Day 29

Founding the Corinthian Church

from the reading plan

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

Do you know someone who seems to be good at everything they do? 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.

Acts 18 describes the founding of the church in Corinth, which begins as an outreach ministry by the apostle Paul, who finds help and friendship in Priscilla and Aquila. Though the apostle arrived at Corinth weary and possibly discouraged by the events in the preceding chapters, the Lord told him to keep on preaching because “I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:10). 

During that time, Priscilla and Aquila encountered the gifted, but not fully-formed Apollos. Apollos reminds me a little of Barnabas, in that he appears several times in Acts but never as the main character. If we don’t pin him down, we might miss him. So let’s do that.

Apollos was a man who had embraced John the Baptist’s teachings about Jesus (v.25), either by going to Jerusalem to seek him out 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 Apollos had come to believe a lot of things that were true. It’s just that he didn’t have the full picture. 

But man, was he a gifted speaker. When Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos teach, they knew something needed to be done about his theological insufficiencies. But what? Should they warn his hearers that his teaching was deficient? Should they brand him a heretic? Should they try to steal his students?

It seems what they did was invite him over for dinner. Apollos wasn’t the enemy. He was a gifted asset to the church—which he’d later prove to be in the Corinthian church, where he would serve in a long, fruitful ministry. 

Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos under their wing and helped him understand the gospel of Christ more fully. We don’t know what all they taught him, but what we do know is this: Apollos was humble enough to be corrected, he embraced what Aquila and Priscilla taught him, and his effectiveness as a preacher only grew.

Apollos and his gifts were an asset to the church. But here we’re reminded of something so 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. Still, you can have all the gifts in the world, but if your doctrine is weak, incomplete (intentionally or not), or false, what then?

One of the best gifts Apollos had working for him was people who would take him as he was and work to deepen his understanding of the truth. Where are you relying on gifts and talents to carry you beyond what you actually understand? Who might be your Priscilla and Aquila? What would it look like to seek their help to grow beyond your natural talents into a deeper understanding of the truth? 

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