Here we are told,
I. That Paul changed his quarters. Christ directed his disciples, when he sent them forth, not to go from house to house (Luke 10:7), but there might be occasion to do it, as Paul did here. He departed out of the synagogue, being driven out by the perverseness of the unbelieving Jews, and he entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, Acts 18:7. It should seem, he went to this man’s house, not to lodge, for he continued with Aquila and Priscilla, but to preach. When the Jews would not let him go on peaceably with his work in their meeting, this honest man opened his doors to him, and told him he should be welcome to preach there; and Paul accepted the proposal. It was not the first time that God’s ark had taken up its lodging in a private house. When Paul could not have liberty to preach in the synagogue, he preached in a house, without any disparagement to his doctrine. But observe the account of this man and his house. 1. The man was next door to a Jew; he was one that worshipped God; he was not an idolater, though he was a Gentile, but was a worshipper of the God of Israel, and him only, as Cornelius. That Paul might give the less offence to the Jews, though he had abandoned them, he set up his meeting in this man’s house. Even when he was under a necessity of breaking off from them to turn to the Gentiles, yet he would study to oblige them. 2. The house was next door to the synagogue, it joined close to it, which some perhaps might interpret as done with design to draw people from the synagogue to the meeting; but I rather think it was done in charity, to show that he would come as near to them as he could, and was ready to return to them if they were but willing to receive his message, and would not contradict and blaspheme as they had done.
II. That Paul presently saw the good fruit of his labours, both among Jews and Gentiles. 1. Crispus a Jew, an eminent one, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord Jesus, with all his house, Acts 18:8. It was for the honour of the gospel that there were some rulers, and persons of the first rank both in church and state, that embraced it. This would leave the Jews inexcusable, that the ruler of their synagogue, who may be supposed to have excelled the rest in knowledge of the scriptures and zeal for their religion, believed the gospel, and yet they opposed and blasphemed it. Not only he, but his house, believed, and, probably, were baptized with him by Paul, 1 Cor. 1:14. 2. Many of the Corinthians, who were Gentiles (and some of them persons of bad character, as appears, 1 Cor. 6:11; such were some of you), hearing, believed, and were baptized. First, they heard, for faith comes by hearing. Some perhaps came to hear Paul under some convictions of conscience that the way they were in was not right; but it is probable that the most came only for curiosity, because it was a new doctrine that was preached; but, hearing, they believed, by the power of God working upon them; and, believing, they were baptized, and so fixed for Christ, took upon them the profession of Christianity, and became entitled to the privileges of Christians.
III. That Paul was encouraged by a vision to go on with his work at Corinth (Acts 18:9): The Lord Jesus spoke to Paul in the night by a vision; when he was musing on his work, communing with his own heart upon his bed, and considering whether he should continue here or no, what method he should take here, and what probability there was of doing good, then Christ appeared very seasonably to him, and in the multitude of his thoughts within him delighted his soul with divine consolations. 1. He renewed his commission and charge to preach the gospel: “Be not afraid of the Jews; though they are very outrageous, and perhaps the more enraged by the conversion of the chief ruler of their synagogue. Be not afraid of the magistrates of the city, for they have no power against thee but what is given them from above. It is the cause of heaven thou art pleading, do it boldly. Be not afraid of their words, nor dismayed at their looks; but speak, and hold not thy peace; let slip no opportunity of speaking to them; cry aloud, spare not. Do not hold thy peace from speaking for fear of them, nor hold thy peace in speaking” (if I may so say); “do not speak shyly and with caution, but plainly and fully and with courage. Speak out; use all the liberty of spirit that becomes an ambassador for Christ.” 2. He assured him of his presence with him, which was sufficient to animate him, and put life and spirit into him: “Be not afraid, for I am with thee, to protect thee, and bear thee out, and to deliver thee from all thy fears; speak, and hold not thy peace, for I am with thee, to own what thou sayest, to work with thee, and to confirm the word by signs following.” The same promise that ratified the general commission (Matt. 28:19, 20), Lo I am with you always, is here repeated. Those that have Christ with them need not to fear, and ought not to shrink. 3. He gave him a warrant of protection to save him harmless: “No man shall set on thee to hurt thee; thou shalt be delivered out of the hands of wicked and unreasonable men and shalt not be driven hence, as thou wast from other places, by persecution.” He does not promise that no man should set on him (for the next news we hear is that he is set upon, and brought to the judgment-seat, Acts 18:12), but, “No man shall set on thee to hurt thee; the remainder of their wrath shall be restrained; thou shalt not be beaten and imprisoned here, as thou wast at Philippi.” Paul met with coarser treatment at first than he did afterwards, and was now comforted according to the time wherein he had been afflicted. Trials shall not last always, Ps. 66:10-12. Or we may take it more generally: “No man shall set on thee, tou kakosai se—to do evil to thee; whatever trouble they may give thee, there is no real evil in it. They may kill thee, but they cannot hurt thee; for I am with thee,” Ps. 23:4; Isa. 41:10. 4. He gave him a prospect of success: “For I have much people in this city. Therefore no man shall prevail to obstruct thy work, therefore I will be with thee to own thy work, and therefore do thou go on vigorously and cheerfully in it; for there are many in this city that are to be effectually called by thy ministry, in whom thou shalt see of the travail of thy soul.” Laos esti moi polys—There is to me a great people here. The Lord knows those that are his, yea, and those that shall be his; for it is by his work upon them that they become his, and known unto him are all his works. “I have them, though they yet know me not, though yet they are let captive by Satan at his will; for the Father has given them to me, to be a seed to serve me; I have them written in the book of life; I have their names down, and of all that were given me I will lose none; I have them, for I am sure to have them;” whom he did predestinate, those he called. In this city, though it be a very profane wicked city, full of impurity, and the more so for a temple of Venus there, to which there was a great resort, yet in this heap, that seems to be all chaff, there is wheat; in this ore, that seems to be all dross, there is gold. Let us not despair concerning any place, when even in Corinth Christ had much people.
IV. That upon this encouragement he made a long stay there (Acts 18:11): He continued at Corinth a year and six months, not to take his ease, but to follow his work, teaching the word of God among them; and, it being a city flocked to from all parts, he had opportunity there of preaching the gospel to strangers, and sending notice of it thence to other countries. He staid so long, 1. For the bringing in of those that were without. Christ had many people there, and by the power of his grace he could have had them all converted in one month or week, as at the first preaching of the gospel, when thousands were enclosed at one cast of the net; but God works variously. The people Christ has at Corinth must be called in by degrees, some by one sermon, others by another; we see not yet all things put under Christ. Let Christ’s ministers go on in their duty, though their work be not done all at once; nay, though it be done but a little at a time. 2. For the building up of those that were within. Those that are converted have still need to be taught the word of God, and particular need at Corinth to be taught it by Paul himself; for no sooner was the good seed sown in that field than the enemy came and sowed tares, the false apostles, those deceitful workers, of whom Paul in his epistles to the Corinthians complains so much. When the hands of Jewish persecutors were tied, who were professed enemies to the gospel, Paul had a more vexatious trouble created him, and the church more mischievous damage done it, by the tongue of judaizing preachers, who, under colour of the Christian name, undermined the very foundations of Christianity. Soon after Paul came to Corinth, it is supposed, he wrote the first epistle to the Thessalonians, which in order of time was the first of all the epistles he wrote by divine inspiration; and the second epistle to the same church was written not long after. Ministers may be serving Christ, and promoting the great ends of their ministry, by writing good letters, as well as by preaching good sermons.