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Who was Sosthenes?
Sosthenes is mentioned twice in NT scripture: -
Act 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
1Co 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
Background to the book of Acts which was written by Luke in AD 60 and writes about Pauls second missionary journey where he had left Athens and travelled to Corinth in AD 54 where he spend 18 months before heading to Ephesus.
Not a lot is said about Sosthenes but by looking into more of Acts 18 we can see he became a convert from 1 Corinthians 1:1.
Looking at verse 7 let’s look at some questions from it and from that delve more into the chapter.
1. Who was Sosthenes?
2. Why did the Greeks take Sosthenes to beat him?
3. What is a chief ruler of the synagogue?
4. What is the judgement seat?
5. Who is Gallio?
6. Why didn’t Gallio not care?
So Sosthenes was a new chief ruler of the synagogue who soon took over from Crispus. Crispus is mentioned in verses 8 who converted to Christianity along with his household. A chief ruler of the synagogue is someone who’s role would be the administrative officer supervising the worship (Vines Concise p52).
The Greeks took Sosthenes to beat him because in verses 12-15 Paul was taken to the deputy of Achaia, Gallio. It is interesting Gallio was the brother of the Stoic philosopher Seneca. The Jews that rose up against Paul, with his teachings of Jesus which was conflicting to their religion of Judaism.
Maybe the Greeks and the Jews saw the influence of the teachings of Paul with the conversion of Crispus and wanted Paul stopped. Judaism was approved by Roman law at this time, so Paul could have been tried for sedition.
When Paul came before Galllio to the judgment seat, this seat spoken off isn’t the Judgment seat of Christ mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:10 but this was like a raised platform seat mounted by steps where a judge would sit in a courtroom.
Back in verse 9 the Lord came to Paul in a vision telling him not to be afraid, to keep speaking out and not to be silent because the Lord was with him and no one would attack or hurt him because there were many people in the city that belonged to the Lord.
I would imagine Paul thinking back to this vision as he is before Gallio at the judgment seat, “am I going to be beat up and whipped again” but in confidence he would remember what the Lord promised!
So, the Jews in verse 13 said before Gallio that Paul was persuading people to worship God in ways that was contrary to the Jewish law.
In verse 14 we see Paul just going to open his mouth to defend himself but Gallio butts in and turns to the Jewish accusers, shrugs his shoulders and says, were it a matter of wrongdoing or wicked lewdness like a serious crime, I would have a reason to bear with you or accept your case.
Verse 15 he goes on and presses the fact that be a “question of words and names and of your law, look yourselves in to it, for I will be no judge of such matters”. He then drove or threw them out.
This is where the Greek crowd seized Sosthenes and beat him right in front of the judgement seat where Gallio didn’t care and paid no attention. Why did Sosthenes get beat up, I don’t know, maybe for a weak case against Paul.
I see this was the right opportune time for Paul to come back to a beat up Sosthenes, to help him clean his wounds and to witness and minister to him. Paul knew all about being beat up to near death as part of his witness for Jesus.
Through the witnessing of Paul and nursing Sosthenes I believe this is the same man in 1 Corinthians 1:1, calling him brother, how close and loving they must of became.
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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
(4) Caught three hundred foxes.--Rather, three hundred jackals. The word Shualim is used for both; but it would be difficult to catch three hundred foxes, whereas the jackals are still heard howling in herds about these very regions at night. They must have been still more common in Palestine in ancient days, and hence we find such names as "the land of Shual" (1Samuel 13:17), Hazar-shual ("jackal's enclosure," Joshua 15:28), Shalim (1Samuel 11:4), Shaalabbin ("place of foxes or jackals," Joshua 19:42). There would be no difficulty in trapping them; nor is it said that they were all let loose at once.
Turned tail to tail.--This implies that he tied the tails together (LXX., suned?sen; Vulag.,junxit).
Put a firebrand in the midst.--The firebrands were pieces of resinous wood, like Gideon's torches (Judges 7:20), which were loosely trailed between the tails of the jackals. The object of tying two together was to impede their motion a little, so that they might not dart away so violently as to extinguish the torch.
Verse 4. - Foxes. The word here rendered fox (shu'al, in Persian shagal, which is etymologically the same word as jackal) includes the jackal, which is as common in Palestine as the fox. Here, and in Psalm 63:10, the gregarious jackals, the canis aureus, are undoubtedly meant. Caught. The Hebrew word means especially caught in nets or snares. See Amos 3:5 (have taken nothing at all); Psalm 35:8 (let his net catch himself); Jeremiah 18:22; Isaiah 8:14 (taken), etc. And it is in this sense that the A.V. uses the word caught. A clever sportsman, as no doubt Samson was, would have no difficulty whatever in netting or snaring 300 jackals, which always move in packs, and would be attracted by the vineyards of Thimnathah, for which their partiality is well known (see Judges 14:5, note). The writer of the additional article Fox in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' states that he had tried the experiment of throwing grapes to the foxes, jackals, and wolves in the Zoological Gardens. The wolves would not touch them, the others ate them with avidity. Took firebrands, etc. Many cavils have been directed against the truth of this account, but without the slightest reason. The terrified animals, with the burning torches and the blazing straw behind them, would necessarily run forwards. Samson would, of course, start the couples at numerous different points, and no doubt have a number of Hebrews to assist him. To the present day the corn-fields in that part of the Shephelahextend continuously for twenty or thirty miles.
Judges 15:4-5 Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. When he had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves.
What he decided to do, as we might see in today's newspapers, was to go on a multimillion-dollar arson spree.
The word, "foxes," would be better-translated "jackals." The Hebrews used the same word for both animals. If you know the difference between a fox, and a jackal, you can understand why most commentators feel that jackals is the better translation. Foxes are solitary animals. They avoid human habitations, usually. We know them as sneaky, and hard to catch, and cunning.
Do you remember seeing at one time or another an old movie with an English foxhunt? Typically, they might have 30 dogs, and 30 men on horseback chasing one little fox. And foxes often get away.
Jackals, on the other hand, are pack running dog-like animals. They run in packs, they tend to be braver around human habitations—safer in numbers, I suppose. Since they are in groups nearer to human habitation, they would be easier to catch in greater numbers than foxes.
Animals have to sleep sometime. I know people who have talked about going cow tipping and there are movies about that.
If you were to feed squirrels, it wouldn't take long before they climb up on you. I remember people feeding racoons at the Valley Green Inn in Fairmount park Philadelphia.
I was reading through Judges 15 and came to verse 4
And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.
How did he catch so many?
Such sad news...
I am writing this morning’s Daily Article with a grieving heart.
I became a Christian in a Southern Baptist Sunday school class and was baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I was licensed and ordained as a vocational minister in that church. I attended college at a Texas Baptist university and graduate school at a Southern Baptist seminary. I taught on that seminary’s faculty and pastored four churches affiliated in various ways with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Incredible news from Will Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association