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I am convinced that one of the primary purposes of the Book of Acts is to motivate us to aggressive ministry as we witness time and again God’s faithfulness throughout the inevitable cycle of crisis and deliverance. Paul keeps entering into new situations, but the outcome is very similar. If we are willing to walk by faith and be pioneers in ministry, we too can experience the same privilege of seeing God’s faithfulness to bring ministry fruit and deliverance from persecution. But if we are willing to sit on the sidelines and leave the evangelism and edification to others, we will have a very lethargic Christian life.






My youngest daughter Julie was home from college this week … she made one observation that I found pretty convicting. After being back at home for several days, she remarked, “You folks (Mom and Dad) are really boring!” After she had caught up with some of her high school friends I think she was ready to head back to the faster pace of college life. I am afraid there is some truth to that. But the type of excitement that I would like to see relates to ministry fruit and contending for the gospel against whatever opposition might come our way.


(this section was the concluding paragraph from last week’s message; overlapping here)

A. (:7-8) Divine Effects – Ministry Fruit

1. (:7) Titius Justus – God had prepared a home for a base of operations after the trouble in the synagogue

2. (:8) Crispus along with his household and many other Corinthians – God had prepared the hearts of people to respond to the gospel in repentance and faith

B. (:9a) Divine Encounter (to reinforce the Calling)

“And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision,”

C. (:9b) Divine Exhortation – Be Bold (to fulfill your Calling)

“Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;”

Fear paralyzes; the key is to maintain that level of aggressive ministry – when we are willing to sit on the sidelines, the cycle of blessing is interrupted

D. (:10) Divine Encouragement – The Promise of the Presence and Protection of God

“for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”


1) The Lord confirmed His presence.

2) The Lord confirmed His protection.

3) The Lord confirmed His purpose.

E. (:11) Diligent Edification

“And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”

Might have been tempted to bug out of town early on; but the divine encouragement stopped his fears and caused him to settle in for long term profitable ministry


A. (:12a) Territory Venue for Adjudication — Political Structure in Corinth

“But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia,”

Comes from a prominent family:

Stott: Gallio — 51-52 A.D. brother of Seneca, the Stoic philosopher and dramatist and tutor of the youthful Nero; known as a friend of justice and truth

The most fixed date we have in the book of Acts – extra biblical sources tell us when Gallio was the Roman representative in Achaia

Bock: thought to be anti-Semitic

But also referenced as kind and gentle and gracious and fair-minded, impartial

Important to do your research and know what type of judge will be deciding your case; Jews decided to take their shot at putting Paul away

B. (:12b) Trial Before the Roman Authority

“the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat,”

United surprise attack – they grabbed Paul and forced him to appear before Gallio

Not the last time that Paul will be on trial .. cf. last chapters of Acts

Longenecker: the bema was a large, raised platform that stood in the agora [marketplace] . . . in front of the residence of the proconsul and served as a forum where he tried cases.

7.5 feet high

You never know when a crisis will arise; when persecutors will attack; but we do know to expect such opposition –

2 Tim. 3:10-12 “Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

So you can see from this passage how persecution arises:

– To the extent that we are faithful to the apostles’ teaching – reinforcing the whole counsel of God; not backing away from the controversial convictions

– To the extent that we walk by faith and are aggressive in ministry and just won’t give up

– To the extent that our light of the righteousness of Christ shines in this dark, wicked world and exposes sin

Think of the ramifications of this inquiry – could seriously impact the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire; the Jews were not looking for some local ruling; they had been chasing Paul from city to city; they wanted to come up with some broader charge that would shut Paul’s ministry down across the whole region

C. (:13) Trumped Up Charge

“saying, ‘This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.’”

What law are we talking about here? Surely the attackers believed that Paul was in opposition to the law of Moses … but here must be Roman law – that is all that Gallio would care about; Jews would try to take a religious controversy and elevate it to the level of political insurrection

Bruce: Judaism was a religio licita, an authorized religion. But Paul’s teaching was something new and un-Jewish . . .; it was, they urged, a religio illicit, which accordingly ought to be banned by Roman law.”

Bock: The verb anapeitho, persuade is an NT hapax. It can refer to evil persuasion

But Gallio was inclined to view this religious controversy as a dispute that belonged under the overall umbrella of Judaism


A. (:14a) Salvation/Deliverance Does Not Depend on Us

“But when Paul was about to open his mouth,”

Paul was not at a loss for words and certainly was not unwilling to defend himself; but the Lord had the situation handled and did not need Paul to say a word

Reminds us of the promise that Christ made to His disciples that they would be dragged before political magistrates and they did not have to worry about planning ahead of time what to say; God would give them the words

B. (:14b-15) Separation of Church and State – Boundaries of Political Adjudication

“Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.’”


Bock: Rome, as a matter of state policy, will not meddle in matters of religious practice by a particular group other than to determine whether a religion is legitimate and not contrary to state interests.

Freedom of religion under the democratic government of the United States — (Different from a theocracy such as God had established under Moses where the state had the responsibility to execute heretics and protect the genuine worship of the one true God)

Establishment Clause of First Amendment to the Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

Free Exercise Clause:

“… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

Separation of Church and State – what does this mean in our context?

C. (:16) Surprising Force of the Judicial Vindication

“And he drove them away from the judgment seat.”

MacArthur: You know what that indicates to me? That indicates to me that they didn’t quit when he said, “Forget it. I’m not going to get involved.” They probably really hung around and persisted. Finally, he called his lictors and said, “Get them out.” He drove them out of there.

D. (:17) Sosthenes Attacked – Wheel turns full cycle; what goes around, comes around

“And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. And Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.”

The Attacker now becomes the Attacked


– probably the Jewish accusers turning now on one of their own – on Sosthenes who probably had advocated that Gallio would give them a favorable verdict; Gallio does not care what the Jews do to one of their own; ignores it as an internal conflict

– could be the watching Greek crowd resorting to anti-Semitism (Whitcomb)

– could even be the judicial police officials who were trying to drive the Jews away from the court area

Wiersbe: If this is the same Sosthenes mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:1, then he too got converted, and the Jews and to find another ruler for their synagogue! It would be interesting to know exactly how it happened. Did Paul and some of the believers visit Sosthenes and minister to him? Perhaps his predecessor Crispus helped “wash the wounds” (Acts 16:33) and used this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ.

Longenecker: Gallio, however, turned a blind eye to what was going on, evidently because he wanted to teach those who would waste his time with such trivialities a lesson.

Bock: the ambivalence is not unlike the way Pilate handled Jesus.


A. (:18a) Departure from Corinth after extended ministry

“And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila.”

since Gallio was not going to sanction any prosecution, Paul took the opportunity to continue ministering for some time before leaving Corinth

MacArthur: After this, it says he took his leave of the brethren and sailed from there toward Syria. Now Syria is where Palestine is, where Jerusalem is. He’s all the way in Greece. He’s got to go all the way from Greece. That’s about a 1,500-mile boat trip, and boats didn’t go real fast in that day. That’s a long trip. He’s going all the way back to Palestine/Syria area. He’s leaving.

Apparently enough competent leadership was left behind to pastor the church at Corinth – remarkable how quickly Paul developed and trained spiritual leaders

B. (:18b) Keeping a Vow in Cenchrea – Thanksgiving Application

“In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.”

Port city for Corinth

Kent: home of Phoebe and location of another church – Rom. 16:1

Think back to God being faithful to fulfill His promise that Paul would not be harmed in Corinth

Nazarite vows – Num. 6:1-21

Stott: involved abstinence from drinking wine and from cutting one’s hair for a period, at the end of which the hair was first cut and then burned, along with other sacrifices, as a symbol of self-offering to God. If the vow was completed away from Jerusalem, the hair could still be brought there to be burned. Such vows were made either in thankfulness for past blessings (such as Paul’s safekeeping in Corinth) or as part of a petition for future blessings (such as safekeeping on Paul’s impending journey). Once Paul had been liberated from the attempt to be justified by the law, his conscience was free to take part in practices which, being ceremonial or cultural, belonged to the matters indifferent, perhaps on this occasion in order to conciliate the Jewish Christian leaders he was going to see in Jerusalem (cf. 21:23 ff.).

MacArthur: Nazirite come from a Hebrew root nazir, which means to vow, to vow something, to promise something. A Nazirite literally was a consecrated one. That’s what it literally means. “Consecrated one.” There’s a Greek word nazir, the same word. It is used to speak of holiness or devotion. When a person took a Nazirite vow, he was saying, “God, I promise to consecrate myself totally to You.” He was cutting off every other thing. A Nazirite totally consecrated himself to God, took a vow of self-imposed separation, self-imposed discipline for the purpose of special devotion to God.

C. (:19-21) Brief Stay in Ephesus

“And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. And when they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking leave of them and saying, ‘I will return to you again if God wills,’ he set sail from Ephesus.”

Whitcomb: Holy Spirit had forbidden him to go here at the beginning of his second missionary journey; surprising he would not stay here and take advantage of such an opportunity

“if God wills” = mindset of those following the Lord’s leading; not just a catch phrase

D. (:22-23) Concluding Travels to Complete Second Missionary Journey

“And when he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and went down to Antioch. And having spent some time there, he departed and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”

Kent: Although Jerusalem is not mentioned by name in 18:22, it appears to be meant in the phrase “having gone up and greeted the church.”

Whitcomb: Paul saw the saints in desperate situation in Jerusalem; poor; ostracized; could not get jobs; perhaps starving; wanted to collect money for them on third missionary journey to relieve their stress; wanted to build bond between Hebrew and Gentile believers

Transition to beginning of third missionary journey of Paul – begins once again from the mother church in Antioch; launches this journey with no companion at all; Silas disappears

Stott: This must mean that he revisited the churches of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, which he had established during his first missionary journey (chapters 13 to 14) and consolidated during his second (16:6).

MacArthur: He went off on his third journey. Want to hear something interesting? You know where he went on the third journey? Same place he went on the second journey. You know where he went on the second journey? Same journey he went on the first journey. I think you get a little idea of his pattern of evangelism. You strengthen the converts and let them do the work, right?

A famous missionary said this: “No man has the right to hear the Gospel twice until every man has heard it once.” That isn’t true. Paul would totally disagree with that principle. Paul went back to the same group three times.



How can you tell whether you are walking by faith and involved in aggressive ministry?

– You will sense your inadequacy and your need for God’s resources

– You will be pushing the envelope of new areas of ministry that take you out of your comfort zone

– You won’t be able to accurately predict the outcome of your efforts

– You will be experiencing the joy of fellowship with Christ in both His sufferings and in the power of His resurrection life