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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 18 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Then all the Greeks. The Greeks who had witnessed the persecution of Paul by the Jews, and who had seen the tumult which they had excited.

Took Sosthenes, etc. As he was the chief ruler of the synagogue, he had probably been a leader in the opposition to Paul, and in the prosecution. Indignant at the Jews—at their bringing such questions before the tribunal—at their bigotry, and rage, and contentious spirit—they probably fell upon him in a tumultuous and disorderly manner as he was leaving the tribunal. The Greeks would feel no small measure of indignation at these disturbers of the public peace, and they took this opportunity to express their rage.

And beat him. etupton. This word is not that which is commonly used to denote a judicial act of scourging. It probably means that they fell upon him, and beat him with their fists, or with whatever was at hand.

Before the judgment seat. Probably while leaving the tribunal. Instead of "Greeks" in this verse, some Mss. read "Jews," but the former is probably the true reading. The Syriac, Arabic, and Coptic read it "the Gentiles." It is probable that this Sosthenes afterwards became a convert to the Christian faith, and a preacher of the gospel. See 1 Co 1:1,2: "Paul, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth."

And Gallio cared, etc. This has been usually charged on Gallio as a matter of reproach, as if he were wholly indifferent to religion. But the charge is unjustly made; and his name is often most improperly used to represent the indifferent, the worldly, the careless, and the skeptical. But by the testimony of ancient writers, he was a most mild and amiable man; and an upright and just judge. Nor is there the least evidence that he was indifferent to the religion of his country, or that he was of a thoughtless and skeptical turn of mind. All that this passage implies is,

(1.) that he did not deem it to be his duty, or a part of his office, to settle questions of a theological nature that were started among the Jews.

(2.) That he was unwilling to make this subject a matter of legal discussion and investigation.

(3.) That he would not interfere, either on one side or the other, in the question about making proselytes either to or from Judaism. So far certainly his conduct was exemplary and proper.

(4.) That he did not choose to interpose, and rescue Sosthenes from the hands of the mob. From some cause he was willing that he should feel the effects of the public indignation. Perhaps it was not easy to quell the riot; perhaps he was not unwilling that he who had joined in a furious and unprovoked persecution should feel the effect of it in the excited passions of the people. At all events, he was but following the common practice among the Romans, which was to regard the Jews with contempt, and to care little how much they were exposed to popular fury and rage. In this he was wrong; and it is certain also that he was indifferent to the disputes between Jews and Christians; but there is no propriety in defaming his name, and making him the type and representative of all the thoughtless and indifferent men on the subject of religion in subsequent times. Nor is there propriety in using this passage as a text applicable to this class of men.

{d} "Sosthenes" 1 Co 1:1

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