Stop what you are doing. This is the real deal right here. Crispus is Baptized. Wait, are you telling me you never heard about Crispus? He was the synagogue leader in Corinth. That’s right. He was a The Jew among Jews! A synagogue leader is someone very official. He was voted to that position and dedicated his life to looking after the temple. He was supreme. But let’s back up.
What Is Going On?
Acts 18: 1-4
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
We are following on the back of Paul’s missionary journey. He left Lydia and the Roman Jailer and went to Athens. There he went to the synagogue and told people about Jesus. Some believed and some didn’t. After some time, he left and came to Corinth. At Corinth now, we read that He bunked up with fellow Jews (not Christians) because they worked in a similar field. While he was there, every Sabbath, he went to the synagogue trying to convenience both Jews and Greeks about Jesus. Paul is always on a mission.
Acts 18:5-6 5
When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Eventually, his traveling companions catch up to Paul, and when they do, paul focuses on preaching about Jesus, leading to getting mistreated severely. Finally, he had enough of being opposed and left.
Crispus is Baptized
While Paul was leaving, Crispus and his household believed in Jesus and were baptized. That’s it. That’s all of the stories we have. That doesn’t seem like enough to me. Does it seem like enough to you? What did Paul say? Why did Crispus get baptized? What happened afterward to Crispus? We get nothing.
7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
Well, I guess that is not entirely true. We also learn in 1 Corinthians 1:14-15 when paul writes back to Corinth, he mentioned he also baptized Gaius and Stephanas. But other than that, not much.
Paul Is Encouraged & Attacked
However, what we do learn that happens next is quite incredible. One of these nights, God gives Paul another vision and encourages him to keep going!
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
And during this time, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul.
Acts 18: 12-13
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
I imagine this attack was pretty well put together. One can infer that the synagogue leaders and Jewish officials conspired and put together a pretty good case. They took Paul and this case into the Roman courts to see Gallio. He ruled Corinth between 51-52 A.D. Let’s be honest here. They wanted Paul dead.
The Tides Turn
14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.
Did you just read what I read? The group annoys Gallio, and as Paul is about to make a defense, Gallio sends him away. Done deal. Easy. God is in charge. But Acts 18:17 is the verse we should focus on.
Remember Crispus, the synagogue leader that converted? There may have been an opening for a new synagogue leader, and apparently, Sosthenes was voted in. For over a year and a half, they may have been conspiring to take down Paul and finally, with an organized attempt, tried to do so. When Sosthenes failed, his people turned on him and beat him in front of everyone!
I imagine the crowd leaving Sosthenes lying, beaten, on the ground while Paul walks up. Paul, being the man he just tried to execute, walks up, grabs Sosthenes by the hand, and says something like, “So you got beat up? That happened to me too (Acts 18:6). Welcome to the Christian life, come and follow me.”
We read in 1 Corinthians 1:1 that Sosthenes is addressed by name as one with Paul writing back to the Church of Corinth. Wow.