18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus. 22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch.
The following verses describe how Paul concluded his second missionary enterprise and where he stopped while returning to Antioch, Syria.
So Paul still remained a good while.
Paul stayed in Corinth for a good while after the episode with Gallio; the proconsul’s judicial decision allowed the apostle to continue ministry in the city. Paul penned 1st and 2nd Thessalonians while in Corinth.
Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him.
Priscilla and Aquila sailed to Ephesus with Paul, but the apostle was on his way to Antioch of Syria. He left the couple in Ephesus.
He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.
While traveling to Syria, Paul stopped in Cenchrea, the southeastern port of Corinth, and took a “vow.” Such vows were associated with a sacrifice in Jerusalem. His vow was probably Nazirite, a pledge for a specified period of devotion to God (Num 6:2-25). This passage offers no explanation for why the apostle took this vow. It is somewhat puzzling, since Paul knew that the rituals of the Old Testament had passed away. Elsewhere in Galatians, Paul taught observing of feasts was neither a means of salvation nor a requisite for sanctification (Ga 4:1-11).
There is a local church in Cenchrea (Ro 16:1).
And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
Paul arrived in Ephesus but left Aquila and Priscilla in that famous city, located on the west coast of Asia Minor (Turkey today). It was the capital of the Roman province of Asia (Turkey) and its most populous city. Ephesus was renowned as the keeper of the temple of Artemis. We can see the ruins of this temple today. Archeologists have also discovered the ruins of a stadium rebuilt by Nero and a theater with a capacity of 24,000. A street of 35 feet in width with colonnades ran from the city to the Aegean. In Paul’s day, Ephesus had a natural harbor on the Cayster River that ran to the Aegean Sea.
When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent,
The Jews in the synagogue invited Paul to stay longer with them, but he was determined to return to Jerusalem and his home base in Antioch, Syria, which was his sending church.
but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you,
Paul wanted to attend the feast of Passover in Jerusalem, but he promised to return to Ephesus. We see his return in Acts 19:1.
Paul tried to make every decision and take every action in God’s will (Acts 21:14).
And he sailed from Ephesus.
The apostle took a ship from Ephesus to Caesarea in Palestine.
And when he had landed at Caesarea,
Caesarea was a port city on the Palestinian coast.
and gone up and greeted the church [in Jerusalem], he went down to Antioch.
Paul did not sail directly to Antioch of Syria but landed in Caesarea, from which he first went to Jerusalem and then to Antioch. The apostle finished his second missionary journey at his home base in Antioch.
Christians should seek the will of God for their direction in life.
Christians should seek God’s guidance daily. This desire is an act of faith. Seeking God’s will enables a believer to know His direction for him (Jn 7:17). It also shows how much a person believes in God’s providence over his or her life.