Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat (Acts 18:17, KJV)

Why did the Greeks start beating the ruler of the synagogue? Does the text have any clues?

  • Why do you think it was Greeks and not Jews that beat the ruler of the synagogue?
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 16 '19 at 0:12
  • @PerryWebb - ??? Does Acts 18:17 not say that?
    – brilliant
    Jan 16 '19 at 4:34

Here is my take on these events. Forensically, speculatively

“And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue.

It’s important to note it was next to the synagogue, indicating proximity. This to me says Paul went over often and probably talked to those who were most often at that synagogue, especially it’s ruler. In the very next verse the ruler of the synagogue is introduced and immediately the text gets to the point, he believed together with his whole house.

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭18:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We can be certain that Crispus was not a believer prior because Paul baptizes him. This is also the first time Paul is in Corinth. These two facts indicate that Crispus was not a believer prior to Paul’s first visit to Corinth.

“I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Need to interject. A synagogue is a curious place because to my knowledge we have no records of why they were built, in the first place. The first record indicates a name that suggests prayer or a prayer house but it seemed to have served as more than that, a prayer house, a school especially of Scriptures and a community hall. Further more it’s not sufficiently clear to me at least that only Jews (Judah and Benjamin) attended synagogues or had synangogues, it may be possible that Efraim (ten lost tribes may have also had synagogues). Side note closed

It seems that in the year and a half that follows the ruler of the synagogue is replace with Sosthenes.

“And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭18:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Clearly Crispus was replaced.

Who is they all?

“But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal,” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭18:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It appears it’s the Jews who brought Paul before the tribunal. The Jews who attended the synangogue next door whose leader was Sosthenes and who they beat up.


It’s very difficult to assign motive but it seems that since Sosthenes later also becomes a Christian

“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And since his name means safe (in) strength, possibly reflecting his personality and his leading style, instead of Sosthenes saying something to argue in favor of the Jews accusing Paul, he is not quoted as saying anything. Seeing themselves outside of the tribunal they seized him and beat him out of spite. 1) for not standing up for the creeds of the synagogue 2) if Paul persuaded Crispus it’s likely Sosthenes was seen having discourse with Paul likewise and they must has suspected that he too was being won over by Paul. 3) it was an opportunity to create disorder and possibly get them back into the tribunal.

There’s not a whole lot to work with in terms of motive but I would agree it seems to me, it was the Jews who beat Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue.

I could argue the other way that the Greek beat up Sosthenes as a measure of distracting the Jews from bothering the Roman proconsul in future. But I don’t lean this way for several reasons which I won’t mention and serves nothing toward this question.


"Greeks" is not in the older copies of Greek New Testaments. See Metzger's commentary below:

 18:17      πάντες {B}

In order to identify the “all” who seized and beat Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, the Western and later ecclesiastical texts (and hence the AV) add the identifying words, “the Greeks,” i. e. the Gentile community. Several minuscule manuscripts read “all the Jews,” which is much more unlikely to represent the real situation.

At the close of the verse the Latin text of codex Bezae reads tunc Gallio fingebat eum non videre (“Then Gallio pretended not to see him”). The line in the Greek text of codex Bezae after βήματος is erased and nothing is now legible, but it is fair to assume that it corresponded to the Latin; Clark reconstructs τότε ὁ Γαλλίων προσεποιεῖτο μὴ ἰδεῖν.

Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (p. 411). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

  • Quite correct @Perry Webb. +1. NA28, UBS5, THGNT, WH, SBL all have omit "Greeks". However, the Majority text, Byzantine text, TR, etc include it. It appears to have been added about the year 450.
    – user25930
    Jan 16 '19 at 19:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.