18 “After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.” (Acts 18:18–23)
Acts 18:18-23 is a summary by Luke of Paul’s journey back to Antioch following his ministry in southeastern Europe. Upon completing his stay in Corinth Paul set sail, with Aquila and his wife Priscilla, for Syria. He was going home.
Luke records that the trio arrived in Cenchreae. Cenchreae was a seaport city that served the maritime needs of the larger city of Corinth. It was located about eight miles (12.9 kilometers) west of Corinth. Before the Corinthian Canal was cut through the isthmus, traffic to Europe from Asia often passed from Cenchreae through Corinth to Lechaion.
It was at Cenchreae that Paul took an oath requiring the cutting of his hair (Acts 18:18). Additionally, in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul commended Phoebe, who was a deaconess of the church in Cenchreae, well known for her Christian service (Rom 16:1).
Departing from there, Paul and his companions arrived in Ephesus. After some time reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue, Paul left Ephesus, even though the Jews wanted him to stay longer. However, Aquila and Priscilla remained in Ephesus. Paul did say that he hoped it would be God’s will for him to return to the Roman city. This would turn out to be the case (Acts 19-20).
Upon his arrival in Caesarea, Paul went to the church there and greeted them. He then departed for Antioch. Following his stay there, he then departed for Galatia and Phrygia and strengthened the believers in Christ who he and Barnabas had encountered during their First Missionary Journey (Acts 13-14). It was when Paul began this trip that his Third Missionary Journey commenced.
While the Lord does not call everyone to the type of ministry the Apostle Paul had, we must make ourselves available for what the Lord want us to do for Him. Are you willing to pray to the Lord, “I will go where you want me to go and I will do what you want me to do.”
Soli deo Gloria!