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12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, 13 saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. 15 But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” 16 And he drove them from the judgment seat. 17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

 

In verses 12-17, the Jews attacked Paul and Sosthenes and dragged them before a tribunal. However, the proconsul Gallio dismissed the case. However, a mob attacked Sosthenes, the synagogue official.

18:12

When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat,

The Jews brought Paul before a tribunal when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the province where Athens and Corinth were located.

18:13

saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.”

The charge against Paul was that he persuaded men to worship God contrary to Jewish law.

18:14

And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.

Gallio, the proconsul, responded to the Jews before Paul could open his mouth. He said they had no legal basis for their accusation. They alleged no Roman crime in their complaint.

18:15

But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.”

Gallio continued his critique of the Jews’ accusation against Paul in this verse. Their complaint against Paul was about Jewish law, not Roman law. He refused to exercise judgment in this case.

18:16

And he drove them from the judgment seat.

Gallio dismissed the case and threw the Jews out of court. This action by Gallio set a legal precedent for Christian freedom to preach the gospel.

18:17

Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

The Gentile reaction to the Jews losing the case in court was to beat Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, at the judgment seat. Gallio ignored the mob action. This event was antisemitism in action.

Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue at first, but, when Christians held their meetings in his home, he was probably later replaced with Sosthenes.

Sosthenes later became a believer. The reference in 1 Corinthians 1:1 indicates that he became a Christian and was the co-author (amanuensis) of 1st Corinthians with Paul. Paul did not baptize Sosthenes (1 Co 1:16).

PRINCIPLE:

God often sovereignly works through unexpected people and events.

APPLICATION:

Under God’s sovereignty, Paul stayed in Corinth for a long time. The Lord worked in adversity and under changing circumstances. We, as well, can do ministry under God’s protection. He may permit adversity or give great blessings, but it is God at work.

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