Who was Gallio that is mentioned in Acts 18?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Gallio

Gallio was born in Corduba (Cordova) in c. 5 BC. His original name was Marcus Annaeus Novatus. But after getting adopted by a wealthy rhetorician Roman called Lucius Junius Gallio, he was named Junius Annaeus Gallio.

He was the brother of the Stoic philosopher Seneca, who was Nero’s teacher. Seneca speaks of the charm of his brother’s disposition which is also alluded to by the poet Statius (Silvae, ii.7, 32). Seneca dedicated to his brother, the proconsul, two treatises, on “Anger” and the “Blessed Life.”

Towards the end of the reign of Claudius, Gallio was proconsul of the newly-constituted senatorial province of Achaea sometime between A.D. 51 and 53. He was referred to by Claudius as “my friend and proconsul” in the Delphi Inscription, circa 52. After he retired from Achaia and due to a sickness (Seneca Epistles civ. 1), he returned to Rome.

Acts 18

12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat,

13 saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.”

14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.

15 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.”

16 And he drove them from the judgment seat.

17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

His Judgement to Paul

Luke, in the book of Acts 18:12-17, recorded that the Jews in Corinth rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat of Gallio. They said, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law” (verse 13). The Jews’ goal was to obtain the apostle’s expulsion from the city.

But Gallio said to the Jews, if it were a matter of wrongdoing, there would be reason for me to get involved.  And he added, but if it is a question about your law, then handle it yourself. Then, he dismissed them (verse 14-16). The Roman governor saw that Jewish law rather than Roman law was concerned in this case, therefore, he refused to become involved.

Then, the Greeks followed Gallio’s tone of scorn. And they took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. They were angry because he raised a commotion in their city. The Roman governor took no notice of these things for he recognized the limits of his proper jurisdiction. And thus, providentially Gallio’s ruling set a model of tolerance that helped the spread of Christianity.

His Death

At first, Gallio gained the favor of Nero. But later, he lost the dictator’s approval. And based on one tradition, he was executed by him. Tacitus, however, wrote that he was “dismayed by the death of his brother Seneca” and pleaded with Nero for his life (Annals xv. 73; Loeb ed., Tacitus, vol. 4, p. 333). Another tradition states that he committed suicide in 65 AD at the age of 64. Vasily Rudich, Political Dissidence Under Nero: The Price of Dissimulation (Routledge, 1993) p.117.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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