Even though the apostle Paul was God's missionary to the Gentiles, he did not ignore or avoid the Jews. On the contrary, everywhere he went it was his custom to go to the synagogue and reason with them from the Scriptures concerning Jesus. Corinth was not an exception. "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks." Acts 18:4.
Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue when Paul encountered sharp opposition from some of the Jews. Paul responded shaking his garments and saying, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." Well, he didn't go very far. He left the synagogue "and entered the house of a certain man named Justus..., whose house was next door to the synagogue."
The biblical account doesn't provide any details of Crispus' conversion, except to say, "Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with his household." Obviously the apostle Paul had persuaded him to become a believer. He also followed the Lord in baptism. Later Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius." 1 Corinthians 1:14.
Crispus was replaced as the ruler of the synagogue by Sosthenes. Under his leadership "the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat." They appeared before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, charging, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." Gallio would have none of it, refusing to judge the case.
Someone was attacked that day in the courtroom. According to the NKJV "Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat." The NIV more accurately says, "Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court." It appears that Sosthenes was attacked by the disgruntled Jews who were in the courtroom with him. Anyhow, all the Greeks is not found in New Testament manuscripts.
In Acts 18 that's the end of the story, but there's more. Some years later the apostle Paul sent a letter to the church at Corinth, where Sosthenes had served as the ruler of the synagogue. In the first verse of the letter he wrote, "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother." 1 Corinthians 1:1. The apostle had a companion in his missionary service for the Lord. His name was Sosthenes, someone well known to the Corinthian church. Could it be--?
Lord, how marvelous are Your ways! Why are we so surprised when You change the lives of some people? Thank You for the transforming power of the gospel. May our hands be clean before You. In Jesus' name. Amen!