Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition. “V. Paul Leaves Antioch and Moves to the Aegean World (15:36-19:20).” “E. Ephesus (18:18-19:20)” pp 354-370.
Bruce dates Paul’s interaction with Gallio in Corinth in mid 51. He thinks the departure from Corinth in Acts 18:18 was probably in the spring of 52 (Bruce 1988, 355). The vow mentioned would not be a formal vow of a Nazirite, but may have been similar as a personal vow of holiness. From Corinth the party sailed to Ephesus, which Bruce describes in some detail. He considers that Priscilla and Aquila would have either moved their business or added a location. Paul’s goal of arriving in Jerusalem for Passover would have been possible but challenging due to weather. However, it did prove possible.
In verse 22, Paul visited with church leaders, apparently in Jerusalem (Bruce 1988, 356). He then continued to Antioch, where he stayed for some time. From there, Bruce notes, the text of verses 22-23 show Paul traveling about 1500 miles, with little comment (Bruce 1988, 357). Eventually, he arrived in Ephesus again, where he met Apollos.
Acts 18:24-25 introduces us to Apollos, who was an Alexandrian Jew. Bruce observes that we know very little about Christianity in Alexandria before the mid second century. However, Apollos clearly knew something of Jesus before arriving in Ephesus (Bruce 1988, 358). Bruce is not certain what was missing in Apollos’ background. However, it was apparently clear to Priscilla and Aquila, who assisted hi. Bruce notes that corrective teaching is a great service to Christians (Bruce 1988, 360).
Acts 19 moves the focus back to Paul. He went to Ephesus yet again, shortly after Apollos went to Corinth (Bruce 1988, 362). Here Paul found some men who were disciples of Jesus but who did not know of the Holy Spirit. In verse 3 Paul connects the idea of the Holy Spirit with baptism. However, as Bruce says, “John’s baptism was one of preparation rather than one of fulfillment, as Christian baptism now was” (Bruce 1988, 363). These men were not only taught, but they provide us with the only New Testament example of a re-baptism (Bruce 1988, 364). Bruce considers that there was some sort of clear sign which persuaded Paul the men had received the Holy Spirit.
While Paul was welcomed in the synagogue in Ephesus, after a few months some poeple refused to believe. Paul then began teaching in a lecture hall, which he used for two years (v. 10) (Bruce 1988, 365). Bruce describes a typical schedule of daily life in the culture. Most business would cease between about 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Paul’s preaching probably took place during this traditional time of rest (Bruce 1988, 366). This two year period probably also saw evangelistic moves in the surrounding communities.
Acts 19:11-19 describes a climate of divine healing as well as exorcisms. Bruce compares the use of Paul’s sweat cloths and aprons to the times when people would touch Jesus’ clothes while seeking healing (Bruce 1988, 367). Other exorcists attempted to use the name of Jesus among their other special words. Bruce points out that there are written documents from antiquity which use Jesus’ name to attempt magic (Bruce 1988, 368). In the instance from Acts 19, the demon did not recognize the exorcists and retaliated against them. The event apparently gained the attention of many, who turned from their magic to Jesus instead. They gathered and destroyed their magical scrolls to prevent them from being used (Bruce 1988, 369).