18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.
23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.
In verse 24 we are introduced to Apollos, a Jewish man from Alexandria. His hometown was the literary capital of the Hellenistic world and home to a large Jewish population. He was an educated man, particularly in the way of scriptures. But remember, the “scriptures” at this time would have referred to the original books of the Hebrew Bible and our Old Testament. There were not yet any scriptures about Jesus. There were oral traditions and some writings floating around, but nothing formal or widespread. So while Apollos had a robust knowledge, he had some holes in his understanding of Jesus and the “way.” This does not stop Apollos, however. He spoke “boldly” and “vigorously.”
The gracious tent-making couple, Priscilla and Aquila, brought Apollos to their home and explained to him the "way of God” more accurately. Then other brothers and sisters in Christ encouraged him and prepared a path for him to do more missionary work. Apollos ended up being a “great help” in this effort.
As a Pastor, I can’t tell you the number of times someone has said to me, “ I can’t lead that class because I don't know enough about the Bible,” or something similar. Well friends, that is just plain silly. You simply do not have to be an expert in the Bible to lead others to know Christ on a deeper level. Look at Apollos, he had some knowledge, but it was incomplete. He taught boldly anyway. And then, a couple of kind Christ followers came alongside him and equipped him further! So Apollos grew and others grew with him.
Apollos felt called to teach about the way of Jesus, and so he did. It’s that simple. Do you think it was risky for him to put himself out there like that? Yes, of course. And his biggest fear came true! He wasn't teaching the full story and someone called him out on it. But they did so gently and with compassion. Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos grow into a better teacher.
If we are honest, it is the fear of saying something stupid that really keeps us from leading in the church. I know that is my fear when I preach a sermon. Of course, the more seminary, study and experience I have, the less fear there is, but I still preached and taught way before I had the background to do so.
So, as we wind down summer and gear up for fall, and as our ministry areas call for teachers and group leaders, I encourage you to step out as Apollos did. I promise there will be kind people who will come alongside you and equip you to become a “great help” to those around you. As I have said many times,
Courage is often the most needed trait of a Christian.
May you be brave in following Christ, wherever he calls you this day.
Dear God, Please give me ears to hear you, eyes to see you, and courage to follow you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.