Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 18:12-17
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 18:12, 13
vs12-13: The synagogue leaders hoped to silence Paul and felt that the newly-arrived proconsul might be persuaded to rule that Paul had been preaching an illegal religion. Rome recognized certain religions, and that meant they could be practiced freely. Judaism was one of those recognized religions and as Christianity was considered by the government to be a form of Judaism, it was protected. But if the proconsul ruled that Paul was introducing a new, unrecognized type of religion, that decision would instantly turn all the Christians in Greece (Achaia) into outlaws. So, when they felt the time was right, a group of men from the synagogue rushed upon Paul, seized him, and brought him to the raised stone platform in the center of the central marketplace, where Gallio was seated judging cases. Archaeologists have uncovered this platform and it can still be seen in the ruins of ancient Corinth (F.F. Bruce, In the Steps of the Apostle Paul, Kregel Pub., 1995, p. 44).

Monday: Acts 18:13
v13 (continued): The crime of which they accused Paul was that he was persuading people to worship God in a manner different from how the “law” said they should worship. The way they worded their charge left it unclear as to whether they were speaking about Roman law or the Torah (God’s Law). It’s possible they meant to do that, hoping Gallio would think they meant Roman law, while they would secretly know they meant the Torah. But if that’s what they were hoping, their plan backfired, because Gallio assumed they meant the Torah.

Tuesday: Acts 18:14, 15
vs14-15: At that point, Paul was about to open his mouth to defend himself, but before he could say a word, Gallio made an instantaneous decision. He turned to the synagogue leaders and said, “If indeed he (Paul) had committed some criminal act or was using religion to financially defraud people, I would listen to what you have to say and make a reasoned judgment, but if the real reason you’re here is because you’re arguing about the meaning of a word, and names, and your own law (Torah), you handle those matters for yourselves. I do not wish to be a judge concerning these things” (paraphrase).

Wednesday: Acts 18:14, 15
vs14-15 (continued): If the synagogue leaders were trying to get Gallio to pronounce Christianity an illegal religion, their plan failed. By refusing to take up the case, and declaring that the issue being presented to him was merely a fight between Jews about their own religious matters, Gallio (a very prominent Roman senator, whose decision many other judges would undoubtedly follow) was saying Christianity was just another type of Judaism and, therefore, it was legal for Paul to do what he was doing. At that moment Christianity became formally recognized throughout the entire province of Achaia (Greece). It was now a legal form of religion, and believers were free to practice their faith with no fear of the Roman government.

Thursday: Acts 18:14, 15
vs14-15 (continued): Gallio reacted very quickly, without listening to all the charges the synagogue leaders wanted to present. He may have done so because he was already aware of the tensions in the Jewish community about Jesus Christ. He had been living in Rome when Claudius forced all the Jews out of the city (Ac 18:2), and as we noted earlier, Claudius probably did that to stop the constant rioting in the Jewish community over the preaching of the gospel. If so, then he already had an opinion formed about this matter before anyone started talking, and his decision reveals he felt the Jews were being unreasonable.

Friday: Acts 18:16, 17
v16: After he pronounced his decision, either Gallio, or his soldiers who were standing nearby, began to forcefully push these Jewish leaders away from the platform. That action exposed to everyone the frustration he felt. He was obviously very angry that this kind of conflict kept happening, and he was making sure these Jewish leaders realized they would not be welcomed if they brought up this issue again. In other words, he would not tolerate in Corinth the kind of trouble that had taken place in Rome. v17: Then something very unexpected happened. When Gallio openly displayed this frustration toward these leaders, the watching crowd felt released to express theirs. A spontaneous, mob-like action erupted right in front of the platform where Gallio was standing. A group rushed forward and seized Sosthenes, the new “synagogue ruler” who had replaced Crispus (v8), and began to beat him. Luke describes Gallio’s response this way, “And Gallio did not care about any of these things,” meaning he made no effort to stop it. Clearly, anti-Semitism was strong in Corinth.

Saturday: Acts 18:17
v17 (continued): Before we move on from this event, we should at least observe that the name of the synagogue ruler who was beaten that day is exactly the same as that of a man who, later on, became a prominent Corinthian Christian. Paul wrote his first letter to Corinth from Ephesus (1Co 16:8), and in the very first verse of that letter he mentioned “Sosthenes, the brother” (1Co 1:1). Now, there is no way to prove that this is the same man. There could have been others named Sosthenes in that city, but for a notable leader in that church to have the same name as this synagogue leader, and for Luke to name him here in Acts, and tell us that he replaced Crispus after he became a Christian (v8), seems to indicate that Luke and Paul are referring to the same person. If so, then Luke gave these details about this man because he would later turn to Christ and become a prominent member of the church. He may also have had a temperment similar to Paul’s (1Ti 1:13).

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