Acts 18:15
But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.
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(15) But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law.—The second noun is in the singular number in the Greek. St. Paul was known as a speaker, one who preached the word of God, and with that, as distinct from acts, Gallio had nothing to do. The “names” were those which he had probably heard of at Rome, even before he came to Corinth. (See Note on Acts 18:2.) Was a teacher whom both parties spoke of as Jesus the Nazarene entitled also to bear the name of Christos? In the emphasis laid on “your law” (literally, the law which affects you), the judge intimates that he sees through their appeal to law. It is Jewish, and not Roman law, which they are seeking to vindicate, and he will not make himself, as Pilate, after a weak protest (John 18:3), had done (Gallio may well have known the history), the executioner of an alien code. With a strong emphasis on the pronoun, he ends with, “I, for my part, have no wish to be a judge of these things.”

18:12-17 Paul was about to show that he did not teach men to worship God contrary to law; but the judge would not allow the Jews to complain to him of what was not within his office. It was right in Gallio that he left the Jews to themselves in matters relating to their religion, but yet would not let them, under pretence of that, persecute another. But it was wrong to speak slightly of a law and religion which he might have known to be of God, and which he ought to have acquainted himself with. In what way God is to be worshipped, whether Jesus be the Messiah, and whether the gospel be a Divine revelation, are not questions of words and names, they are questions of vast importance. Gallio spoke as if he boasted of his ignorance of the Scriptures, as if the law of God was beneath his notice. Gallio cared for none of these things. If he cared not for the affronts of bad men, it was commendable; but if he concerned not himself for the abuses done to good men, his indifference was carried too far. And those who see and hear of the sufferings of God's people, and have no feeling with them, or care for them, who do not pity and pray for them, are of the same spirit as Gallio, who cared for none of these things.Of words - A dispute about words, for such he would regard all their controversies about religion to be.

And names - Probably he had heard something of the nature of the controversy, and understood it to be a dispute about names; that is, whether Jesus was to be called the Messiah or not. To him this would appear as a matter pertaining to the Jews alone, and to be ranked with their other disputes arising from the difference of sect and name.

Of your law - A question respecting the proper interpretation of the Law, or the rites and ceremonies which it commanded. The Jews had many such disputes, and Gallio did not regard them as coming under his cognizance as a magistrate.

Look ye to it - Judge this among yourselves; settle the difficulty as you can. Compare John 18:31.

For I will be no judge ... - I do not regard such questions as pertaining to my office, or deem myself called on to settle them.

15. if it be a question of words and names, and of your law … I will be no judge, &c.—in this only laying down the proper limits of his office. A question of words; which have been spoken about the controversies of religion.

And names; as, whether Jesus was to be called Christ or the Messiah; and whether his disciples might be called Christians.

And of your law; concerning circumcision, as whether none may be saved without it.

I will be no judge of such matters; he acknowledges his unfitness and unwillingness to determine such things as did not belong unto him, or he did not understand.

But if it be a question of words,.... "Or of the word", what the Jews called the word of God, which Gallio did not pretend to understand: "and names"; as the names of God, of Jesus, and of Christ, whether he is God, and the Messiah:

and of your law; concerning circumcision, whether these Christians, and the proselytes they make, are obliged unto it:

look ye to it; suggesting that this was a matter that lay before them, and they were the proper judges of, and might determine for themselves, since they had the free exercise of their religion, and a right of judging of everything that respected that within themselves, and for which they were best furnished, as having a more competent knowledge of them; as the Arabic version renders it, "and ye are more learned in these things"; and most conversant with them:

for I will be no judge of such matters; and it would be well if every civil magistrate would act the same part, and not meddle with religious affairs, any further than to preserve the public peace.

But if it be a question of {h} words and {i} names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.

(h) As if a man has not spoken well, as judged by your religion.

(i) For this profane man thinks that the controversy of religion is merely a fight about words, and over nothing important.

Acts 18:15. If we read the plural ζητήματα we may regard it as expressing contempt: “a parcel of questions,” Alford; but if they are questions of word (teaching) not deed (opposite ἔργον, factum) and of names not things, verba, opposite πράγματα (Blass); i.e., the arguments as to whether Jesus could rightly or not claim the title of Messiah, see also Page’s note.—νόμου τοῦ καθʼ ὑμᾶς: of your law—not Roman law; with the phrase cf. Acts 17:28 (Acts 16:39 [321]), Acts 24:22. It is used only once elsewhere in N.T., by St. Paul, Ephesians 1:15 (cf. Acts 26:3).—ὄψεσθε αὐτοί, cf. Matthew 27:4; Matthew 27:24; pronoun emphatic, Acts 13:18-19; so in LXX, Numbers 13:19, Jdg 7:17; Jdg 21:21, etc. Blass quotes two passages from Epictetus, ii., 5, 30, and iv., 6, 41.—κριτὴς γὰρ ἐγὼ: omit γάρ; pronoun more emphatic; they could determine their matters according to their own law; so Lysias, xxiii., 29, Festus, xxv., 19.—οὐ βούλομαι: “I am not minded,” R.V.; the decision while it testifies to the strength of Gallio’s character, since unlike Pilate he would not allow himself to be influenced against his better judgment, expresses at the same time his sovereign contempt for the Jews and their religion; to him as to his brother Seneca the Jews were only sceleratissima gens (Aug[322], De Civ. Dei, vi., 10). The decision shows no favourable inclination to Christianity itself, but this does not take away from its importance as proving that so far as the Roman authorities were concerned the freedom of speech thus granted would enable the religion of the Christ to make its way through the civilised, i.e., the Roman world; cf. Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 260, who sees in his residence at Corinth an epoch in Paul’s life not only as regards his doctrine and his presentation of it but also as regards his aim that Christianity should be spread throughout the empire, an aim made more clear by the imperial policy of which Gallio was the exponent.

[321] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

[322] Augustine.

15. But if they are questions about words and names] The oldest authorities give the plural “questions,” and there would no doubt have been many points brought forward from St Paul’s teaching to which the Jews would object. And whether Jesus was the Christ or not would seem to the Roman a matter entirely of definition, and on which the law had no bearing. If he had heard the name of “Christus” at Rome, it would make Gallio the more ready to imitate his royal master, and get rid of the disputants as fast and as far as possible.

and of your law] Better, and of your own law. The words are literally “the law among (or according to) you.” The accusers had without doubt been striving to make out that in teaching a different manner of worship (Acts 18:13) Paul was bringing forward a religion not enjoying toleration by the Roman government. But Gallio sees through their intention, and counting them all for Jews, he will not be drawn into their questions.

look ye to it] Better, look to it yourselves (as R. V.). The pronoun is very emphatic in the Greek.

for I will be no judge of such matters] The oldest authorities omit “for,” and the Revised Version makes it plain that “will” is not here an auxiliary verb, as it often is in English. “I am not minded to be a judge of these matters.” Gallio knows his own business and will only mind that. It is not a case where his jurisdiction can interfere, and so he leaves the whole untouched. There is no question here about his own regard and disregard of enquiries about religion. He sits to administer Roman law, and this dispute among the Jews at Corinth lies outside his cognizance altogether.

Acts 18:15. Εἰ, if) Gallio speaks slightingly (contemptuously): as presently, in the word τούτων, of such matters.—ζήτημα) Such men do not like questions: ch. Acts 23:29, CI. Lysias of Paul, “Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but—nothing,” etc.; Acts 25:19-20, Festus of Paul, “They had certain questions against him of their own superstition.”—περὶ λόγου) concerning doctrine [Engl. Vers., words].—ὀνομάτων, names) But the question concerning the name Jesus is one of great moment. The names of the Gentiles were fables and shadows. The Christian religion has in it something peculiar; and therefore human reason, most curious as it is in respect to all other things, has an aversion from becoming acquainted with it.

Verse 15. - They are questions about for it be a question of, A.V. and T.R.; your own for of your, A.V., an unnecessary change; look to it yourselves for look ye to it, A.V.; I am not minded to be a for for I will be no, A.V. and T.R.; these for such, A.V. Acts 18:15Question

The best texts read the plural, questions. See on Acts 15:2.


In the Greek the position of the word is emphatic, at the beginning of the sentence: "Judge of these matters I am not minded to be."

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