Encouragement from the Lord

ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE LORD (ACTS 18:9-11). Paul did not know it, but he needed encouragement. A storm was beyond the horizon.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

At crucial periods in Paul’s life, the Lord appeared to him. At Corinth, the Lord knew the plot, which was in store and encouraged His apostle before it occurred. The Lord’s “fear not” can calm the storm in our lives no matter what the circumstances.

This time Paul was not be a fugitive on the run; instead, he would be a pastor, staying in Corinth eighteen months. The Lord made two promises to Paul. If he continued to preach the Gospel, he would not be harmed and the harvest would be plentiful. In the power, presence, and promises of God, Paul found his courage and his strength.

PAUL BEFORE GALLIO (ACTS 18:14-17). In the summer or autumn of A.D. 52 (according to a Delphi inscription), a new proconsul came out as usual from Rome to Greece and took up his residence in Corinth. His name was Gallio, and he was the elder brother of the Stoic poet-philosopher Seneca.

Paul was preaching for eight or nine months in Corinth before Gallio arrived. It must have been soon after his arrival that the Jews, who had never reconciled to Paul’s presence and work in Corinth, had him brought before Gallio. He turned out to be a much stronger proconsul then they expected and made short work of their appeal and drove them from his court. Seneca said of his brother, “No mortal is so pleasant to any person as Gallio is to everyone.” An overestimation in light of what happens next.

The charged failed because Gallio would not judge Paul under Jewish Law, and according to Roman law, he had committed no crime. Since the Jews could not lay hands on Paul, they seized Sosthenes, the synagogue ruler, stripped him and gave him the “forty stripes save one” in full sight of Gallio. He was sitting on the judgment (bema) seat, a stone platform that still can be seen in old Corinth. But he showed no concern whatsoever for a person who is pleasant to everyone. Sosthenes was punished unfairly, how different it will be at Christ’s bema seat. Paul might have thought about this incident, when he wrote:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The proconsul’s decision left Paul and his converts free to preach where they wished without danger of sudden assaults and imprisonments. Rome had become their protector. The Lord is faithful to His promises. Gallio became a victim of Nero’s suspicions and was killed in A.D. 65.

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