Gallio

GALLIO (gal'ĭ-ō, Gr. Galliōn). Roman proconsul of Achaia when Paul was in Corinth (a.d. 51). Alarmed at the inroads that the gospel was making, the Jews in Corinth brought Paul before Gallio, of whom the Roman philosopher Seneca had said, “No mortal was ever so sweet to one as Gallio was to all.” The Jews hoped to convince Gallio that Paul was guilty of an offense against a lawful religion, and hence against the Roman government itself (Acts.18.12-Acts.18.17), but Gallio rejected their argument. The Greeks then beat the chief ruler of the synagogue, but Gallio remained indifferent to the incident. A more stern governor might have arrested the violence at once, but in the providence of God, Gallio’s action amounted to an authoritative decision that Paul’s preaching was not subversive against Rome. This gave the apostle the protection he needed to continue his preaching there. Gallio did not become a Christian; he died by committing suicide.


GALLIO găl’ ĭ ō (Lucius Junius). Proconsul (KJV “deputy”) of Achaea in a.d. 51-52 or 52-53 in residence at Corinth (Acts 18:12-17).

The son of the rhetorician M. Annaeus Seneca and brother of the philospoher Seneca, he was born Marcus Annaeus Novatus at Cordova in Spain. Adopted by the rhetorician, Lucius Jiunius Gallio, he was trained by him for administration and government (Tac. Ann. 16. 17). He was a notably affable man. Seneca dedicated his treatises de Vita Beata to him and in the preface of the Naturales Quaetiones describes him as a man universally beloved.

An inscr. from Delphi shows that he was proconsul of Achaea after the 26th acclamation of Claudius as emperor. Therefore, his term of office was in 51-52 or 52-53. According to Pliny, the climate of Achaea, by Gallio’s own statement, made him ill. He went to Egypt after his term of office to recover from a lung hemorrhage. He then returned to Rome and became consul suffectus early in Nero’s reign. He was involved with his brother in a conspiracy to overthrow Nero, and, though temporarily pardoned, he was soon thereafter either forced to commit suicide or was put to death by order of Nero (Dio Cassius, History 62.25. Seutonius, Rhetoric).

While Gallio was residing at Corinth as proconsul of Achaea, a Jewish mob dragged the Apostle Paul before the rostrum and charged him with persuading men to worship God contrary to law. Gallio, concerned primarily with Rom. law, dismissed the case as a matter among Jews without letting Paul defend himself. Even when the mob seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the rostrum, Gallio did not exercise his prerogatives (Acts 18:12-17).

Bibliography

O. Rossbach in Pauly Wissowa, RE s.v. “Annaeus 12.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The Roman deputy or proconsul of Achaia, before whom Paul was haled by his Jewish accusers on the apostle’s first visit to Corinth, during his second missionary journey (Ac 18:12-17). The trial was not of long duration. Although Gallio extended his protection to the Jewish religion as one of the religions recognized by the state, he contemptuously rejected the claim of the Jews that their law was binding upon all. In the eyes of the proconsul, the only law universally applicable was that of the Roman code and social morality: under neither was the prisoner chargeable; therefore, without even waiting to hear Paul’s speech in his own defense, he summarily ordered his lictors to clear the court. Even the subsequent treatment meted out to Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, was to him a matter of indifference. The beating of Sosthenes is ascribed by different readings to "Jews" and to "Greeks," but the incident is referred to by the writer of Ac to show that the sympathies of the populace lay with Paul, and that Gallio made no attempt to suppress them. Gallio has often been instanced as typical of one who is careless or indifferent to religion, yet in the account given of him in Acts, he merely displayed an attitude characteristic of the manner in which Roman governors regarded the religious disputes of the time (compare also LYSIAS; FELIX; FESTUS). Trained by his administrative duties to practical thinking and precision of language, he refused to adjudicate the squabbles of what he regarded as an obscure religious sect, whose law was to him a subtle quibbling with "words and names."

According to extra-canonical references, the original name of Gallio was Marcus Annaeus Novatus, but this was changed on his being adopted by the rhetorician, Lucius Junius Gallio. He was born at Cordova, but came to Rome in the reign of Tiberius. He was the brother of the philosopher Seneca, by whom, as also by Statius, reference is made to the affable nature of his character. As Achaia was reconstituted a proconsular province by Claudius in 44 AD, the accession of Gallio to office must have been subsequent to that date, and has been variously placed at 51-53 AD (compare also Knowling in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, II, 389-92).