In Seneca’s Shadow

seneca shadow 2rb

The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.
(Acts 18:17)

Read: 2 Kings 10:32 – 12:21, Acts 18:1-22, Psalm 145:1-21, Proverbs 18:1

Relate: In one of the more interesting coincidences of history, a major tribe of Native Americans that were part of the Iroquois Confederation happen to share the name of two major figures in Roman history. The Roman Senecas were both major players in the Roman world around the time much of the Bible was being written. Seneca the Elder was an author and rhetorician whose life spanned the first three emperors (four if you include Julius) but his second son, Seneca the Younger was the more famous of the two. Cashing in on his father’s name and reputation, the Younger took that capital and ran with it. He is the most famous philosopher of his age, was considered the greatest rhetorician in town (“town” being Rome or wherever else he happened to be at the moment), and eventually he became the tutor (and assasin conspirator) of Nero.

Between these two Senecas was another member of the family. Born Lucius Annaeus Novatus, he changed his name to Junius Gallio at one point when his more famous and politically active brother was on the outs. He served in various political roles for a year or two at a time, never doing remarkably well or horribly. Each time, he would get shuffled away when someone else on their way up or down the political ladder needed the spot he currently held. Not long after his brother’s forced suicide, he is commanded to do the same.

Just imagine that. Little brother get’s dad’s famous name. Gallio? Nope. He gets named “new light” (Lucius Novatus “Annaeus” being the family name) and then is forced to live in the shadows of his more brilliant relatives. Somewhere along the way, he gives up being that “new light” and has his name changed to Junius. Even that change is a demonstration of mediocrity. Gallio was the family name of his new patron. The thing is, as eldest son, he should have been the patron himself of the Annaeus family. Even this sad attempt isn’t enough to distance himself and when little brother Seneca’s part (alleged) in the conspiracy is exposed he doesn’t survive him long.

React: This is the jaded man we meet in Acts 18. Gallio was governor of Achaia for only a short time in 51-52AD. It was a role he was expected to fill, not a duty he cared to carry out. His attitude in blowing off the Jewish leaders when they tried to bring a case against Paul, and his subsequent attitude when those same Jews when they in turn are getting beat right in front of him is typical of what little we know of the man. He just didn’t care.

Have we ever come to such a point? Have we watched watched in jealousy while others get all the glory and praise we believe should have come our way. Have newer or younger employees come through and grabbed up the raises and promotions we have worked long and hard and steady to receive? Had we been known in school merely as the brother or sister to the more talented jock/genius sibling? Do we get sick and tired of people saying “Are you any relation to…” every single time we meet someone new? The thing is, the more we give up on shining our own light, the faster down in that spiral of jealousy and jadedness we go.

There is One who sees us for who we are. He knows what gifts and talents we have been given and will judge us on what we have done with them. Some people’s giftings put them in the limelight. Others keep them in the background. it doesn’t matter. He sees us no matter how far into the shadows we feel we have been shoved.


God, it is oh so easy to get caught up into the comparison game. I’m not as outgoing as he is. That one over there is so much better looking than I am. I wish I was as physically talented as… On and on it can go. I see myself based on the best of others around me. It is sin. Forgive me for this. Help me to know what You think and what You have said of me so that I have a defense against those times when others try to make those comparisons as well. Do not let me get jealous. Do not let me get jaded. Help me to care for others with the same tenderness of heart You care for me.


6 thoughts on “In Seneca’s Shadow

  1. You should shrink your images to the size they will actually be used at. At most 600×600 pixels probably for thosev who still have slow connections. You can do this for free with the ‘save for web and devices’ function in GIMP for instance.

        • I appreciate your feedback, but on this point I will not budge. Everything I do on the River Walk is done as an act of worship. From the imagery created to the illustrations and applications used, to the music selected straight through to the prayer. It is worship I will never offer up in worship anything less than the best I have to offer.

  2. It is so easy to get caught up in the race for fame and fortune but letting it have us endangers our souls with the threat of bitterness which is the root of all kinds of evil. This is a good reminder to let God determine our promotion and to be content with that.

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