Chapter
Verse

Acts 18:16

ESV And he drove them from the tribunal.
NIV So he drove them off.
NASB And he drove them away from the judgment seat.
CSB So he drove them from the tribunal.
NLT And he threw them out of the courtroom.
KJV And he drave them from the judgment seat.

What does Acts 18:16 mean?

Paul has faced opposition before. Typically, Jews who do not believe his teaching about Jesus work with leading Gentiles of the city to drive him out (Acts 13:50; 14:5–6). In Thessalonica, the Jews found "wicked men" to do their dirty work (Acts 17:5). Conversely, in Philippi, Gentile men who resented Paul for exorcising the fortune-telling demon from their slave girl had him and Silas arrested (Acts 16:19–20).

In Corinth, Jews bring Paul before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia—the district in the southern-most part of Greece. A proconsul was a ruler who did not keep a standing army and was therefore responsible to the Roman Senate—the council—not the emperor directly. Certain times of the day, he would sit on a raised platform, called the bema seat, at the tribunal and listen to accusations.

The Jewish leaders of the synagogue have brought Paul before the tribunal because they don't like that he has convinced so many Jews and Gentiles that Jesus is the Son of God. Their charge is that Paul "is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law" (Acts 18:13). Cicero, in De Legibus, considered it a serious crime to promote the worship of a deity not authorized by the Roman government, or even to worship such a god in private.

If Gallio agrees with the Jews, Paul can face serious punishment. Fortunately, he doesn't. Perhaps because Paul is a Jew who began by reasoning with other Jews in the synagogue, Gallio doesn't see a legal difference between what Paul is teaching and what the Jews affirm. He dismisses the charges and goes on to other business as the hostile synagogue leader is beaten (Acts 18:17).
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