Corinth: One of the oldest and most prominent cities of ancient Greece, located about 5 km (3 mi) SW of the modern-day city. The importance and great wealth of Corinth resulted largely from its strategic location at the isthmus, or narrow neck of land, connecting central Greece with the southern peninsula, the Peloponnese. Not only did Corinth control the flow of goods between northern and southern Greece but it also controlled maritime traffic between E and W on the Mediterranean Sea, since traveling the sea/land route via the isthmus was safer than making the trip around Greece. Achaia, as the Romans called Greece apart from Macedonia, became a Roman senatorial province during the reign of Caesar Augustus, and Corinth was made its capital. (See study note on Ac 18:12.) A large number of Jews had settled in Corinth and had established a synagogue, drawing some Greek adherents. (Ac 18:4) The presence of Jews in ancient Corinth is attested to by first-century writer Philo and by an ancient Greek inscription on a marble lintel found near the gate toward the harbor of Lechaeum. The inscription reads “[Sy·na·]go·geʹ He·br[aiʹon],” meaning “Synagogue of the Hebrews.” Some suggest that the lintel is from the time of Paul, but most favor a later date.—See App. B13.
Aquila: This faithful Christian husband and his loyal wife, Priscilla (also called Prisca), are described as being “fellow workers” with Paul. (Ro 16:3) They are referred to a total of six times in the Christian Greek Scriptures (Ac 18:18, 26; 1Co 16:19; 2Ti 4:19), and on each occasion they are mentioned together. The name Priscilla is the diminutive form of the name Prisca. The shorter form of the name is found in Paul’s writings, the longer form in Luke’s. Such a variation was common in Roman names. Banished from Rome by Emperor Claudius’ decree against the Jews sometime in the year 49 or early 50 C.E., Aquila and Priscilla took up residence in Corinth. When Paul arrived there in the autumn of 50 C.E., he worked with this couple at their common trade of tentmaking. Aquila and Priscilla doubtless aided Paul in building up the new congregation there. Aquila was a native of Pontus, a region of northern Asia Minor along the Black Sea.—See App. B13.
tentmakers: Here the Greek term ske·no·poi·osʹ is used to describe the trade of Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. Various opinions have been offered as to the exact type of craftsman indicated by this word (whether tentmaker, tapestry weaver, or ropemaker); however, a number of scholars hold that “tentmaker” is the probable meaning. Paul was from Tarsus in Cilicia, an area famous for its goat-hair cloth named cilicium, from which tents were made. (Ac 21:39) Among the Jews of the first century C.E., it was considered honorable for a young man to learn a trade even if he was also to receive a higher education. It is possible, then, that Paul learned to make tents while he was still a youth. The work was not easy, for it is reported that the cilicium was usually stiff and rough and, consequently, difficult to cut and sew.
give a talk: Or “reason with people.” The Greek verb di·a·leʹgo·mai has been defined “to discuss; to converse.” It can describe the delivering of an instructional discourse as well as an interaction with people that includes an exchange of opinions. This same Greek word is also used at Ac 17:2, 17; 18:19; 19:8, 9; 20:7, 9.
intensely occupied with the word: Or “fully absorbed in preaching the word.” This expression indicates that Paul at this point began to devote all his time to preaching.
he shook out his garments: This gesture by Paul indicated that he was free of responsibility for the Jews in Corinth who refused to accept the lifesaving message about the Christ. Paul had fulfilled his obligation and was no longer accountable for their lives. (See study note on Let your blood be on your own heads in this verse.) This type of gesture had a precedent in the Scriptures. When Nehemiah spoke to the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem, he shook out the folds of his garment to signify that a person who did not fulfill a certain promise would be cast off by God. (Ne 5:13) Paul performed a similar gesture in Pisidian Antioch when he “shook the dust off [his] feet” against those who opposed him in that city.—See study notes on Ac 13:51; Lu 9:5.
Let your blood be on your own heads: Paul uses this expression to show that he is not accountable for the consequences that would come upon the Jews who refused to accept the message about Jesus, the Messiah. Similar statements found in the Hebrew Scriptures convey the idea that a person who pursues a course of action worthy of death is responsible for the loss of his own life. (Jos 2:19; 2Sa 1:16; 1Ki 2:37; Eze 33:2-4; see study note on Mt 27:25.) Paul adds the declaration: I am clean, that is, “I am innocent [“guiltless; clear of responsibility”].”—See study note on Ac 20:26.
transferred from there: That is, from the synagogue to the house of Titius Justus, where Paul continued preaching. The home of Aquila and Priscilla remained Paul’s residence while he was in Corinth, but the house of Justus apparently became the center from which the apostle carried out his preaching activity.—Ac 18:3.
proconsul: A provincial governor for the Roman Senate. Here Gallio is mentioned as being proconsul of the province of Achaia. Luke is accurate in using the term “proconsul” in this case, for Achaia was a senatorial province from 27 B.C.E. to 15 C.E. and again after 44 C.E. (See study note on Ac 13:7.) An inscription from Delphi that refers to proconsul Gallio not only supports the accuracy of Luke’s account but also helps in dating Gallio’s term of office.
Achaia: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, Achaia refers to the Roman province of southern Greece with its capital at Corinth. In 27 B.C.E., when Caesar Augustus reorganized the two provinces of Greece, Macedonia and Achaia, the name Achaia applied to all of Peloponnese and to part of continental Greece. The province of Achaia was under the administration of the Roman Senate and was ruled through a proconsul from its capital, Corinth. (2Co 1:1) Other cities of the province of Achaia mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures were Athens and Cenchreae. (Ac 18:1, 18; Ro 16:1) Achaia and Macedonia, its neighboring province to the N, were often mentioned together.—Ac 19:21; Ro 15:26; 1Th 1:7, 8; see App. B13.
Cenchreae: One of Corinth’s seaports, Cenchreae lay on the Saronic Gulf side of a narrow isthmus about 11 km (7 mi) E of Corinth. Cenchreae was Corinth’s port for points E of Greece, while Lechaeum, on the opposite side of the isthmus, served as Corinth’s port for Italy and other points W of Greece. Ruins in the area today include buildings and breakwaters near the present village of Kehries (Kechriais). According to Ro 16:1, there was a Christian congregation in Cenchreae.—See App. B13.
if Jehovah is willing: An expression that emphasizes the need to take God’s will into account when doing or planning to do anything. The apostle Paul kept this principle closely in mind. (1Co 4:19; 16:7; Heb 6:3) The disciple James also encouraged his readers to say: “If Jehovah wills, we will live and do this or that.” (Jas 4:15) Such expressions should not be empty phrases; anyone who sincerely says “if Jehovah is willing” must try to act in harmony with Jehovah’s will. The expression does not always need to be made audibly but is often made only in the heart.—See study notes on Ac 21:14; 1Co 4:19; Jas 4:15 and App. C3 introduction; Ac 18:21.
he went up: Although Jerusalem is not specifically mentioned in the Greek text, Paul was apparently heading to that city. Jerusalem is about 750 m (2,500 ft) above sea level, and the Scriptures often speak of worshippers as “going up to Jerusalem.” In fact, the Greek verb a·na·baiʹno (“to go up”) is many times used when Jerusalem is specifically mentioned as the destination. (Mt 20:17; Mr 10:32; Lu 18:31; 19:28; Joh 2:13; 5:1; 11:55; Ac 11:2; 21:12; 24:11; 25:1, 9; Ga 2:1) In addition, a verb meaning “to go down” (ka·ta·baiʹno) also appears in this verse, and this verb is sometimes used when referring to going away from Jerusalem.—Mr 3:22; Lu 10:30, 31; Ac 24:1, 22; 25:7.
Apollos: A Jewish Christian who had apparently been raised in the city of Alexandria, the capital of the Roman province of Egypt. Alexandria was a center of higher learning, renowned for its great library. It was the largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and had a large Jewish population. It was one of the most important centers of culture and learning for both Jews and Greeks. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint was produced there. This background may help explain why Apollos is described as being well-versed [lit., “powerful”] in the Scriptures, that is, the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.
instructed: The Greek verb ka·te·kheʹo literally means “to sound down,” and it may include the idea of oral instruction. When the truths of God’s Word are repeatedly sounded down into the mind and heart of a learner, he becomes qualified to teach others.—Compare Ga 6:6, where the same Greek word is used twice.
the way of Jehovah: In the following verse, the synonymous expression “the way of God” is used. The Christian way of life is centered on worship of the only true God, Jehovah, and on faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. The book of Acts refers to this course of life simply as “The Way” or “this Way.” (Ac 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:22; see study note on Ac 9:2.) Also, the expression “the way of Jehovah” appears four times in the Gospel accounts, where it is part of a quote from Isa 40:3. (See study notes on Mt 3:3; Mr 1:3; Lu 3:4; Joh 1:23.) At Isa 40:3, the original Hebrew text uses the Tetragrammaton. The expression “the way of Jehovah” (or, “Jehovah’s way”) also occurs at Jg 2:22; Jer 5:4, 5.—See study note on Ac 19:23 and App. C3 introduction; Ac 18:25.
aglow with the spirit: Lit., “boiling to the spirit.” The Greek word rendered “aglow” literally means “to boil,” but here it is used metaphorically to convey the idea of overflowing with or radiating zeal and enthusiasm. In this expression, the Greek word for “spirit” (pneuʹma) apparently refers to God’s holy spirit, which can act as a driving force, moving and energizing a person to do things in accord with Jehovah’s will. (See study note on Mr 1:12.) However, the term “spirit” may also refer to the impelling force that issues from a person’s figurative heart and causes him to say and do things in a certain way. So this verse may express a combined idea of a person showing zeal and enthusiasm for what is right as he is guided by God’s spirit. However, some feel that in this context, this expression is simply an idiom for great eagerness and enthusiasm. If so, this may explain how Apollos could be “aglow with the spirit” even though he was unacquainted with baptism in the name of Jesus. In either case, Apollos’ spirit needed to be guided by God’s spirit in order for him to show enthusiasm for the right things and to be willing to accept teachings that were more accurate.—See Glossary, “Spirit.”
the baptism of John: This baptism was a public demonstration of the individual’s repentance over his sins against the Law that Jehovah gave to Moses, a Law that the Jews had agreed to follow. (Ex 24:7, 8) Undergoing the baptism of John, however, was not valid after Pentecost 33 C.E. when the Law covenant ended. (Ro 10:4; Ga 3:13; Eph 2:13-15; Col 2:13, 14) From that time on, the only baptism approved by Jehovah was the one that Jesus instructed his disciples to carry out. (Mt 28:19, 20) The events involving Apollos, described here, happened about the year 52 C.E.
God’s: Lit., “the.” Although the Greek text does not have the word for “God’s” here, many scholars agree that it is understood. In the book of Acts, the expression “undeserved kindness” is most often connected with “God.”—Ac 11:23; 13:43; 14:26; 20:24, 32.