It was an incredible archaeological find in 1905 and because of it, we know that the Apostle Paul arrived in the city of Corinth some time between May 1st, 51 AD and April 30, 52 AD and he stayed in the city for about a year and a half.
In Acts 18:12-17, Luke describes Paul’s visit to Corinth and his encounter with several Jews who were outraged by Paul’s arrival.
Luke writes that the Jewish leaders dragged Paul before Gallio who Luke describes as the proconsul of Achaia, covering a region that included Corinth, Delphi and Athens. The Jewish leaders accused Paul of “enticing people to worship God contrary to the law.”
Luke writes that this case actually annoyed Gallio who told the Jews that his job was to adjudicate matters of crime, and he was not interested in settling disputes of theology and names (obviously a reference to Paul’s claim that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah).
But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” (Luke 18:14-15 ESV)
At that point, Gallio had the Jews driven from his court and Luke adds that the guards even beat the leader of the Jewish synagogue.
Now Luke has been a favourite target of those who don’t believe in the Bible, because at the beginning of the Book of Acts, Luke says that in his two books, a reference to the Gospel of Luck and Acts, he is providing a historical record of Jesus and the early church. And in so doing, Luke basically put a target on his back.
But time and time again, archaeology is proving Luke’s historical accuracy in the book of Acts.
In his account of what happened in Corinth, Luke referred to Gallio as the Procounsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12) and this was confirmed in the discovery of a letter found in the ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece in 1905. The letter, written by the Roman Emperor Claudius, is referred to as the Delphi or Gallio inscription and inscribed in clay, it probably hung on the wall of the temple.
There was total of nine fragments and the letter directly mentioned proconsul Iunius Gallio, who Claudius referred to as a friend.
In the letter, Claudius mentions that Gallio had sent a letter asking for help to have Delphi “regain its former splendor.” Since Delphi’s splendor centered around the Temple of Apollo, it might explain why Gallio was clearly not interested in a dispute between Christians and Jews.
But the letter also stated that Claudius had been appointed for the 26th time which curiously provides key dating information.
Claudius’ letter reads:
“Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, invested with tribunician power for the 12th time, acclaimed Imperator for the 26th time, Father of the Fatherland…”
According to Bryan Windle, who works for Associates of Bible Research, this 26th acclamation took place sometime between January and August 52 AD.
He adds that Proconsuls only served a one-year term and typically started the office on May 1 of the year and ending it at the same time the following year. Since Gallio was proconsul at the time Claudius wrote the letter, it indicates that Gallio was serving as proconsul of Achaia during the last half of 51 AD to sometime early in 52 AD.
This was also confirmed by the ancient poet Statius who wrote that Gallio was chosen to serve as proconsul of Achaia in 51 AD.
So not only to we have confirmation that the people mentioned by Luke were real, we also know when Paul was in Corinth.
In Luke’s account of the event, he mentions that Paul was brought before the Tribunal (Acts 18:12), other versions describe it as the place of judgement. This is the Greek word “Bema” and literally means judgement seat. Early in the 20th century, the very Bema that Paul was brought before was uncovered by archaeologist, confirmed by a nearby inscription. In this instance, it was an elevated platform, about 7.5 feet off the ground from which city officials addressed the crowds.