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Luke shifts his focus from Paul in Galatia and Phrygia back to Ephesus, where he had left Aquila and Priscilla. The effect on us as readers is both extending the time frame, and also demonstrating how the church continues to grow and develop regardless of the presence of Paul. Although this was not Luke’s intention, it also serves to set the stage for Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (which we will study from tomorrow).
The main character in this story is Apollos, who is more roundly described than most New Testament minor characters: a Jew, a native of Alexandria, eloquent, and able in the Scriptures. Alexandria was well-known as a centre of learning, with the best library in the known world, and was most likely the location where the Jewish scriptures were translated into Greek (the Septuagint). Luke notes that Apollos was taught the way of the Lord and was zealous in the Spirit, speaking and teaching carefully about Jesus. But there was a problem: he understood only John’s baptism. The implication is that he had not been baptised in the Holy Spirit and fire like the other disciples of Jesus (cf Acts 2:4; 10:44-48).
When he came to Ephesus and began to preach boldly in the synagogue, Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and laid out the way of God accurately. Again we can infer, although it is not explicit, that they explained about being baptised into Jesus. (We will learn further about this in 19:1-7, when Paul discovers a similar problem among a group of Ephesians.) I wish I could have been in that little Bible study group. How amazing it might have been to be in the presence of such wise and learned Bible teachers. I would like to know how Apollos reacted to being instructed by Priscilla and Aquila. Luke leaves it to our imagination.
After some time, Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the region of which Corinth was the capital. He was urged on by the believers in Ephesus and they wrote a letter to the church in Corinth (presumably, based on reason and Acts 19:1) to receive him. When he arrived there he helped the believers, especially by vigorously refuting the Jews publicly, proving through the scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.
I am encouraged by this passage that being an effective minister of the word doesn’t mean always being perfect. Apollos wasn’t perfect and needed to be corrected. On the other hand, God used him in teaching and speaking accurately and fervently. On the other hand, Priscilla (a woman and wife, no less!) and Aquila are not described in such glowing terms, but rather they are noted simply as tent-makers, and yet they are able to provide careful explanation to a great Bible scholar like Apollos. Whether you are feeling like you have made mistakes and don’t know enough, or like you are not qualified, God can still use you in powerful ways.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for your grace. You can use me, even me, to communicated your power and love to people. Help me to be open to correction like Apollos, and fervent in spirit.