Acts 18 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jewish man named Aquila, a native of Pontus who had recently come from Italy with his wife, Priscilla because (the Roman Emperor) Claudius had ordered that all Jews leave Rome.” Acts 18:1-2
The expulsion of the Jews from Rome is generally connected with the remark of Suetonius, “Since the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.” (Claudius 25:4)
Some theologians believe that the unknown name, “Chrestus” was actually a misspelling of the word, “Christos”, meaning Christ. (Of course, the original Hebrew word, from which the Greek translators chose “Christos”, is Moshiach.) “Christos” seems to makes more sense, in light of the trial of Yeshua, and subsequent uproars concerning fights between Messianic and non-Messianic Jews. Today’s passage certainly deals with such an incident.
It only makes sense that the Romans would grow tired of religious Jews and their accusations and riotous actions towards the Messianic Jews. We must remember that at this time, the greater “Body of Messiah” was considered a sect of Judaism, and Gentile conversions were few & far between.
This growing anti-Semitism, among Roman officials is seen first in Acts 18, with Gallio’s attitude towards Paul’s accusers.
“While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the judge’s bench. ‘This man,’ they said, ‘persuades people to worship G_d contrary to the Torah!’ As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of a crime or moral evil, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews. But if there are questions about words, names, and your own law, see to it yourselves. I don’t want to be a judge of such things.’” Acts 18:12-15
Fast forward several hundred years: By the time Emperor Constantine declared that all Roman citizens were to be henceforth “Christians”, it is easy to see how “Christianity” began to quickly lose its “Jewishness”. An empire, full of anti-Semites were, suddenly, mandated to reckon with worshipping the Jewish Messiah and leave their paganism.
At least 2 good things happened as result of Gallio’s lack of patience & sympathy for the Jewish case against Paul: 1) Paul was allowed to continue preaching, and 2) Synagogue leader Sosthenes was publically rebuked, and beaten by his own people. Acts 18:17
In 1st Corinthians 1:1, we read that Sosthenes became a follower of Yeshua. Because of this particular incident, Sosthenes felt the bitter heartless cruelty of his own congregation. Perhaps, that is when he decided to follow his former synagogue ruler, Crispus (Acts 18:8), and follow Yeshua himself.
~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Daily Devotional, Sunday, August 4, 2013