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Acts 18:12-17

Context
Paul Before the Proconsul Gallio

18:12 Now while Gallio 1  was proconsul 2  of Achaia, 3  the Jews attacked Paul together 4  and brought him before the judgment seat, 5  18:13 saying, “This man is persuading 6  people to worship God in a way contrary to 7  the law!” 18:14 But just as Paul was about to speak, 8  Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or serious piece of villainy, 9  I would have been justified in accepting the complaint 10  of you Jews, 11  18:15 but since it concerns points of disagreement 12  about words and names and your own law, settle 13  it yourselves. I will not be 14  a judge of these things!” 18:16 Then he had them forced away 15  from the judgment seat. 16  18:17 So they all seized Sosthenes, the president of the synagogue, 17  and began to beat 18  him in front of the judgment seat. 19  Yet none of these things were of any concern 20  to Gallio.

1 sn Gallio was proconsul of Achaia from a.d. 51-52. This date is one of the firmly established dates in Acts. Lucius Junius Gallio was the son of the rhetorician Seneca and the brother of Seneca the philosopher. The date of Gallio’s rule is established from an inscription (W. Dittenberger, ed., Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum 2.3 no. 8). Thus the event mentioned here is probably to be dated July-October a.d. 51.

2 sn The proconsul was the Roman official who ruled over a province traditionally under the control of the Roman senate.

3 sn Achaia was a Roman province created in 146 b.c. that included the most important parts of Greece (Attica, Boeotia, and the Peloponnesus).

4 tn Grk “with one accord.”

5 tn Although BDAG 175 s.v. βῆμα 3 gives the meaning “tribunal” for this verse and a number of modern translations use similar terms (“court,” NIV; “tribunal,” NRSV), there is no need for an alternative translation here since the bema was a standard feature in Greco-Roman cities of the time.

sn The judgment seat (βῆμα, bhma) was a raised platform mounted by steps and sometimes furnished with a seat, used by officials in addressing an assembly or making pronouncements, often on judicial matters. The judgment seat was a familiar item in Greco-Roman culture, often located in the agora, the public square or marketplace in the center of a city. So this was a very public event.

6 tn Or “inciting.”

7 tn Grk “worship God contrary to.” BDAG 758 s.v. παρά C.6 has “against, contrary to” for Acts 18:13. The words “in a way” are not in the Greek text, but are a necessary clarification to prevent the misunderstanding in the English translation that worshiping God was in itself contrary to the law. What is under dispute is the manner in which God was being worshiped, that is, whether Gentiles were being required to follow all aspects of the Mosaic law, including male circumcision. There is a hint of creating public chaos or disturbing Jewish custom here since Jews were the ones making the complaint. Luke often portrays the dispute between Christians and Jews as within Judaism.

8 tn Grk “about to open his mouth” (an idiom).

9 tn BDAG 902 s.v. ῥᾳδιούργημα states, “From the sense ‘prank, knavery, roguish trick, slick deed’ it is but a short step to that of a serious misdeed, crime, villainy…a serious piece of villainy Ac 18:14 (w. ἀδίκημα).”

10 tn According to BDAG 78 s.v. ἀνέχω 3 this is a legal technical term: “Legal t.t. κατὰ λόγον ἂν ἀνεσχόμην ὑμῶν I would have been justified in accepting your complaint Ac 18:14.”

11 tn Grk “accepting your complaint, O Jews.”

12 tn Or “dispute.”

13 tn Grk “see to it” (an idiom).

14 tn Or “I am not willing to be.” Gallio would not adjudicate their religious dispute.

15 tn Grk “driven away,” but this could result in a misunderstanding in English (“driven” as in a cart or wagon?). “Forced away” conveys the idea; Gallio rejected their complaint. In contemporary English terminology the case was “thrown out of court.” The verb ἀπήλασεν (aphlasen) has been translated as a causative since Gallio probably did not perform this action in person, but ordered his aides or officers to remove the plaintiffs.

16 sn See the note on the term judgment seat in 18:12.

17 tn That is, “the official in charge of the synagogue”; ἀρχισυνάγωγος (arcisunagwgo") refers to the “leader/president of a synagogue” (so BDAG 139 s.v. and L&N 53.93).

sn See the note on synagogue in 6:9.

18 tn The imperfect verb ἔτυπτον (etupton) has been translated as an ingressive imperfect.

19 sn See the note on the term judgment seat in 18:12.

20 tn L&N 25.223 has “‘none of these things were of any concern to Gallio’ Ac 18:17.”

sn Rome was officially indifferent to such disputes. Gallio understood how sensitive some Jews would be about his meddling in their affairs. This is similar to the way Pilate dealt with Jesus. In the end, he let the Jewish leadership and people make the judgment against Jesus.



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