20 Apr 2018
A Commentary by John Stott
Acts 18:7-11. Paul turns to the Gentiles.
Luke’s next statement, that *then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshipper of God* (7), is more than a geographical note. It means rather that the scene of his evangelistic labours changed from public synagogue to private house, and that so the people being evangelized changed from Jews to Gentiles. We know that the house belonged to one Titius Justus, and that he was a god-fearer, but it is pure speculation that his other name was Gaius, and indeed the Gaius mentioned in Romans 16:23 and 1 Corinthians 1:14. It is surprising that the first convert of the Gentile mission was *Crispus, the synagogue ruler*, who was in charge of the services, and that *his entire household believed in the Lord* (8a), but following him *many of the Corinthians*, presumably Gentiles, *who heard him (Paul) believed and were baptised* (8b).
Paul’s audacious decision to move from the synagogue to home, from Jewish to Gentile evangelism, was quickly vindicated by God not only through the conversion and baptism of many (8), but also through a vision of Jesus (9-10) and through the attitude of the Roman authorities (12ff.). *One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision* (9a). ‘The Lord’, according to Luke’s consistent usage, means ‘the Lord Jesus’ (see verse 8 ‘believed in the Lord’). Yet ‘the message is couched in the language used by God himself in the Old Testament when addressing his servants’. Both the prohibition ‘Do not be afraid’ and the promise ‘I am with you’ were regularly addressed by Yahweh to his people. Now Jesus said the same things to Paul: ‘*Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent (9b). *For I am with you, and no-one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city*’ (10). He was to continue witnessing, fortified by the presence and the protection of Christ, and by the assurance that Christ had in Corinth ‘many people’ (*laos*, the Old Testament word for Israel, now extended to include Gentiles). The expression is reminiscent of the Good Shepherd’s statement that he had ‘other sheep…not of this sheep pen’ (Israel), i.e. Gentiles (Jn.10:16). They had not yet believed in him, but they would do so, because already according to his purpose they belonged to him. This conviction is the greatest of all encouragements to the evangelist. Strengthened by it, *Paul stayed for a year and a half* in Corinth, *teaching them the word of God* (11). For the word of God is the divinely appointed means by which people come to put their trust in Christ and so identify themselves as his.
Tomorrow: Acts 18:12-18a c). Paul is vindicated by Roman law.
The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Acts. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.