Acts 18:1-18a The Lord Predestines The Means As Well As The End.
Following his discussion at the Areopagus, Paul travelled from Athens to Corinth and joined up with a couple of believing Jews Aquila and Priscilla, and because they were tentmakers like Paul he was able to support himself while he continued his work of ministering the word (Cf. 20:34). Again, in the providence of God, it was because of the command of Claudius to remove all Jews from Rome that was behind their move to Corinth. Again, Paul reasoned with Jews and Greeks in the synagogue on the Sabbath day (vv. 1-4 Cf. 17:2). However, it was with the arrival of Silas and Timothy which especially seems to have emboldened Paul, being “compelled by the Spirit,” to testify “to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 5 Cf. 17:14-15; 18:28). This was a time of transition from old covenant to new, and this seems to be a turning point for Paul.
After spending several Sabbaths trying to reason with the Jews, when they continued to oppose the message and blaspheme the Lord, Paul, in a gesture of judgment “shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’” (v. 6 Cf. 13:45). Nehemiah had the same response for any who would refuse to be a part of the work of restoration that God had called him to (5:13). People are responsible for their own judgment of death, when it is their own words which condemn them (Cf. II Sam. 1:16). Paul was faithful in warning them, but in rejecting the warning they had condemned themselves (Cf. Ezek. 3:18-19). This same judgment had fallen upon the apostate Jews at Antioch (Cf. 13:46-48). This was a time of transition to focus on the Gentiles who would be willing to hear the word (28:28).
However, there were those in the synagogue who did receive the word, including one Crispus, a ruler of the synagogue, who “believed on the Lord with all his household” (v. 8a). “And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (v. 8b). Crispus was in fact one of the few people that Paul actually baptized (Cf. I Cor. 1:14). There does not appear to have been any delay in being baptized for any who truly believed, and they had believed because they heard the word. Evidently Paul needed some encouragement, because in a night vision the Lord again spoke to Paul telling him to not be afraid, but to speak the word, because the Lord was with him. He also had the assurance that he would not be attacked because the Lord had many people in the city, presumably those who had not yet believed (vv. 9-10).
Paul would continue in the ministry of the word at Corinth for another year and a half (v. 11), until he was once again brought before the proconsul of Achaia for judgment (v. 12). However, because the apostate Jews simply opposed Paul on purely religious grounds, Gallio rejected their case (vv. 13-15). “And he drove them from the judgment seat” (v. 16). However, not being satisfied with Gallio’s judgment, the crowd took another believing ruler of the synagogue, one Sosthenes, “and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things” (v. 17). It is because of this indifference of Gallio that Paul decided to remain “a good while” (v. 18a). The Lord also had many people in this city, but not all these people were as yet converted. In other words, the Lord had predestined them to adoption, but He also predestined the means to them coming to Him, and that means was the ministry of the word through Paul.