Today we’re going to jump forward to the New Testament to learn about a man named Apollos. But before we do, we need to meet some other folks. There are just some characters that you can’t dig into without first digging into the people that surround them.
In fact, just to get our brains in gear, let’s try out some examples. Take a minute and comment below with an answer for a couple of the blanks, but don’t hog them all (or as we might say in redemption, limit 3).
___ and Robin
___ and Tonto
___ and Chewbacca
___ and Dr. Watson
___ and Garfunkel
___, ___, ___, and the Human Torch
___ and Jerry
___ and Ernie
___ and Cher
___ and Lois Lane
___, ___, ___, and Donatello
These team-ups and duos exist in movies, in books, in cartoons, in music, and yes EVEN in the Bible…
1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. (Acts 18:1-3)
There was no crowd of Jews in Corinth, in fact probably not many individuals at all. We read that Aquilla and Priscilla had to move there when Emperor Claudius was expelling the Jews from Rome. It must have been such a relief to Paul find people from his home country AND, better yet, people that were in the same line of work: tent-making.
Quite some time after this, Paul traveled to Ephesus accompanied to Aquilla and Priscilla. Now this is where Paul exits stage left, and where Apollos enters the scene. Paul went back to the missionary’s home base in Antioch. Let’s look at verses 24-26…
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
It sounds like Apollos was a very effective speaker, and a brave one at that! He knew the Old Testament scriptures, he even knew about Jesus’ ministry, but something was missing. It says that “he knew only of the baptism of John”. John the Baptist taught that people should repent of their sin, but pointed people to Jesus the Lamb of God who would one day take away sin. This was on the “other side of the cross” historically. Apollos had not understood baptism “on this side of the cross”, after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. That meant he also didn’t know about the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Apollos was a powerful speaker and well educated man. He came from Alexandria, a place famous for its university and teaching. Yet this man had a couple facts wrong when it came to the gospel message. Priscilla and Aquilla could have caused a great debate that day, or even embarrassed Apollos in front of his audience by giving the information he was missing. But instead they lovingly invite him to their own home where they explained about Christian baptism, how a person accepts the salvation Jesus died to give, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. As a result, Apollos humbly accepted their correction and expressed a desire to be sent out preaching God’s Word.
28 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Apollos would go on to become a famous preacher throughout the Church, Paul teaching in some areas, Apollos in others, and the word spread as a result. Apollos was a “super-speaker”, but without his team, his weakness stood exposed.
Application (Proverbs 15:1): “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Let us tell the Truth in Love.
(Read more about Apollos in the NT: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, 3:1-9, 16:12, Titus 3:13)
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