Acts 18:12-17 (NLT)
12 But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment.13 They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.”14 But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case.15 But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.”16 And he threw them out of the courtroom.17 The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.
Paul is dragged before the open court (called the Agora) in Corinth by Jews who wanted him to stop preaching Jesus. Gallio, a Gentile governor, had no desire to listen to what he considered to be their own, internal, theological wranglings. These “court proceedings” were very different from what we might imagine from our courtrooms. It was an open-air free for all. There was shouting and high-tensions.
What is interesting to me is what happened next. The Jews, frustrated with Paul and now with Gallio, turn on…Sosthenes. Poor Sosthenes! What did he do to deserve this? No one really knows. Paul mentions a man named Sosthenes in 1 Cor. 1:1 – so it could be that he was a Christian sympathizer. It could be that the Jews were mad at his leadership – that he got no positive results from Gallio but actually got the Jews in political trouble. OR, it could mean that the Greeks turned on Sosthenes since Gallio had spoken his anti-Jewish sentiments and they took this as permission to abuse him.
Regardless, it was a bad day to be Sosthenes. But there are some lessons to be learned.
- Those who plan harm against others, often come to harm themselves. As Jesus said: if you live by the sword you die by the sword. Or as David said: Psalm 7:15 (NLT)15 They dig a deep pit to trap others,then fall into it themselves.
- The blame game isn’t a NEW political strategy. Apparently, it’s been around for a while.
- Hurt people hurt people. You never know, when dealing with a challenging person in your own life, if they aren’t simply responding to a wound in their own life…and their simply lashing out at you…or kicking the dog.
There is good news. God protected Paul who “stayed on in Corinth for some time,” where he had a very fruitful ministry.