Alistar Begg on Acts 18:5 in the NIV
Thanks for the question about Acts 18:5. I hate to “beg” Mr. Begg’s pardon, but I wonder why he chose the NIV translation above the NAS, RSV, KJV and NKJ. Could it be that he is trying to manipulate the text.
I looked up the passages in Wycliffe, Adam Clarke, Barnes Notes and then Jameson, Fausset and Brown. None of them translate the passage as does the NIV and Mr. Begg.
The KJV reads “pressed by the Spirit”; NKV “compelled by the Spirit”; NAS “devoting himself completely to the word; RSV: occupied with preaching” and the NIV: “devoted himself exclusively to preaching.” Only the NIV adds “exclusively.”
Paul had experienced failure in Athens and had experience loneliness while Timothy and Silas were in Macedonia. The good news from Thessalonica by Timothy would have encouraged him. Also the possibility of temporary money from Philippi brought by Silas would have uplifted him.
Result: A very brief shot of adrenaline and possibly a very brief full time focus. He became obsessed with preaching Christ but the Greek does not read “exclusively.” The Greek merely says that was “compelled” to preach –evidently with renewed great boldness. There is not direct statement that he actually stopped working during this period. He simply devoted much more time and energy preaching.
2 Cor 11:7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
At Corinth Paul was again “abasing” himself by working (11:8). The Greek for “wages” in 11:9 refers to a soldiers daily pay. Evidently, that which he could not provide for himself by working was made up by the monetary gifts from Macedonia (11:9).
It is clear to me from 1 Cor 9:12-19 and Acts 20:29-35 that Paul’s tradition, habit, custom was to work full time and support himself and others.