But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal.They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.”Acts 18:12-13
Before this, some of the Jews in the synagogue had criticized Paul in a verbally abusive way. Next, Paul leaves that Corinth synagogue saying, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” v. 6. Paul would not have been so openly adamant if he did not love these folks and truly hope for their salvation. Spirit then leads Paul to a welcoming place to preach God’s love in giving us Jesus Christ and Paul’s heart burns as he gives them the Good News that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus can be found through repentance, and personal salvation’s new birth in Jesus Christ is His gift. By the power of the Holy Spirit, during Paul’s preaching many receive salvation and Baptism.
Then some of the folks from the synagogue Paul had left discover and find Paul, attack him, and then they bring him before the high secular court, the tribunal. These angry folks charge Paul with persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law. Heading up the high hearing tribunal is Gallio. Paul is about to speak in the hearing tribunal but Gallio speaks first.
Gallio (with a prominent position similar to our senators today) us brother of the famous Seneca. Gallio is proconsul of Achaia and known for his gentleness. Speaking, Gallio rejects the complaint of the synagogue folks as Gallio takes personal assessment that their complaint have to do with ‘words and names’ v. 15, or rather frivolous word exchanges and an argument over another god in his city. Gallio’s statement during the matter before him reveals to us his personal rejection of Spirit. Gallio has no interest.
What had Paul been preaching in the synagogue and at Justus’ house to get some folks angry enough to attack him? Love. Spirit has given him the words to use. Paul has been enthusiastically preaching God’s love in Jesus, Jesus’ new commandment to Love, and gives a call to repentance for salvation. After Paul’s attackers loose at the high tribunal hearing their anger turns. They beat Sosthenes, the present official of the synagogue. Rev. Wesley mentions that Sosthenes later becomes a Christian.
What is Paul’s experience offering you here? My friend, there will times in your life when it seems that anger from others comes out of nowhere toward you and all you did was to speak of God’s love in Jesus Christ. When those times come “do not be afraid” (Jesus) and listen intently to the soft voice of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you. Spirit will tell you what to say, where to go, and Spirit will direct the hearts of others too. How? Through Spirit. Why? Because Jesus Christ is victor over all evil, anger, and animosity.