When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law."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. 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." And he drove them from the judgment seat. 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.
Paul Returns to Antioch
So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing." And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
Ministry of Apollos
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. (NKJV)
Upon the arrival of Silas and Timothy from Macedonia, , Paul still making a valiant attempt to “reason” with the Jews in the Corinthian synagogue, now, having been “pressed” in the spirit testified to them that Jesus was Christ (the “Anointed One) (promised “Messiah”) The Jews responded by putting up a fierce opposition to Paul and the declaration (that Jesus is Messiah) to the point of blaspheming. (made a “villain” out of Jesus character and spoke about HIM with contempt, scorn and derision)
In utter disgust, Paul shook his clothing, said to them: “Your blood is upon your own heads; I am clean”. (I’ve done my job in bringing the Gospel message to you God’s chosen people) "From now own, I will go to the Gentiles"
As we continue to ministry events of this chapter, we must not overlook the significance of the people who did accept the Gospel message and the impact it had on that synagogue: The message concerning Jesus as Messiah convinced the Crispus, the chief ruler of that synagogue and his house to believe, as well as many of the Corinthians who heard to message as well. After being instructed and encouraged by God, Paul remained in Corinth for 18 months. (54-55 A.D.) Paul also during this time while there in Corinth wrote both epistles to the Church at Thessalonica (1 and 2 Thessalonians)
Concerning the conversion of Crispus, the chief ruler of the Synagogue
His conversion must have been "galling" (a very bitter pill to swallow) and a great insult to the Jews to have their chief ruler of the synagogue converted to Christ. Here’s the reason: The chief ruler presided in all assemblies, interpreted the law, decided what was lawful and unlawful, punished and executed the rebellious, solemnized marriages, and issued divorces. They looked for the chief ruler to stabilize the worship and public affairs of the Jews who were part of that fellowship and community.
Upon his conversion and stepping down from the position, Sosthenes succeeded him, but a marvelous thing happened sometime after his appointment to the chief ruler position. According to 1 Corinthians 1:1, Sosthenes, the new chief ruler in the synagogue also became a convert to Christianity. Unfortunately, later in this chapter, he was beaten for his new stance.
Paul Arrested Again: “Charges dropped” by Gallio (verses 12-16)
a. The Arrest: Marauding Jews once again made a false accusation against Paul before Gallio in the marketplace. (vs. 12)
The Jews (those in the city and those outsides (Judaizers)) made insurrection (came up with a concocted lying accusation) with one accord against Paul. They were the ringleaders of all the mischief against Paul, and at this point in history they had entered into a confederacy (death contract) to do him a mischief. They were unanimous in it: they came upon him with one accord; hand joined in hand to do this wickedness. They came after Paul with violence and fury: They made a “railing accusation”, accusing Paul of disturbing the public peace, and hurried Paul away to the judgment-seat, and, for aught that appears, allowed him no time to prepare for his trial. (similar to the way the Sanhedrin hurried Jesus off in the night to a rushed judgment).
The Accusation: “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the Law.” (vs. 13)
- They could not charge Paul with persuading men not to worship God at all, or persuading men to worship other gods according to (Deuteronomy 13:2): but only persuading men to worship God in a way contrary to the law.
- The Romans allowed the Jews in their provinces the observance of their own law; provided there was disturbance against Rome politically or otherwise.
- The charge was unjust; for in the prophecies revealed to the Jews, their own law had in it a promise of a prophet whom God would raise up to them, and him they should hear. Now Paul simply revealed to them like peter did to other Jews and persuaded them like Peter did to other Jews to believe in this prophet, (Jesus) who was come, and to hear him, which was according to the law; for Jesus said this concerning Himself: “He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.
- The law relating to the temple-service those Jews at Corinth could not even observe, because of their distance from Jerusalem, and there was no part of their synagogue-worship which Paul contradicted.
The Sad Truth:
When people are taught to worship God in Christ, and to worship him in the Spirit, they are ready to quarrel, as if they were taught to worship him contrary to the law; whereas this is indeed perfective of the law because of John 3:16.
Paul response…interrupted by Gallio (vs. 14)
Gallio response: If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:
Paul was now about to open his mouth and defend himself, but Gallio, perceiving that this prosecution was through envy and malice, wasn’t going to put Paul through any further trouble instead interrupts Paul and made the following determination concerning their accusation against him:.
If the matter you brought before me concerning this man were a matter of a wrong, an injustice; anything contrary to the rights of the subject. If it pertained to wickedness or lewdness; if there was destructive mischief or something by which the subject is previously wronged. If there were any crime against society or against the state according to reason, or the merit of the case, I would take the time and patiently hear you. BUT……
“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."
(case dismissed!) And he drove them from the judgment seat. (vs. 15-16)
Gallio recognized that Paul was guilty of no wrongdoing or vicious crime. And the apostle's message, so far as he could tell, was only a variant form of Judaism and of interpretation of the Jewish law. Therefore he refused to render judgment against Paul and turned the accusers away.
The Greeks responded: 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. 2 perspectives: either these “Greeks” were racially greek….
The Greeks who had witnessed the persecution of Paul by the Jews, and who had seen the tumult which they had excited took Sosthenes because he was the chief ruler of the synagogue, and they believed he, being the chief ruler had something to do with the gathered mob and their opposition to Paul that brought about the public prosecution in the marketplace. Indignant at the Jews; at their bringing such questions before the tribunal; mad at their bigotry, and rage, and contentious spirit, These Greeks in all likelihood ambushed him as he was leaving the Roman tribunal. The Greeks would feel no small measure of indignation at these disturbers of the public peace, and they took this opportunity to express their rage.
Or .....they were Hebrews who lived in the country (Hellenic) and attended the synagogue that was under his jurisdiction and upon hearing that he and Paul were on good terms and he was a convert….lashed out at him and beat him down in response to the governor’s decision. Now this raises an important question: When was Sosthenes converted? Before or after the beat down before the judge? (1 Corinthians 1:1-2)
And Gallio cared for none of these things: neither did he take notice: meaning he didn’t sanction the beat down, but because he ruled he would not render a decision concerning the accusation…he also would not become involved in whatever transpired as a result of his decision.
Gallio over the centuries have been accused of, as if he were wholly indifferent to religion. But the charge is unjustly made, and his name is associated with being indifferent, worldly, careless, and skeptical. By the testimony of ancient writers, even his brother Seneca, he was a most mild and amiable man, arid an upright and just judge. There is not the least evidence that he was indifferent to the religion of his country, or that he was of a thoughtless and skeptical turn of mind. All that this passage implies is:
(1) That he did not deem it to be his duty, or a part of his office, to settle questions of a theological nature that were started among the Jews.
(2) That he was unwilling to make this subject a matter of legal discussion and investigation.
(3) That he would not interfere, either on one side or the other, in the question about proselytes either to or from Judaism. So far, certainly, his conduct was exemplary and proper.
(4) That he did not choose to interpose, and rescue Sosthenes from the hands of the mob. From some cause he was willing that he should feel the effects of the public indignation. Perhaps it was not easy to quell the riot; perhaps he was not unwilling that he who had joined in a furious and unprovoked persecution should feel the effect of it in the excited passions of the people.
At all events, he was simply following the common practice among the Romans, which was to regard the Jews with contempt, and to care little how much they were exposed to popular fury and rage. In this he was wrong; and it is certain, also, that he was indifferent to the disputes between Jews and Christians; but there is no propriety in defaming his name, and making him the type and representative of all the thought less and indifferent on the subject of religion in subsequent times. Nor is there propriety in using this passage as a text as applicable to this class of people.
II. Paul’s Return to Antioch (verses 18-23)
And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. (vs. 18)
a. Paul stayed in Corinth for a while (approximately 2 years) after the hearing. There is no record of him experiencing any other trouble from this Jewish mob, having seen that the governor was not going to hear any accusations against him, especially from them.
b. At some point Paul then decided and did leave Corinth and sailed to Syria. Aquila and Priscilla went with him. Paul had his head shaved in Cenchrea because it’s believed he had taken a vow, to do so to take part in a Jewish ceremony in Jerusalem and offer the usual sacrifice required to be offered within 30 days. Paul did this at the request of his brethren to appease the Jews in Jerusalem to prove that he was not speaking or living against the Law of Moses. (Acts 21:17- 25)
Acts 21:17-25: Paul in Jerusalem
When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.
What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you.
There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."
Verse 18 Continues.....
When Paul came to Ephesus, he left Aquila and Priscilla there and as it was his custom he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews there.(They were left in Ephesus because later on, they would be instrumental in ministering to Apollos who knew scriptures, but only knew about the baptism of John the Baptist (baptism of repentance.))
They want Paul to stay longer, but because of the feast (possibly the Passover) in Jerusalem, he turned them down, explaining the importance of keeping this feast in Jerusalem. Paul did promise to come back to Antioch at later date if God willed it. Paul then left Ephesus. Leaving Ephesus, he landed in Caesarea, went up to Jerusalem to church, then he went back to Antioch in Syria. (vs. 19-22)
Important Note: When Paul went up to Jerusalem and attended the feast, he then went back to Antioch in Syria. Once he did this, this was the end of his 2nd missionary journey. Verse 23 marks the beginning of his 3rd and final missionary journey.
Paul’s 3rd Missionary Journey. (verse 23)
Below is a list of 17 cities that Paul visited during his 3rd Missionary Journey:
Went by land again through Syria, Cilicia, Galatia, and Phyrgia(
Acts 15:41- 16:6 with Acts 18:23)
Ephesus, Ionia, Asia Minor (Acts 19)
Macedonia (tour of churches, Acts 20:1)
Greece (tour of churches, Acts 20:2)
Macedonia (tour of churches, Acts 20:3)
Philippi, to Troas, Mysia, across the Aegean to Asia Minor (Acts 20:4-12)
Assos, Mysia (Acts 20:13)
Mitylene, Isle of Lesbos (Acts 20:14)
Trogyllium (Acts 20:15)
Miletus, Caria, Asia Minor (Acts 20:15-38)
Isle of Coos (Acts 21:1)
Isle of Rhodes (Acts 21:1)
Patera, Syria (Acts 21:1)
Tyre, Phoenicia (Acts 21:2-6)
Ptolemais, Galilee (Acts 21:7)
Caesarea, Samaria (Acts 21:8-14)
Back to Jerusalem (Acts 21:15-23:30)
IV. Apollos Ministry in Ephesus (verses 24-28)
- Apollos, an Alexandrian, eloquent, mighty in the Scriptures came to Ephesus. He was acquainted with the Mosaic Law and the writings of the Prophets (Old Testament) thoroughly trained in what he knew (the baptism of John)
- Apollos spoke in the synagogue in Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla heard him and afterwards took time with him and between the 2 of them, they expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. (they shared with him “the “FULL Gospel.”)
Let’s look at what Apollos did know doctrinally because if you are going to sit under a pastor/teacher or leader, it’s important to know what they believe doctrinally because at some point what they believe will come out in what they teach and how it is taught.
He was instructed, in some degree, into the knowledge of the Christian religion.
Apollos had been correctly taught in regard to the Messiah, yet his knowledge was not complete. (current). How much did he know?
Apollos taught the Jews to look for the coming Messiah, not realizing himself that the Savior had already come. As far as what he knew and believed…..
1) He had correct views of the Messiah as to how HE would come as to HIS character and demeanor to come, which he had derived from the study of the Old Testament. He was expecting a Savior that would be humble, obscure, and a sacrifice, in opposition to the prevailing notions of the Jews. That notion was the Messiah would come from an aristocratic family and be a warrior.
2) He had heard of John; had embraced his doctrine (doctrine of repentance) and probably had been baptized unto repentance, looking forward to the soon coming of the Messiah. (Compare Matthew 3:2 with Acts 19:4.)
But it is clear that he had not heard that Jesus was the Messiah. So, with his correct views in regard to the 1st coming of the Messiah he was endeavoring to instruct and reform his countrymen. He was in the right state of mind to welcome the announcement that the Messiah had come, and to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as the hope of the nation.
3) Apollos taught what he knew with a fervent spirit. He defended with zeal and earnestness his views of the Messiah and every doctrines pertaining to the Messiah as far as he understood them.
Apparently, the knowledge of what John preached and the purpose of John’s baptism had been taught extensively in other nations beside Judea. Because the news concerning Jesus apparently had not reach a lot of remote areas in the region, it would not have been unusual for many to have not heard about Jesus’ coming or ministry (Acts 19:1-3.) The Messiah was expected about that time. The foreign Jews would be still waiting for him; and the news of John's ministry, doctrine, and success would be rapidly propagated from synagogue to synagogue in the surrounding nations. John preached repentance, and baptized with reference to him that was to come after him (Acts 19:4), and this doctrine Apollos seems to have embraced.
Apollos to Achaia Mightily Convinced the Jews (verses 27-28)
And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
For some unknown reason, Apollos was disposed (determine or compelled) to go to Achaia. He had heard of the success of Paul there; of the church which he had established; of the opposition of the Jews; and it was doubtless with a desire to establish that church, and with a wish to convince his unbelieving countrymen that their views of the Messiah were erroneous, and that Jesus of Nazareth corresponded with the predictions of the prophets, that he went there. Many of the Greeks at Corinth were greatly captivated with his winning eloquence (1 Corinthians 1:12 3:4-5), and his going there was the occasion of some unhappy divisions that sprung up in the church. But in all this he retained the confidence and love of Paul (1 Corinthians 1:3)
Message to Every Minister of the WORD of God......
It was shown here in this situation that Paul was superior to envy, and that great success by one minister need not excite the envy, or alienate the confidence and good will of another. By going there, Apollos was very helpful in strengthened them, and aided them in their controversies with the unbelieving Jews. It know becomes obvious God allowed this to happen for the purpose of one minister undergirding the ministry of another. One minister plants the Word in a area.. Another minister waters (plants the same Word, confirming the truth of that Word in the same area. It is God that grants the "fruit" or increase by drawing the people who hears the Word and accepts it unto Himself, bring about salvation to the ones who embraces the WORD of God -Jesus Christ.
Dr. William Edward Boddie