Acts 16-18 Mars Hill

Psalm 126:1-6 Restoring the Fortunes
Ps 126:1 Song of The Steps* “When Yahweh turned the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, "Yahweh has done great things for them." 3 Yahweh has done great things for us, and we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes again, Yahweh, like the streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow in tears will reap in joy. 6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed for sowing, will certainly come again with joy, carrying his sheaves."

Observations: (*See note on Ps 120) 126:1-6 This psalm of the restoration of Zion's fortunes most likely doesn't refer to the return from Babylon (captivity isn't mentioned), for there are other returns that fit the returning and sowing motif better, such as that under king Hezekiah when Sennacherib threatened them (2Kg 19:19-36; Isa 37:30). Hezekiah prayed that God would deliver them form the threat of Assyria. God answered and rescued Jerusalem from the king of Assyria, and restored their fortunes. The inhabitants of Jerusalem would now be able to plant and harvest again.
Application: God delivers from difficult situations so we can rejoice in the great things He does for us.
Prayer: Great God in heaven who moves things in earth, thanks that You intervene and answer my prayers so I can rejoice in You and what You do. Amen.
Proverbs 31:6-9
Pr 31:6 “Give strong drink to him who is ready to perish; and wine to the bitter in soul: 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. 8 Open your mouth for the mute, in the cause of all who are left desolate. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and serve justice to the poor and needy."

Observations: The previous verses (31:4-5) said kings and princes should not drink and pervert justice for the oppressed/humbled/afflicted sons.
31:6 This verse and the next are probably sarcasm, to demonstrate that getting drunk is not for leaders. The Scripture permit drinking (even mandate it for the Passover), but prohibit drunkenness (Pr 23). Love is doing that is in another’s best interest. It's difficult to see how encouraging a wino or drug addict in their escapism is the loving thing to do.
31:7 Not all instances of deprivation are the result of unwise choices, but the word for “poverty” (Strongs #07389) is only used in Proverbs, and is largely a consequence of spurning wisdom; 6:11 sluggard; 10:15 folly and sin (surrounding verses); 13:18 refusing correction; 24:34 being a slug; 28:19 following vanity; 30:8 (yesterday's post).
37:8-9 Poverty can also be the result of social injustice. God gets on the case of the nation of Israel in Isaiah 1 for the sin of failing to address the needs in their midst. Here Proverbs mandates justice (not charity, that's another story) for those deprived of it.
Application: Open your mouth to accomplish God's purposes in the lives of those deprived of justice.
Prayer: God help me discern and do what You desire for those in my sphere of influence. Amen.

Acts 16-18 This post covers the background of the planting of the churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus, as well as the centerpiece of Paul's missionary journeys, his speech about the Unknown God in the marketplace of Athens (Mars Hill). You can gain some insights into how God guided Paul, and how Paul taught. The end of chapter 18 introduces a great Bible teacher who understood the Scriptures accurately, but did not have the Holy Spirit. The noble Bereans eagerly heard Paul and daily searched the Scriptures to see if such things were so. Be a Berean.

Acts 16 Planting the Philippian Church
16:1 He came to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess who believed; but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers who were at Lystra and Iconium gave a good testimony about him. 3 Paul wanted to have him go out with him, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been determined by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. 5 So the assemblies were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.
6 When they had gone through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit didn’t allow them. 8 Passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night. There was a man of Macedonia standing, begging him, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us." 10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go out to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Good News to them. 11 Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the day following to Neapolis; 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the foremost of the district, a Roman colony. We were staying some days in this city. 13 On the Sabbath day we went forth outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay." So she persuaded us.
16 It happened, as we were going to prayer, that a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. 17 Following Paul and us, she cried out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation!" 18 She was doing this for many days. But Paul, becoming greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" It came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 When they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men, being Jews, are agitating our city, 21 and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans." 22 The multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore their clothes off of them, and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, 24 who, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and secured their feet in the stocks.
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were loosened. 27 The jailer, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Don’t harm yourself, for we are all here!" 29 He called for lights and sprang in, and, fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, 30 and brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his house. 33 He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was immediately baptized, he and all his household. 34 He brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his household, having believed in God.
35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, "Let those men go." 36 The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore come out, and go in peace." 37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, without a trial, men who are Romans, and have cast us into prison! Do they now release us secretly? No, most certainly, but let them come themselves and bring us out!" 38 The sergeants reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, 39 and they came and begged them. When they had brought them out, they asked them to depart from the city. 40 They went out of the prison, and entered into Lydia’s house. When they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them, and departed.

Observations: 16:1-5 Going back to Lystra, where he had been stoned and left for dead, Paul finds Timothy, a promising young believer schooled in the Scriptures (2Tim 1:5; 3:15), whom he wanted to take on the missionary journey. Because his father was a Greek, he hadn't been circumcised. The Jerusalem Council had determined God's will was that Greeks didn't need to be circumcised, but to avoid losing a hearing among the Jews to which they were going to minister, he circumcised Timothy, whom as descendent from a Jewish mother, should have been circumcised. This is being all things to all men so he might save some (1Cor 9:19-24). As they traveled, they delivered the decrees/dogma determined/ordained at the Jerusalem Council. It was expected that they would follow/keep them.
Luke gives us another “progress report” in verse five. Two things are worth noting about it: the assemblies grew daily, which means the members of the assembly were sharing their faith with those on a daily basis, not having some “evangelist” fish once a week in the “stained glass aquarium.” (That's an anachronistic euphemism for the modern religious establishment.) The reason the assemblies of believers were growing is because they were being strengthened (imperfect-ongoing tense) in the faith. The faith is more than believing that Jesus died for your sins (exactly how and why do a group of people who already believe that get strengthened in it?) but is the expectation/trust that God is who He said He is and will do what He said He'll do in fulfilling all His promises (see Hebrews 11:6). As the people in the assemblies learned more about what God revealed/said, and believed Him to act, and saw Him act in helping them (like in the Psalms), their faith would become stronger, and they would want to share it more with others. If you want to understand how Theophilus would have understood the term “faith”, just check out all the usages of faith in Luke-Acts in a concordance.
16:6-15 Paul wanted to go east to Asia, and then north, but both times the Holy Spirit prevented them from doing so (we're not told how). Then Paul has a dream of a man in Macedonia calling for his help. He concludes (a word meaning to “knit together the pieces”) that the Lord wanted them to go there. It is noteworthy to see how God guided someone to whom He had spoken directly in times past. He didn't tell Paul to go, but give him pieces to put together the understanding of His will. See The Will of God on; remember the devil delights in opening trap doors, which those who govern their lives by circumstances frequently fall through.
In verse 10 Dr. Luke joins the expedition, as the narration shifts for the third to the first person (he/they, we/us). Philippi was a Roman colony, the chief city of Macedonia. Just like his first missionary journey, Paul first encounters direct demonic opposition, followed by Satan's secret agents, the religious establishment. There weren't ten Jewish men in Philippi, which is what was necessary for a synagogue, so on the Sabbath, they went to the riverside, where Jews would gather for prayer (since there was water for cleansing rituals). Lydia was an Asian businesswoman, from Thyatira in Asia Minor, a worshiper of God who heard and believed the message. Luke said that God opened her heart to listen. Luke alone used this term in Lk 24 of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the apostles in the upper room, and here, to describe getting insight. Baptism followed belief. Lydia was probably the financial backbone of the Philippian church, which was the only church which supported him (Phil 4:15; 2Cor 8:1) at the beginning of his ministry.
16:16-34 They encountered demonic opposition to their ministry from a slave girl whose demon would herald their task (perhaps with the intent of creating an unfavorable impression by linking Paul with her demon). “Divination” translates the Greek “Puthon” (only here) which is probably a reference a mythical snake “Python” who guarded the Oracle at Dephi, and spoke through her (parseltongue anyone?). Paul casts out the demon in the name of Jesus. Her masters create a ruckus (demonless fortune tellers aren't worth much) and distort the truth, which results in beating and imprisonment for Paul and Silas. After this unjust and painful treatment, Paul and Silas are not singing the blues, but songs of praise at midnight, witnessing to their fellow prisoners. God sends the lock-picking angel along with the one who opens doors and tombs with earthquakes to free them. The jailer is about to kill himself rather than face the fate which the Romans would have dished out (usually burning alive) for dereliction of duty. Paul saves the day by telling him they're all present and accounted for, and the jailer asks what he must do to be saved. (If you're waiting around for someone to ask you this question, you might want to consider reenacting the circumstances in Paul and Silas' life, or learn how to discuss the 7QUESTIONS in the Sidebar). They speak the word of God to him (no mention of his heart being opened, but his eyes sure were by the miracle), he believes, cleans up the apostles, and is baptized. “Having believed” is in the perfect tense.
16:35-40 Interestingly Paul didn't insist on his rights as a Roman citizen to avoid the beating. Either things were too out of control when they first appeared before the magistrates for Paul to identify himself as a Roman citizen, or the Holy Spirit guided Paul to the prison for his encounter with the jailer. The God who guided Paul to Macedonia, and gave him power to cast out the Python, and miraculously opened the prison, chose not to spare them the unjust beating. The magistrates fear and beg Paul to leave (public opinion was probably not favorable; some people lost a fortune-teller as a result of their ministry). But not pressing charges against the magistrates, who would have been deposed or punished for mistreating a Roman citizen, Paul might have provided a measure of protection for the new believers. Paul first went to Lydia's house and encouraged the brothers who had believed, then departed.
Application: God gives His servants everything they need to do His will, from guidance to grace to endure injustice.
Prayer: God, thanks that I can trust You for everything I need to do Your will, and bring others to a saving faith in You; open my eyes to the needs of others, and their hearts to Your truth. Amen.

Acts 17 Be a Berean
17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." 4 Some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas, of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and not a few of the chief women. 5 But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people. 6 When they didn’t find them, they dragged Jason and certain brothers before the rulers of the city, crying, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 whom Jason has received. These all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!" 8 The multitude and the rulers of the city were troubled when they heard these things. 9 When they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue.
11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed; also of the prominent Greek women, and not a few men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Beroea also, they came there likewise, agitating the multitudes. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent out Paul to go as far as to the sea, and Silas and Timothy still stayed there. 15 But those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens. Receiving a commandment to Silas and Timothy that they should come to him very quickly, they departed.
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw the city full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who met him. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also were conversing with him. Some said, "What does this babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be advocating foreign deities," because he preached Jesus and the resurrection. 19 They took hold of him, and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is, which is spoken by you? 20 For you bring certain strange things to our ears. We want to know therefore what these things mean." 21 Now all the Athenians and the strangers living there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
22 Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus, and said, "You men of Athens, I perceive that you are very religious in all things. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I announce to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands, 25 neither is he served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself gives to all life and breath, and all things. 26 He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’ 29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man. 30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now he commands that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead."
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, "We want to hear you again concerning this." 33 Thus Paul went out from among them. 34 But certain men joined with him, and believed, among whom also was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Observations: 17:1-10 Surviving the demonic opposition at Philippi, Paul and company come to Thessalonica, and spend three Sabbaths reasoning, explaining, and demonstrating in the synagogue proclaiming the Messiah (no simple tossing of the gospel grenade and running). A number of devout Greeks, and leading women and some Jewish men believed. The unpersuaded cause a riot, telling lies (at least the demon in the slave girl told the truth) about the teaching. They dragged Jason the host of the missionaries before the rulers, and he posts a security bond. The brothers (those who believed) send Paul and Silas under the cover of night 45 miles away to Berea, and guess where they go? Another synagogue. But the church had been planted in Thessalonica.
17:11-15 The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica, because they received the word, understood Paul's argument and then examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul argued was supported by the Scriptures. May their tribe increase! Be a Berean, and follow their noble example. Many “therefore believed.” Nothing mystical going on, they were presented with truth, verified it, and then believed it. Lots of them. The not so noble Jews of Thessalonica, heard Paul was teaching in Berea, and came down to do the same demonic work they did back home, spreading lies and causing trouble for Paul. May their tribe go extinct. The brothers escorted Paul to Athens. Silas and Timothy followed. There is no NT record of a church being established at Berea. Paul didn't have to write any corrective leters to them, nor did Jesus have to rebuke them in His letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3. With a church full of noble minded Scripture searchers, God's will must have been pretty easy to find.
17:16-31 Paul finds himself at Athens, about 200 miles away from Berea. It's interesting how the Holy Spirit got him there. His spirit is provoked and as he saw all the idols, although he talked with all the idle philosophers in the marketplace, and the Jews and devout Gentiles in the synagogue. See Digging Deeper for notes on the Epicureans and Stoics, two philosophies very prevalent in society (and thus the church today). Paul's speech to the pagans in the marketplace is a great example of understanding the culture, and then moving from where people are, to where God wants them to be. Some say this speech is the chiastic center of his journeys from chapters 12-21. They might be right (I haven't been a Berean on this one). Paul observantly notices an altar to the “Unknown God” and takes a swipe at their intellectual arrogance to say they worship in ignorance. He proclaims the God they don't know is the Creator, Lord of heaven and earth, and life, who doesn't need them to serve Him, since He's perfectly capable of taking care of Himself. Paul takes another swipe at their ethnic arrogance (in Athens there were Greeks and everyone else was a barbarian) to say that God not only created all men from one blood (something science has recently confirmed) and determined not only the seasons, but the boundaries (a swipe at the Epicurean deistic, random view of the world). The purpose of God making man limited and finite was to cause all to seek Him (a swipe at the fatalism of the Stoics, the self-sufficiency of the proud, and the bad theology of some today). The only way a finite being can know infinite truth is if an Infinite Being reveals it. Then the question becomes: is there any record of Revelation from an Infinite Being (see “What is Truth” in the Sidebar). Paul emphasizes that God wants all people to reach for Him, and find Him (a couple more damaging blows against bad theology - 2Pt 3:9). Affirming one of their own prophets' statement about humans being God's offspring, Paul takes a swipe at the religionists and idol makers. This kind of talk will get him into trouble in Ephesus (Acts 19). After blasting most of the false thinking that would keep people from a relationship with God, Paul now offers a simple solution: “He commands that all people everywhere should repent” because He's no longer overlooking their ignorance, and has determined a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the “man” He has determined. God has given assurance to all men that this will happen, by the resurrection of this “man” from the dead. This strikes a few more blows at the Epicureans who lived for this life and denied there is any other (exactly how did they “know” that), and the Stoics, whose fatalism would deny that our actions have consequences and whose views on the afterlife were somewhere between fuzzy and not-existent. Paul's points about God commanding all to repent, and the witness being given to all men to aid them in that task cause some serious internal injury to some forms of bad theology.
17:32-34 Paul received a mixed response, some scoffed and mocked, others were a little more Berean-like and wanted to hear more, or actually believed. One of the converts mentioned was one of the officials of the council that regulated activities in the Areopagus.
Application: Purpose to be a noble Berean, and examine all you hear, read, and think, against the Scripture, and accept only that which is in total accord with the Scripture, and believe it.
Prayer: God, thanks that You have revealed Yourself in a way we can understand, and that You want all to have a relationship with You and do well at the future judgment. Thanks for making that possible through Jesus. Amen.

Acts 18 Corinth and Ephesus
18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth. 2 He found a certain Jew named Aquila, a man of Pontus by race, who had recently come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. He came to them, 3 and because he practiced the same trade, he lived with them and worked, for by trade they were tent makers. 4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks. 5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 When they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook out his clothing and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles!"
7 He departed there, and went into the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized. 9 The Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Don’t be afraid, but speak and don’t be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many people in this city." 11 He lived there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, 13 saying, "This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If indeed it were a matter of wrong or of wicked crime, you Jews, it would be reasonable that I should bear with you; 15 but if they are questions about words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves. For I don’t want to be a judge of these matters." 16 He drove them from the judgment seat. 17 Then all the Greeks laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. Gallio didn’t care about any of these things.
18 Paul, having stayed after this many more days, took his leave of the brothers, and sailed from there for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. He shaved his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow. 19 He came to Ephesus, and he left them there; but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay with them a longer time, he declined; 21 but taking his leave of them, and saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem, but I will return again to you if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the assembly, and went down to Antioch. 23 Having spent some time there, he departed, and went through the region of Galatia, and Phrygia, in order, establishing all the disciples.
24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus. He was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 When he had determined to pass over into Achaia, the brothers encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he had come, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews, publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Observations: 18:1-6 Paul leaves Athens and arrives at Corinth, an major center of commerce and immorality. It was much bigger than Athens, and contained the temple to Aphrodite (Roman Venus), the goddess of love. Here Paul meets a husband-wife team of co-laborers, Aquilla and Priscilla, who worked and ministered with him, and had a church meeting in their house (1Cor 16:19). Paul worked with them in making tents, and reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, persuading Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia (bringing money) Paul was able to devote himself to ministry (the translations vary here). When the Jews opposed him he went to the Gentiles.
18:7-11 Leaving the synagogue, he went next door and preached. The ruler of the synagogue believed along with his family. Many Corinthians also believed and were baptized. God gives Paul an encouraging vision one night with a promise to protect him. So Paul spent a year and a half teaching there, and another church is planted.
18:12-18 The Jews eventually drag Paul before the bema/judgment seat of Gallio who refuses to hear matters of Jewish law. This is like the Supreme Court of the USA refusing to hear a case, it preserves the status quo, and prevented the Jews from using civil courts to push the devil's religious agenda. In God's humorous justice, the Greeks grab and beat the new synagogue leader. (Guess who won't be voting to bring Paul before the bema again.)
18:18-23 Paul eventually leaves Corinth with Priscilla and Aquila, fulfills a vow, and comes to Ephesus where he reasons with the Jews; and another church gets planted. They want him to stay (shades of Berea) but he wants to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost (20:16), but promises to return if it's the Lord's will. He leaves Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus. On his way to the feast, he revisits where he had been, establishing and strengthening the disciples. Note how God uses Paul's desire to guide him at this juncture.
18:24 Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures comes to Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, was on fire, and accurately taught about Jesus. So here's a guy who only knows the baptism of John, i.e., he had not received the Holy Spirit (cf 19:1-6), but is understanding and teaching the Scriptures accurately. There is nothing magical or supernatural about being able to understand what is written in the Scriptures. One of my godly profs in grad school turned me on to some commentaries written by an atheist who did a better job of understanding and following the argument of the text than most of the “believers” who write commentaries. Apollos wasn't an atheist, but not knowing the baptism of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, was missing a few pieces which Priscilla and Aquila privately explained to him (good model). Once he understood the way of God more accurately, he was able to greatly help those who had believed by grace (cf Acts 15:11).
Application: God uses believers who know the word to teach and build up each other; how is He using you? Are you preparing yourself to be more useful?
Prayer: God, thanks for the ministry of godly men and women in my life, who have helped me grow and know Your ways more accurately; may I help others do the same. Amen.

Digging Deeper
Here's a mini-overview from one of my Western Civilization on the Pursuit of Happiness:

Sophists: relativistic accumulation of power, pleasure, and possessions, by any means, to satisfy instincts and passions (animal)

Socrates: Senses suspect; Universal values discovered by reason, shape human character to achieve moral excellence, the purpose of life.

Plato: Evil is a lack of knowledge; if we find good, we will do it. (Goodness is absolute). Need virtuous habits and mental powers.
Prob: man is innately and environmentally evil; Hierarchical (and even evil) values obscure and blind us to good.

Aristotle: Happiness is an activity of the soul in accord with perfect virtue. Golden mean. Passion ruled by reason. Eat how much?
Habit of: Courage (coward-rash); Liberality (wasteful-frugal); Pride (vain-humble); Temperance (abstinence-abuse of pleasure) etc
The duty of the state: provide citizens with material goods as individual and collective defense and security, the possibility of self-development, which would not be otherwise available. But above all it is to direct men to the attainment of happiness through virtue.
Prob: Need training in self-control/discipline to act according to knowledge to choose what is best (mean); passion; no mean (promise)

Epicurus (Hedonism): Sole good=Pleasure, not sensual gratification, but freedom from pain & worry, reason & withdrawal of friends
Prob: no service of the state that made life possible (soldier gets drunk); self-centeredness is hollow; inadequate to explain sacrifice

Zeno (Stoicism) Highest good=Virtue, live reason & will in harmony w/ divine will (nature); Vice=desire/emotion contrary to reason.
Submission to/acceptance of divine will gives inner peace, living above circumstances as one serves the divine spark in all mankind.
Prob: Fatalistic predestination lessens +action; indifference to externals lessens love; passion repressed

God in a nutshell: God protects and provides for His servants, sometime through their own means, and sometimes through the help of others. He also guides in a number of ways to get His servants where He wants them. God has set limits to the human experience so that all might seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus was resurrected by the Father to demonstrate to all that He will be the future judge, so that all might respond to His command to repent, and escape that future judgment. Study Acts 17:26-31.

Us in a nutshell: We can respond to the truth like a noble Berean and seek how what we hear and think compares to the Scripture, and then embrace the truth more accurately. Or we can be the devil's agents and arrogantly think what we believe is right, without rooting in a contextual understanding of Scripture, and irrationally attack those who do. Those who believe the truth accurately pass it on to others.

Where to Go for More:

Acts complete text
Bill Blurb: The application that delivers the daily emails has some size restrictions that's been causing problems. So I've eliminated the text, since I'm not editing any of it out above. If we encounter any more genealogies, I'll edit it above and put the entire text here below.

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