The Oracle at Delphi

In Acts 18:12 the book of Acts speaks of Paul being dragged before Gallio, whom Luke describes as “proconsul of Achaia.” Skeptics railed at this description, pointing out that there was no record of such a man governing the province at that time.

Of course, the reader should understand two things. First, we don’t know everything. There is a host of governors and leaders in ancient times about whom we have no record. As it turns out, we don’t know everything. Rather than saying “records of a proconsul named Gallio don’t exist,” it would be more honest to say, “We don’t yet have a record of Gallio outside the Bible.” Second, the purpose of doing archaeology is to try to fill in those gaps in knowledge. Otherwise, why do it?

Achaia was the southern-most province of Greece, including Corinth (where Paul was at the time) and another town named Delphi.

In the 1960’s an inscription was found at Delphi. It was written on a stone that apparently formed the sign of an Oracle (something like a crystal ball reader) who boasted that she was so popular even “Gallio the Proconsul of Achaia” had consulted her! It would be interesting to know what he asked her, though no record of that is known.

The inscription is dated around A.D. 52 and allows us to place Paul at Corinth at about that time because proconsuls served in a province for a period of two years. This helps biblical scholars to date Paul’s second missionary journey. Once again our faith in the biblical documents is strengthened; unlike modern news outlets or documentaries, the Bible is a book whose details can be factually verified.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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