Monday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 18:12-23

The Lord Fulfills His Word on Paul’s Behalf through the Pagan Proconsul

Well we read yesterday that the Lord told Paul while he was in Corinth not to fear, that no one would harm him, and that He was with him.  Today we read that Paul was indeed attacked, but as the Lord promised, not harmed.  In this case, rather than stirring up the people, the Jews made their accusation before the Proconsul themselves: “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”  Now there is more to this accusation than meets the eye and I had to go to scholars to get it.  Judaism maintained legal status under Roman law; Christianity did not.  Indeed at this early date, Christianity would still have been flying below Rome’s radar.  If Roman officials had noticed Christianity at all, they probably would have considered it an off-shoot of Judaism and thus having legal status.  So when the Jews said, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law,” what they were saying before the Roman tribunal was, “They are not one of us.  They don’t believe like us or worship like us.  They believe that some man who died a convict on a cross in Judea some twenty years ago is the Christ, and they call him the Son of God.  We don’t.”  In other words, they are saying, “They are not legit!” (Bruce, NICNT, 353-54)

Now Paul was about to address the crowd, but before he could, the Proconsul Gallio rendered the decision without further ado.  As far as he was concerned, this was all a matter concerning Jewish religion, law, names, and words, and as a good Roman official, he wanted no part of it.  As far as the Romans were concerned, as long as everyone obeyed the laws and paid their taxes, live and let live.  Scholars say that this might have been a crucial and precedent-setting decision for the gospel.  Corinth was the seat of administration for all of Achaia and Gallio was a respected Roman official with connections.  His judgment allowed Christianity to continue under the radar as occupying legal status; after all, Christianity was of Jewish origin (and still is).  This meant that Paul and other evangelists could continue preaching the gospel under the protection of legal status.  In other words, here is an instance where God not only protected Paul but used a melee for the spread of the gospel.

The rest of the passage covers Paul’s finally leaving Corinth, fulfilling a vow (probably related to the Nazirite, see Numbers 6:1-21), visiting the churches in Jerusalem and Antioch, and then the ones he had already planted in Galatia and Phrygia.  And he could do so without fear of reprisal, thanks to God’s work through a pagan Roman official who had no idea what he did.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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