Online Bible Commentary
Time to Rest
Acts 18:9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city." 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 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. (NKJV)
The time is about 50 A.D. Paul is in Corinth, Greece (Achaia) on his second missionary journey. Silas and Timothy are with him. Paul’s trip has gone well, at times, as churches have been planted in many cities. However, at other times, he has faced strong opposition and has been run out of nearly every city. But the Lord is about to give him respite from the persecution.
One night in Corinth the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city" (vv. 9-10). This must have been a great relief for Paul.
He stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, from late 50 A.D. well into 52 A.D. (v. 11a). He was able to teach the Gospel during that time without any major issues (v. 11b).
A minor issue arose “when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia” (v. 12a). According to an inscription at Delphi, Gallio was the Roman procounsel in Corinth between 51 and 52 A.D. Paul’s issue occurred likely mid to late 51 A.D.
The Jews rose up against Paul’s teachings and brought him before the “judgment seat” (v. 12b). The judgment seat, known as the Bema in the Greek, was a large marble structure with two levels. The judge sat on the upper level while the accused stood on the lower level on a stone square platform.
The Jews brought Paul before Gallio accusing him, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law" (v. 13). Before Paul could defend himself, Gallio spoke up saying that if this was “a matter of wrongdoing” he would hear the matter (v. 14). However, he saw this as a matter of religion and refused to hear the case, ordering the men to leave his presence (vv. 15-16).
Then the Greeks took Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in the presence of Gallio (v. 17). The Greeks were not fond of the Jews. Normally, Gallio would have intervened in the beating of Sosthenes, but in this case he ignored it.
There are two possible reasons why Gallio did not intervene. First, He may have been upset with Sosthenes for wasting his time with this frivolous case. Second, Gallio was likely not a friend of the Jews. His brother Seneca had authored several writings that included anti-Semitic feelings and had dedicated them to Gallio. Thus, Gallio likely shared his brother’s anti-Semitism.
Therefore Paul was saved from persecution in Corinth just as the Lord had promised in the vision. Paul had a chance to catch his breath and refresh his ministry. He had time to rest.
Our lives sometimes seem to be filled with challenges, more than we would like. But the Lord never gives us more than we can handle, if we lean on Him through prayer.
Then He will give us times of respite and refreshment. We must make sure to use that time to rest, for there will always be more challenges to come as long as we are on this earth.