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 (Acts 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).
C. M. Kerr
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