The Gallio Inscription in Delphi
One of the most significant archeological artifact I saw in The Delphi Museum in Greece is the Gallio inscription. Gallio was the proconsul of the province of Achaia when the apostle Paul was brought before him as documented by Luke in Acts 12:17.
Acts 18:12–17 (NIV84)
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he had them ejected from the court. 17 Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever.
With the Gallio inscription, we are now able to narrow down in time, almost the exact year when the apostle Paul was in Corinth during his 18 months stay. Lucius Junius Annaeus Gallio was the elder brother of the Stoic philosopher Seneca who was the personal tutor of Nero and who later took on a more political role when Nero became emperor after the death of Claudius. Gallio was appointed by Emperor Claudius to be proconsul of Achaia around July 51 A.D. He was proconsul for about only a year. The Gallio Inscription which was found in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi was dated to be written in the spring or summer of 51-52 A.D.
Hence we are able to place the apostle Paul time in Corinth during his second missionary journey at between 51-52 A.D. He was probably brought to face Gallio in spring or summer of 51 A.D. The incident recorded in Acts 18:12–17 probably occurred at the beginning of Gallio’s term, since the Jews would have hoped to get a ruling against Paul from their new proconsul. Not long after that, Paul left Corinth, probably in the summer or autumn of 52. Elwell and Beitzel adds,
According to Acts 18:11 Paul had spent 18 months in Corinth, which means that he probably arrived in the early months of 50 or the end of 49. That arrival date is confirmed by Acts 18:2, which says that Aquila and Priscilla had only recently been exiled from Rome when Paul came to Corinth. A 5th-century historian, Orosius, dated the edict of Claudius expelling the Jews from Rome in A.D. 49. Therefore Paul and Aquila and Priscilla probably arrived close together late in 49 or early in 50. Early in his 18-month stay Paul wrote his first and second letters to the Thessalonians.
(Elwell, W.A. & Beitzel, B.J., 1988. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible, pp.446–447.)
Using this as a fixed point, we are now able to pin point the start of Paul’s missionary journeys and even some events in Acts. Working forward, we are able to date Paul’s other activities until he went to Rome around 60 A.D.
This is significant because this was be one of two events which we may accurately date. The other event was the date of the famine visit in Acts 11:30 which is either 46 or 47 A.D.
Acts 11:27–30 (NIV84) provides the context.
27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
We can be sure that events recorded by Luke and the other evangelists have a historical basis. This is important because the Bible is a book with historical foundations. The Bible records the incarnation of God in human history.