12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.”
16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.
OOOF! Who is getting beat up now? Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue. Wait, didn’t we already hear about a ruler of the synagogue?
Back in verses 7–8
7 And [Paul] left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.
At some point in the last year and a half, the synagogue next door to the new mega-church where Paul preaches changed their ruler. The synagogue ruler had a great job. When a gathering of Jewish men came together at the synagogue, any one of them could be the teacher. (This echoes from Paul in 1 Cor 14:26.) If nobody had anything to teach that day, the synagogue ruler would get up and teach. He was like the house band, the on-call pastor, security, host, and maintenance man all in one.
But when Crispus became a believer in Jesus the Messiah, he evidently was out of a job. It looks like a good thing, too.
The great part about all of this is how much Paul is not a part of it. He was all ready to give one of his great speeches, but in this case, it was better to slink out of view and go back to preaching next door.
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. – Proverbs 17:14
All too often, people dive into an argument or an accusation that would be much better left alone. Who knows how Paul was rescued in this case because he didn’t speak up?! Whatever he would have said would have drawn more attention to him. It was clear that this mob wasn’t looking for understanding. They were looking to beat someone up. Paul was their justifiable target, but not if he stayed quiet.
Aggressive people are one group, reasonable people seeking understanding are another. Sometimes God gives us a way out of the fight. Wisdom and discernment are the best things we can bring before Gallio or anybody else.
In this case, Paul got a clear ticket to stay and continue preaching in Corinth. The synagogue rulers wouldn’t ever trouble them again.
You can get the Daily Bible Readings to your inbox via email every day by subscribing on our home page. Join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.