Online Bible Commentary
Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. (NKJV)
The time is about 50 A.D. Paul has just left Athens, Greece (Achaia) on his second missionary journey. He travels overland to Corinth, located about 44 miles west of Athens (v. 1).
Upon arriving in Corinth Paul met a Jewish man and his wife, Aquila and Priscilla (v. 2a). Aquila had been born in the region of Pontus, a large region located in northern Asia Minor on the southern coast of the Black Sea, where many Jews lived (v. 2b). Aquila and Priscilla were recent arrivals to Corinth. They had been living in Italy but, in 49 A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudius drove out all of the Jews from Rome, causing them to leave (v. 2c).
Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers like Paul, so Paul stayed with them and worked with them (v. 3). On the Sabbath Paul would preach at the synagogue and many Jews and Gentiles were converted to Christianity (v. 4). At that time Silas and Timothy arrived from Berea, Macedonia where they were helping with the new church (v. 5a).
Meanwhile, Paul was “compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 5b). As usual, this was the sticking point to many Jews. Many of them refused to believe that Jesus was their long awaited Messiah. “They opposed him and blasphemed” him (v. 6a).
In defiance, Paul “shook his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean" (v. 6b). Shaking the dust off his garments meant that Paul was finished with trying to reason with the Jews. From now on he would take the gospel to the Gentiles (v. 6c).
Paul then left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Justus, a Gentile convert to Judaism (v. 7). He would continue his ministry there instead of at the synagogue, for those who wanted to hear more.
Even though Paul was rejected at the synagogue, his efforts were not wasted. “Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue” and his whole household “believed” (v. 8a). Also, many other Corinthians became Christians and were baptized (v. 8b).
Paul himself only baptized “Crispus and Gaius”, possibly their households, and the “household of Stephanas” (1 Cor. 1:14-17). Paul typically would leave the baptisms to someone else, not wanting himself to be the focal point for the new churches.
Paul’s persistence is a good example for all of us. If someone rejects the gospel we should just go to the next person. God will prepare the heart of the person whom He has known through foreknowledge will receive the Gospel.