Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 18:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He abode with them, and wrought - Bp. Pearce observes that it was a custom among the Jews, even of such as had a better education than ordinary, which was Paul's case, Acts 22:3, to learn a trade, that, wherever they were, they might provide for themselves in case of necessity. And though Paul, in some cases, lived on the bounty of his converts, yet he chose not to do so at Ephesus, Acts 20:34; nor at Corinth or other places, 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 9:8, 2 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; and this Paul did for a reason which he gives in 2 Corinthians 11:9-12. While he was at Corinth he was supplied, when his own labor did not procure him enough, "by the brethren which came to him there from Macedonia." It appears that the apostle had his lodging with Aquila and Priscilla; and probably a portion of the profits of the business, after his board was deducted. It was evidently no reproach for a man, at that time, to unite public teaching with an honest useful trade. And why should it be so now? May not a man who has acquired a thorough knowledge of the Gospel way of salvation, explain that way to his less informed neighbors, though he be a tent-maker, (what perhaps we would call a house-carpenter), or a shoemaker, or any thing else? Even many of those who consider it a cardinal sin for a mechanic to preach the Gospel, are providing for themselves and their families in the same way. How many of the clergy, and other ministers, are farmers, graziers, schoolmasters, and sleeping partners in different trades and commercial concerns! A tent-maker, in his place, is as useful as any of these. Do not ridicule the mechanic because he preaches the Gospel to the salvation of his neighbors, lest some one should say, in a language which you glory to have learned, and which the mechanic has not, Mutato nomine, de Te fabula narrator.

There are different opinions concerning that is meant here by the σκηνοποιος, which we translate tent-maker. Some think it means a maker of those small portable tents, formed of skins, which soldiers and travelers usually carried with them on their journeys; others suppose that these tents mere made of linen cloth. Some think that the trade of St. Paul was making hangings or curtains, such as were used at the theatres; others think the σκηνοποιος was a sort of umbrella-maker; others, a weaver, etc., etc. In short, we know not what the trade was. I have generally preferred the notion of a carpenter, or faber lignarius. Whatever it was, it was an honest, useful calling, and Paul got his bread by it.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The same craft - Of the same trade or occupation.

And wrought - And worked at that occupation. Why he did it the historian does not affirm; but it seems pretty evident that it was because he had no other means of maintenance. He also labored for his own support in Ephesus Acts 20:34 and at Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians 3:9-10. The apostle was not ashamed of honest industry for a livelihood; nor did he deem it any disparagement that a minister of the gospel should labor with his own hands.

For by their occupation - By their trade; that is, they had been brought up to this business. Paul had been designed originally for a lawyer, and had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. But it was a regular custom among the Jews to train up their sons to some useful employment, that they I might have the means of an honest livelihood. Even though they were instructed in the liberal sciences, yet they deemed a handicraft trade, or some honorable occupation, an indispensable part of education. Thus, Maimonides (in the Tract Talin. Torah, chapter i., section 9) says, “the wise generally practice some of the arts, lest they should be dependent on the charity of others.” See Grotius. The wisdom of this is obvious; and it is equally plain that a custom of this kind now might preserve the health and lives of many professional people, and save from ignoble dependence or vice, in future years, many who are trained up in the lap of indulgence and wealth.

They were tentmakers - σκηνοποιοὶ skēnopoioiThere have been various opinions about the meaning of this word. Many have supposed that it denotes “a weaver of tapestry.” Luther so translated it. But it is probable that it denotes, as in our translation, “a manufacturer of tents, made of skin or cloth.” In Eastern countries, where there was much travel, where there were no inns, and where many were shepherds, such a business might be useful, and a profitable source of living. It was an honorable occupation, and Paul was not ashamed to be employed in it.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Though Paul was entitled to support from the churches he planted, and from the people to whom he preached, yet he worked at his calling. An honest trade, by which a man may get his bread, is not to be looked upon with contempt by any. It was the custom of the Jews to bring up their children to some trade, though they gave them learning or estates. Paul was careful to prevent prejudices, even the most unreasonable. The love of Christ is the best bond of the saints; and the communings of the saints with each other, sweeten labour, contempt, and even persecution. Most of the Jews persisted in contradicting the gospel of Christ, and blasphemed. They would not believe themselves, and did all they could to keep others from believing. Paul hereupon left them. He did not give over his work; for though Israel be not gathered, Christ and his gospel shall be glorious. The Jews could not complain, for they had the first offer. When some oppose the gospel, we must turn to others. Grief that many persist in unbelief should not prevent gratitude for the conversion of some to Christ.
Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 97

The pupils of these schools sustained themselves by their own labor as husbandmen and mechanics. In Israel this was not considered strange or degrading; it was regarded a crime to allow children to grow up in ignorance of useful labor. In obedience to the command of God, every child was taught some trade, even though he was to be educated for holy office. Many of the religious teachers supported themselves by manual labor. Even so late as the time of Christ, it was not considered anything degrading that Paul and Aquila earned a livelihood by their labor as tentmakers. FE 97.1

The chief subjects of study were the law of God with the instructions given to Moses, sacred history, sacred music, and poetry. It was the grand object of all study to learn the will of God and the duties of His people. In the records of sacred history were traced the footsteps of Jehovah. From the events of the past were drawn lessons of instruction for the future. The great truths set forth by the types and shadows of the Mosaic law were brought to view, and faith grasped the central object of all that system, the Lamb of God that was to take away the sins of the world. FE 97.2

The Hebrew language was cultivated as the most sacred tongue in the world. A spirit of devotion was cherished. Not only were students taught the duty of prayer, but they were taught how to pray, how to approach their Creator, how to exercise faith in Him, and how to understand and obey the teachings of His Spirit. Sanctified intellects brought forth from the treasure house of God things new and old. FE 97.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 593

Further provision was made for the instruction of the young, by the establishment of the schools of the prophets. If a youth desired to search deeper into the truths of the word of God and to seek wisdom from above, that he might become a teacher in Israel, these schools were open to him. The schools of the prophets were founded by Samuel to serve as a barrier against the widespread corruption, to provide for the moral and spiritual welfare of the youth, and to promote the future prosperity of the nation by furnishing it with men qualified to act in the fear of God as leaders and counselors. In the accomplishment of this object Samuel gathered companies of young men who were pious, intelligent, and studious. These were called the sons of the prophets. As they communed with God and studied His word and His works, wisdom from above was added to their natural endowments. The instructors were men not only well versed in divine truth, but those who had themselves enjoyed communion with God and had received the special endowment of His Spirit. They enjoyed the respect and confidence of the people, both for learning and piety. PP 593.1

In Samuel's day there were two of these schools—one at Ramah, the home of the prophet, and the other at Kirjath-jearim, where the ark then was. Others were established in later times. PP 593.2

The pupils of these schools sustained themselves by their own labor in tilling the soil or in some mechanical employment. In Israel this was not thought strange or degrading; indeed, it was regarded a crime to allow children to grow up in ignorance of useful labor. By the command of God every child was taught some trade, even though he was to be educated for holy office. Many of the religious teachers supported themselves by manual labor. Even so late as the time of the apostles, Paul and Aquila were no less honored because they earned a livelihood by their trade of tentmaking. PP 593.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1062-4

1-3. See EGW on 2 Timothy 3:14, 15. 6BC 1062.1

14 (2 Corinthians 8:12). Light for Those Who Are Willing—God's Spirit can only enlighten the understanding of those who are willing to be enlightened. We read that God opened the ears of Lydia, so that she attended to the message spoken by Paul. To declare the whole counsel of God and all that was essential for Lydia to receive—this was the part Paul was to act in her conversion; and then the God of all grace exercised His power, leading the soul in the right way. God and the human agent cooperated, and the work was wholly successful (Letter 150, 1900). 6BC 1062.2

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 243-8

This chapter is based on Acts 18:1-18.

During the first century of the Christian Era, Corinth was one of the leading cities, not only of Greece, but of the world. Greeks, Jews, and Romans, with travelers from every land, thronged its streets, eagerly intent on business and pleasure. A great commercial center, situated within easy access of all parts of the Roman Empire, it was an important place in which to establish memorials for God and His truth. AA 243.1

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