Day 29

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey Ends

from the Acts of the Apostles reading plan


Acts 18:1-28, James 4:13-15, Isaiah 51:1-2

Who do you know who seems to exude raw talent in everything they do? We all know the brilliant mind, natural athlete, gifted artist, or charismatic leader. You may even know someone who is a sickeningly awesome combination of all four.

In today’s text we meet someone I imagine was like that—a man who will become a very influential leader in the early Church—the eloquent Apollos.

Apollos reminds me of another character we’ve already studied, Barnabas, in that he appears several times in Acts but never really as the primary character in any of the passages. So if we don’t try to pin him down a bit, we might never really see him.

Apollos was a man who had embraced the teachings of John the Baptist concerning Jesus (Acts 18:25), either by traveling to Jerusalem to hear him personally, or by hearing one of John’s disciples who traveled to Alexandria after John was beheaded by Herod (Mark 6:25).

Either way, as a result of his interest in John the Baptist, Apollos believed a lot of things that were true. It’s just that he didn’t have the full picture. But, boy, was he a gifted speaker.

What do you do with someone like this? Well, Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos teach, and they knew something needed to be done. But what? Should they warn his hearers that his teaching was deficient? Should they brand him a heretic? Should they try and steal away his students?

It seems what they did was invite him over for dinner.

Apollos wasn’t the enemy. He was, if anything, a gifted asset to the Church—which he’d later prove to be in Corinth, where he would serve in a long, fruitful ministry. Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos under their wing and filled out the picture for him. They told him the rest of the story.

What all they taught him, we can’t know for sure. But what we do know is this: 1) Apollos was humble enough to be corrected, 2) he embraced what Aquila and Priscilla taught him, and 3) his effectiveness as a preacher only grew.

So, apparently, Apollos was also gifted at being humble and teachable. Sheesh.

Apollos and his gifts were an asset to the Church. But here we’re reminded of something crucial to the health of any Christian fellowship: doctrine matters.

Apollos seems like a man people would follow based on his polish and pedigree alone, regardless of what he taught. This happens all the time. We like being around gifted people. But you can have all the gifts in the world, all appearances of a “successful looking” life, use all the right trendy words by which to introduce yourself; and when you’ve finished listing all your appealing qualities, if your doctrine is weak, incomplete (intentionally or not), or false, what then?

I love this passage for the way it speaks not into our weaknesses, but our strengths. It says, Don’t trust your strengths carry you. One of the best gifts Apollos had working for him was people who would take him as he was and seek to deepen his understanding of the truth.

Where are you relying on gifts and talents to carry you beyond what you actually understand? Who would your Priscilla and Aquila be? What would it look like to seek their help to grow beyond your natural talents into a deeper understanding of the truth? What would that sort of humility look like?

Written By Russ Ramsey

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