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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Sosthenes

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(Σωσθένης, perhaps for Σωσι - έθνης , saver of his nation; a not infrequent Greek name) was a Jew at Corinth who was seized and beaten in the presence of Gallio, on the refusal of the latter to entertain the charge of heresy which the Jews alleged against the apostle Paul (see Acts 18:12-17). A.D. 49. His precise connection with that affair is left in some doubt. Some have thought that he was a Christian, and was maltreated thus by his own countrymen because he was known as a special friend of Paul. But it is improbable, if Sosthenes was a believer, that Luke would mention him merely as "the ruler of the synagogue" (ἀρχισυνάγωγος ), without any allusion to his change of faith. A better view is that Sosthenes was one of the bigoted Jews, and that "the crowd" (πάντες simply, and not πάντες ῞Ελληνες, is the true reading) were Greeks who, taking advantage of the indifference of Gallio, and ever ready to show their contempt of the Jews, turned their indignation against Sosthenes. In this case he must have been the successor of Crispus (Acts 18:8) as chief of the synagogue (possibly a colleague with him, in the looser sense of ἀρχισυνάγωγοι, as in Mark 5:22), or, as Biscoe conjectures, may have belonged to some other synagogue at Corinth. Chrysostom's notion that Crispus and Sosthenes were names of the same person is arbitrary and unsupported.

Paul wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians jointly in his own name and that of a certain Sosthenes whom he terms "the brother" (1 Corinthians 1:1). A.D. 54. The mode of designation implies that he was well known to the Corinthians; and some have held that he was identical with the Sosthenes mentioned in the Acts. If this be so, he must have been converted at a later period (Wettstein, N. Test. 2, 576), and have been at Ephesus, and not at Corinth, when Paul wrote to the Corinthians. The name was a common one, and but little stress can be laid on that coincidence. Eusebius says (H.E. 1, 12, 1) that this Sosthenes (1 Corinthians 1:1) was one of the seventy disciples, and a later tradition adds that he became bishop of the Church at Colophon, in Ionia.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Sosthenes'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/sosthenes.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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