Friday 03 June 2011

Bible Book:

"Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, 'If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves, I do not wishes to be a judge of these matters.'" (vv. 14-15)

Acts 18:9-18 Friday 3 June 2011


Proclaiming the gospel (good news) provokes a range ofreactions. This has already been noted in the previous chapter (Acts17:32-34). In today's passage, Paul is now in Corinth and,encouraged by a vision (v. 9), he has been preaching boldly for 18months.

Now a more concerted effort is made by those who oppose his messageand Paul is brought before Gallio the proconsul. Gallio's responseis one of indifference. To him the matters that are brought byPaul's opponents are simply "questions about words and names andyour own law" and are therefore of no importance to him.

Gallio's actions are interesting. At first glance his reluctance toget involved seems positive, and indicates a desire not to takesides in what appears, to him, to be an internal theological debateamong the local Jewish population. However, this detachment is seeneven in the face of the physical violence involving the official ofthe synagogue, Sosthenes (v. 17). It is not clear from the textexactly what provoked the violence or indeed who the "all of them"of verse 17 actually were, but clearly Gallio decided not to acteven with the evidence of his own eyes.

For us there are a number of issues which arise from this incident.We might wonder how to react to those who treat the message ofJesus as irrelevant and as a debate about "words and names and yourown law". In a post-modern context, there are increasing challengesas we seek to commend Christ to those who respond by saying 'Thatmay be true for you but it has no relevance to me'.

On a wider level there are questions here about the relationshipbetween Church and state. We may not want the government tointerfere in matters of belief or doctrine - but there is anotherscenario when those in authority stand at a distance and fail toprotect those who are attacked - verbally or physically - becauseof their faith.

To Ponder

What do you feel should be the relationshipbetween Church and state?

How might you encourage someone who dismissestalk of Jesus as no more than "words and names" to be moreinquisitive about him?

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