Acts 18:16-20
Acts 18:16 (KJB)
And he drave them from the judgment seat.
The Jews must have upset Gallio because after he ruled that he would not judge in their theological matters, he had the guards drive the Jews away from the judgment seat. The historian Sir William Ramsay (1851-1939) considered this decision of Gallio as a “Charter for Christian Freedom.” It had set a precedent in Corinth to never again use the Roman government or its power against the Christians again.
Acts 18:17 (KJB)
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.
Beat - Smite, strike, or wound
After Crispus became a Christian, a man named Sosthenes had become the ruler of the synagogue and was no doubt the chief accuser of Paul. Before Sosthenes could leave the judgment seat, the unsaved Greeks who were there had thought to take advantage of Gallio’s good nature and had beaten Sosthenes. The Greeks had considered these Jews to be troublemakers and they expressed their feelings as such. The Jews who hoped to bring trouble to Paul had the tables turned on them. Now they were the ones who were facing the persecution. Gallio did not prevent this from happening and probably figured that if the Jews were beaten, then they would not make any more trouble. The Lord stated to Paul in the vision that he would not be harmed, so in this case, it was his accusers who had harm done to them. Sosthenes, the new ruler of the synagogue had also became saved at some time after this. (1 Cor 1:1 KJV) Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Paul’s chief accuser became his brother in Christ. We must never give up in evangelism because we never know who God is going to save.
Acts 18:18 (KJB)
And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
After these events with Gallio, Paul had remained in Corinth for probably several more months. Then it was time for him to go to Syria and this would have been the end of his second missionary journey. He also took Priscilla and Aquila with him. Before they had sailed toward Syria, they had gone through Cenchrea which was 9 miles east of Corinth. The way the Scripture reads, it seems that Aquila and not Paul had his head shorn for he had a vow, possibly a Nazarite vow where a man is not to cut his hair until the time of the vow is completed. Maybe the time was completed when they arrived in Cenchrea and then had his hair cut. Before Paul came to Syria, he had gone by way of Ephesus.
Acts 18:19 (KJB)
And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
Once they arrived in Ephesus, he had left Priscilla and Aquila there to minister. Ephesus was a city of about 300,000 people and was the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Once again Paul had entered into the synagogue of Ephesus and had reasoned with the Jews and discussed the true Gospel with them. Apparently, they did not become hostile to his message as many did before this time. There seemed to have been an openness to the Gospel on the part of the Jews.
Acts 18:20 (KJB)
When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
This tells us that the Jews had wanted him to stay longer and continue to expound the Scriptures to them. They probably did not have many traveling Rabbis come to that area and minister to them. Unfortunately, Paul was unable to accept their request and he had to decline. The one synagogue where he was welcomed at and he could not stay any longer.