Court solutions to religious conflict

“After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.”

(Act 18:1, NASB)

Paul and the Corinthian experience

The Corinthian church is famous for the fact that there are two letters addressed to her by Paul.  There are also undercurrents of unspeakable vice (incest), disorderly bahaviour in the assemblies of the church, and a general penchant for prostitution and homosexuality.  The Corinthian experence shines a light on the intersections between church, state and duelling religions. This is far from being an irrelevant perspective, when we consider the intense passions of religious faith in the news today, in Afghanistan, the United States, Israel, the Arab republics and any nation where a religion has its fingers on the levers of state.

The maxims of religion are not commonsense in the Corinthian experience or anywhere else

It is rather dangerous to think that there is no science to what religions sell. Judaism descended into divisions among the priesthood, the academics and the political savvy. The twenty-frist century world is not exempt from this phenomenon. The experience seems to have begun with Paul’s encounter with the Greek philosophers in Athens (Act 17:22 ff) and chose to leave  being mocked by them (Act 17:32-34).  It was his teamwork with Aquila and Priscilla who have been recently deported from Rome and happened to be tentmakers, as was Paul, and who gave him room and board.

It seems that Paul did his tentmaking and preaching-teaching part-time until Silas and  Timothy joined him from Macedonia, at which time he devoted himself to the word of God, namely, that Yeshua was the Messiah. Paul was not preaching the law of God.  He evidently used it to do so.  

Matters heated up when the synagoue leader believed the message and was baptized, which in turn led to a host of Corinthians following his lead.  Then, in his precognition, the Lord encouraged Psul in a vision to “stop being fearful, and to keep on speaking, and not to be silent”.  One does not need to guess who would want Paul to be silent.

Paul taught the word of God for eighteen months and then the Jews, thinking they had an opportunity under the auspces of proconsul of Achaia Gallio, brought charges against Paul. We are going to see a slam dunk of the illegitimate hostility of Jews against Christ in the courts of Greece.  Other attempts to have Paul silenced will take place in the Roman court system, bringing Paul to his treasuresd destiny, the imperial household.

The charge

13) This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law [of God/Moses].

Proceedings interrupted

14) But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you;” (Act 18:14, NASB)

It ought to be difficult to bring charges of crime and sedition againts believers, but it seems that people have become incregasingly attracted to political constructs for church’s progress and success.  The people who are willing to foment and perpetrate violence and murders can be found in the contexts of Jewish, African, Palestinian, Islamic, Buddhist, and American politics.

I raise again the flag of warning to people of genuine spirituality:  stay away from government interference in matters of your beliefs.  Mixing beliefs with political ideologies and law of any kind never ends well for those who do.  We cannot imagine that Iranians, Jews, and anyone with a book that is a tool for divine revelation is unaware that telling people what to believe under threat of death is pure beastliness and not worthy of association with humanity. Let us see how a synagogue responded to the court’s dismissal of a case against God’s messenger. 

If there was a crime here I would tolerate you

but if there are questions about words and names and your own [Jewish/Mosaic/Elohistic] law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters. 

Verse 15

Kicked out of court and mob violence

16) And he drove them away from the judgment seat. 17) And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things. (Act 18:16-17, NASB)

And the government barely blinked.