This morning I read Acts 18:1-17. This wasn't anything by mistake. I simply try to follow along and read along with the daily office given from the lectionary readings for each day. I suggest this form of structure to my brothers ans sisters, because, not only does it get you through the entire bible in 2-3 years, but the lectionary follows the liturgical calendar for the year allowing for one to fully embrace and enter into a more religious year and context.
In Acts 18:1-17 Paul preaches to the Jews in Corinth. While in Corinth Paul experienced some success and frustration in terms of people accepting his word. One night, while Paul was staying at the house of Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, who was also a believer in the Lord, the Lord visited him in a vision saying,
"Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you,
and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people"
These are comforting words aren't they? Paul must have thought so, because he stayed there a year and six months longer teaching the word of God among them (see 18:11). I feel like these words must have been said due to some kind of fear or disappointment Paul was feeling in his time there in Corinth. The Lord surely knew Paul's heart and what must have been causing him anguish and so encouraged him in a vision or dream.
What really popped out to me this morning was in vv.12-15. At first glance (or first reading) it could seem like the point of the passage is the Lord's word to Paul in his night time vision/dream in verses 9 and 10 (and maybe it is), however I'd like to make a case for what's found in verses 12-15 of Acts. It reads,
"But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying , "This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law." But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrong-doing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions and words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things."
You can plainly see that there doesn't seem like much "juice" to be had from this little chunk of scripture. I will beg to differ. let's remember what was said 2 to 3 verses prior to this. Remember how the Lord told Paul not to worry because "he had many people in the city who are his people?" Who are these people that might step in and save Paul the next time he need faces danger or need encouragement? How will the Lord miraculously save Paul. Enter in Gallio. Is this the Lord's guy? Is Gallio one of "the many are [the Lord's] people?
We're told that Gallio has proconsul of Achaia. If you do a goggle search on Gallio (like I did) you can also find that his brother was Seneca, a philosopher and person of virtue. So maybe some of Gallio's older brother is also in him too, because the Jews when we were told made a united attack on Paul saying, "This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law, Gallio responded (basically saying) that Paul hadn' really done anything that was worthy of violation.
There you have it. Gallio was, as it seems, one of the many who "was the Lord's" in the city. Was Gallio is christian? Was he baptized? Did he believe in Christ? We aren't told any of these things so how do we know he was one the Lord's people in the city whom the Lord might use to help Paul out in a time of need?
We don't. From this passage we're not told anything of Gallio's faith. All we know is that he was a just man and doer of what was right and fair.
After reading these passages I couldn't help think of questions.
Who are the Lord's people?
Who are the Lord's people around me? In my town?
Does the Lord have people that do not really fit my mold or description?
How might I have to be accepting or change how I define who is the Lord's person?
Might "these people" be different from my presupposed notion definition?
The word of the Lord,
Thanks be to God!