Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately. Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.Acts 18:27-28
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.Acts 19:1-10
This is a really curious crossover point. It’s like we have just reached a controlled border between two countries and there has been a prisoner exchange. Of course, that is not the case; I am just being poetic but something intriguing is happening in the way Luke has chosen to tell the story. We appear to still be talking about the same issue – the baptism of John and the baptism of the Spirit. But also the major players in this section of the story have changed sides of the border. In fact they have crossed the Aegean Sea in opposite directions and changed places with each other. Then when Paul crosses back again Apollos moves on to Achaia. It is intriguing and yet still we are discussing the same issue – Baptism. That’s interesting to say the least. Not only that but we have crossed borders ourselves – the chapter boundary.
I am merely drawing attention to the curious way Luke has written this section. What is he telling us? I will let you mull over it for a couple of days before looking deeper. In the meantime, I wish to pick up on a common theme that several readers have asked me about. Three readers have asked:
- Was there a conflict between Paul and Apollos, given the comments made at the beginning of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians?
- Was Apollos more successful than Paul in his preaching in Ephesus?
It seems so from the fact that Luke draws attention to how skilled and eloquent a speaker Apollos was.
- Does this contrast with Paul and his ability?
Paul was being described as not such a good speaker, not perhaps as eloquent as Apollos, not so gifted face to face but stronger in his letters. This has led three people to pick up on the differences and ask me what I think about the contrast between Paul and Apollos.
So I thought I would pass both of these puzzles on to you my readers – to the delight of some and to the horror of others I am sure. For those of you who love to dig in the places I suggest you dig into, have fun. For those of you who get exasperated by me giving you homework, chill out. As many Gems followers do, just simply take things at your own pace and store up subsequent Gems to get to when you have time. If you don’t want to look into everything I draw attention to, don’t. Simply do what you want to do. If you only follow the Gems to glean the gold and not do the work then do just that. Pick up the alluvial gold from the water’s edge at the end. If you wish to find the mother lode yourself by doing work, do so. Find your own balance in the midst of the flow of Gems. I will keep moving on and pointing to the spot in the river or on the hillside over the seam gold while telling you, “Dig here, there’s gold there.” That is exactly what my Greek Professor did all those years ago, which sparked my desire to dig deeper into the Word of God. This approach has spawned all these things I have got involved in over the years – God’s Awesome Book, Digging for Hidden Treasure, Nuggets, Bible Gems and Deeper Bible.
The comparison between Paul and Apollos bears looking into as these readers have prompted me.
If you so desire, take some time to compare them yourself and see what you come up with.
The curious crossover between Corinth and Ephesus and between Paul and Apollos while at the same time Luke maintains the focus on baptism – John’s and the Spirit’s is food for thought too. Again pick up on it if you dare or leave it and allow me to unpack what I think about it as I move forward. As I have said numerous times in the course of the Gems, I would be doing this whether or not I wrote these Gems and made them public or not. I simply want to methodically dig deeper in Scripture for myself. Gems were born when Lilly invited me to Twitter and when I finally considered it I sensed God say “have a live serial Quiet Time online.” That’s what I am doing.
Next Gems we will look at the comparison between Paul and Apollos:
- Was there conflict or rivalry between them?
- Was Apollos a better preacher than Paul?
- Did Apollos have more success than Paul in Ephesus?
People are stuck because the fear of losing trumps the excitement of victory.Nabilla Seandy
While books can be expensive, ignorance is costlier! A man who WONT read is no better than a man who CANT read!Ian Vail
God sometimes waits to answer because we are asking the wrong question.Joyce Meyer
Make sure when you seek advice it’s from those who have actually been where you want to go. Eagles don’t take flight lessons from chickens!Rick Godwin
Wisdom Is A Choice…Understanding Is A Pursuit.Robb Thompson