. Judaism was an accepted religion within the Roman empire. The Jews sought to prove that Christianity was a new cult and should not be tolerated. Gallio was being petitioned to make that decision.

Yet, in verses 14-16, as Paul was opening his mouth to give a defense, Gallio called the meeting to adjournment. He refused to rule in this case. So, refusing to rule against Christianity was actually a ruling in favor of Christianity. Gallio had refused to call Christianity a cult and to demand that it not be practiced in the Roman empire.

As you can imagine, the Jews went ballistic when they didn’t get what they wanted. In verse 17, we read that they seized the synagogue leader and beat him. Why would they beat one of their own? Probably because he was the one to bring the case against Paul, and he had lost his case. But even as they beat Sosthenes in front of Gallio, the Roman proconsul didn’t care.

What was Paul to do? He has the promise of God that the people won’t hurt him. The Roman proconsul had essentially ruled in his favor by not rendering a ruling against him. Paul must have thought: “Keep calm and carry on.” We’re told in verse 18 that he stayed in Corinth for some undesignated time before leaving. He wouldn’t be run out of town like on previous occasions.

In verse 18, we read that Paul finally said “good-bye” and made his way by boat to Syria with Aquila and Priscilla.

We also read in verse 18 that before they sailed to Syria (back to his sending church in Antioch), he got a haircut at a city next to Corinth called Cenchreae. Paul had previously made a vow to the Lord (we aren’t told where, when, or why). As he was under the obligation of that vow, he couldn’t cut his hair. But he had apparently fulfilled his vow, and so he got a haircut.

In verses 19-20, they were still on their way to Syria, but their boat docked in Ephesus. Paul continued to try to persuade the Jews to follow Jesus, even though he had expressed a desire to leave them alone on two previous occasions. Paul was asked to stay at Ephesus, but he refused. He essentially said, “I’ll be back if God allows me to.” But based on what we read in the rest of the chapter, it appears that Aquila and Priscilla stayed behind in Ephesus.

In verse 22, we read that his boat landed at Caesarea Maritima. He traveled southeast to Jerusalem to spend time with the church. Then he traveled north to be with his dear Christian friends in Antioch. In verse 23, we observe that Paul traveled back through what we presently call Turkey after spending time in Antioch, “strengthening all the disciples.” He was encouraging them and unpacking God’s Word for them to understand and apply.

Acts 18:24 (CSB): “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus.”

This appears to have taken place while Paul was traveling through present-day Turkey, “strengthening the disciples.” Apollos was from Alexandria, a city in northern Africa. He was very capable when it came to speaking (eloquent), and he knew the Old Testament Scriptures very well.

Acts 18:25 (CSB): “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism.”

Apollo’s message about Jesus was accurate, but it wasn’t complete. He was an Old Testament preacher, so there was much that he didn’t understand. And for an eloquent preacher who can easily gather a crowd, to misunderstand truths about Jesus is serious. Many will listen and accept it, even though it is untrue.

Verse 25 says that “he knew only John’s baptism.” This meant that he was aware of a baptism of repentance that John the Baptizer knew. Apollos called people to repentance. Yet, he didn’t know the New Testament baptism, the baptism that illustrated repentance AND identification with Jesus. He needed to be corrected. But who would correct him?

Acts 18:26 (CSB): “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.

Apollos was bold, but he had a few things wrong. So Aquila and Priscilla didn’t disrespect him. They didn’t confront him publicly. Instead, they took him to their home and corrected him privately.

I’ve noticed that some people get bold when they have a crowd. They don’t have enough courage to speak to someone privately, so they will wait until a crowd has gathered, and then they will grill and humiliate the one they have a grievance against.

If we think back to the Gospels and how the Pharisees interacted with Jesus, we see this same thing. Only one of the Pharisees respected Jesus enough to visit with Him in private at night, ask questions, and carefully listen to Jesus’ answers. His name was Nicodemus, and we have his story in John 3. But the rest of the Pharisees waited until Jesus was in front of a crowd. Then, they tried to corner him with their questions and comments.

Don’t be like the Pharisees when you see someone who doesn’t seem to have things together. Instead, be like Nicodemus. Be like Aquila and Priscilla. Respect others enough to speak with them privately. The odds go way up that the other person will respond more positively.

In verse 27, we read that Apollos wanted to cross the Aegean Sea to where Athens and Corinth were located. The believers in Ephesus wrote to the believers in Achaia to welcome him. He was incredibly helpful to the believers there, particularly in what he said.

And this chapter ends with a verse that tells us Apollos was engaged in the same activity as the Apostle Paul.

Acts 18:28 (CSB): “For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.”

Friends, let’s be like that. Let’s study the Scriptures so that we can share its wonderful truths about Jesus with others. Far too many “Christians” don’t study their Bibles. Don’t be like that. Be like Apollos.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You once again for Your wonderful Word. You have given to us the completed Word of God that contains the entirety of Your revelation. Apollos only had the Old Testament, and he needed to be corrected. But we have the Old and New, so we have no excuse for messing things up.

Holy Spirit, please enlighten our minds to understand what we read in Your Word. Help us also to properly interpret it and then know how to apply it. And then help us humbly to speak with others who are in error. There is so much untruth being panhandled as Christianity these days. Help us know Your Word enough so we can accurately speak truth into the error.

We pray this in Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you next time!