Monday, September 14, 2020

Acts Study | Session 31 | 18:9-28

In today's study, we find Paul receiving encouragement from the Lord, his continued ministry in Corinth, his vow, his decision to return to Antioch, ministry in Ephesus, the end of his second missionary journey, the beginning of the third. and are introduced to Apollos.

VERSES 9-10: Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: (10)  For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul was beginning to grow weary in well-doing and needed some encouragement that only God could give him. He may very well have been at the point of calling it quits based on the encouragement. It reminds me of the expression, "We are immortal until God is through with us."

VERSE 11: And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Apparently, the encouragement helped! He stopped running and dug his heels in and stayed a year and six months. 

VERSES 12-13: And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, (13)  Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. The fact that they were accusing Paul of persuading men to worship God contrary to the law makes it pretty clear that he was indeed teaching the Gospel of Grace that did not require the keeping of the Law. It is clear that the Jews saw Paul's message as contrary to the keeping of the Law. 

Now, some will say that the Jews were in the wrong here. No, not at all, what they were accusing Paul of was 100% correct. He was teaching salvation apart from works. The very acknowledgment of this fact is a nod to dispensationalism. Again, a dispensation is a given period in redemptive history that God deals with man in a certain way, i.e., Innocence (Genesis 1 -3); Conscience (Genesis 3-8); Civil Government (Genesis 9-11); Promise (Genesis 12-Ex. 19); Law (Exodus 20 - Acts 9); Grace (Acts 9 - Philemon); and Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6).

VERSES 14-16: And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: (15)  But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. (16)  And he drave them from the judgment seat. Gallio, who was apparently a part of the Roman government wanted nothing to do with this situation because Paul had obviously not done anything contrary to Roman law. He told them to handle it among themselves and threw them out from the judgment seat because he only dealt with matters of wrong and wicked lewdness. This is the word Bema that we are all so accustomed to hearing about who we will each appear before one ourselves (2Cor 5:10). 

VERSE 17: Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things. Greeks? Only the KJV uses this term. The other translations simply say something like and they all took hold of Sosthenes or then they all turned on Sosthenes. In the original, the word Greek is hellen which refers to non-Jews. Some will argue that it is actually the hellenist Jews, usually translated as Grecians, but the original does not support that in my opinion, e.g., Acts 6:1; Acts 9:29; Acts 11:20. Sosthenes is mentioned again in 1Cor 1:1. Maybe because of this event, he decided to leave the synagogue and team up with Paul? 

VERSE 18: And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. Paul apparently stayed in Corinth in spite of the uprising a little longer and then decides to head back to Antioch. This journey would take him through Syria, Cenchrea, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, and then to Antioch. 

Notice that it says that Paul had a vow. Whatever vow it was involved cutting his hair and the only one that requires that is the Nazarite Vow which was for a time of dedication to the Lord (Num 6:1-21). Five things about this vow: 1. It was voluntary, 2. It could be done by either men or women, 3. It had a specific time frame, 4. It had specific requirements and restrictions, and 5. at its conclusion a sacrifice was to be offered.

However, this is pure speculation on our part, and yet so many preach it dogmatically. One might speculate that this is what he was doing in v.21.

VERSES 19-21: And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. (20)  When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; (21)  But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. Still on his way to Antioch, Paul stops briefly in Ephesus and heads to the synagogue. Remember in v.5 that he left the synagogue in Corinth to go to the Gentiles. Obviously, that was a one-time situation and not a pattern for the rest of his ministry. 

And we find, as was his custom, he reasoned with the Jews no doubt about the ministry of Christ (Acts 17:3). They obviously wanted to hear more but he was pressed to keep moving to get to Jerusalem. The KJV says that he wanted to get to Jerusalem while the others leave this phrase out. 

VERSE 22: And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. Whatever he did in Jerusalem was short. Gone up is a reference to Jerusalem because it is the only place referred to as up in the New Testament. As I stated earlier, many believe he was fulfilling the sacrifice for the Nazarite Vow. 

Upon his return to Antioch, his second missionary journey is complete. 

VERSE 23: And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. And just as quickly as the second journey ended, the third began. We do not know how long some time there was. Again, his goal was to strengthen all the disciples just like they did on the second journey (Acts 15:35-36). 

VERSE 24: And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. Now we are introduced to Apollos from Alexandria. Again, remember that Luke is writing this account. 

Notice that he says that Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures. The word eloquent means that he was a fluent orator. So not only was he knowledgable, mighty in the Scriptures, but he had the ability to share that knowledge in an understandable way. Believe me, that is a gift that not all men possess. The bottom line is that if you must understand it to explain it. That requires study that most Christians are simply not willing to do. 

In Bible College, we had to take a pulpiteering class in which they filmed us and offered feedback. As I look back on it, it was an awesome class. 

VERSE 25: This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. He had been instructed well in regards to the way of the Lord, was fervent, and diligent, but he only knew the baptism of John. This just means that he did not know about the Grace Gospel that had been given to Paul yet. So, it would seem that he was a Kingdom believer, just not fully aware of the mystery that had been given to Paul. 

VERSE 26: And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. After Aquila and Priscilla heard him speak in the synagogue, they pulled him aside and brought him up to speed in regards to what God had been doing through Paul's life and ministry so that he could understand the way of God more prefectly, or more exactly. 

VERSE 27: And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: So now, Apollos, being more fully informed in regards to Pauline Theology, shared that with the brethren in Achaia. Apollos was now more prepared to rightly divide Law and Grace, the Kingdom Gospel, and the Grace Gospel. I have found in my ministry that that ability changes everything! We will find later that Apollos was effective at it because he had quite a following (1Cor 1:12). We do the same thing today by the way. 

VERSE 28: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. Again, we are in a time of overlap that makes it practically impossible to see hard lines between the one and the other in regards to the gospels. Today, this is not the case and should not be an issue, but sadly, we still blur the lines by not rightly dividing making it more difficult than it should be. 

Note: The point of the Kingdom Gospel was to show that Christ was the Messiah, while the point of the Grace Gospel is to show that Christ is the Savior. 

Why was it so important for Apollos to understand the difference? Because one was for national salvation and the other is for individual salvation. One was going away and another was just coming in. One would no longer eventually be effective, while the other will last until the Rapture. 

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