Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Apollos appear in the narrative out of nowhere. Who is Apollos? Luke tells us he was a Jew. He was a native of Alexandria. He knew the scriptures well. He was a learned man. He was a good speaker. Paul contrasts his style to Apollos’. (1 Corinthians 2:1) Somewhere he had learned that Christ had come. And this Christ was Jesus. His teaching about Jesus was accurate. That is all we know of Apollos’ background. He just shows up in Ephesus.
But Paul spoke well of Apollos. “I planted, Apollos watered…” (1 Corinthians 3:6.) “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit…” (1 Corinthians 4:6.)
Apollos understood the doctrine of the gospel. he knew the God gave a redeemer to the world and taught the grace of reconciliation. His training was basic. It only contained the principles of the gospel. He knew only John’s teaching.
The Older Testament spoke of Jesus’ coming death and resurrection. Apollos knew the scriptures which in his time was only the Older Testament. We lack an understanding of the Older Testament. As a result, we suffer from lacking understanding of God’s grace.
Apollos’ doctrine was incomplete. So Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and gave him more instruction. They were not jealous of Apollos’ ministry. They had a part to play. And they played it. Their role was to instruct Apollos in private. So that he could put his gifts to a more complete use.
We too much know the scriptures well enough to recognize and correct others. But we should do so with respect.
Apollos decided to go to Achaia. Luke does not tell us why. But Luke tells us Apollos had the encouragement of the believers in Ephesus. They also sent a letter of introduction to the believers in Achaia. Thus we can infer Apollos did not travel for personal reasons. Rather it was to spread the Gospel. Luke also tells us when Apollos arrived he was a help to the believers in Achaia. Apollos did not plant churches. He watered. This was his gift. he was a helper, a teacher. We all have a different gift. They work together to build Christ’s church. Apollos’ skill was growing a church not planting one.
Apollos was a strong debater. He was able to show via the scripture that Christ was Jesus. In other words, He used the Jews’ own evidence. He used what they claimed to believe to prove Jesus was the Christ.
Here we see again an example of Scriptural evangelism. Apollos started with what they agreed on. That is, the Jews and Apollos agreed the scriptures were the very word of God. So Apollos used that as his starting point. Then he used the skills God gave him. He proved their rejection of Jesus was wrong. Or at the very least illogical.