Did You Know?
What was the “judgment seat” to which the apostle Paul was led?
▪ The account at Acts 18:12, 13 states that Jews in Corinth accused Paul of proselytizing illegally and that they led him to “the judgment seat,” or beʹma (a Greek word meaning “step”). Ancient Corinth had an elevated outdoor platform, or stand, near the center of the agora, or marketplace, which may have been just a few steps from the synagogue. The position of this stand allowed it to be used to address the populace. Built of blue and white marble and lavishly decorated with delicate carvings, the speakers’ stand was furnished with two waiting rooms that had marble benches and mosaic floors.
That speakers’ stand seems to be the judgment seat where the apostle Paul stood before the proconsul Gallio, Roman governor of Achaia. From this spot, seated officials would hear cases and announce their judicial decisions to the assembled crowd.
In Greek city states, it was normal for the assembly to meet in front of such a beʹma, from which all civic business was conducted. In their accounts of Jesus’ trial, the Greek texts of both Matthew 27:19 and John 19:13 refer to Pontius Pilate’s addressing the crowd from his beʹma.—Acts 12:21.
Why were some Jews stumbled by the manner of Jesus’ death?
▪ The apostle Paul stated regarding the early Christians: “We preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness.” (1 Corinthians 1:23) Why would the manner in which Jesus died cause some to stumble?
Regarding Jesus’ manner of death and the culture of those living in the Middle East in the first century, Bible commentator Ben Witherington III says that it was “the most shameful way to die in that world. It was not seen as a noble martyrdom of any sort.” Witherington further states: “People in that world believed that the manner of your death most revealed your character. On that basis, Jesus was a scoundrel, a man who committed treason against the state, a man who deserved the punishment used for slave revolts.” Given that cultural background, it does not seem reasonable to claim that the early Christians fabricated the accounts about Jesus’ death and resurrection.