April 2019   
Upcoming Events
Bible Search
Acts #68 (chapter 18:24-28)

The Book of Acts

From Judaism to Jesus

Part 2: Apollos in Transition

Acts 18:24-28


Tonight we return to our study of Acts 18 and the transition that takes place as we see the fading out of Judaism and the coming in of Christianity. In understanding this, we have to understand that it sometimes was a slow transition. People don't change easily, even when the transition is directed by the Holy Spirit.


That's true universally and in any age. Salvation is an instantaneous miracle, but people get saved and then find it hard to let go of everything. And that is certainly true when it comes to the rich history and heritage of Judaism.


After all, these are the people of God. The Old Testament is all about their worship and relationship with God, recorded by their elders. It touched every part of life. Remember, Moses reminded them to surround themselves with reminders of their faith and teach their children to love and serve God.


So I don't think in any way it was easy for a Jew to just turn their back on all that and pretend it no longer mattered. In fact, earlier in the book of Acts, we watched as Peter sees this sheet let down from heaven containing all kinds of food and he is instructed to forsake dietary laws and eat whatever he wanted. But Peter winds up arguing with God Himself about that!


It wasn't easy to make the transition.

And here in Acts 18 and 19, the Holy Spirit gives us three examples of that transition. The first one is Paul, as he continues to observe the Jewish practice of making vows and certain offerings in the temple in Jerusalem to solemnize and complete those vows. We saw that last time.


Next, time, we'll see the twelve disciples of John the Baptist. But tonight, let's see what happens in the life of a man named Apollos.


From verse 23, we know that Paul has now begun his third missionary journey. Meanwhile, Aquila and Priscilla are at Ephesus and in verse 24, the scene shifts back to there, and we meet a man named Apollos.


verse 24


Now, Apollos is a Jew and he is from the city of Alexandria. Incidentally, Alexandria had a great Jewish population. Estimates are that at this time in history, there were probably 1 million Jews living in every part of Alexandria.


I tell you that just to say Apollos was probably not a Jew living in isolation. He was, most likely, a man who had been a part of Jewish life and society.


Now, we are given some interesting insights into this man's life. For instance, we are told he was an "eloquent man." The word in the Greek is foreign to the Bible except for this verse. It doesn't occur anywhere else. And what it means is this: it combines the idea of learning and eloquence. He not only was a well-spoken, articulate orator but he knew what he was talking about.

He was not only eloquent, he was well-informed and well-studied. That indicates not only his knowledge but it also indicates his ability to communicate. He was probably without equal as a speaker. You say, "Was he greater than Paul?" That probably wouldn't take much. Remember, Paul said to the Corinthians, in I Corinthians 2:1, "I didn't come with excellency of speech." Paul never did really value his preaching ability.


In fact, 2 Corinthians 10:10, indicates that people said of Paul, "His letters are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible." So Paul was a lot better writer than he was a public speaker.


And that's an interesting little insight into the possibility that Paul may not have been as great an orator as was Apollos, and I'm only making the comparison because I want you to see the stature of this man named Apollos. He was without peer, as far as we could see in the New Testament, as a speaker. Every indication is he was an eloquent and learned man.


Verse 24 also tells us he was "mighty in the Scriptures." One has to wonder why Apollos is not lifted up more often as an example of one to follow!


The word mighty is the word from which we get our word for dynamite. This man was an explosive kind of a person when it came to his knowledge of Scripture. So he was an Old Testament scholar who could present it with absolute power. He was a powerful man in terms of teaching.



However, it needs to be pointed out that at this point, he was not a Christian so his teaching, though powerful and eloquent, is not empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is just natural ability and studying hard and making a scriptural presentation.


Later on, when he comes to Christ and he receives the Holy Spirit, he is a power to behold and very quickly earns a following that ranks right up there with Pal and Peter. And we know that because of what Paul writes to the Corinthians in hi sfirst letter. When he addresses the divisions in the church, he said, "ome say I'm of Paul, some say I'm of Cephas, some say I'm of Christ and some say I'm of Apollos."


Now understand, those guys, Apollos included, weren't trying to build a personal following. The carnal people of Corinth were doing that. There is an indication of the sincerity of Apollos when Paul says, "I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase." So he was a man that God was using to build on the foundation that Paul had laid.


All that to say, here was a man, before his conversion who was an eloquent, educated, well-spoken man who knew the Old Testament and could share it publicly.


verse 25a


Now that's an interesting statement. It's a very general statement. Look at the word instructed. Let me show you something that I think is important. The word instructed in the in Greek comes from the verb catecaho, which means Apollos got his information by being catechized. He was taught by oral repetition.

Compare that with what Paul says in of himself in


Galatians 1:11


So the information Paul had, he got directly from Jesus Christ. The information Apollos had, he learned as someone repeated it over and over to him. That's the difference between inspiration and divine revelation and instruction. You see the difference? Only the apostles in the New Testament era and other New Testament writers claimed to have inspiration.


But Apollos is not an apostle. He learned at the foot of somebody who taught him. Being catechized is far different from being isolated out in Arabia and getting all of this information directly from God, as was the case with Paul.


And notice how verse 25 continues:


verse 25b


In other words, he rightly understood the teaching of the Old Testament and he embraced the teaching and preaching of John the Baptist which means Apollos is the truest example of an Old Testament saint. He accepted the whole Old Testament all the way down to the fulfillment of it and he accepted the message of John the Baptist that the Messiah was coming.


In fact, according to verse 28, he even accepted the fact that the Messiah was Jesus.


verse 28


So in Apollos, we have a man who accepted all the way of the Lord in the Old Testament, accepted the ministry of John the Baptist, saw that John pointed to Jesus and said, Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," and he believed that Jesus was the Messiah.


So was he saved? No. Why not? Because he didn't know what happened in the death, resurrection and Pentecost that followed the life of Jesus. He was pre-cross. Scripture makes it clear that he did not know anything but the baptism of John. He didn't know the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He didn't know the baptism in water that follows faith. He only knew pre-cross.


He knows a lot! But he was still getting ready for Messiah. He knew the baptism of anticipation, not the baptism of accomplishment. He knew the baptism of a looking forward to, not the baptism of a fulfillment. So, he was an Old Testament saint in the fullest sense.


Man, he had followed the way of the Lord all the way down until it got him to John the Baptist. It was being fulfilled. He was ready for Messiah. He was repentant. He was preaching the message that Jesus was Messiah, but he didn't know the fullness of Jesus' acts on earth or he would've understood more than the baptism of John!


Imagine what kind of a man he must've been with that kind of knowledge and eloquence and mighty in the Scriptures. And then add to that, as verse 25 tells us, he was fervent in spirit." By the way, notice that is not a capital S spirit and it is not "the Spirit".

That simply means he was enthusiastic and excited about his message! . The literal Greek means he was boiling in spirit. It's one thing to be knowledgeable, and know what you're talking about, but I've known some college professors who were like that. In fact, I've known some preachers like that!


But Apollos was a man who "spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord". That means he taught with precision and accuracy. I don't think anything bugs me more that sloppy teaching where someone reads a text, and then just kind of hits all around it, but never gets to its meaning.


Not Apollos! He not only had eloquence and knowledge and all the information that he believed in his own heart, but on top of that, when he taught, he was careful to teach with exactness, and he did it with fervency and enthusiasm.


He just didn't know Messiah had come, died, risen and gone. Well, he came to Ephesus and notice what happens:


verse 26


So one day he shows up in Ephesus and has the opportunity to speak at the synagogue. And notice, in addition to being eloquent and well-spoken and fervent , and well-versed in the Old Testament, he also speaks boldly.


But there is something wrong in his presentation, and Aquila and Priscilla, pick up on it. They heard him preach and he got them all the way up to the edge of the cross and quit. So they went and invited the preacher home for dinner.

Now, that must have taken some courage because not just everyone can hold their own with Apollos. But they take him aside and told him about Jesus. And notice how it's described: They explained to him the way of God more accurately. The word translated "accurately" is the same word used to describe the way he taught over in verse 25.


He wasn't the only one in town who could rightly handle the truth of God. He taught accurately but they taught him more accurately. There wasn't anything wrong with what he said, it just didn't go far enough.


And I like the fact that they didn't just dismiss him as a heretic and they didn't get into an argument and shout him down. They waited for the right time and they shared the truth of God and it convinced him.


And notice the phrase that is used. They explained to him "the way of God". That's what he's traveling. He's been on the road to God for a long time. He's been searching the Scriptures and eventually he narrowed it down to John the Baptist and he embraced his teaching and followed him. After all, he came to prepare the way of the Lord.


And then when Jesus came along, He said He was the only way to God. In fact, as we'll see in just a few more verses, Christianity is called "The way." And right there in verse 26 we have Aquila and Priscilla sharing the plan of salvation with Apollos.


And it is my personal conviction that somewhere between verse 26 and 27, Apollos got saved.

Why? Notice what happens:

verse 27


"He greatly helped those who had believed through grace". Question: how can a lost man help believers? They can't. That's how we know he got saved between the time he arrived at Ephesus and the time he arrived at Corinth. If he hadn't, he wouldn't have been able to help the church.


And not only that, "He mightily convinced the Jews." And the Greek word there is so interesting. The word mightily means vehemently. In some places, it's translated "loudly".


He just came on like gangbusters and loudly convinced the Jews publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Messiah. He took the Old Testament and just proved that Jesus was Messiah.


in fact, verse 28 tells us he "vigorously refuted" the Jews publicly. The impact of the words used there are telling us he just crushed them with his arguments. They couldn't respond! He totally refuted them at every point.


Not only did he help the body of believers in verse 27, but he just destroyed the unbelievers with the power of his preaching in verse 28.


Well, we've met two men in transition, Paul and Apollos. Next time, we'll look at the final example.


Let's pray.

Post a Comment