Erastus Salutes You -- By: Raymond L. Cox
BSP 5:4 (Autumn 1976) p. 120
Erastus Salutes You
[Raymond L. Cox, a frequent contributor to BIBLE AND SPADE, is pastor of the Salem, Oregon Foursquare Church. He has traveled extensively in Bible lands and has written over 1650 articles on biblical and archaeological subjects. In addition, he is the author of four books.]
An inscription somewhat to the east of the stage building of the theater in Corinth makes Romans 16:23 a living reality to the few visitors who search it out. Most Bible scholars express confidence that the Erastus honored by this commemoration in stone is the very man who saluted the first-century Christians at Rome at the end of Paul’s epistle.
How did this pioneer Christian missionary to Corinth get acquainted with the “chamberlain (RSV — treasurer) of the city”? Was Erastus perhaps present at the synagogue services on those first sabbaths when the apostle “reasoned” there, and “persuaded the Jews and the Greeks” concerning the claims of Jesus Christ? (Acts 18:4).
Or did the chamberlain’s contact with Paul commence shortly after the Jewish opposition and blasphemy? The outrage so disgusted Paul that he “shook his raiment and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6).
A Jew named Titius Justus, living next door to Corinth’s synagogue, opened his house to Paul as headquarters. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, embraced the new faith. Gentiles flocked thither, “and many of the Corinthians hearing believed” (Acts 18:8). Perhaps Erastus was one of them.
But would a high civic official of a Gentile city frequent meetings hosted by Jews — even Christian Jews? Some think not, and assign Erastus’ exposure to the gospel to a dramatic confrontation at Corinth’s “bema” or judgment seat. Perhaps the treasurer was a
BSP 5:4 (Autumn 1976) p. 121
witness to the collapse of the strategy of the unbelieving Jews. Paul’s enemies initiated proceedings against the Apostle (Acts 18:12). They dragged him to the “bema” where the proconsul Gallio represented Rome, as Pilate had represented the empire at the trial of Jesus. Gallio was the brother of the famed philosopher, Seneca. The Jews’ accusation was that, “This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law” (Acts 18:13).
Gallio’s reaction justifies Seneca’s high o...
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