Paul’s Roman Citizenship On Trial

“To enter the country of old age is a new experience, different from what you supposed it to be. Nobody, man or woman, knows the country until he has lived in it and has taken out his citizenship papers.” (Source Unknown, Lou Nicholes - Missionary/Author). … More


This passage is not the first time the fanatical Jews tried to prove Paul was breaking the Roman law (refer to Acts 16:19-24 and 17:6-7). They accused him of propagating an illegal religion. Judaism  was a recognized religion of the empire, and was given the protection of the courts (v. 12). The Jews wanted a legal verdict handed down branding Christianity, and ruling that Christians could be prosecuted for promoting an outlawed religion.

This same type of thing is happening in the world today in countries dominated by Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. My wife and I were recently in India, which is controlled by a Hindu government.  They are in the process of making it a Hindu country. Recently they have passed what is called a “no conversion law,” which prohibits Christians from trying to lead people to Christ.

Because Paul was a Roman citizen, he could have defended himself but he didn’t need to because Gallio defended Paul and he refused to try the case. Gallio had already made up his mind that this was an internal Jewish religious dispute, and the case should not have been brought to him in the first place. If Paul had been required to witness before Gallio, and had Gallio ruled against him, then Paul’s career might have been different. Because Gallio would not get involved in cases involved in Jewish religious disputes, he was showing Paul and his disciples that they had the same rights as the Jews to practice and share their faith. The Jews must have been greatly disturbed by this verdict.

We find the Greeks took advantage of Gallio’s refusal to take the Jews’ side, and they took out their anger on the Jews by beating Sosthenes, who apparently was the ruler of the synagogue and one of the Jews who had pressed charges against Paul (v. 17). According to I Corinthians 1:1, Sosthenes eventually became a believer. Because of Gallio’s help and Paul’s Roman citizenship, he continued to have freedom to work in the city of Corinth. In this case the government worked for him.


How much am I helping and encouraging God’s servants? I know that I could be doing more.

Acts 18:12-17 (English Standard Version)

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