Acts 18:12-17

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.

Gallio (v.12) — Elder brother of Seneca, the famous philosopher, Nero’s tutor and favorite, and uncle of Lucan the poet. He was born in Spain, his father being Marcus Annaeus Novatus, but he was adopted by Lucius Junius Gallio, whose name he assumed. That he held office in Achaia is corroborated by the statement of Seneca that he caught fever there and had to leave for a sea-voyage. Since his brother Seneca was in disgrace from A.D. 41-49, when he again regained the emperor’s favor, Gallio must have been governor of Achaia subsequent to that date. The most probably dates for his assuming that office are A.D. 52 and A.D. 53, most likely the former. Pliny mentions that he afterwards attained the dignity of counsul at Rome. Contemporary evidence shows him to have been a man of a particularly amiable disposition.

Proconsul (v.12) — Achaia had been a senatorial province from 27 B.C. — A.D. 15. It was then amalgamated with Macedonia and Mysia into an imperial province. From A.D. 44, however, Claudius had made it once more a senatorial province, under a proconsul. So Luke is again seen to be remarkably accurate in his terminology. — Walker, pages 393-394.

Achaia (v.12) — All of Greece under the Romans

rose up against (v.12) — a violent assault

judgment seat (v.12) — a moveable seat set up on the agora for the purpose of trials

Their complaint was that Paul sought to persuade men to worship God “contrary to the law.” They could, of course, have referred to their law (see verse 15) for the Hebrew religion was then protected by the Roman government. It seems more probable, however, that they meant that Paul was setting up an unlicensed religion — one not included among those which were permitted under Roman law. When we consider the wicked and degrading religions which Roman law did permit, right here in Corinth, this charge against Paul was a shabby one indeed. — Stam, page 137.

wrongdoing (v.14) — legal wrong

wicked crimes (v.14) — moral delinquency

words (v.15) — as opposed to deeds

names (v.15) — as opposed to realities

own law (v.15) — Jewish law as opposed to Roman law

Sostenes (v.17) — He is described as “the ruler of the synagogue,” and probably succeeded Crispus in office after the latter’s conversion (v.8). Doubtless, he was the leader of the Jewish party in their prosecution of Paul, and the irritated Greeks seized on him as such. We do not know that he is the same person as is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:1. If so, he must have been converted after this event. Possibly, the beating which he now received induced serious reflections. — Walker, page 396.

beat him (v.17) — repeatedly — a series of blows

took no notice (v.17) — Probably thinking Sosthenes, as the leader of the Jewish mob who stirred up trouble, deserved what he received

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