Acts 18:17 – They Beat Him

Those who hate God and His Word often resort to violence to maintain their sense of moral superiority. David wrote about such men. Paul and those with him who spoke the truth of the Gospel encountered them. They are a gathering force today. We who know the Lord are an ever-increasing minority.

David described such sinful people with cutting language. He said about them in Psalm 14:1:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

    They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;

    there is none who does good.

Those who deny God are workers of iniquity because of the corruption in the very core of their being.  In their hatred and denial of God, they all have a common characteristic as noted in Psalm 14:3:

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;

    there is none who does good,

    not even one.

Because their hearts are blackened with sin, nothing they do is good or pleasing to God.  This leads to the violence that David decries in the following verse Psalm 14:4:

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers

    who eat up my people as they eat bread

    and do not call upon the Lord?

In the darkened world such people inhabit, a brutish cruelty comes over them, and it is as natural in their lives as eating a simple meal.

It was such men that continually attacked Paul and his ministry cohort. Generally, Luke in Acts labels them as “the Jews.”  These would typically be the religious Jews of the day, namely Pharisees and Sadducees, i.e. those who clung legalistically to religious beliefs and wanted to hear nothing about the truth of God and His Son Jesus Christ.

While in Achaia near Corinth, these Jews hauled Paul before a tribunal, i.e. a court with a judge named Gallio. In this case the tribunal dealt with secular matters. The Jews complained about Paul and how he was “upsetting” people with the Good News of the Gospel. In response, Gallio threw out the case, saying it had nothing to do with his charter and that which he was empowered to hear and decide upon.

Their frustration boiling over, these Jews took out their anger on the one man they could, who was presumably sympathetic to Paul and his message. We see this in Acts 18:17:

And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

Isn’t this the kind of thing we see today in ever-increasing numbers?  We have so many people who have been brainwashed and conditioned from early in their lives through the schools they’ve attended to hate God, to disdain all He has done, and to purge those who stand for Him and His principles.  News accounts from every side detail the atrocities committed by these corrupt individuals, often when they gather as a senseless mob.  There is always someone who incites such people who can no longer reason, but only feel.  They gin up rage and the need to act on their violent impulses.  It has become as natural to them as eating and drinking.  They live for gratuitous bloodshed.

We who love the Lord and live for Him, if we’re awake and seeing all that is happening in the world around us, rightly cry out in the same manner as David in Psalm 13:1:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?

It does seem like God has forgotten us; that we’ll have to endure such grievous conditions forever.  But God’s ways are perfect; His timing is impeccable.  He has a wonderful plan, and we who Love Him will soon realize the fruit of that.  God is a righteous judge.  He won’t allow the corruption of evil men to persist.  The lawlessness that surrounds us will soon grow in greater intensity.  At just the right time – even as the darkness is about to overtake us – the Lord will snatch His faithful from this corrupt world that is bent on destroying itself.  He will remove us – His bride – and allow men to do what is foremost in their hearts.  At the same time, God will rain down judgment, giving all those who remain everything they always wanted.

In the meantime, let us walk blamelessly and speak truth from the heart (Psalm 15:2).  Let us not be moved by the depravity of the world (Psalm 15:5). Because we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will deliver us!

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