Image by Rod Long

WEEKLY MESSAGE

May 9, 2021

 THE RESULTS OF PENTECOST XXXIV ACTS 18 9-17 CONTRARY TO THE LAW?

We are continuing in the Book of Acts chapter 18 today. I have already brought your 3 messages on Paul’s eighteen month stay here in Corinth, but I have one more message that I would like to bring to your attention before we move on to the rest of the chapter. Paul’s year and one half stay in Corinth had been very fruitful. He had established many strong Churches and this one in Corinth was especially strong.  Many of the Corinthians both Jew and Gentile had believed and were baptized. Even one of the leaders of the Synagogue named Crispus became a believer and was baptized along with his whole household.

During Paul’s stay here in Corinth there arose up another opposition to his teachings. Paul had already been warned in a vision from the Holy Spirit that there was going to be some trouble coming his way. But the Holy Spirit told him not to be afraid because there were many people that were strong in the faith in Corinth, and He, the Holy Spirit, would protect him from any harm. The Jew’s as usual revolted against Paul and his teaching that Jesus was the Messiah. They took him to the Judgement seat and accused him before Gallio the governor of this area called Achaia (uh-ki-uh). The accusation was this, “this fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law”.

Who was this fellow named “Gallio”? He was actually Spanish, born in Spain and was a brother to a tutor of the emperor Claudius’ child named Nero. He was probably given this position as governor of Corinth because of his brothers influence in the court of Claudius. Junius Gallio’s original name was Lucius Annaeus Novatus born in 5 BC and died in 65 Ad. All of this is a bit confusing and maybe even a little boring but what is important to know about Gallio is that he was Roman through and through.

During Paul’s stay here in Corinth Paul met up with a husband and wife named Aquilla and Pricilla. Aquilla and Pricilla had been banished from Rome because of a decree from Emperor Claudius that exiled all Jews from the city. The reason for this exile was because Claudius had become tired of the fighting between the Jews and the new converts to Christianity about this issue of Jesus. Paul and the other disciples were in the process of conquering the Roman Empire for Christ. The Romans did not even realize it. They were not conquering with sword and spear, but with the power of the Holy Ghost and the Word of God. The Jews would haul the new converts to the courts of the Roman leaders and want these magistrates to do something to stop the spread of Christianity. But the Roman officials were indifferent about the whole situation. They could care less if the Jews had a Messiah or not. And they were irritated that they kept bringing Paul and other preachers to their court to stop the teaching. Claudius had become so irritated about it that he had every Jew banished and Aquilla and Pricilla were two of these that had been exiled.

Even though Corinth is about 600 miles, straight line, from Rome, Gallio had the same attitude about the Jews as did his emperor Claudius. He could care less about the Jews or the new converts to Christianity. To him they were just a bunch of nagging whiners. He says in verses 14-15, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.”. In other words, “get out, I do not care”. Then he drove them from the court.

Remember the accusation was this, “this fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law”. Now Paul was never given the chance to defend himself. Before he could say a word Gallio dismissed the court. If you have every watched Judge Judy, you may have seen this same thing happen. It is hard for me to watch her because I feel like she never gives the people enough time to express themselves. But I must admit she can see through the fluff and see the truth. Many times, she seems aggravated at the witnesses and cuts them short. Gallio cut the court session short and ran the accusers out of his court room.

I wonder what Paul would have said had he had the opportunity to state his case. Paul why do you persuade men to worship God contrary to the law? This is a bigger issue than what Gallio might have thought it was. In fact, it has been a driving issue for those who worship God since the giving of the Law to Moses. What would his answer have been? This question still creeps into the Christian Church today. Is Christianity contrary to the Law? Well, later own in his writings Paul answered this question.

In Galatians chapter three Paul says this, 19What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

21Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."

Can anyone here give the 10 Commandments in order from first to last and tell where in the Bible they are located? This is one of those “got ya questions”. I must be honest I had to look them up before I gave this message to you. I do not know them word for word, nor can I always remember exactly where they are at in the Old Testament. We know most of them but if they are so important, we should know them by heart, should we not? We should know where they are located in Bible and we should know the history behind them. Sadly, most of us cannot recite the 10 Commandments nor can we tell where they are located in the Bible. They are found two times in the Old Testament, Exodus 20, and Deuteronomy 5. They are listed in this order: 1) You shall have no other gods before Me. 2) You shall not make idols. 3) You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain. 4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy. 5) Honor your father and your mother. 6) You shall not murder. 7) you shall not commit adultery. 8) you shall not steal. 9) You shall not bear false witness against your brother. 10) You shall not covet. These are shortened versions of each statement and if you are interested you can go to Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 and in the Bible version of your choice and commit them to heart.  

I really detest going to a Bible study or even for that matter a work meeting where the leader of the meeting asks a lot of “got ya questions”. They ask a question that they are the only ones who know the answer to. And they only know the answer because they came to the meeting after finding it on the internet. One day the Pharisees wanted to test Jesus. They thought up what they thought would be a “got ya question”. The question was, “which is the greatest Commandment in the Law?” Jesus gave them two, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Remember the accusation that was leveled against Paul? It was this, “this fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law”. Paul never got to say a word at his trial. Gallio dismissed the court and ran off his accusers. I think if Paul had been given the chance to say anything he would something like this. “I do not teach men to worship God contrary to the Law. What I teach is that man can worship the Fulfillment of the Law”. You see, Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. This is what he had been preaching for years now in every synagogue and street corner in the Roman Empire. When you are His possession, you possess the Law. When He is in your Savior the Law is chiseled into your heart. And the Law of God is summed up in this, “Love God with all you are, and Love your neighbor as yourself”.

I remember one time I was at a meeting with a group of other Pastors. There was a speaker whom I cannot remember the name of, but I remember what he said. He looked out at all of us whom thought ourselves worthy to preach the Gospel and said, “If I were to ask any of you to come up front and recite the 10 Commandments, who would be the first to accept that invitation. I must tell you I was shaking in my penny loafers that he might call on me first, because I would have failed miserably. Luckily, he did not make any of us come up on the stage. And as I recall not one minister in that group volunteered. He went on to say we as pastors should know the 10 Commandments, where they are located, the order that they are in, and the history behind and after the giving of them on Mt Sinai. But the important thing is not knowing the 10 Commandments by heart, it is having them written on our heart. You see, when we come to know Jesus as your Savior, He writes two of the most important Commands on our heart, “Love God with all your heart, and love you neighbor as yourself”. Do you realize if you keep these two Commandments, all the other Laws are no problem to keep?

Jesus gave a third Commandment to His disciples. He called it a “New Commandment”. It is this, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you … By this all men will know that you are my disciples.” Jn. 13:34-35 The way Jesus loved is that He gave up His life for us.

I have found this to be true for myself and for all who have found salvation through Jesus. Those who have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior do not really need a Law to tell them to have no other God, do not need a law to tell them to not have idols, do not need a  law to tell them not to take the Lords name in vain, do not need a law to tell them to remember the Sabbath day, no law to tell them to honor their father and mother, no law to tell them not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to lie, not to covet… The list goes on. Those who know Jesus have the Law of God written on their hearts and there is no problem for them to keep the Law of God. In fact, they enjoy doing so.