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were baptized: and he foresaw that many more would be "added to the church daily," and it would become that large body to which Paul afterwards addressed his letters, and from which the light of divine truth was reflected throughout a wide adjacent region.
Another remark arises from these words. They pointto a bright example of the power of divine grace. Even in this luxurious and dissolute city (for such was the character of Corinth) the Lord had much people. Paul might have replied, Lord, we know that "the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." We know that the sins of adultery, and uncleanness, and idolatry, and covetousness, are abominable in the sight of "the High and Holy One which inhabiteth eternity.'' And such sinners are these. For such they were. To these very persons he writes, after a few years, (1 Cor. vi. 11,) "Such were some of you. But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Here, then, were these, the much people whom the Lord foresaw, and for whose sake he favoured Paul with a special vision, so that he continued there a year and six months, preaching the kingdom of God among them. But still greater is the consolation handed down to all future ages by the fact which this example sets before us. The Lord knows every heart, and no individual escapes his notice who is disposed "towards the attainment of everlasting salvation." He beholds them from afar, while they are yet "enemies of God through wicked works:" he calls them by his word; he justifies them by his merits; he sanctifies them by his Spirit: they are those of whom he speaks, saying, "All that the Father giveth me are mine. And they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand."
12. And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia,1 the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment-seat,
13. Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
14. And 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:
15. But 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.
16. And he drave them from the judgment-seat.
17. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes,2 the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment-seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
1 I. e. When Gallio was proconsul. He was the younger brother of the philosopher Seneca. It is singular that Seneca speaks of him as remarkable for courtesy; or rather, perhaps, that easiness of temper which makes men popular. "Nemo mortalium uni tarn dulcis est, quam hie omnibus."
2 It does not appear clearly whether the Greeks were taking part with the apostles or the Jews, or whether Sosthenes was ill.treated as belonging to the Jewish or the Christian side. A Sosthenes is mentioned elsewhere as a companion of Paul 1 Cor. i. 1.
On former occasions, as we saw at Philippi and at Thessalonica, the magistrates had readily listened to the accusations made by the Jews against Paul, and had been accomplices in the ill-treatment which he received. Here the case is different. Gallio disregards them. He perceives that there was no transgression of the public law, which it was his office to maintain; no danger of tumult, except what the enemies of Paul might excite; and therefore he would not enter into the matter, and drove them from the court. God had so willed it. He had said to "the noise of the waves, and the madness of the people," Peace, be still. He had promised Paul, No man shall set on thee to hurt thee. Therefore Gallio is an exception to the other magistrates, and that which had been done elsewhere could not be done at Corinth.
There is no such promise made generally. No such promise was made to the apostle, except on particular occasions. The general promise is, that "all things shall work together for good to them that love God;" that whatever is suffered, shall be repaid, repaid abundantly: but certainly it is not promised that no opposition shall be encountered, or injury received. All we know is, that nothing can happen which is not overruled. "Even the hairs of your head are all numbered."
We are glad that Paul should escape without injury. But we cannot approve the character of the magistrate Gallio, who cared for none of these things. Things were brought under his notice which might have interested him. The earnestness of Paul, regardless of the danger to which he was exposed: even the earnestness of the Jews in maintaining their ancient law: the warm and anxious feelings excited in each party, might have roused him from careless indifference. But he was alike regardless of truth and error. His concern was, to carry on his government with as much ease as possible. His whole conduct is a specimen of the manner in which persons occupied in worldly affairs, and wholly intent upon them, suffer the most important subjects to pass as it were before their eyes, and pay no heed to them. That might be said of him, which will hereafter be so awful a recollection: '' Nevertheless, know this, that the kingdom of God hath come nigh thee."
"In the day of the revelation of the Lord Jesus," how different will be the light in which all things shall appear! The veil shall be removed which overspreads the carnal eye, and those things will prove to be realities which were as shadows, and those to be shadows which had been treated as the only realities. Then all who had formerly cared for none of these things, will acknowledge them to have been alone wise, who have sought the Lord while he might be found, and "fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before them."
May the Lord lighten our darkness, and enable us to see the things belonging to our peace, before they be hid from our eyes.
PAUL VISITS MANY CHURCHES. APOLLOS IS ADDED TO THE MINISTRY A.d. 56.
Acts xviii. 18—28.
18. And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.1
19. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
20. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not ,•
21. But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh, in Jerusalem :2 but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
22. And when he had landed at Ccesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
23. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.
1 Probably this refers to Aquila. Such vows were not uncommon, on account of some deliverance granted or benefit received. Cenchrea was the sea-port of Corinth.
'What feast is uncertain. His object probably was to carry to the destitute brethren in Judea the contribution made for them.—See Rom. xv. 26.