There were many Jews in Corinth who rejected to the Gospel preached by Paul. Like in other cities, some people got fed up with the visiting evangelist and looked for a way to stop him. The Corinthian Jews eventually brought Paul before the Roman proconsul at the judgment seat in the forum, known as the “bema.”
While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” So he drove them off.
Archaeologists have discovered the “bema” in Corinth, a platform on the south side of the forum. An inscription uncovered near the platform confirmed its official use. The platform for the proconsul was about 7-and-a-half-feet above the stone pavement of the forum where the accused and onlookers stood. It was here that the proconsul would address citizens, settle disputes, or render verdicts in criminal cases.
When Paul was living in Corinth, Jewish leaders from the synagogue brought him before Junius Gallio, the proconsul of the province. Jewish leaders hoped that Paul would be punished and barred from teaching the Gospel. According to Roman historians such as Tacitus, we know that Gallio served a short term as proconsul of Achaia from about 51 to 52 AD. A stone inscription has also been discovered, which states that Junius Gallio was the proconsul of the Province of Achaia in 52 AD.
As the provincial governor, Gallio would have spent part of his time at the bema in Corinth to pass judgment, but since his time was limited, he would have heard only the most important cases. When the Jews dragged Paul before Gallio, the proconsul proclaimed that it was an internal religious matter, not a crime, told everyone that he was unwilling to make any judgment on the issue, and drove them away from the bema.
Luke tells us that Paul stayed in Corinth for a full year and a half. This was really the first time Paul was allowed to live and preach in one place as long as he wished. During his stay in Corinth, besides establishing the church there, Paul wrote two letters back to the church at Thessalonica.