Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2019 Andy Young Session 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 25, 2019

Recap from session 1.
Acts 18:4-17

4And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”

This was Paul’s standard MO. Any time Paul went to a new city, he would seek out a Jewish synagogue. Now we are often lead to believe that Paul’s ministry was to Gentiles. That is true to some extent. We can read in the new testament that is was Peter who was know to have a ministry to the Circumcision, or exclusively Jews, and particularly Jews in Jerusalem, and that Paul’s ministry was to the Un-circumcision, or the Gentiles. But when you study the books of Acts, you will see that this not entirely true. Paul always went to the Jews first, and when they rejected him, as they eventually would, only then would he turn his focus to the Gentiles.

Notice it says that he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath. And as we’ll discover later, this was not the only synagogue in Corinth. We’ll find that there are at least 3 different ones mentioned in this text tonight. So Paul is once again, look at this word, “reasoning” in the synagogue. Not scripture stacking, not proof –texting; reasoning. And again, obviously his reasoning is based in scripture, but he is using scripture in a very logical, methodical manner, forming his arguments with sound reason. And it says he persuaded both Jews and Greeks. And notice we see Greeks, or Gentiles, in this synagogue. Probably proselytes converted to Judaism.

This word persuaded, this is the Greek word πειθω “peitho”. If you look at Hebrews 13:17, this same word is mis-translated “obey”. But it is the same word in both places. This is a perfect example as to why it is wrong to translate the word “obey”. Here in Corinth, Paul did not compel the Jews and Greeks to obey. He persuaded them. He convinced them by his argument. And that same understanding fits with Hebrews 13:17 as well. It is not “obey your elders,” but be convinced by them by sound reason. And please notice, that within that context, it also puts the burden back on the elders. The elders have the responsibility to make sure that their arguments are sound and reasonable within the context of scripture. They must provide a sound argument. Not by force or coercion, not by appealing to authority, but convincing by argument.

Alright lets read on. Verse 5

“5And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.’”

Now, it’s a little hard to discern what’s going on here. From what we first read it seems like Paul is having some success with the Jews in this first synagogue he visited when he first arrived. This is where he met Aquilla and Pricilla. So now Silas and Timothy rendezvous with Paul. If you recall they had stayed back in Berea. After the uproar in Berea they put Paul on a ship and sent him to Athens. Then when Paul landed in Athens he sent word back with the ship to have Silas and Timothy join him. So now Paul is in Corinth, and now we see that Silas and Timothy have finally caught up with him.

The verse says Paul was pressed in the spirit. This is the word συνεχω “soon-echo”. …The feeling you get with this word, imagine being in a large crowd of people, people packed tightly together, and you have all these bodies pressed up against you, and you can’t really go where you want to go, and you almost have to move with the crowd….That’s the idea you get here, this is how Paul is feeling, only instead of a crowd of people, he is very sensitive to the Holy Spirit moving him. There seems to be a sense of urgency here. It’s almost as if Paul’s teaching intensifies. We already know that he has been teaching the Jews, but now Silas and Timothy are here, and that seems to embolden Paul, and now he feels very empowered by the Holy Spirit and he kicks things up a notch. And it seems that now he is ministering to a larger number of Jews at this point. His ministry there in Corinth is growing, and now he starts to encounter resistance. What does that look like?

  1. It says they opposed themselves.
    αντιτασσομαι (anti-tass-oh-my) – “anti”, against.
    τασσω (tass-oh) – to arrange in an orderly manner

How to understand this…there is another word in the NT that uses the same root.
υποτασσω (hoo-po-tass-oh) – to submit; to place yourself under; to subordinate.

1Timothy 3:4
“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;”

Romans 8:7
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

Romans 10:3
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

This word in our text is
anti-tasso-my: Acting riotous. Acting against an orderly manner

They blasphemed. To speak evil about. The spoke evil about Paul. They verbally attacked him. (ad hominem).
Now look at Paul’s response. He shook his raiment. This is a very symbolic, very Jewish tradition. You can think back to the gospels, during Jesus’ ministry, when he sent out the disciples by twos, and He gave them instructions…shake off the dust off you feet…traveling Jews returning home…the symbolism would not be lost on the Jews when the disciples shook off their feet. Here, Paul isn’t just shaking off his feet. He’s shaking off his clothes! There’s a lot of intensity here. This is especially significant…not only shaking off dust…the completeness of this…his whole body…I am clean of your blood! Your blood is not on me. Your blood is on your own heads! Not only is Paul symbolizing his cleanness from their uncleanness, just as a Jew wanted to be pure and clean from a Gentile, and shaking off the dust of the feet symbolizes that, Paul is showing them their own uncleanness, but also their guilt. He is not going to be held guilty for their condemnation for rejecting Jesus. For rejecting the Son of God. Jesus said he didn’t come to condemn, because He that believeth not on the Son is condemned already. These Jews in Corinth are responsible for their own condemnation. And I’m sure that must have just outraged them even more. You can really appreciate Paul’s boldness here.

One other thing I want to interject here, regarding Paul’s statement that he would go to the Gentiles. I think more than anything this was simply a statement to provoke them to jealousy. Paul didn’t give up on the Jews altogether, as we will see shortly. But he was a student of scripture, and we know how the scriptures testified that God would use the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealousy. So I think Paul’s statement here is merely emphasizing that, calling their attention to it. Remember what God said? He would provoke you to jealousy with a people that wasn’t a people, and so forth. I think that was Paul’s intention.

Alright, reading on, verse 7.

“7And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

Alright. I only want to point out a couple of things in this paragraph. Notice that wherever Paul had been speaking (synagogue, market, some other gathering place) after the Jews got all riled up, Paul left there, and now he’s gone to another location. This is now the third synagogue he’s visited in Corinth. And now we see this man named Justus. Now we don’t know if Justus was a Jew. We do know that his house was next to this 3rd synagogue. And actually the way this reads, it appears as if Justus’ house was part of the same building. The two building were joined together, ok, they shared a wall. So you have Justus’ house, and right next to it, as part of the same building, you have the place where the Jewish synagogue meets. Now let’s not assume this is by coincidence. I have no doubt that the primary reason that Paul sought lodging with Justus was because of the proximity to the synagogue. This gave him the opportunity to teach. So notice, as I said, despite Paul’s statement about going to the Gentiles, he hasn’t given up on the Jews at all. He’s still looking for opportunities to reach them.

And then we’re told that the elder in that synagogue, a man named Crispus, he became a believer! And not just him. His whole house. Now what does this tell us? When we studied the Philippian jailer in Acts 16 we spent a lot of time on this word house. It can mean the actually dwelling, it can refer to his family, it can even be a general reference to your regular social group, the people you associate with.

In this case here I think you can make the case for all three. First his actual house. I think it’s clear by the context, that this synagogue was actually held in Crispus’ actual house, his dwelling, his home. I think this speaks to one of the qualities of an elder, being given to hospitality, since the synagogue model as we see here was hosted by the elder. Secondly, if this was his house, then certainly the reference here includes his family. His wife, children, maybe his elderly parents, any servants in the home. They would all be considered family in that culture, and therefore, part of his house. So you have that reference to family. And Thirdly, since his home was the location for the synagogue, the word house can also be a reference to all the Jews and prostelytes who gathered there with them for fellowship and teaching. So I think you can see the broad scope of this word house, and the number of people who heard Paul teach about Jesus and then believed and were baptized.

So Paul is becoming more bold, and you have Jews and Gentiles hearing the word and believing. You have the Jews once again being provoked to jealousy and now they’ve got their sights set on Paul. And so everything that has happened up to this point is a set up for what is going to happen next. Paul is having some success here in Corinth, but trouble is also brewing, and I think he knows it, because then we read this. Look at verse 9.

“9Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.’ 11And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”

Please look closely at the sentence structure of verses 9 and 10. There is an unfortunate verse division here because it breaks up the entire thought. It is one whole sentence, but look closely, and what you have is one main thought with a subordinate clause, and that subordinate clause has its own subordinate clause. If we take this apart you’ll get a better understanding of the Lord’s point. The assumption here is that this is Jesus speaking directly to Paul. Verse 9 says it was in a vision. This was not a dream. This is the Greek word “hor-am-ah”, and it refers to something gazed upon. To see with the eyes. So if this is Jesus, He is actually appearing to Paul, and Paul sees this with his eyes, and Jesus speaks to Paul.

Jesus says, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:” Colon. That is the main clause in this sentence. There are two imperatives, two commands that Jesus gives to Paul. Not to be afraid. “Phobos”. This is literal fear. Don’t be afraid. The second command is to speak. Now I want you to see this. The usual word for talking or saying is the word “lego”. “Lego” has to do with laying forth a reasoned argument. A systematic discourse. You have this idea of a conversation going back and forth. But here in verse 9 the word is “la-leh-oh”. Now “la-leh-oh” can also mean to talk or to utter words, but when you compare it with “lego”, “la-leh-oh” is more one-sided. Listen to this definition, when compared with “lego”, “la-leh-oh” means an extended or random harangue. Do you know what it means to harangue someone?

Harangue – lengthy and aggressive speech. To lecture at length in an aggressive and critical manner.
I think it’s funny that so often when we are trying to debate the finer points of Protestantism with someone that we often get criticized about our tone. You know, they say we are coming across unloving. Well, Jesus himself told Paul to harangue these people. To talk aggressively with them. To lecture them sternly and be very critical.

Jesus told Paul, don’t be afraid, just keep on talking. Just keep saying what you’re saying. And as if Paul needed any further clarification, Jesus restates this command by saying, “and hold not thy peace”. Keep talking and don’t be quiet. The same idea stated two different ways. This is a definitive statement of approval of Paul by Jesus. This is Jesus affirming to Paul, you are doing the right thing and I am pleased with you. Keep up the good work!

Now watch this. This is where we get to the meat and potatoes of this passage. Verse 12.

12And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia (Province where Corinth is located), the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, 13saying, “This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.” 14And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: 15but if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.” 16And he drave them from the judgment seat. 17Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

Now protestant/reformed tradition doesn’t have much good to say about Gallio, particularly with regard to that last statement at the end of verse 17. I’ve usually seen Gallio presented as someone who is indifferent to the gospel, and because of that he is a wicked man and is just indicative of someone who is totally depraved and all that nonsense. And if we took this paragraph by itself we could probably make that case and it would make a nice little sermon on a Sunday morning and we could all remind ourselves about just how wretched we all are and by God’s grace and all that. And we’d all leave with a firm reminder about how we just need to return to the cross and focus on Christ and His work.

But contrary to what has traditionally been taught, what we will see here is that Gallio is actually an honorable and just individual. He is really a man of integrity. And even his actions at the end of this paragraph in verse 17 are indicative of his sense of justice and integrity, and NOT, I repeat, not indifference.

But why did Luke include this little paragraph in the narrative? What is Luke trying to show us? How is this event significant? It is only significant within the context of this whole passage, the previous paragraph in particular.

Look at this. Here we have the Jews once again causing trouble for Paul. Nothing new there. Please take note of this. The Jews are causing trouble. They stirred up an insurrection against Paul. They want to silence Paul. But Paul, as per the instructions he got from Jesus in the vision, he’s still talking. He’s still going around preaching about the gospel of the Kingdom. He’s not being quite about it. So the Jews incite and insurrection and they take Paul to the judgment seat. The Greek word is “bema”. Now Gallio, it says he’s the deputy of this entire province of Achaia. The word here indicates that he is the highest ranking Roman official for this region. So he is a man of authority. So the “bema” or judgment seat is the place where he exercises his authority over all matters of state. It can refer to the specific chamber itself, the building, or the general location. (elaborate, use counties as example) Wherever he rules from. Keep that in mind as we examine this.

Notice that it’s the Jews who take Paul before Gallio. They want Gallio to make a judgment against Paul. But look at the accusation they bring. “This man persuades men to worship God against the law.” Now, we ought to see right away just how irrational this claim is, not from a philosophical standpoint but as a matter of governmental power. The Jews are trying to use the power of the state to enforce their own orthodoxy onto Paul. Why in the world should Gallio make a legal judgment about what a religion teaches? That’s not his jurisdiction. And that is precisely what he says. Look, Paul is just about to defend himself, and Gallio interrupts him. “If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:” Is this a civil matter? Did Paul break any Roman laws? If he did, then it would be perfectly reasonable for me to hear your case. Verse 15, “15but if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.” I’m not going to be a judge of your religious matters. This is not my jurisdiction. Get out of my chambers! And he throws them out. Don’t waste my time with this.

Now consider this in light of the previous paragraph. Don’t be afraid Paul. I’ve got your back. Look at the way that Gallio thwarted the attempt made by the Jews to have Paul silenced. Not only silence him but possibly do him harm. They had no case. And they weren’t going to be able to use the force of government to carry out their desires. To my way of thinking, Gallio seems like a pretty stand-up guy. He’s got some integrity when it comes to the rule of law. He was not going to allow his authority to be used for the wrong purposes. But it doesn’t stop there. Look at what else happens.

After the Jews are thrown out of the judgment hall, the Greeks get hold of this man named Sosthenes. Now if you look up Sosthenes in your Greek NT dictionary, or in Strongs dictionary, it says that Sosthenes was a Christian. But that doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t take much to figure out, just by reading our text that Sosthenes must have actually been a Jew. Not just any Jew, but a chief ruler of the synagogue. We’re clearly told that much. More than likely Sosthenes was with the Jews who brought Paul before Gallio. Now it appears that all this happens right after throws the Jews out of the judgment hall.

Now look, we have this clear distinction made between the Jews and the Greeks in our passage. Ok we’re not talking about Helenized Jews that were part of the synagogue who took one of the Christians. It is clear that there are Greeks, gentiles who take the chief Jewish leader, Sosthenes, right after he’s been thrown out by their Governor, after he’s tried to incite an uprising, and they decide to teach him a lesson. They beat him. And they didn’t take him into some back alley and work him over. It says they did this before the judgment seat. Probably right outside the justice building in front of the main entrance. The implication here is that they did it out in the open where everyone could see them do it, especially Gallio.

Does this not look like retaliation for what the Jews tried to do by inciting an insurrection? You want to start trouble? Not in our city you don’t. You need any more indication that’s the case? Gallio cared for none of those things. Why? Was he indifferent? No. He saw the people of Corinth retaliating against the Jews. They took care of the problem for him. This sent a strong message to the Jews there in Corinth. This is what happens when you try to start trouble. We’ll take care of it, and Gallio isn’t going to do a Jewish leaders.

Now lets fast forward a few hundred years. We get to the age of Enlightenment. We get John Locke. We get Adam Smith. We get a George Washington and a Thomas Jefferson and a James Madison and quite a few others. These men sit down and they design a system of government that does not allow for the marriage of faith and force. A government that recognized the danger of a State-sponsored religion that has the power to use government force to compel church orthodoxy, just like the Jews in Corinth wanted Gallio to do with Paul. Just like Calvin did in Geneva. Just like the Puritans did in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Now think about the abuse of power that takes place in churches today….(think of some examples)
Think about the religious tyranny that runs rampant in churches. Do you really think that these guys today wouldn’t try the same thing if they had the force of government behind them. Remember the progression of thought. Assumptions drive behavior. What are the collectivist’s assumptions. And how many times throughout the course of history have we seen that same pattern repeated over and over?

So, I have one more example to show you, and I hope you will enjoy it. And I hope you come back for session 3.


One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. lydia00 said, on August 25, 2019 at 6:20 PM

    Thank you for the words to read along with video. This was excellent! Finally, historical context and word translation that makes much more sense within the big picture. Sharing to my social media.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s