Monday, 2 May 2016

Acts 18 - the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila


Aquila and Priscilla
SS Priscilla and Aquila
Chapter 18 of Acts takes us to St Paul's visits made forever famous by his letters to the communities in them, including Corinth and Ephesus:
Paul left Athens after this, and went to Corinth. 2 Here he met a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who, with his wife Priscilla, had lately come from Italy, when Claudius decreed that all Jews should leave Rome. He paid them a visit: 3 then, since they were brothers of the same craft (both were tent-makers) he stayed and worked with them. 
Chrysostom (Homily 39): For though it was in the reign of Nero that the war against the Jews was consummated, yet from the time of Claudius and thenceforward it was fanning up, at a distance indeed, so that, were it but so, they might come to their senses, and from Rome they were now driven as common pests. This is why it is so ordered by Providence that Paul was led there as a prisoner, that he might not as a Jew be driven away, but as acting under military custody might even be guarded there...
4 Every sabbath he held a disputation in the synagogue, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks by confronting them with the name of the Lord Jesus. 5 Just at the time when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was much occupied with preaching, while he bore witness to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 But they set their faces against it and talked blasphemy, until he shook the dust out of his garments, and said to them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clear of it; I will go to the Gentiles henceforward. 
 4 Et disputabat in synagoga per omne sabbatum, interponens nomen Domini Jesu: suadebatque Judæis et Græcis. 5 Cum venissent autem de Macedonia Silas et Timotheus, instabat verbo Paulus, testificans Judæis esse Christum Jesum. 6 Contradicentibus autem eis, et blasphemantibus, excutiens vestimenta sua, dixit ad eos: Sanguis vester super caput vestrum: mundus ego: ex hoc ad gentes vadam.
Chrys: But therefore it is that Paul having testified to them— not teaches now, but testifies— having shaken his garments, to terrify them not by word only but by action, said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: he speaks the more vehemently as having already persuaded many. I, says he, am clean. Then we also are accountable for the blood of those entrusted to us, if we neglect them...So that also when he says, Henceforth let no man trouble me , he says it to terrify. For not so much did the punishment terrify, as this stung them.
7 So he left them, and went to the house of one Titius Justus, a worshipper of the true God, who lived next door to the synagogue. 8 But Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, learned to believe in the Lord, and so did all his household; and by now many of the Corinthians listened and found faith, and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul in a vision at night, Do not be afraid, speak out, and refuse to be silenced; 10 I am with thee, and none shall come near to do thee harm; I have a great following in this city. 11 So he remained there a year and six months, preaching the word of God among them.12 Then, when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul, and dragged him before the judgement-seat. 13 This fellow, they said, is persuading men to worship God in a manner the law forbids. 14 Paul was just opening his mouth to speak, when Gallio said to the Jews, It would be only right for me to listen to you Jews with patience, if we had here some wrong done, or some malicious contrivance; 15 but the questions you raise are a matter of words and names, of the law which holds good among yourselves. You must see to it; I have no mind to try such cases. 16 And he drove them away from the judgement-seat. 17 Thereupon there was a general onslaught upon Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, who was beaten before the judgement-seat; but all this caused Gallio no concern.
Chrys: This man let us also imitate: to them that beat us, let us return blow for blow, by meekness, by silence, by long-suffering. More grievous these wounds, greater this blow, and more heavy. For to show that it is not the receiving a blow in the body that is grievous, but the receiving it in the mind, we often smite people, but since it is in the way of friendship, they are even pleased: but if you smite any indifferent person in an insolent manner, you have pained him exceedingly, because you have touched his heart. So let us smite their heart...

Let this be a consolation to you when suffering insult. Are you insulted? God also is insulted. Are you reviled? God also was reviled. Are you treated with scorn? Why, so was our Master also. In these things He shares with us, but not so in the contrary things.

For He never insulted another unjustly: God forbid! He never reviled, never did a wrong. So that we are those who share with Him, not ye. For to endure when insulted is God's part: to be merely abusive, is the part of the devil. See the two sides. You have a devil, Christ was told: He received a blow on the face from the servant of the high-priest. They who wrongfully insult, are in the same class with these. For if Peter was even called Satan for one word; much more shall these men, when they do the works of the Jews, be called, as those were called, children of the devil  because they wrought the works of the devil...
18 Paul stayed on many days yet, then took leave of the brethren and sailed off to Syria; before he left Cenchrae he shaved his head, since he was under a vow. He took Priscilla and Aquila with him, 19 but left them behind when he reached Ephesus. 
Paulus vero cum adhuc sustinuisset dies multos fratribus valefaciens, navigavit in Syriam (et cum eo Priscilla et Aquila), qui sibi totonderat in Cenchris caput: habebat enim votum. 19 Devenitque Ephesum, et illos ibi reliquit. Ipse vero ingressus synagogam, disputabat cum Judæis.
 Chrysostom (Homily 40): See how the Law was breaking up; see how they were bound by conscience. This, namely, was a Jewish custom, to shear their heads agreeably with a vow. But then there ought to be also a sacrifice, which was not the case here...

And with him Priscilla— lo, a woman also — and Aquila. But these he left at Ephesus. With good reason, namely, that they should teach. For having been with him so long time, they were learning many things: and yet he did not at present withdraw them from their custom as Jews.
He himself went to the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews, 20 who asked him to make a longer stay. But he would not consent; 21 he said, as he took leave of them, I will come back to you again, if it is God’s will, and departed from Ephesus by sea. 22 On landing at Caesarea, he went up from there to greet the church, then went down again to Antioch, 23 where he spent some time; he left it to make an orderly progress through the Galatian and Phrygian country, where he established all the disciples in the faith. 24 Meanwhile a Jewish visitor came to Ephesus, Apollo by name; he was born in Alexandria, and was an eloquent man, well grounded in the scriptures. 25 He had had instruction in the way of the Lord; and, with a spirit full of zeal, used to preach and teach about the life of Jesus accurately enough, although he knew of no baptism except that of John. 26 So he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue, whereupon Priscilla and Aquila, who had been listening, made friends with him, and explained the way of God to him more particularly. 27 He was meaning to continue his journey into Achaia; in this the brethren encouraged him, and wrote asking the disciples there to welcome him. His visit was a welcome reinforcement to the believers; 28 he spared no pains to refute the Jews publicly, proving from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. 

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