Acts 18 records an interesting encounter.
Paul was in the city of Corinth telling people about the good news of God and His Kingdom coming through Jesus the Messiah. And some of the Jews were not thrilled with His message, especially the Synagogue Ruler, Sosthenes.
Eventually Sosthenes dragged Paul before the governor of the city to charge him with crimes. The governor was not impressed, couldn’t care less, and had everyone thrown out of his court. Mob justice took over and the people began to beat Sosthenes, the leader of the Synagogue.
End of story. Paul gets away free while his enemy is disgraced. Ha! Count one for the gospel and one for Paul we are be tempted to think.
But if we dig a little deeper we find something quite interesting.
While it’s true that the Bible doesn’t give us any more specific information on that situation, I wonder if it hints at it.
Because we read in 1 Corinthians 1:1 “Paul called to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and our brother Sosthenes.” Sosthenes! Our brother! Last we read of him, Sosthenes was dragging Paul into court hoping to get him imprisoned, whipped, or driven away and now he’s a brother, a Christian!?
Everyone’s in agreement, Paul’s opening acknowledges that Sosthenes helped Paul write the letter to the Church at Corinth. Originally one of the men adamantly opposed to the gospel of God, now Sosthenes is helping Paul write letters to other believers. He is obviously a believer in Jesus Himself.
What caused the change?
As one Bible teacher pointed out to me, I wonder if their letter gives us a hint. 1 Corinthians 13 states “Love is patient, love is kind… It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
What if Paul showed love to his enemy and helped Sosthenes after he was beaten? Paul had experienced beatings himself. Who better to comfort a hurt man than another who knows exactly what it feels like? And how amazing for Sosthenes to see Paul, a man he had tried to send to a horrible prison, now turning around and helping bind his wounds.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love never fails.
Is this not the love Paul learned from His Rabbi Jesus, His Messiah, who on the cross cried out, “Father forgive them they know not what they do!” Could this be the kind of love Jesus was talking about when He said “they’ll know you are My disciples by your love”? Love that returns good for evil, blesses those who hurt me, and turns the other cheek.
Believer, may we be filled with this kind of love in the new year.
May our churches be patient, be kind.
May we keep no record of wrongs.
May we not be easily angered.
May we not delight in evil but rejoice in the truth.
May we protect, trust, hope and persevere.
By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit may our love never fail.
And may that bring great glory to God’s Name and cause even our enemies to sit up and take notice of our Savior.